At a time in their lives when many families are shopping for their second house, the one with a media room and a guest suite, Paul and Keri Mosier have no plans of moving from their cozy home in the historic Coronado neighborhood. Built in 1928, the 914 square-foot Pueblo revival features a broad front porch, bright, turquoise trim and just the right amount of space for this family of four.
Paul and Keri, both of whom are over 6 feet tall, share the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home with their getting-taller-by-the-minute daughters, Eleri (12) and Harmony (7). Paul is a self-published novelist who is active in the local literary scene, and Keri is the owner and designer behind mer*made jewelry.
Walking through the front door, one immediately feels welcome. There's a sense of intimacy that goes beyond the home's small footprint. Eclectic art pieces and family photos tell the story of the comfortable, bohemian life the couple has created here. Guests are invited to sit in the kitchen nook, and time appears to stand still while stories are shared and coffee is served.
The couple met when Keri was waiting tables at First Watch cafe in Phoenix, and Paul was a regular customer. They started dating, and after living together in the F.Q. Story neighborhood for a few years, they decided it was time to buy a house.
“We started looking at houses and we loved Coronado," Keri recalls. "We walked in the front door [of this house] and everything had been freshly painted and it was just adorable. This is the house we fell in love with.”
Keri says the neighborhood offers a genuine sense of community and everyone is very friendly.
“The neighbors are all different and so nice. We had just moved in, and a girlfriend and I were sitting on the porch having a beer,” Keri remembers, “and the two women who lived across the street at the time came across – also with beers in hand – and said, ‘Welcome to the neighborhood.’ Never in my life had that ever happened."
Soon after moving into the house in 2001, Paul proposed.
“I couldn’t imagine planning a big wedding,” Keri says. “That’s just not my thing.”
The couple married a few months later in Las Vegas, with Keri in a dress from Last Chance and an Elvis impersonator officiating the ceremony. The nuptials were followed by a housewarming party where friends and family celebrated the wedding, the house and the leap into adulthood.
During this time, Keri was also building a brand for her line of handmade goods, mer*made jewelry. She’s self-taught and has never had any formal training, but Keri believes she was inspired at an early age and just didn’t realize it at the time.
Keri recalls her mother made jewelry in the 1970s using silver beads and turquoise on old-fashioned flex wire. While Keri’s siblings were not interested in Mom’s hobby, she enjoyed tinkering with the materials.
“Years later,” she says, “I came across her little cookie tin full of her jewelry stuff and I started messing around.”
Keri’s first sale was at the Chicago Blues festival in 1994. A friend encouraged her to bring some of her pieces, so she reluctantly hung them on a pegboard and hawked her wares to concertgoers.
“I don’t even know how much I was selling things for!” Keri laughs heartily. At the end of the night, she was up $500 and was able to cover her flight back to Phoenix.
Fast-forward 21 years, and Keri’s mer*made jewelry is well-known in the Phoenix arts community. In the fall and spring, she spends every weekend at one of the many artisan craft festivals. She also sells at Frances vintage boutique in Phoenix and hosts trunk shows at her home a few times a year. When asked to describe her artistic style, Keri responds, "Delicate. And organic."
The mer*made moniker harkens back to the early days of Paul and Keri.
“He said I looked like a mermaid, because of my long wavy hair that glistened in the moonlight,” she laughs. “So I told him he looked like a dog, with his sad eyes. He told me he liked my honesty.”
As Paul and Keri talk about how they are able to be creative without studios and offices, Paul notes that he has written two novels “on that couch,” and Keri continues to make every single piece of mer*made jewelry at a small, wooden desk in the corner of their bedroom.
“You don’t need a lot of space to make this happen,” Keri states confidently.
The couple’s next project is to build out the garage and create a space for the whole family to write and make art.
“It might damage our mojo,” Paul jests, in reference to having a dedicated creative space outside of the house. “If it does, we’ll just tear it down,” he says.
Paul started out as a painter and his work adorns the walls of the family’s home. These days, he runs his own financial advising company, focusing on "green" investments, but his passion is writing. Mosier self-published three middle grade novels (for readers aged 8 to 12) before securing a two-book deal with Harper Collins this past summer. He is also an editor with the local literary journal, Four Chambers Press.
As neither has a traditional nine-to-five job, one may wonder how the family handles financial stress.
“I have anxiety about it all the time, but Paul is always confident that everything will work out,” Keri says. “And, somehow,” she says smiling, “we always manage to get by.”
Other than a coat of paint here and there, the Mosier’s haven’t done much to their home since moving in 14 years ago. “It needs some repairs, for sure. But I can’t imagine ever leaving.”