Those of you who know me or have read this blog for any length of time know that I am a total magazine junkie. I’ll take all the magazines, please and thank you. Pinterest was made for people like me – idea hoarders with binders of ripped out magazine pages, collected over years and years of information consumption. I digress.
This summer, I picked up a copy of Traditional Home in an airport enticed by the cover’s headline “Living with style and kids too”. I mean, right? Who doesn’t want to live in style with their kids? Boy was I underwhelmed. I was reminded at first glance of a page in a kids’ book (“What Are You So Grumpy About?” – you should totally get this book) that asks if the kid is grumpy because he had to go over to so-and-so’s house and not touch anything and listen to adults talk about boring junk. You were a kid once. You know this place. I’ll tell you what. The pages of Traditional Home’s July/August issue were filled with don’t touch anything rooms.
I decided to write a letter to the magazine outlining why these featured homes were completely unattainable and prone to depressing those of us parents trying to live the dream surrounded by daily kid clutter. Ever the recovering lawyer, I went back to the magazine for fuel to support my position. You’ll never guess what I found.
Traditional Home had it right.
No matter what your personal style, I think we can agree on some basic tenets of living with kids. Here’s what I gleaned from Traditional Home (in no particular order):
1. Families want homes that are beautiful and sophisticated but also comfortable for their kids. The definition of beautiful or sophisticated or comfortable is totally up to you and your family and no one else.
2. The most important thing in a family home is its flow. How do you live as a family? This impacts how the rooms connect and the creation of shared spaces where your family can really live together. Is homework done during meal prep time? Maybe you can add a small table or open up a wall so that there is a homework spot in the kitchen. The key here is creating spaces for active participation and engagement between family members in a way that makes sense to your family.
3. Kids who share rooms learn cooperation. One home featured in this issue was a whopping 15,000 square feet. You read that right. Three zeros. And guess what? All of family’s kids shared bedrooms because their parents wanted the kids to develop a sense of cooperation and generosity. This is a concept that I can totally get behind.
4. Every home with kids needs a drop-zone, no matter how small, to contain the clutter that is active family life. I repeat. Every home with kids needs a drop-zone.
5. Upholstered furniture can be covered with easy to clean indoor-outdoor fabrics and retain a polished look. Not featured in this issue, but also worth mentioning: white slip covers + bleach = good stuff.
6. Mixing in antiques and art with new pieces is key to making a house look like a home instead of a catalog. Having irreplaceable pieces in your home also helps teach kids that not everything is disposable, nor should it be.
Oh, and I also learned not to judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, the comfort of another family's home by my own aesthetics.
Want to make your home more beautiful but also comfortable for your kids? You are in luck. (You knew there was going to be a pitch in here somewhere. Here it comes.) Animal Cracker Studio is opening this fall and I am so unbelievably excited to help families make the the best of their homes. You've already seen my new logo. The whole new website will be up and running very soon. In the meantime, if you are interested in joining the mailing list to receive updates and info, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t wait to get started!
And P.S.? I did write a letter to Traditional Home but instead of blasting them, I thanked them for including some amazing lessons about living with kids and style.