Design a kid friendly home with Design Mom

Anyone with kids has probably found themselves wondering at some point if it is possible to live in a well-designed home with children.

I personally have a junior basketball hoop in the foyer. Why? It was too cold to set it up outside when I got it this winter and I didn’t want my little one to freeze while shooting hoops. Now, I’m too lazy to move it outdoors and it has become a kind of house rule to have guests ring the doorbell, shoot for two and if they score, they get to come inside.

I’ve watched in confusion as friends, in an effort to hold on to some sense of their adult selves, purchased white suede sofas and spent the next five years shooing away two toddlers with crayons, markers and other stain-producing implements. That rarely works. Then there are those friends who have gone the other route throwing up their hands and filling their homes with furniture they don’t even like, simply because they won’t care if it gets dirty or destroyed.

Beyond what you put in your house, there is also the issue of how to make each room family functional. One friend decided the dining room would function better as a playroom, which was fine until dinner parties became an issue. It’s hard to seat adults at tables and chairs made to fit the three-foot crowd.

Thankfully, Gabrielle Stanley Blair — author, designer, blogger ( and mother of six — has written “Design Mom: How to Live With Kids: A Room-By-Room Guide,” (Artisan, $29.95).

Photography by Seth Smoot, styling by Kendra Smoot for Design Mom.

Photography by Seth Smoot, styling by Kendra Smoot for Design Mom.

Blair is in town Thursday, May 7, for a book signing and DIY workshop with Rachel Faucett of Handmade Charlotte. The event takes place from 6 – 8 p.m. at Pottery Barn Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta. There is a $15 materials fee to participate in the DIY workshop, or just attend the free book signing. Blair will only be signing books purchased at Pottery Barn.

In the book, Blair immediately begins offering up solutions to some of the biggest design challenges of families large and small. Her ideas come to life in photos from dozens of homes around the world.

What to do with the foyer? While she doesn’t recommend using it as a basketball court, she does suggest ways you can make something out of nothing. If your entryway is a narrow hallway, you can still turn it into a functional command center for your home with the use of hooks, a small chair, etc.

She also advises allowing toys to invade the living room — just be sure they are the best-looking toys in your house with enough sophistication to be showcased on shelves, such as wooden blocks or museum worthy items. While we are often in a rush to get settled into our homes, Blair says it is important to take your time. Move slowly when deciding how to design your family living room, because as the name suggests this is a room that you should actually utilize often.

It turns out my friend with the dining room turned playroom wasn’t altogether wrong. Blair doesn’t even have a chapter for dining rooms. She’s not a fan. Her own parents turned the dining room of her childhood home into a library. There was a table in the room which could be transformed into a dining table when it wasn’t being used for reading or studying. Her strategy has been to use dining rooms as something her family will use daily but that also works as dining space if needed. Mostly though, eating at the kitchen table should suffice for most modern families, says Blair and she walks you through steps for making it work, including creating a kid-sized area in the dining room to mirror the grown-up table (which means you don’t have to sacrifice your dinner parties).


At some point, you’ve probably lived in a home with limited closet space. Blair offers a few ways to work around this common problem while also creating kid appropriate options for clothing storage. She also hits on family rooms, the family office and bathrooms and laundry rooms offering a wealth of solutions for tight spaces. Small laundry area? Keep everything clean and white and remember to give your ten-year-old machines a good toothbrush scrubbing.

For bathrooms, consider that you may not need to do all your grooming there. Set up an area in your bedroom for grooming, especially if you’re in a one-bathroom type of situation. And finally, in this era of telecommuting, you may have a personal desk at home, but think about creating an office space that the entire family can share (see picture above.) For Blair, there is only one no-kid zone in a home — the master bedroom — so go wild in there, but keep a few books and blankets on hand for pint-sized visitors.

Event Details

Book Signing and DIY Workshop with Gabrielle Stanley Blair and Rachel Faucett.

Thursday, May 7, 6 – 8 p.m., Pottery Barn Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta.

Free – $15 (fee is for DIY workshop materials).  Reserve your space and purchase tickets here.

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