By Gabrielle.

I gasped when I saw the first few photos of Karin‘s backyard. And then I gasped even louder when I learned that five kids live here. By the time I reached the part about all five kids being homeschooled in this wonderland, I finally remembered to cover my mouth! Which was a good thing, because the next shot was of the most gorgeous ceiling I’ve ever seen in a living room. Friends, when Karin says she’s addicted to the details, she is telling the truth. And, truth be told, I’m addicted to her details, too.

Make sure you tear your eyes away from the gorgeous photos and read her thoughts about being a mother and wife and home educator. They are equally gorgeous.

Q: Tell us who lives in this stunning home!

A: Welcome! I live in Sunny South Florida with my Road Warrior CEO husband, our five children (twin boys and three girls), four tortoises, five Koi fish, and a Labradoodle named Bunker. Our children are ages nine, nine, seven, five, and two, and we’re currently homeschooling them.

Before you ask, yes, they’ve always been homeschooled and no, I don’t know how long we will homeschool them. But right now, homeschooling works for our family and we love everything about it! In addition to being a home educator I am also a blogger, writer, and our family’s head party planner.

Q: How did this house become yours?

A: In some ways our home was a dream come true, and in other ways it was a nightmare that seemed like it would never end.

We were blessed to work with an architect to completely design the house for our family from the ground up. Unfortunately our build experience was traumatic (to say the least!) and we ultimately had to move out of our home for six months while extensive repairs were done on the house. Our second builder was amazing to work with and, after a year of being back in the house I can truly say we have finally gotten past the negative and honestly love the home we’ve been lucky enough to build for our family.

I love our home because it’s extremely kid friendly. There isn’t a single room that our children are not allowed in. As if I could keep them out!

Although I am not formerly trained, I have decorated every home we’ve ever lived in. In this house, because it was custom built, I was able to select every interior design element from baseboards and crown moulding to faucets and sinks, marble slabs, flooring, paint colors, and furnishings.

Because the Road Warrior travels so much, I specifically tried to create a home that would be inviting, calming, and aesthetically interesting. I wanted our home to be a haven for him. I can honestly say it has become a haven for all of us. Whenever we return from a trip I am always struck by how inviting our home seems, and I breathe a deep happy sigh of contentment.

Q: Describe your neighborhood for us, and share why your home all works for your family and your life as you’re making it.

A: We live in a gated golf course community filled with children, snow birds, and professional golfers. The location is fantastic and conveniently located to the airport, which suits the Road Warrior just fine.

I’m a warm weather girl at heart, so South Florida appeals to me and our barefoot loving children. It took the Road Warrior exactly one winter to fall in love with the area and I don’t think he will ever tire of seeing palm trees swaying in the breeze.

We tried to capture the tropical side of Florida in our landscaping. There is something magical about picking your own bananas and star fruit in the backyard.

Q: We’ve got to talk about the details. The ceiling, the floors, all the pieces that make us wish we’d gone a different route with our own decor! Where do you find your inspiration, and how do you execute it?

A: Thank you! I’m a very detailed oriented person, so my decorating style usually embraces the details.

I generally decide on an overall feeling, and then I focus on one element that I can then build the room around. In our living room with the wood beams and painted ceilings, it started with the fireplace which was inspired from a picture in a magazine. From there I wanted the contrast of the distressed built-in cabinets against the stone floor from France.

The ceiling was inspired from the fabric I used on the ottoman. Once it was hand-painted I had the faux painters throw random plaster on it and sand it to really age it and make it look perfectly imperfect.

Although most of the wood trim in our house is white, I felt the living room windows would look best if they were stained dark. It really frames the outside view of our pool and backyard, and makes a dramatic effect when you walk into the house.

In our dining room the architect designed a Triple Groin Ceiling which I really wanted to be the focus in the dining room. Our dining table seats ten, but our dining room itself is narrow. The ceiling is a dramatic touch that draws the eyes up and makes the room appear larger than it is. The mirrors along the back wall of the dining room (from Ballard Designs catalog; I love mail order!) also help to make the room appear larger.

I used a very talented kitchen designer to design the kitchen cabinetry, but I brought her an antique piece of tile that I found that we used as the inspiration for the kitchen. The cabinets are by William Oh’s, and the stain is one we used in our last home in Pennsylvania. I know what I like!

Q: Five kids live in this home, yet it doesn’t look like chaos reigns. What are your secrets?

A: I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that I’ve set our house up in zones, and everything has to stay in its zone. That means outside toys stay outside, the playroom and school room toys stay in there, and bedroom toys stay upstairs.

Q: How did you decide to homeschool?

A: Homeschooling is not something we planned; it’s something we fell into. I’m not one of those mothers who thinks homeschooling is the only way. It’s simply a way that works for our family right now. There are hard days and wonderful days. Just like parenting. And I wouldn’t trade a single moment.

Q: You’ve got a wonderful blog. Tell us all about your hopes for it, and also about why you named it Trophy Mom.

A: Trophy Mom Diaries is a sort of tongue-in-cheek name based upon the fact that I am the second wife to a man 15 years older than me. In some circles that would make me the Trophy Wife. However, the joke with my husband has been that I’m more the Trophy Mom because I dote on the kids more than him!

With Trophy Mom Diaries I hope to create a lifestyle blog for modern moms that encourages women to not allow themselves to fall into stereotypes, but to embrace their unique talents and gifts and apply it to motherhood and their family’s life. For example, I’m a homeschool mom but I love fashion. I have five children, yet our house isn’t decorated in primary colors and plastic.

To me a Trophy Mom is a someone who gives motherhood her all without sacrificing her own sense of style, wonder, and interests. It can all be applied to motherhood and homemaking, and I think your kids and family will be better off for it. Give them the best you. The prettier you. The more confident you. The creative you. Don’t give them the put upon, resentful, exhausted, three-day old oatmeal crusted sweatpants version of you. They deserve better and so do you!

Q: With five kids, how do you carve out time for each one, individually?

A: When we had the twins we thought, “Oh, we have to make sure they are embraced as individuals so we should make sure we go out sometimes with only one of them.” However, they didn’t like that. They didn’t like being separated. So we thought, “Oh that’s just a twin thing.”

But when our daughter came along, she didn’t like being away from her boys. So we had a little trio, and as they have gotten older they’ve been mistaken as triplets even! By the time we got to the fifth kid, we really thought they would appreciate some alone time with us, but the truth is they don’t. Now we try to do boy things with Daddy and girl things with Mommy, and that seems to work better because they always have a sibling with them which they seem to prefer.

I think because they are homeschooled and spend a lot of time with us, they get whatever one-on-one time they need in the conversations they have with us. I also try to cook with just one child at a time (because it’s less messier and stressful!) and that seems to fill their tank, too.

Q: Although there has to be enough room in the house, how to you give them their space?

A: I fully embrace and promote the concept of Quiet Time once they’ve outgrown nap times. Quiet time is from 1:00 to 2:30 pm in our home. Every child goes to his or her own room, and either reads or sleeps in their bed. There is no other option. You read or you sleep, and you’re alone.

Interestingly enough, the boys have their own rooms but choose to sleep together in one son’s room. The girls each had their own room until our fifth came along. Now the two oldest sleep in the same room, and the youngest sleeps alone in the room she is to share with her middle sister. Clearly my kids have their own strong opinions of where they sleep and with whom!

Q: Do you think about how a room is going to be used by your family when you’re decorating?

A: I absolutely think about function before design when it comes to our home. The living room was mean to be a sitting room for adults and a place to read. The kitchen doubles as a place for science experiments, and the lanai is where we do a lot of our crafts, co-op classes, as well as many dinners with friends.

Q: What has been your favorite part about living with your own kids? What do you already miss?

A: My kids are truly fun to be with. I love the things they say. I love their curiosity about nature. I love learning alongside them and seeing their faces when they discover something new. I love that they are truly friends and that our family’s lifestyle promotes that.

I miss their baby stage. If I could go back and have a do-over, I would have embraced the baby stage more. I think I was in survival mode as I was trying to figure it all out, and I wish I could have just enjoyed it and not worried about figuring it out.

Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish someone had told me…

A: I wish someone had told me that kids are resilient, and you cannot ruin them for life by making one parenting mistake.


Thank you, Karin! You made Design Mom look so pretty today. And your afternoon Quiet Time ritual sounds lovely, especially when swishing palm trees and the sound of the pool’s waterfall are thrown in! May we all visit?

Friends, I love how Karin chooses function before design, even though at first glance it looks the opposite. And although it does sound like a lot of work, there’s something to be said for hand-picking absolutely everything in your home as it’s being crafted. I’m hoping we can do that – but nightmare free! – for our French cottage! Have you ever built a home from the ground up? Was it difficult narrowing down your choices, or did you choose one focal point at a time like Karin did? I need your expertise!

P.S. — Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here. And if you’d like to share your own home with us, just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise!