As we wrap up Mother's Month, we had the pleasure of catching up with Ashley Petrone — mother of four, creative risk-taker, and founder of popular design and lifestyle blog, Arrows & Bow. While renovating her new Florida beach property project, serendipitously named The Joie Inn, Ashley took time to fill us in on what it was like to sell everything and move her family of five in to a 180 ft. trailer, "finding joy in the in-between", and dreaming of what's next.
YOU ARE ONE BUSY MAMA, AND YOUR STORY IS ONE WE ARE EXCITED TO SHARE... WHERE DO WE BEGIN? PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY - FROM DECIDING TO LEAVE LIFE AS A STAY-AT-HOME MOM IN CALIFORNIA, TO MOVING YOUR FAMILY OF FIVE TO THE GULF OF MEXICO AND RENOVATING A BOUTIQUE HOTEL CALLED THE JOIE INN, SET TO OPEN THIS SUMMER?
Exactly where does one begin with this? LOL. Our story of living life to the fullest and one filled with joy really began a few years ago, when we sold everything that we had and moved into a trailer...
At the time this really wasn't a popular idea, and I had just started my blog and Instagram account a few months before. I truly thought that I would lose all of my 7,000 followers I had built up when we moved into a trailer. We had found some land and we were hoping to build a house on it, and instead of renting an apartment we decided to live in a RV and I renovated the whole thing with my husband, Dino in three weeks.
My goal was just to make our little home on wheels feel as cozy and comfortable and home like as possible. We moved into it for 17 months with our three kids, much longer than we thought we would be there, and the funny thing is we never actually built a house. But, it was the best decision we had ever made and it really changed the way we viewed life, and the way we wanted to live it. During that time, I picked up the motto "finding joy in the in-between" which basically just means finding joy right where you're at, in the everyday moments. Seems like we're always in between a job or a relationship and there's joy to be had even in those in between moments. I really wanted to focus on that and have it be a focus for our family.
THE JOIE INN - A LOVELY NAME CHOICE, BY THE WAY... ;) HOW DID YOU CHOOSE IT? WHAT IS THE CONCEPT?
I've always felt that I am a joy-filled person. I've tried to be intentional with finding joy every day, a.k.a. joy in the in-between. A few years after the RV, we moved into a new house which we named the "Chateau Petrone". It was a beautiful (mind you, very old and run down) vineyard estate which reminded me of a French chateau. The whole house was shabby and terrible. The bathroom that we had set aside for the kids needed to be gutted. I just knew that I wanted the word "joy" designed in the kids shower but since we were taking on this French chateau vibe I decided to incorporate the French version of the word joy, which (as you know) is "joie". Since then, Dino has given me a necklace that says "joie de vivre" which means "the joy of living", and that French version of Joie has stuck with us. So we named our inn, Joie Inn. We felt it was the perfect name for our little place by the sea on Anna Maria island.
YOU SEEM TO TAKE EVERYTHING IN STRIDE. HOW DO YOU BALANCE IT ALL, WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE ON YOUR PLATE?
After living in the trailer for a year and a half with our three littles, and renovating a few houses with them since then, we've just really tried to embrace the mentality of living life to the fullest and just being so thankful for every situation we're presented with. Even when it's not the easiest, as life is never just sunshine and rainbows. We can do things together and we can also find joy while we're doing it. So including the kids in all the fun (craziness) is a must for us!
HOW DO YOU APPROACH MAKING SUCH BIG DECISIONS AS A FAMILY WITH FOUR LITTLE ONES?
Dino and I love to dream together so we are constantly talking about everything we would want to do. Dreaming about it and then doing it if it seems right for us. We start to make a move and pray that doors will close if it's not the right thing for us.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF DESIGNING A NEW SPACE?
I do most of the designing inside of my head. This is both a blessing and a curse... it's hard for people to visualize what I'm talking about sometimes. But, my favorite part is that most of the time people are usually pleasantly surprised by what I come up with. Also as a mama of 4, I'm just so thankful for the creative outlet!
WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
The RV will always have a special spot in my heart, because it really put me on the map and got my business up and running, and Instagram up and running. It was the first design job I really ever did. And then our last house was truly special because it was such a big house and a large project and it felt really good being able to accomplish that, especially during a pandemic and while pregnant... LOL.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE JOIE OF MOTHERHOOD?
The Joie of motherhood is the simple fact that I am so blessed to have four babies that call me mama. We have quite a gap between my older three kids and our youngest, Foxi who is just six months old now, and it's really precious to be able to be a little bit older and a teeny bit wiser to just soak this time in, and enjoy the season of motherhood. Because it does go by so fast...
WHAT'S NEXT, AFTER THE INN OPENING? WE KNOW YOU WON'T STAY STILL FOR LONG...
We're hoping to open end of summer, beginning of Fall. After we open we are hoping to do it again... you're right we don't like to sit still for too long! Maybe some bungalows by the sea... who knows!