By Gabrielle.

Hasn’t it been such a joy to peek into other families’ homes? Now that we’re working on The Treehouse (and The French Cottage!), I even more fully appreciate all the thought and care and decision-making that goes into turning a house into a home. I say it a lot, but it’s so much more than paint colors and couch positions.

It’s slipcovers even though you dream of suede. It’s crazy-bold patterned throw rugs instead of your favorite shade of white. It’s realizing your favorite color has suddenly turned into the same color your kids love, which is on the complete other side of the spectrum as your favorite shade of white. It’s baskets full of nonsense that you fill back up every night before you head to bed. It’s dirty dishes. So many dirty dishes. It’s trying to pick out paint colors and returning home with seventy square samples of pink. It’s night lights in the hallway, toothpaste in the sink, and a swing in the living room. It’s turning the couch to face the window because the forecast is snow tomorrow. It’s make do when all you really want is make new. It’s planning for the someday while enjoying the right now.

And to think, it all began with a pink couch and an orange chair! From that fun jumping off point, I’ve learned something new every Tuesday…

Like foyers can be fabulous. And those gorgeous coats of yours don’t have to be hidden away in a closet.

Sinks with a stellar view might make the never-ending dishes a little less miserable! (And hidden televisions are the best.)

As a matter of fact, stellar views can really turn a day around. Especially if you ever find yourself 250 miles above the surface of the Earth. As you do.

Round dining tables positioned close to a chalkboard wall inspire sweet conversations and maybe a few adorable drawings of food. Laundry rooms equipped with a chalkboard somehow have the same effect. (And in the same tour, we also learned the importance of having an Art Barn. Sigh. On my wish list, for sure.)

Speaking of dining rooms, they’re even better when they double as a library, craft station, and homework hub. Plus sewing station. Phew. That is one hard-working room!

There is always room for art. And there’s always a space that can be carved out just for the one who needs it most.

Family collections don’t have to cost a million bucks, but they should bring back a million wonderful memories every time you catch sight of it.

Stairs can take your breath away on your way up to bed. They can even teach you math.

And the space underneath a staircase is simply magic, no matter how you add it up. For a tiny Harry Potter room or even a cozy nook in which to nap.

Turns out, you have mixed feelings about taxidermy…but you do love a good all-white aesthetic with generous and well-collected pops of color. (And sometimes, you don’t even notice the taxidermy with a final answer like hers.)

Often, it’s the wild location of these tours that steal the show. Backyards as far as the eye can see, with a tree house that makes the main house jealous, and a heart-wrenching story that makes us hug our families a little harder at the end of the day.

In the end, it’s all about the family who lives in these homes. Families that grow quickly, families that grow preciously, and families that grow up and head off to college. Sniff.

The New Year will undoubtedly bring many more inspiring families with lovely living styles, but I sure won’t forget the ones who shared themselves with us already. Special thanks to all of you, and a hearty invitation to the rest of you to show us how you’re living with kids, too! Just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise!

P.S. — Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here