By Gabrielle. Entry from Mary Heffernan’s old home. (Don’t worry! I’m begging for a new tour of her ranch house very soon!)

It’s been another year of wonderful home tours and words that made our Tuesdays a little more thoughtful. What a lovely thing it is to be able to peek in on how others are living with their families. I’m so grateful to all of my guides for their bravery and openness, and also to my sweet readers for welcoming them in each week with a supportive comment or even a “What color are your walls?”

Join me in a little walk down memory lane, will you, please?

Are you tired of chalkboards? (I’m not.) To me, that’s like asking if you’re tired of real books. You know, the ones made of paper that smell like…well…paper. I don’t know if I’ll ever catch a whiff of chalk and not think fondly of third grade! I think Jessica would agree.

From kitchen memo board to office to do list and bedroom accent wall, she’s got chalkboard fever. I love it.

Hands down, my favorite answer to the question “When does your home work best?” was from Hannah, when she replied “My home works best when Tom is asleep.”

Oh, Tom!

This is the same tour that captured the girls’ bedroom as exactly how every girls’ bedroom should look at some point on a Saturday afternoon! Cozy, colorful clutter is charming.

There are features in every home tour that stick to us. For whatever reason, we can’t get them out of our brains and they become part of our wish list. For me, it’s often about the view.

Nadine’s street view is inspiring.

But her secret garden must be a wonderland, don’t you think? It slows my heart rate in photos, so I’m sure it’s madly restorative when it sits just out the back door!

Oh! A lush, hushed garden isn’t your thing? Then maybe you preferred Natalie’s house in Nicaragua.


A clear sea, sand that begs you to pitch your shoes, and blue sky for miles? Unofficially added to a Pinterest board called I’ll Send You A Postcard From Paradise After I Hammock.

But we can’t talk about views and not talk about the one from Becca’s kitchen sink, can we?

Yes, that is Mount Etna. And yes, if I lived there I would never ever complain about dish duty.

But do you remember her fireplace?

If you’re interested, her dining room table is equally remarkable.

Speaking of remarkable, Juliana’s lifestyle is not for the faint of height! From thirty floors up in Hong Kong, her interview reminded me that a bay window can double as a backyard, especially when the clouds are within reach.

Through the tours, I’ve loved peeking in on real kitchens. Kathryn’s looked like a party to me.

Cristina’s made me want to spend a sun-drenched morning in it.

Laura’s reinforced the idea that if new cabinets aren’t in your budget, a little color freshens it all up. Also, I love her knife storage.

And Alisa’s was jam-packed with solutions for not-so-cute dishwashers and icky cupboards. (You need to pop back into her home if you want the answer to “How do I turn my bedroom wall into a giant mural that is better than anything in my dreams?”)

Some tours, like Michelle’s, gave us a huge hint of the magic ahead just from the front door!

Anne’s tour taught us to embrace color…

…and comfort…

…stylishly and with a healthy sense of humor.

Amy gave us proof that window seats are always a good idea. (And also that hallways make for an awesome office!)

Michelle showed us the joy in saying yes to princess beds and fancy chandeliers. (The same goes for princess castles, riding toys, and other bedroom furnishings that cause you to ask yourself how in the world you landed in this decor moment!)

Katie demonstrated that even hip bachelor pads with exposed brick and ductwork can turn into hip family homes covered with preschool artwork!

Through Lindsay, we discovered that natural disasters destroy every single superficial thought on what truly makes a home. (This one always gets me!)

And LaTonya reminded us that a house doesn’t have to be “The One” to be the one that’s making your little ones happy right this very minute.

But mostly we learned that this whole Living With Kids thing – my goodness! – it all goes so fast. As Susanne says, “It’s such a cliché, but I wish someone had told me how fast it all goes…Every stage has its own lovely moments. But life happens and you enter the next stage in the blink of an eye. I just try to take lots of pictures and – better still – make movies. The voices of our loved ones are so precious!”

So as we welcome 2015, let’s remember all the voices – and all the smudges, all the laundry piles, all the calendars that couldn’t begin to hold all that we do in a day, all the middle of the night cries, and all the Legos we’ve stepped on in our rush to answer those cries – that made 2014 a year we don’t ever want to forget.

P.S. – Are you interested in sharing your own home with us in 2015? Let me know! It’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.