“Kids Live Here” Home Design

When we bought this house, our very first house, Kendall was 8 weeks old. Let’s just say I still had a pretty warped idea of what life with kids… like, REAL kids, not just the ones I imagined I’d have… would be like.

Pretty much all I need to tell you is I used to think I’d turn the “formal” rooms of this house into, umm, actual FORMAL rooms. Like, I thought I’d buy a bar cart and keep wine glasses in there. And there would be no toys. Oh no. No toys in the formal rooms. That’s not very formal at all. They would be “adult only” spaces.


The good news is we couldn’t afford to do anything with those rooms until Kendall was well into toddlerhood, at which point I was utterly defeated and just threw a train table and, yes, a crap load of toys up there.

You can read more about the evolution of our formal rooms here.

*Sigh* I would never have beautiful design as long as I had children, I once thought. Kids ruin everything, especially beautiful houses.

And that was just as well because we couldn’t really afford to do everything we wanted back then. Our budget was tight when we moved in, having gone to a single income so I could stay home.  I used to dream of suddenly coming into $10,000, and using every penny to fully decorate the house, throwing every last piece of frat-house furniture on the curb.

I remember Nate Berkus said on his show (oh, RIP Nate Berkus Show, I miss you so) something to the effect that decorating your house should be a journey, and it should represent your journey through life. That you shouldn’t rush out to do everything at once, and instead let it unfold as your life does.

Pfft. That sounded like an awful idea. What fun is that, NATE?

And yet, not really by choice, that’s what we’ve done in the 6 years we’ve been in this house. One day I’ll have to do a real house-tour, and bust out the pictures of this place on the sales flyer. The difference is crazy.

Dining room turned playroom

This house? This is OUR home. It has our stamp all over it. And it is not at all the home I would have designed if someone handed me $10,000 the day we moved in.

It’s much, much better.

That formal space is now a home office in one room and a playroom in the other. In the office, we have a small table for the kids to play Legos at. In the playroom (above) we have nice seating for Scott and I to sip coffee in while the kids play.

Every room in this house is for every person who lives in this house. We’ve changed it, and added to it, and repainted, and remodeled it slowly, and in a way that makes each space as functional for our whole family as possible.

Birch Lane Fairfax Etagere bookshelf

Items like this shelf Birch Lane sent to me are filled with the sentimental (pictures) and the functional (like a bin of sunscreen and bug spray). I even found an aesthetically pleasing way to contain the billions of balls that roll around this house and their accompanying bats and helmets.

DIY kitchen table

Had we designed and decorated this space all at once, instead of letting it evolve with our family, we would have overlooked details like the importance of a table that is easy to clean, and doubles as a craft space. And Scott would have never had time to build one that I love more than anything I’ve ever seen for sale.

We also happen to have a tutorial on how to build a farm-style table yourself here.

Now that I have a grasp of designing not just around kids, but inclusive of the kids, I feel far less defeated. Actually, I think I’m more excited about (gradual) home design than ever.

My kids may ruin a lot of things, like my ability to ever wear anything white, but they definitely have not ruined our ability to have a beautiful house. Yes, when people walk in our house, the first thing they will probably think is, “Kids live here.”

Because, you know, kids live here.


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  1. Love this. I especially love the pics of your kids you have in the playroom! How/where did you find those? Fun and functional abode.

  2. I read your blog because I love the stories you tell AND you usually you throw a pic or 2 in of your awesome house which is a bonus! I’ve gotten quite a few great design ideas over the years from you!

  3. Your home is beautiful! I love your floors and your farm house table! Also, great idea on the ball storage, where are your baskets from?

  4. Hanan Webster on

    Yes! Our house is definitely loved in the same way. Our entire “formal” living room and dining room is pretty much a huge playroom, but with (super old) couches & a tv, for when friends are over too. I need to blog it!

  5. The fact that our formal living room, which is also the first thing you see when you walk in, is a ::clutches pearls:: PLAYROOM horrifies my mother. On the opposite side we have a lovely formal dining room filled with beautiful pieces. Sadly, with two working adults in full time grad school it looks like a really messy office.

    Now that we have been in this house for a couple of years we’ve evolved. We plan to move the playroom to the office. Our office will move to the playroom and blend with some amazing pieces in storage. Eventually.

    I think the gradual changes are a good thing for me. I know the second we finish the bathroom remodels, and the kitchen, and all the rest, I will want to start again. But for now, it’s a work in progress marked by toys, crumbs, and our life.

  6. Your home tells a beautiful story! And I love the idea of letting your space evolve with your family. Having moved into my forever home in April, 6 days after our second daughter was born, this concept really resonated with me… Now if I could actually make the time to get some pictures on the walls and finish the baby’s room. At least we have some furniture and the boxes are gone, so it no longer looks like squatters live here. Baby steps, right? 🙂

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