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nter as Strangers – Leave as Friends” reads a weathered sign above the door leading to the deck on Diane Wilson’s lavishly decorated home. However, a more accurate version might read, “Enter as Strangers – Leave as Family,” considering the fact that Diane and her late husband, Lee, opened their home to more than 100 foster children over the last 35 years. “Lee was an only child and always wanted a big family,” says Diane. “We had three of our own, but when our neighbors needed help, we took in their child. And then we just kept going with foster kids.” Twice when sibling pairs were going to be separated, the Wilsons took a major leap by adopting the children to keep them together. Today, Diane enjoys her seven children, seven grandchildren and the four boys who are currently calling her house their home. The last two arrived on Mother’s Day. “Sometimes they stay for a couple of

weeks, sometimes they stay for years,” says Diane. “My goal is to help them make it on their own.” Having the kids follow some basic rules is key to her success with these children. “I always start out with a simple, but important rule—leave it the way you found it,” she says. And it works, because you would never guess that four boys ranging in age from 12 to 18 live in this home that rivals a four-star bed and breakfast. “The children always come first, but decorating is definitely a passion of mine,” say Diane. While she is often told she should decorate professionally, for Diane it is a service she reserves for family and friends. “I decorated my son’s bathroom as a Christmas gift this year,” she says. When you walk in her home, it is a visual feast; classic artwork adorns the wall and antiques abound. It is clear that every piece has a story—from the baby grand piano in her family room to the widely

varied clock collection in the living room. Fabrics in many textures and colors are a tremendous element in Diane’s strong and cohesive style—she is a frequent customer at Boone Fabric in Mason. “But I also travel a great deal, and I bring home things I find in antique stores across the country,” says Diane. Both sides of her two-story entryway feature a hand-painted mural depicting slaves picking cotton in the fields and an elegant plantation house complete with columns. The statue that graces Diane’s front yard is depicted in front of the home in the mural. “The idea for the mural came from my mind, and I researched it through old slave books,” says Diane. “I chose it because it is a piece of history that no longer exists.” History is a theme found throughout Diane’s home. One of her upstairs guest rooms is called the president’s room. Photos, paintings and sculptures of presidents from Thomas Jefferson >>

august | september 2009


Mason-Deerfield Township Our Town Magazine, August 2009  

August 2009 edition of Our Town magazine, serving Mason and Deerfield Township in Greater Cincinnati