Living With Kids: Michelle LeBlanc

June 19, 2012

Michelle LeBlanc is that friend you want in the next dressing room or, better yet, sitting outside your closet every morning! “Nope,” she would shake her head politely and stylishly. “Not yoga pants again.” Browse her online shop for just a second or two, and it’s clear that her aesthetic is based on ease and good lines that will connect all the dots in your days, no matter where you may land. There’s a reason it’s called Pretty Mommy, Friends! Now let’s see how she’s prettily living with kids, shall we? Enjoy!

Q: Tell us all about the stylish family who lives here!

A: I live here with my husband Chris, music critic for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and our two daughters. Lila is four and Louisa just turned one in April, so we are knee deep in the highs and lows of raising two little ones. I also run a busy online boutique out of our house so I’m constantly trying to navigate between functioning as a stay-at-home mom and work-at-home mom. Between dress-up sessions, shipping packages, princess pirate escapades, answering emails, and keeping everything sisterly, there is a lot of living and working happening here on any given day!

Q: Where do you make your home? Will you tell us the story of how it came to be yours?

A: We moved to Minneapolis 11 years ago from Austin, Texas and bought this little 1920s cottage in the city. The location is pretty fantastic; right along a creek and scenic hike and bike trails, plus close to a lake…it is Minnesota, after all! When we found the house, we were newly engaged and I had no intention of living somewhere so cold for very long, so we definitely treated it as a temporary situation.


Fast forward a decade and two kids later. The house is a tight squeeze, the closet space at a premium, and the basement full, but we keep reconfiguring it to make it work. (Although having all of my husband’s music collection relegated to the basement is probably not his idea of “making it work!”) I love our neighborhood and would love to add on at some point in the near future, but I’m always holding on to the hope that we will end up back in Austin someday.


Q: What’s your favorite feature in your home? What makes you the happiest about it? Also, what are you dying to change?

A: When I was pregnant with Louisa, we converted our upstairs guest room/catchall loft space into our bedroom and office. My friend and amazing interior designer Nadia Haddad designed it and is the one space in the house that feels fully realized. She turned it from a crazy hoarders-style mess into a little sanctuary. I love waking up to a clutter-free room, my favorite painting, and light streaming through a stained glass piece by David Scheid.



Now I just need her to work her magic on the rest of the house! I’m dying to redo the living and dining room, but am trying to make more thoughtful purchases that I really love instead of rushing through the process. This is so hard for this instant gratification loving shopper!

Q: You curate such a gorgeous shop! Tell us about it! How did it begin, and how do you choose who and what to stock?

A: Thank you! Pretty Mommy actually started its life as a blog. I had been a stay-at-home mom for about a year and a half and had really lost my fashion mojo so I randomly decided to start writing about it one day as a kind of kick in the pants. I already had owned an online consignment business and worked in boutiques as a buyer and manager for most of my twenties, so adding a shopping component seemed like a natural extension. The shop grew from there and has really flourished, although now with two littles and running the store I don’t really have time to blog anymore!


As for deciding what to carry, it’s really as simple as choosing things that I love. The nice thing about online retail is that your audience is so far reaching. I never have to think “What do people in Minneapolis want to buy?” which is pretty liberating as a buyer. I think my niche is finding small, independent designers with some sort of handmade or hand-crafted element…but still really fashion forward. And I am a big fan of supporting women who make things in the USA and personally have a hand in the construction.

Q: Do you have a separate area in your home that serves as your warehouse? How do you keep the goodies from curious little girls?

A: The office has some great, super organized closet spaces that house most of the inventory, and there are always lots of boxes coming and going. The girls don’t spend a lot of time there, but Lila loves to play dress up with the jewelry! Sometimes my assistant has to recover pieces from the toy room, but I’m pretty vigilant about making sure that they are gentle with everything.

Q: What’s your basic philosophy on living with kids?

A: Don’t sweat the small stuff, try to embrace the season you are in, and know that it all races by so quickly that even those hard stages will be over in the blink of an eye! We don’t own anything too precious and neither girl is very rambunctious by nature, so things usually stay in one piece. I think letting them have the run of the place but teaching them to take care of things works for us! As long as they aren’t hurting themselves or the house, I like to give them room to explore and create.


Q: How important is style in your daily life? Does it motivate you? And where do you find your best inspiration?

A: Style is probably way more motivating and important than it should be! There are certainly many, many days I spend in my pajamas, but I definitely function better when I am put together and surrounded by pretty things. I’m convinced that my daughters listen to me more when I don’t looked like I just rolled out of bed! Plus it’s just fun creating a little different persona and look every day. It’s an easy creative outlet.

There is kind of an overload of inspiration to be found these days, no? I could spend way too much time combing through Pinterest and street style blogs, so I’m working on letting other people (like you!) find it for me. Joslyn of Simple Lovely can do no wrong in my eyes; her taste and style is always spot on, plus she’s just all-around awesome. The Glow always knocks me out and gives me new girls to crush on. I can always count on my real life and incredibly talented friend, Emily, to come for an afternoon and somehow arrange my home so that it looks far more interesting than it did before she arrived!

I’m completely enamored with that group of LA ladies that all blog, hang out, and create amazing things: Heather Taylor, Joanna Williams, Jeana Sohn, Simone LeBlanc, Jennifer of Ermie, Beatrice Valenzuela, and all the rest.

Oh, and Instagram! I’m always finding the best things over there…

Q: If you could give other moms your top tips on finding style in the everyday, what would they be?

A: Take a shower, paint your fingernails red, get out of those sweats  at least a couple of days a week, light a candle, buy a plant, and keep something bubbly in the fridge…even if it is just sparkling water!

Three things that make me feel more glamorous? Blush, first! Always blush! I like Josie Maran’s cheek stains, free of yucky chemicals and give you that flushed look. There’s also Rodin’s Olio Lusso at night, which is admittedly totally spendy but I don’t really use any other potions or creams and it smells really amazing. And then an interesting complex perfume; right now I’m rotating between Noble and a mix of Poppy Rouge and Burning Barbershop.

Q: Describe your perfect moment of every day when you feel like you’ve got it right.

A: Oh, man! Probably when everyone is finally asleep and I’m vegged out on the couch watching Mad Men!

Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish I had known…

A: I wish I had known that I needed more space and time to settle into life with two kids. Go easy on yourselves, mamas!

—-

Very true, Michelle. Go easy on yourself, mamas! We’re all doing the best we can, aren’t we? Perfect reminder as the summer begins! Thank you, Pretty Mommy!

Friends, how do you find style in the everyday mom moments?  I’d love to hear your own techniques and tricks!

Photos by Paul Owen of Owen Photo.

P.S. — You can find all the homes in my Living With Kids series here. If you’d like to share your home with us, drop me a note! I’d love to see your name in my inbox!

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Heather - Chickabug June 19, 2012 at 6:05 am

I just love Michelle’s style!! Now I want to redecorate my house (and get some cooler plants) : )

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2 Jessica B. June 19, 2012 at 6:32 am

Thank you for this beautiful interview and bit of encouragement with the “I wish I had known” line… I’m a stay at home, work at home mama too, and it has taken me far longer to hit my stride than I ever thought possible. I’m getting closer, but not there yet. ;)

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3 Shay June 19, 2012 at 7:20 am

This might be my favorite one yet, although I say that every time. I really like how you choose some suburban homes that aren’t all white walls and scandanavian furniture. I like those, but these are more realistic for inspiration in my life.

I need more plants.

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4 Torrie @ a place to share... June 19, 2012 at 7:42 am

i’ve been dyin’ to see that ladie’s home (or at least the ‘newly designed’ part!) ever since she posted little sneak peaks! than you for sharing it!! …love, love, LOVE her :).

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5 Shannon { A Mom's Year } June 19, 2012 at 7:47 am

So many things about this interview made me smile: Michelle’s daughter working away at her own art studio, this quote: “I’m convinced that my daughters listen to me more when I don’t looked like I just rolled out of bed!” (sad but true), and Michelle’s admission that she loves to collapse on the couch at night to watch Mad Men (a guilty pleasure that I just started myself!).

Thanks for another inspiring interview, this time set in my hometown. Love it!

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6 emily @ work mama work June 19, 2012 at 8:36 am

What a bewitching space! I love everything from the plants in baskets to the Shanna Murray decal in her daughter’s wall. These interviews are wonderful.

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7 Melissa de la Fuente June 19, 2012 at 8:37 am

Love this gal & LOVE her style. I saw so many things that spoke to my heart ( any gal who has Tamar Mogendorff’s work, Bellocq tea ( although I confess to only caring about the packaging :) and lots of pinks & plants? Is awesome by my standards! Top it off with a GORGEOUS home, 2 beautiful little gals and a lovely personality? You are golden. Congrats hun, I LOVED seeing your incredible home. I have so many questions but, the first one is: where did you get those sweet tie-backs on the curtains in your room? Or did you make them? love!
xo
Melis

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8 michelle @ pretty mommy June 19, 2012 at 10:20 am

Hey Melis! Thank you so much for the sweet comment – you always know how to make a girl’s day ;) The tiebacks were from west elm but no longer…I was going to attempt to make some more…seems fairly easy?
xo, Michelle

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9 karla June 19, 2012 at 9:27 am

i love it all. i especially love the simplicity of the open wall shelves in the kitchen with the glass jars, recipe books & plants. please share where those shelves are from, would love to do something similar in my own home. thanks!

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10 michelle @ pretty mommy June 19, 2012 at 10:21 am

Hey Karla,
They are from Ikea – easy & cheap! xo, Michelle

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11 Emilee June 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Ya. It’s called varde and it’s in their freestanding kitchen section.

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12 julia @ life on churchill June 19, 2012 at 10:05 am

we live in St. Paul and dream of moving to Austin (I am from the south). Love the pops of color in your home!

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13 michelle @ pretty mommy June 19, 2012 at 10:23 am

Thank you SO much Gabrielle for inviting me to be on my of my very favorite blogs! I love how supportive you are of moms of all walks of life…you are truly a huge inspiration! and thank you for all the sweet comments – you have the best readers ;)
xoxo, Michelle
ps – tickets for ALT NYC bought! How exciting & cool is that?

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14 Shannon June 19, 2012 at 10:24 am

Love this! So great to see Michelle featured. I can remember reading her blog when my son was only a few months old and feeling so inspired that I could be stylish AND be a mom. And she’s got the best shop ever! It will be so fun now to picture the space where my clothes come from. ;)

Shannon
http://www.11thandshannon.com

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15 courtney June 19, 2012 at 10:37 am

My brother lives in Austin – too hot! Last summer it was over 100 degrees for four straight months. Too hot for this Northern gal!

I love Michelle’s style and approach to life with two little ones. I myself have a 7 month old and a 3 year old, and life can be VERY unstylish at times!! But I have found what works for me is organization, a glass of wine, and a hot bath almost every night once the kids are in bed! I throw on my mud mask, sip my wine, pick out my outfit for the next day in my head (that is the organization part) and try to relax. Life is never perfect, but if you embrace the imperfections and have fun, it’s so much better!

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16 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag June 19, 2012 at 10:55 am

Oh this one was CHARMING! Loved the house, loved the interview. Adored all the jazzy pops of color. Bellocq tea!

I plan on taking the ‘be easy on yourselves’ mantra very much to heart….:)

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17 elizabeth antonia June 19, 2012 at 11:04 am

i love this little peek into michelle’s life. she has great taste and such a beautiful, easy smile. what’s not to love?! i have a second on the way and her parting advice will be taped to my wall!

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18 estelle June 19, 2012 at 11:10 am

I want to move right in! Love Michelle’s style and her entire beautiful vibe. So easy, breezy and full of soul, too – just like her. Love this feature. It’s such fun to get a little sneak peek into our favorite bloggers’ lives.

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19 Grace June 19, 2012 at 11:20 am

Oh. my. goodness. I loved this house and interview SO much!! Great inspiration!! Just beautiful, and I can’t wait to check out her shop :)

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20 Sandy June 19, 2012 at 11:22 am

Love the Pretty Mommy blog/shop and reading more about Michelle’s life and home… as I sit at the computer in my yoga pants – ha! Nonetheless, inspirational as always. Thanks for sharing :)

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21 katie//salt+pine June 19, 2012 at 11:23 am

Michelle is absolutely one of my favorite people out there. She is smart, kind, hilarious and has *the* best style! I’m so happy you featured her!

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22 Kelly June 19, 2012 at 11:41 am

love this house tour – Michelle, everything looks so lovely!

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23 Araya @ Wind and Willow Home June 19, 2012 at 11:59 am

Hi Michelle,
Love, Love, Love your style and shop!

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24 michelle @ pretty mommy June 20, 2012 at 9:19 am

So excited to know about you & your shop! sent you an email :)xoxo, Michelle

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25 how2home June 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm

This house is SO adorable! I totally fits the owner’s cheery personality! I wonder if she has plans to move to a bigger space?

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26 matisse madden June 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Dear Michelle,
I am so impressed by you! It appears you are beautiful both inside and out. I adore your bed spread. Where did you get it, pretty please?
Loves,
Matisse

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27 michelle @ pretty mommy June 20, 2012 at 9:21 am

Hi Matisse,
Thank you! The shop that I bought it from no longer carries them but I am trying to source them for my store…you can google vintage kantha quilts ;)
xoxo, M

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28 Martha June 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm

love this house tour and her thoughts! ever since i found you, design mom, i find myself shopping for clothes or stuff for my house and thinking “would design mom buy this?” you’ve definitely been an inspiration to first buy the right stuff, and then the everyday decisions about what to wear, etc., can just turn into stylish choices automatically. it’s an evolving process with putting together a stylish and workable wardrobe. i think that when i buy my kids’ clothes, too. so, thank you for your inspiration. which reminds me, i would love it if you started some series about putting together a good wardrobe for yourself (moms) and for kids, too. when you put together photo shoots for your family i see a lot of “we just used what we had” and i always wonder how people just “happen” to have photo-shoot worthy clothes. anyway, whatever advice you can give would be awesome. carry on, design mom. you’re amazing.

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29 Trina {Beginner Beans} June 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm

What a beautiful home! Good work, Michelle!

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30 GSD June 19, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Very clever use of space and color combos, i really enjoy browsing others’ creativity online. Good show!

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31 Kathleen June 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm

michelle, your home is beautiful! such a polished bohemian vibe that i love! such great mothering advice too, wonder what it would be like to have two non rambunctious girls instead of boys! :) so good!

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32 Trina June 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Love Michelle! She is an inspiration. Not to mention, a sweet nurturing momma who has a great eye and surrounds herself with all forms of beauty….a true Pretty Mommy in every sense of the word.
xo . trina

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33 joslyn June 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm

michelle is one of my all-time favorite people — both online and in real life. she just hits it on every level…smart, funny, talented, creative, amazingly lovely, killer taste.
i feel so lucky to call her a friend.
xox
jos

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34 Jen Daily June 19, 2012 at 10:19 pm

I love this series, and this home is a lovely and inspirational addition. A good reminder to go slow, and only add to your life the things that have style.

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35 Jacqueline June 20, 2012 at 10:45 am

She’s very inspirational and her decorating style is so clean and colourful!

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36 Nicole_boldgoods June 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Perhaps my favorite blog post, ever. Thank you, thank you, Gabrielle and Michelle!

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37 austin, tx June 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm

loved this profile ! as a old friend of Michelle’s husband, i constantly remind him how lucky he is to have married so far above his station. also, Austin misses you – y’all come back now, ya here ?

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38 erica June 21, 2012 at 9:46 am

i love michelle’s style, such cheery colors and prints, and nothing feels forced or overdone. her blog is one of my favorites, too!

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39 Kim June 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I found you by way of Joslyn at SimpleLovely. Love Michelle’s style – especially the light, bright organized hominess of the master bedroom and office. I’d heard of Pretty Mommy but never checked it out until now!!! Excited by this new discovery…

:)

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40 joanna June 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm

It’s so nice to get a peek into Michelle’s cozy life! She’s so beautiful, and just lovely all around. So happy to have connected with her in blog land. Thanks for this great post!

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41 Heather Taylor June 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm

What a fabulous interview! Michelle is completely inspiring. Thanks for the shout-out!

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42 Emma at The Marion House Book June 26, 2012 at 7:07 pm

I can totally relate to being in a design funk after the birth of my first child! I’m so happy to have found people like Michelle. She has impeccable style!

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43 Sarah June 28, 2012 at 4:17 pm

What a charming home and family.

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44 Linda July 3, 2012 at 9:47 am

I love the shelf you have in the kitchen for the cookbooks. Where is that from?

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