By Gabrielle. Sweet Juniper from Lisa Scott’s tour.

This was a beautiful year of tours, I think. There were many cozy corners and inspired thoughts that stuck to me, and I hope you feel the same way. (If you’re interested, you can see our 2013 retrospective here, a poignant review of my favorite part of the tours, and 2014’s recap right here!)

My intent with these Living With Kids posts is to show you a pretty and thoughtful peek into someone else’s life. It might look completely different than your own, it might look almost exactly the same, it might make you gasp with joy or scrunch up your nose. But what I’m really hoping is that these strolls around a complete stranger’s home somehow shift your opinions and modus operandi.

Just for a minute or ten or for the foreseeable future! Just one thought that midnight blue might be your next couch color, or the addition of bright decals to your almond-esque dishwasher would really change your mood every time you walked into the kitchen, or “Honey, I’m turning the dining room into a mini gymnasium-slash-playroom-slash-art studio-slash-dance party central — and it’s gonna have a swing!” Change is my favorite.

And, listen. I mean it when I tell you every week at the end of these tours: Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me knowWe love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! I really, truly mean it. So if you ever find yourself wishing for something different or something closer to your own Living With Kids lifestyle, send me a note and a photo or two. Or copy me on an email to a friend who inspires the whole neighborhood, encouraging him or her to participate. Participation is my favorite!

Now. Let’s remind ourselves of some of the brightest tours of 2015!

We started in Amsterdam with a glimpse of Meghann‘s home just a few months before she moved to Saba. Some parts of the tours look so much alike, which I’m sure is a relief to her children after such a giant transition.

And then there was Barbara, who made us all smile when she admitted to secretly envying other peoples’ uncluttered, pristine homes. Us, too! (Exclaimed as we survey our equally inspiration-overloaded craft tables!) She also had a lot to say about the challenges of raising children in an affluent community. Her thoughts are worth a revisit, for sure.

Remember Caryn’s small space and big ideas? There’s something refreshing about what makes the cut in a NYC apartment. With books, art, a Murphy bed, and Central Park just a block away, it’s a brilliant study of a creatively edited space.

Oh! I can’t forget Maureen’s house! It’s stunning and stylish and I’d steal it tomorrow if she wouldn’t notice! But what I love the most about this space is how her children’s presence is visible pretty much everywhere you look.

Nothing’s too terribly precious or off-limits. It’s a given that a playdate hosted by Maureen is probably the one every parent wants to attend!

I love how she displays art and turns pretty much any surface into a drawing space, don’t you?

Wait! Do you want to know another favorite of mine? When dads chime in with their own thoughts about how their families are living with kids.

We had Derek talk about what home means to him: “It’s not the physical structure that makes up a house or the property value or even just the extrinsic things with which you fill the space, but what home really means to us: love.” So nice.

And then there was Mat, who talked about mid-century design and some of its inherent design flaws when living with little ones.

In his words, “One of the goals of mid-century architecture was to accommodate the family, but they didn’t always carry it off. When we bought this house we loved the balcony that ran along the back side, but instead of a railing there was a pony wall that was about two feet high. Any parent looking at that wall would fear that sooner or later a kid would go over the side. So one of the first things we did was lay down a new balcony and install the tension cable railing.”

There is also plastic guard on the staircase railing, just until the baby gets a bit older. But someday soon, you can bet that well-designed staircase will be looking stunning again! Sometimes, living with kids means living with kids safely!

We heard from a gorgeous grandmother and artist named Sheila, whose home made room for grand little guests.

There’s a never-ending roll of paper on the coffee table and next to her own easel, and a crib in the guest bedroom.

It’s nice when we feel like there’s room for us, isn’t it?

We traveled virtually to many enviable locales! We visited Susan in the south of France…

And gasped at Raffaella’s home in southern Tuscany…

And on to Elizabeth’s temporary home in Japan.

Remember Petra’s home in Nova Scotia, where the highway ends?


Talk about unique!

Speaking of unique, we can’t forget Emily’s home in Los Angeles, where she lives with her children, husband, dogs, horses, chickens, canaries, budgies, and an occasional peacock that wanders into her always open door.

There have been heartfelt reminders in every post, from Marichelle’s artwork scattered about…

To the goodness that pops up in Heather’s kitchen window…

Near the open shelving…

And above her desk. A favorite, for certain.

My favorite part of Senna’s interview is when she said this: “Sometimes I feel like I’m short-changing my patients or my kids, but over the years I’ve been learning that it’s important to live my dreams. This world needs people who are living their dreams. My dreams were to be a doctor and a mother. It truly is an amazing thing that I can show my kids what it looks like to pursue your dreams, especially as a woman.”

And my favorite part from Mia’s interview is when she said this: “I never worried about what the business looked like to other people, and I created my own paradigm for a modern mother in business. I never tried to conceal that we had kids and dogs running and barking in the background, nor tried to stop my mother walking into the office during a meeting. I embraced this early as my brand, and I was proud of it. I refused to embrace the compromise of work versus family — I was determined to have it all in one place, one self-perpetuating organism.”

Also, this: “I hope they remember all the talking we did and the time we spent together reading, traveling, making dinners and eating together with so many friends and relations around the table. I hope they take away from their childhood home the desire to be generous and how to be a good host, and that they have learned the value of not just opening up your home but doing it with an abundance and graciousness that shows your guests that you care about them. Most importantly, I want them to know how to make their own home not just a place others want to be, but a place that they love to return to.”

Her tour was a mix of past and present photos because I just couldn’t edit out the memories! Try not to get misty when you read that one again!

If you’re looking for a good read, don’t forget to revisit Rebecca. Her home situation is super unique — 150 years old, shared, with a tin roof, of course! — and there seems to be an adventure on every shelf!

We’ve seen fabulous front doors and covetable artwork, like at Etienne’s house…

And we’ve seen fabulous kitchen backsplashes, like the aqua dream in Miranda’s home.

And a really lovely kitchen curtain from Michelle.

But if you asked me what I remember most, it’s this from the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful Ann:

“Our oldest son, Dale, died when he was two. He was beautiful. He taught me to be a mother and we miss him every day. Jody, our oldest daughter, was only eight months old when he died, and she learned to walk that week looking for him.”

I don’t think I’ll ever lose the catch in my throat from that one.

This Living With Kids project I started back in September of 2011 (Hi, Jane!) has always been just that: All the many ways to live with kids and enjoy it to the moon and back.

Because it’s a magical moment in time, you know. A blink of an overtired eye. There is a beginning and an ending that always seems to come too soon, and a lot of play-doh and chalk dust and joy and worry in between.

May you enjoy it daily and realize how much you’ll miss it long before it’s over.

I end these posts every week with the same post script, and this one will be no different! But this time, how about you go for it? Send me a note, will you?

P.S. — Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me knowWe love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.