by Leslee Stewart

I’ve always subscribed to home decorating magazines. Country Living is probably my favorite. The homes that grace its pages have inspired what I’ve tried to make my home look like over the years.

From the outside, I’ve done a pretty good job of making my house magazine ready. Welcoming wreath? Check. Potted plants with trailing vines? Check. Cute doormat? Check.

Front door

And when you step through the threshold, you might expect to be greeted with an entryway that looks like this, right? Warm and lived in, yet perfectly appointed with timeless, stylish décor.

entry hall

Well, it’s warm alright, thanks to the fact that we live in Florida. And lived in? You betcha. By me, my husband, our two rowdy boys and a dog that sheds year round.  Oh, and don’t forget the mile-long Hot Wheels track. Mind your step, please.

the real entry hall

As the lone female in my house (dog included), I pretty much make the decorating decisions around here. And while he might have chimed in on a few paint swatches, my husband’s only serious décor request was for the TV to line up directly with the couch. So by in large, our home definitely “feels” like me. It reflects my personality.

But since we’ve had kids, their decorating style has started to infringe on mine. Gone are the cool coffee table books, replaced by Nerf dart guns and Spiderman coloring books. A bowl that sat atop the coffee table now houses stray baseball cards, toys from Happy Meals and a pirate eye patch. 

The sunroom is the best example of where my kids’ and my decorating style clash. Here’s the left side of the room. It’s the side you can see from the main living room in our house. My original plan was to turn this into a reading room with vintage garden furniture, a rug and a few lamps. But, I haven’t done too much decorating in here.

Why, you ask?

sunroom 1

Here’s why. This is the right side of the same room. Knowing this was on the opposite side of the same room, would you be inclined to curl up with a good book? Me neither.

sunroom 2

As my kids’ have accumulated more stuff, I just keep buying more baskets, bins and storages boxes. That way when it’s time to go to bed, they just walk around and drop their precious plastic trinkets into one of the boxes and, voila!, my house suddenly feels like mine again. At least until morning.

I can hear all you moms of grown kids saying, “Enjoy it now. One day you’ll miss stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night.” Honestly, I don’t know that I will. Not the Lego part, anyway. Those suckers hurt! And in all honesty, there’s a part of me that’s looking forward to reclaiming what was once mine. I’d like to eventually use the hall closet for more than just a basketball hoop.


Until then, I’ll keep dreaming of what I wish my house looked like, while I enjoy living in how it actually is today – filled with the sounds, sights and people that make this house our home.


Leslee Stewart oversees communications for GFC Beautiful. She is a wife, stay-at-home mom of two boys and former communications executive. She openly admits she owns too many throw pillows, loves junky old furniture and can sing all the parts of Bohemian Rhapsody.


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  1. Adorable post Leslee!! You are telling the tale so many of us feel. The DREAM house we want verses the REAL LIFE house we do LIFE in!!
    Well spoken and fun!

  2. Gosh, I remember an upstairs play room on the second floor at 46th Place which was much untidier than these pictures indicate. You had to carefully tread from one side to the other and watch out for those Fischer Price “little people.” Maybe it’s payback time, Mommy Leslee. It is a temporary thing. Perhaps these are the things that bring on gray hair in years to come. Trust me, you will have your decorator house back in time along with wrinkles, too. Just consider gray hair and wrinkles as medals of motherhood and forget those messy toys strewn all over the house which are creating them today.

  3. I am rolling with tears of laughter and days of rememberance!! There were huge formals, high heels shoes, purses, hats, and usually FOUR little girls (each decked out for the cover of Vogue) and begging for
    “ROSE MILK” in tea cups!!!……..
    That is unless they were dressing up and putting on a play in which “the little someone” was always made to play “THE DOG!”
    Great words spoken from the heart of every Mom, Les!!

  4. Wow did I need to read this! My boys are ages 1 and 3. They seem to have enough toys for 50 kids! I can totally understand why you’re not sure if you’ll miss the toys all over the floor and wanting the perfect house. I feel that way much too often. I’m so blessed to have an awesome husband that doesn’t complain and I LOVE being a stay-at-home Mommy as well. The joys of being with my boys FAR outweigh the struggles of keeping a clean house. Anyway, thank you for the post. I’m totally going to make a sign that says ” If you came to see me, your welcome any time. If you came to see my house…. Give me a two weeks notice!” 😉 GOD BLESS

    • Jami:
      That’s so funny. Growing up, my mom always said, “If you’re coming to see me, show up. If you’re coming to see my house, make an appointment.” Thanks for your comment.

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