Book Review: Design Mom – How to live with Kids: A Room by Room Guide

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This book couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Before my life was turned upside down, I spent most of my time at our office. I put most of my effort into designing and furnishing those premises.  Now, I juggle working from home, with a toddler while trying to update the interior design of our home to be suitable for a design oriented working mom, her organised husband and active toddler.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I vowed to myself that I would not compromise design and style in my life just because a tiny human was entering our lives. Design, was, is and always will be important to me in every aspect of my life.

I started following the blog by the same name, Design Mom (one of my blogger crushes) a few years ago, so I was familiar with Gabrielle Stanley Blair’s inspirational style. When I came across her blog post announcing her book, and read:

“Design doesn’t have to disappear when you have kids. You can have a beautiful home that works for both kids and adults. It’s totally possible…”

I knew Design Mom – How to live with Kids: A Room by Room Guide had to be on my shelf.

The book is aesthetically pleasing from the cover to cover and I picked it up as soon as it arrived and read it over the weekend, tagging all my favourite pages.

This book speaks volumes to me. It covers DIY, family traditions and designing stylish living spaces that both kids and adults are happy with.

The chapters are split according to room and include The Entryway, The Living Room, The Kitchen, The Kid’s Bedroom, The Family Room, The Laundry Room and the Bathroom and the Family Office. Each chapter offering practical tips and inspiration on how to create a functional space.

A few of my favourite tips (some of which we already apply):

  • avoid keeping objects in your home that are low function + low beauty.
    (It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”, William Morris.)
  • create a command centre at the entry of your home – so useful for keys, spare change, and adding the milk to your shopping list
  • make it easy for kids to help themselves in the kitchen – our toddler’s dishware is at a level he can reach and we keep his refrigerated snacks on the bottom shelf.
  • don’t hide the hamper
  • rotate toys

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It’s amazing to see the approach families take on taking everyday things around the house, like storing toys, organising art the kids bring home and the general functionality in a home where kids live and managing to keep a style.

I garnered a good sense of motivation from the book and I’ve already started making a list of other thing to do:

  • collect tablecloths slowly
  • start a family collection
  • make a list of fun music to clean up the kitchen to
  • set goals as a family
  • make a ‘you are special today plate’ to use on birthdays and special occasions ( I have an affinity to special tableware)

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Apart from the tips for interior upgrading and organising, I really enjoyed the pages where Blair shares her stories from her own personal life with her husband and six (no, that’s not a typo) kids. ‘At the Blair House’, they have 3 rules for table manners, they have family screen time, and they have a movie party tradition, to name a few.

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Now, I want to set something straight. Not every person lives in a home with large spacious rooms like the rooms photographed in the book.

We live in a small apartment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t apply many of the tips to the space we live in. Afterall, design is mostly about problem solving and creating something that is relevant to you, your situation and your environment. Having said that, we have a bit of a way to go with designing more functional spaces in our home, but we know it’s an organic process and not something that’s done in a day. And now with The Design Mom in our arsenal, we’re ready to tackle things with a fresh perspective.

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But my favourite part of the book – high-five Gabrielle – is the section Dealing with Disney. Where I live, character based paraphernalia is very popular. I often find myself cringing at the sight of all the stuff in the stores.  I’d rather not purchase something than purchase something with a character. But as I write this I find myself staring at the sea of yellow (can you guess what characters) on my toddlers table area.  It’s hard to say no to him when they make him happier than a bird with a french fry.  So at the same time I must confess, that I bent the rules a little here. I have allowed some toys but that’s where I draw the line. No decor or soft furnishings – ever.

If you’re expecting a little, have a little, a multiple of littles or know a household that could use this book, get it.

{Note: this is a sponsored post, and A Bird with a French Fry was provided with a copy of the Design Mom – How to live with Kids: A Room by Room Guide. All opinions are my own.}

9 Comments
  1. I love Gabby’s blog and have read several reviews of her book but yours is the best one I’ve read! I think I’ll treat myself to a copy. God knows I need some motivation to continue organising our flat!

    1. Thanks Maureen. The book is a real treat! Go on, you deserve it. I’m making it a Mamo official household manual.

  2. Oh, I LOVE this!! I felt the same way about our house when we adopted our son. I told my hubby that I wanted our house to still be a place where I loved to look at the walls and feel comfortable. And since I’m a very visual person, this meant I had to like what I was looking at!! I’m headed over to check out her book now, thanks for sharing.

    1. I’m curious Leah, did you maange to keep your style in your house? I think as long as you want to make things look good and be functional you’ll get there… we just have ot be a little more creative becuase of kids hehe

  3. We have recently bought a house and I am happy to incorporate her fantastic designs. I am such a fan of this book by Design Mom, and I’m not just saying that because I am a fan of Gabrielle.

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