about deb

Hello, I'm Debi Ward Kennedy [tho most people just call me Deb]

and I'd like to welcome you to my DIY home decor blog, homewardFOUND decor!

I built another business (Retreat) around making products from 'found materials',  
and learned all these tricks & tips as a retail display designer & stylist since 1976.

That's kind of my 'THING': re-use, re-design, re-imagine. 
I hardly ever use something the way it is intended to be used!

homewardFOUND is a place where I can inspire others like me who love to decorate -
but are on a 'time and money budget' -
to express their creativity through simple & affordable seasonal touches in their homes.
By using stuff that's been... stuffed.... into closets and drawers and garages.
Forgotten stuff. Collected stuff. Hand-me-down stuff. Stuff from thrift stores.
Let's "Shop The House" and USE that stuff!
Let's look at it all with a fresh perspective, 
and use our creativity to see it in a NEW WAY!

It's all about creating your own Seasonal Style at Home, every season of the year.

What people are saying about homewardFOUND:

"I want to tell you how inspirational I find your blog! Your happy, down home, God driven world view is so refreshing!! There is always some gem in there for me. If I'm ever feeling blah, your writing often gives me that kick to throw on an apron and refocus on my husband, family and home. Thank you for that!!"
~ Mary Breen DeVries September, 2014
"Your writing and creativity inspire me so much in my own home decorating! In fact this year, thanks to your inspiration, I have added more of my lost love of vintage items in with my love of modern/contemporary. So I now have a wonderful eclectic look to my home."
Monet Keitzman November, 2013

"I think you're sharing great and wonderful tips for people - real people. And I love that you're stressing using every day items. It makes stylish decorating possible for everyone!"
~ Michelle Litell, MyChimelle Designs October, 2012 

"Found objects turn into home decor for every season in the hands of stylist, writer, and artist Debi Ward Kennedy. homewardFOUND inspires others who like to decorate on a time-and-money budget to discover new creative direction."
~ Beth Livesay, Romantic Homes Magazine February 2013


I've ALWAYS loved to decorate.
And even though I've never had a lot of money, I've always had a lot of ideas & creativity!

I change my home decor every seasonand oh, did I get that decorating bug EARLY...

as a kid:
My mom was the one in the neighborhood who painted the front door of our brown & white house BRIGHT ORANGE - then planted orange marigolds in orange-painted window boxes & planters in the front yard. She also spent a week decorating our house for Christmas each year. And Easter. And Halloween. And summer. My passion for decorating is in my DNA!

in my teens:
When I was 13 years old, my mom opened up a gift shop in a hotel across the street from Disneyland. I went to work in that shop, helping with inventory & stocking and also hitting the gift shows with mom. I also discovered that I had a talent for window displays. Mom let me create something amazing every month in the big window that faced out toward the guest registration desk. That window was VERY visible, and I learned how to make people notice what was in it - to draw them into the shop.

Along with that exercise in creativity, I wandered through the shops at Disneyland. A LOT.
I wasn't like other kids my age, who rode the attractions... nope, I was learning how to create displays and set up store floorplans and use color, light, and scale to create drama and visual impact. My education on retail design began on Main Street, USA at Disneyland! In all of my art classes at school, I focused on how I could apply what I was learning there to my display work.

By the time I was a senior in high school, I went to work for a chain of men's clothing stores, and created displays in the windows and walls at three malls in Southern California.

as a retail visual designer:
After that, I worked for various retailers in many industries, creating merchandise displays in windows and stores - from Hickory Farms to Molbaks' Garden + Home, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Hogue, and Columbia Wineries to many independent merchants, I've displayed products from clothing, tabletop, home decor, and furnishings to jewelry, food & wine, textile, gift, and souvenir niche industries. I've also created holiday and seasonal decor for the Chateau, Columbia, and a host of executive homes in the Seattle area.

In 2000, I became an independent retail designer &  consultant, creating product displays at major West Coast trade shows in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, and for many retail clients. I am a public speaker, and have presented seminars on visual merchandising at those shows and in Denver, as well. I have helped two of my clients win awards for 'best booth design' at trade shows, which makes me an award-winning designer.

as a writer:
Since 2002, I have been a freelance writer, providing content for many retail trade magazines and web sites. In 2007, I became a video host & producer when I filmed six videos on visual merchandising & display for the Gift & Home Channel. They are now hosted on YouTube. (visit my media website to view them).

In September 2011, I became a contributing columnist & writer for a new lifestyle publication, FOLK Magazine. My column, 'Sweet Re-Treats', allowed me to share ideas for creating decor from everyday items in six issues (the entire first year) of FOLK. I also contributed editorial content for several other issues during that first year.

In 2012, I became a regular contributing writer to Creating Vintage Charm decor magazine, and to BROADWAY+THRESHER style blog & magazine. In 2013, I became a home decor & craft project contributor to the JOYful Home & Life website.

as a product designer & retailer:

My personal blog 'Hummadeedledee' launched some of the original product designs I have shared since I began blogging there in 2004 - my Sweet Sweater Pumpkins, NeSts, and Junk Queen Crowns, for example. Before that, I was a muralist and furniture designer, creating a line of handpainted furniture and accessories that I sold in my own little home decor boutique called 'Paint the Town, Red!' and at street markets.

In 2007, I became a vintage design & retail business owner with my late husband, when we started a business called Retreat. He built furniture and I made vintage-inspired decor - all out of re-claimed materials, and we sold it at antique stores and vintage shows. Doing that enabled me to combine both of my interests into one focus: creating accessories with a seasonal focus from 'found' materials, and having a lot of fun designing the booths that those products were displayed in.

With Retreat, I had the opportunity to participate as a vendor in some of the BEST vintage shows in the country - shows with stellar reputations, like The Farm Chicks and BarnHouse Market in Washington state, and Remnants of the Past in California. We also hosted our own shows - producing the Petite Retreat seasonal store, Retreat Vintage Market, and Island Retreat Vintage Market shows in Washington from 2010 to 2011. I also produced the FOLKbarn artisan & vintage show in Springfield, Ohio in 2012 for FOLK Magazine.

Photos of Retreat products & settings that I designed and created have appeared in the publications Somerset Life, Where Women Create, PORCH magazine, FOLK magazine, and on the blogs Vintage Indie and I Am Dreaming Vintage. I am very grateful to the photographers who submitted those images - Robin Laws, Jenny Malott, Elise Liptack, and Kimberly Taylor.

heading homeward:
In the fall of 2011, I saw everything in my life shift and change very suddenly. In early 2012, Retreat closed permanently, and my 32- year marriage finally ended. I moved back to my Southern California roots, to begin a new life alone. Sadly, my estranged (not ex) husband died suddenly at the end of 2012 in Texas. There could not have been a sadder ending to our story.

Honestly, folks, this has been a journey that I never imagined or expected to be on in my life - but through it all, I am finding out who I have always been meant to be: I am a mother, a grandma, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a friend. I am a woman of faith. I am a dreamer. And I am a creative artist who wants to use every last bit of the creativity in my soul to bring some happiness to others in the short time I have on this earth!

Now based in the wine country in Southern California, I am continuing to provide
 retail visual design services to clients in the vintage industry, including The Vintage Marketplace show and vendors at other vintage/antique shows and shops. 

Starting the homewardFOUND blog in the fall of 2012 was, honestly, a creative outlet for me... I just needed to be able to continue creating! The joy of it all has been the wonderfully warm reception that I have received from my readers and the blogging community at large. In winter, 2013, homewardFOUND appeared in the Romantic Homes Magazine blog feature. In fall 2013, my original Sweet Sweater Pumpkins appeared in the Better Homes and Gardens special interest publication 'Halloween Tricks & Treats' - and I am grateful to photographer LuLu Tapp for including my product in her own home and in the magazine feature. Also in 2013, I participated as a vendor at several vintage and artisan shows & events in Southern California, selling my handmade products.

my childhood dream come true:
In January of 2014, my dearest lifelong dream came true: After 47 years of dreaming about it and a year of working to get an interview, I was hired by the Walt Disney Company! ;) Just a few months later, I was promoted to Retail Visual Specialist at the Disneyland Resort - working in a creative capacity, doing what I love most, for the most creative company in the world. I am honored to be a part of the vision of Walt Disney, who said something that is true for my life as well as his company:

moving forward...
I left my position with the Walt Disney Company at the end of 2014, which was never in my plan. I made the decision after my Dad was given a terminal cancer diagnosis with a very short timeline. Mom needed my help caring for him and with running their business - and that took precedence over my dream. I will never regret my choice, as it gave me more time to spend with my Dad before he changed his address to Heaven.

And then I took a blogging hiatus for a year and a half, to help my Mom - and I - recover from the devastating loss. We have built a new life in a new place that works for us, and once again I am blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with someone I love and enjoy so much.

... and my story continues...

Just as endings come unplanned, so do beginnings. Opportunities come our way and sometimes we just have to grab on and hang on tight! In October 2017, I made a quick decision and opened a small shop inside a store filled with vendor rooms in my town. the homewardFOUND shop offers some of my favorite homewardFOUND (and RETREAT) handmade products combined with vintage + salvaged goods. Come visit Room #1 inside Needful Things Addiction Marketshoppe in historic old town Lake Elsinore, California - just a few miles from Temecula Wine Country!