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‘Design Mom’ – A Liveblogged Book Review

My copy of “Design Mom: How To Live With Kids: A Room-By-Room Guide” by Gabrielle Stanley Blair finally arrived last night. In spite of its lumbering title I am prepared to provide you hams with a real-time reading review. I have bellini fixin’s and a whole day to kill, so let’s get this party started!

First impression: This is a nice quality book. The pages are nice and glossy. The pictures are crisp and high resolution. The font is a normal size; chapters appear to be broken out in list form: one page per ‘tip’ with a photographic example on the opposite page.

Now that's decent photo quality.

Now that’s decent photo quality.

Chapter 1 is “The Entryway”. It has about 900 sub-sections including “Aim For Function + Beauty”. I already want to throw this book at the nearest hipster mommy blogger for the use of that danged plus sign. And then she continues to use it over and over. Was a memo sent around that ‘and’ is out and ‘+’ is in or something? Stop doing that, bloggers. Anyway, she goes on to tell us that shoe storage is our ‘best friend’ and that it’s ok to hang your coats on a wall coat hanger and let your shoes sit on the floor underneath. You should ‘Use Your Walls’ which is basically repeating that you should hang things up, and also school lockers and chalk boards because…I dunno, everyone else is doing them these days. She suggests using baskets for storage, which always makes me wonder if any of these bloggers have cats – baskets just turn into cat storage around my place. You should try hanging artwork in your entryway, and she suggests ‘vintage signage’ and ‘lyrics, slogans, and encouraging words’ prints.

Is 10 am too early to start on those bellinis?

Chapter 2 is “The Living Room”. Gorgeous pictures of impossibly clean homes. DM says you should design  your living room for daily use which seems like something most people just know, what with using it daily and all, but ok. Apparently you should ‘Start With Seating’, which also seems like a no-brainer since most people at some point are going to want to sit down in their living room.

You should also have ‘walkways’, I assume because after all that sitting on your seating you will probably want to walk around, and eventually you may want to go to other areas of the house. You can ‘Assign Your Living Room Extra Jobs’ – people will be doing more than just sitting on the seating and walking around, you know – so make room for pianos and guitars.

You can use things like trunks and cable spools  for a coffee table which is something every poor college kid knows. I mean, you can also use cinder block and lumber but I don’t see that mentioned so I’ll just assume that solution hasn’t made its way to pinterest yet. And you’ll need a side table to go with that cable spool table because your frat buddies need more than one place to rest their Mustang Melon.

You need coffee table books to spark conversation because  there’s only so much you say about your blog and ‘gram feed and kids. Another suggestion to hang art in case your For Like Ever poster in the entryway didn’t make enough of an impact. And it’s ok to have toys in the living room, as if you have any choice in the matter anyway.

Chapter 3 is “The Kitchen”. Evidently for families the kitchen is where it all happens. I thought everyone knew this what with it being the place with the food and drink and homework table and oven vent where mom tries to hide her stress smoking. Anypinterests, for those of you who are unclear how kitchens work, you are instructed to ‘Start With A Table’. Then part 3 tells you to add chairs, in case you couldn’t figure that out. But make sure you can spill things on them – I figured that was a given but I guess nobody but me grew up getting yelled at for spilling Kool-Aid on the brilliantly selected white brocade dining chairs.

Don't forget those mini-chairs for your mini-hipsters.

Don’t forget those mini-chairs for your mini-hipsters.

Be sure to buy dinnerware that is both ‘practical and beautiful’ so you ‘smile every time you do the dishes’. Which is crazy talk, nobody without a dishwasher is smiling about it. You should ‘Choose Real Glasses And Stemware’ which frankly I agree with – in my opinion once you’re over the age of 25, kids or no kids, you should go to the friggin dollar store and get actual glasses instead of old Super Slurpee cups. Get some sturdy flatware according to DM, because even if you have mismatched plates your guests will totally notice if they have ‘high-quality utensils in their hands’.

Take your time collecting tablecloths but keep stacks of dish towels from wherethewhoever. And you don’t need a giant fridge, advice which is accompanied by a picture of a small red SMEG (which btw runs about $1k). She then destroys any chance I have at ever eating again by suggesting ‘You Might Not Need A Microwave, Either’.

Chapter 4 is “The Kid’s Bedroom”. I’m not sure if I’m even qualified to review this portion unless ‘kid’s room’ includes my shower and the cat climber, which are the places my cats like to hang out. But she starts off with a Hey Shartface shout out about closet bedrooms so I’m already not taking this seriously.

She tells us a ‘bedroom can be a lot of different things’ which makes no sense, since the definition of a bedroom is a designated room with a window in which you place a bed and your clothing – at least in the state of New York. But I guess New York hasn’t read enough Kinfolk and mommy blogs. So guess what, that coach seat on an airplane – bedroom!

DM then goes on two pages later to contradict herself by saying bedrooms ‘are meant for sleeping’. So are they NOT a lot of different things? I am already confused which is probably not helped by the fact that I’m on my second round of peach and prosecco. She says her kids don’t even do homework in their bedrooms, and you should dedicate bedrooms to ‘all things bed’ meaning sleeping, napping, and don’t make the bedroom too delightful or your kids will never come hang out with the family in the living room.

She says you should ‘Design A Room That Works Right Now’ because design based around ‘someday’ – meaning furniture and design choices that lasts through multiple stages of childhood – ‘hold[s] no value’ for her. Because one day you might move and the furniture might not work in it. Which sounds like ‘someday’ planning to me, but sure. You should choose simple bedding, and the pictures show darling white-with-pops-of-color options that 99% of parents know is going to result in screams of ‘but I want Spider-Man sheets’. But basically she’s saying skip dust ruffles and flat sheets which is apparently very European.

Keep extra clean linens around, keep the kids’ nightstands ‘uncluttered’ (lol good luck) keep electronics out of the kids’ rooms (ok I’ll give her that one) and store clothing where your kids can reach it. Ya know, in case you were thinking of keeping their clothes suspended from the ceiling. Keep a hamper within reach of the kids as if they will ever use it (pp note: ffs even grown men can’t seem to get anything into a hamper – even if they walk right up to it and drop the item in, it lands on the floor touching the hamper half the time. The Hamper Vortex is a real thing, people.)

‘Add A Dose Of Whimsy’ and ‘Dealing With Disney’ round out this section.

Chapter 4 is “The Family Room”. We are greeted with this practically unattainable example of perfect order and hipsterdom.

When doing a blogger book review it is important to showcase your finger party and your shoes.

When doing a blogger book review it is important to showcase your finger party, your on fleek jeans, and your shoes.

I’m already baffled because DM has said the living room is where you should have family crap, but now says in her home the ‘family room’ is where the sectional and television is. So…what’s the living room jive about? I guess it’s to speak to those unable to dedicate a separate space to giant sofas and tv watching? But now I just feel like a grocery store person.

Anyshowoffs, she says the sofa is the most important part of the family room.

Would your daughter be fine to lie there all day, watching old episodes of Little House on the Prarie, when she’s home from school with a fever? If the answer is yes, you’ve found a winner!


Moving on…she says you can use floor pillows as extra seating. I just buy little footstools and ottomans like I’m trying to have an ottoman museum because a) storage and b) I have no desire to have inviting floor object for my cats to claw up. Rattan floor cushions? C’mon son.

You can put things on wheels so you can move it around the room which sounds totally awesome and safe with crazy butt teenaged boys hanging out in there. You can ‘Put Pretend Play In The Spotlight’ by hanging your daughter’s princess dresses on the walls, because Julia Allison’s design aesthetic is something to follow. And hey, put a tweepee in there as well.

More talk about hanging art up in a room. I think we got the message, stuff on walls is awesome. Once again suggests ‘quotes’ but you can also hang up family photos and ‘maps’. Right after this is a weird spread about ‘Prepping For Family Photos’ and includes a photo of a family in front of an omgvintage automobile…in the woods. I don’t even know.

INTERMISSION: I'll return after this break.

INTERMISSION: I’ll return after this break.

Ok Chapter 5 is “The Laundry Room & The Bathroom”. I immediately want to stab this section because having in-building laundry is so aspirational it may as well be ‘Get Drunk With Richard Branson’ or ‘Go On A Successful Date’ on the list of things I will never achieve in this life. But I’ll read it and get over my jealous hater feels long enough to break it down for you hams.

DM says bathrooms are ‘more utilitarian than utopian’ which I liked because I’m a fan of alliteration. (Boy those Strunk & White books are really coming in handy.) Then there are a bunch of ridicuwtf bathrooms that make me hate my crappy apartment bathroom before she tells us to ‘Picture The Ideal, Then Work Backward’. She spends half a page describing her perfect laundry room – a light filled oasis full of shelves and organization and a phone dock. Yeah, dream big, sister. I’d be happy with a stacked set in my bathroom closet.

She then says we need to start our laundry rooms with a ‘clean white slate’ because nothing says easy to keep looking non-dingy like white on white on white. And you should ‘Make It Pretty’ because she promises ‘it’s worth it’. I guess that makes sense if you plan on using the dryer vent as your stress cig ventilation system while you hide from the child army you’ve created? Then she starts point 6 by saying ‘When we lived in France…’ and honestly hams, I’ve had about enough of this francophilia. I’m over it. I power on anyway.

Sort your laundry! I know this is a new concept, but you should do it. And you’re basically a nobody if you don’t create a ‘Customized Laundry Bag’ complete with stencils, wax paper, glue.

Because just doing the laundry isn't enough work.

Because just doing the laundry isn’t enough work.

Then it gets into teaching kids to do their own laundry. I mean…I watched my Mimi and Pop do laundry and they slowly let me do more of it until they decided 13 was old enough for me to wash my own Delia’s crap. But apparently you should mostly do your family’s laundry so you can take stock of their clothes or something.

Then we get into a ‘Kid-Friendly Bathroom’ which come on. Step stools for reaching the sink and assigned towels and hey maybe put up something so they can hang those towels up. You can also use super cute wire baskets and also other baskets to store toilet paper. Unless you’re me and just hang it on the non-working old pipe next to the throne because it’s there.

You also don’t have to do your ‘grooming’ in the bathroom! You can do that ish in your bedroom Mama! Ya know, like women have done since mirrors and washstands and vanity tables were invented like 500 years ago. Then there’s ‘The Two-Minute Tidy’ because let’s face it – we all want to keep the bathroom clean enough to forget what actually goes on in there.

And now I’m going to make a second pink goblin while I evaluate the life choices that led me to spending my Friday off reviewing blogger books.