To the mother and daughter who live there, their home in the Fairway Estates neighborhood of Daytona Beach is a true oasis from the hassles of daily living.
In every nook and cranny of the house, and every room you walk through, there is a reason to smile. Then there are the elaborate decorations and yard ornaments displayed year-round in both the front and back of the house.
Who wouldn’t smile seeing a series of chairs wrapped around a tree known as “Chairway to Heaven” in the backyard? Or the merry-go-round horse inside the house surrounded by a miniature carousel of horses that move and light up? Or perhaps the wide variety of artwork lining the walls.
Not a hoarder, Kiki Carlson, 51, is strategic about where items are placed in her home. Her mother, Judy, 75, doesn’t actively participate in her decorating passion but enjoys her daughter’s creations.
Displays are always changed for the major holidays. The Carlsons also have yard sales to move out some of their treasures to make room for new finds. Much of what meets the eye has been collected from materials that are recycled to make new creations. Some are even recreated from items found along the road.
Originally from Montgomery, Ala., the family moved to Ormond Beach in 1981 and has resided at their current Daytona Beach home since 2001.
Kiki Carlson has a certificate in graphic design. But her job is actually as an independent contractor disaster housing inspector for FEMA. She comes on scene after a disaster to assess damage done to homes and then reports it to FEMA. She is always on-call and has to be able to travel at a moment’s notice. Her mother is self-employed in the cleaning industry.
Kiki Carlson said she started her large-scale home decorating in 2008 after working Hurricanes Ike and Gustaf. While doing assessments after those hurricanes, she came across large family units living together (in Houston, Texas) who decorated their backyards “like a living room.”
She said, “I just thought that was so cool. They would put art on their fence or shelves with pretty things.”
So, her first project was painting her fence with some leftover paint she had with different colors.
“Halloween is crazy and then Easter is flowers,” Ms. Carlson said. “Everything is always rotating because we go to garage sales and estate sales all the time. People love our (own) garage sales. It (house) is always evolving.”
Recently she bought some metal art at Goodwill that she discovered was worth much more than she paid. Another time at another place she bought a book lamp for $2 (a working lamp imbedded in very old books) that later on she discovered had a chamber filled with silver coins worth hundreds of dollars.
Friends Ray and Sandy Grove enjoy exploring Ms. Carlson's house.
“I think her house is cool to visit. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Mr. Grove said “It’s the most interesting home I’ve ever visited. We’ve had parties there; they are friends of mine. It’s wonderful to visit. Very unique.”
Ms. Carlson is experimenting with “ice dyeing” where ice is placed on a T-shirt for example and sprinkled with tie dye powder for a unique end result.
She also sells Color Street nail strips and is a cat lover and has three cats of her own while also contributing to animal charities, such as CCFAW, including setting up a pet food donation box at their garage sales.