Design Mom in 2014 – The Future Looks Bright!

ball of light

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! Do you have a minute? I’d love to talk 2014 with you. As I mentioned last week, there are some changes afoot here at Design Mom.

The first is a biggie. In 2012, I started working with a regular team of contributors. It was an experiment, with the original goal being to double the content on Design Mom to an average of 6 posts a day, and to eventually create a place where I could even step away for a few days, or even weeks, as an author — to create a place that was more about the team than me as an individual. And goodness, I LOVE working with these ladies. They bring so much talent and enthusiasm to the table and I know how much they treasure this community.

But friends, the experiment didn’t work! Turns out readers didn’t want 6 posts a day. It was too much content. And turns out, I don’t want to step away from Design Mom. I love this job. I love interacting with readers. I love reading and responding to comments. I love your emails, ideas and suggestions. And I love writing blog posts.

You may have noticed that contributors had less of a presence on the blog through December. And that’s going to continue. Over the next week, we’ll finish the transition, and for the remainder of the year there will no longer be contributor posts. 

To be clear, I’ll still be working with lots of talented folks (and lots of the same talented folks we’ve all come to love), but they won’t have regular columns. Instead, all articles will be authored by me, and I’ll bring on help per article, as needed.

So if there won’t be regular contributors on Design Mom in 2014, what can you expect instead?

What you will see in 2014 on Design Mom:

– The Living With Kids home tours will continue every Tuesday. Yay!

– We’ll be doing exciting work on The Treehouse this year (some on The Cottage as well). So expect house-centric posts like this one about the floors.

– There will still be travel adventures this year, but instead of Norway and Venice and Amsterdam, we’ll concentrate on getting to know our new home and every cool place within driving distance — like Yosemite and Big Sur.

– You can expect even more essay-type posts on things like food, health, education, beauty, and parenting. Watch for more articles about schools in Oakland, our food habits from France, my oil-pulling attempt — I’ve even got a post about lice I’m working on. Hah! (I confess, I’m particularly looking forward to writing more of these types of posts, because I always love the discussions and comments they spur.)

– Because of the resounding “yes, please” response to the birth stories, I’ll be relaunching that column as well.

– I continue to be a big fan of fun DIY projects, so expect those to continue — clever ideas for the holidays, for gifts, for parties. That sort of thing.

– Video. Yes, we’ll continue sharing the Olive Us videos we’ve already shot, and yes, we want to create more as well!

– As some of you know, I’m one of the founders and owners of Alt Summit, which takes up a good portion of my time. So you’ll see updates and reports about our conferences and events from time to time.

There are also two big projects that I’ll be giving attention to in 2014:

– I’ve just hatched an idea for a series that I want to launch in the middle of the year about mothers and beauty and style and identity. I’m fairly obsessed with it at the moment. I hope that if I start now, I’ll be ready to share it in a few months.

– And I know I almost never mention it, but I am in the middle of writing a book! To catch you up: in January of 2012 Artisan books offered me a book deal and I announced it here. The reason I don’t write about it much, is it’s a total shame trigger for me — two years later and I’m not done yet! I am not good at writing books. It is so hard.

The story goes like this. To my great embarrassment, I sat on that book deal for over a year and never signed the contract. I had a really hard time wrapping my head around the “why” of writing a book. For those of you who are born writers, you may be shaking your head at me, but honestly, it was never a goal of mine to write a book. And obviously, it’s a major undertaking, so I didn’t want to approach it lightly.

After a year of looking at, then filing the contract, then looking at, then filing the contract, I finally found myself at a place where I really, really wanted a hard-copy, hold-in-your-hand representation of the work I do. I’m sure that sounds dumb to some people, but there it is. Every once in awhile I get the sensation of how ephemeral the digital world can be — even with backups of backups, it feels like something could shift, and suddenly, all the work I’ve done over the last 7 years could just disappear 

So after a year+ of hard thinking, I found that I really, really wanted to write a book. And a good one! Not a repeat of the blog, but something wholly original. Something that I would be truly proud of. Artisan sent a fresh, updated contract, and I signed it last spring! Which means, though I haven’t mentioned it, I’ve been working hard on the book for the last 9 months. It’s slow going. The first outline I sent in — based loosely on the Living With Kids home tours — was nixed. Alas! So I regrouped. And the week before Thanksgiving, I sent in a rough manuscript of about 50% of the book. Progress! Once the manuscript is done, I’ll be focusing on images and photoshoots.

I mention this here, because I intend to write more updates about the book until it’s complete — getting your feedback and sharing highlights. Part of me wishes I was cool enough to pull a Beyoncé and boom! announce my finished book, ready to order. Hah! But really, I know I’ll want your input as I progress.

One last change:

Since 2006, I’ve averaged 3 posts a day on Design Mom. That’s over 5500 published posts so far! As you know, I’m always experimenting with this site, and this year, I’m toying with the idea of less posts per day, but beefing up my social media channels instead. So there might be one post on a given day — say, an essay about screen time + kids. Then, instead of additional posts, I’ll spend time on Instagram, or engage in an hour’s worth of Twitter conversation, or seeking out incredible pins.

This will require major habit changes on my end (I rarely have my cell-phone in hand, which means I’m not on social media channels as much as you might guess), so in the end, it may not happen. But in any case, I’d like to give it a try!

And that’s about wraps it up. I’d love to hear what you think. Do you have opinions on no more contributors? Did I mention anything that you are particularly looking forward to? Or did I miss something that you hope I’ll add? Thoughts on my book? Any interest interacting on social media? Chime in! I hope you know how much I value your feedback and the active role you play in this community.

P.S. — I’ve never created a survey about Design Mom for my readers, but I was thinking of doing one this week. I want to have a solid sense of what you as readers like best about this site, and what you can do with less of. Watch for it.

265 thoughts on “Design Mom in 2014 – The Future Looks Bright!”

  1. I got to be honest, my first thought before I clicked the “read more” was that you were going to write that you’ve signed a deal to become the next Martha Stewart, and my dream of having run into you over lunch at Zachary’s pizza would be dashed, as you’d become a huge celebrity and thus unapproachable. Thank you for staying normal, and with all the fame continuing to be a wonderful, inspiring, creative, and loving spirit of inspiration. I so appreciate that the more famous you get, your kindness and genuine spirit never waiver. You are a lovely human being, and I appreciate all the work you put into this blog, and everything else you do that you share with us readers. As my 2014 starts with the opening of my new store, I need the sanity check I get from your words, and the comments of those who share. So THANK YOU Design Mom! Thank you for the tears, and the joy I’ve loved every minute of it! Thank you!

  2. Congratulations on the book deal. I already know it will be preordered as soon as that is possible! I will admit to skimming through a lot of the content written by contributors as it was not your voice. I like your voice and point of view. That being said, I did enjoy the Living Well series that was written by Lindsey Johnson. It was always so well crafted and photographed. It was the content I thought was most like yours. Wishing you a wonderful 2014

  3. I hope you will do a post about how your kids feel about being on your blog. I enjoy reading about them and it is a wonderful part of your blog. However, the whole privacy thing- especially for teens is such an issue. I imagine they can opt out but I wonder how I would have felt about being so public when I was their age.

      1. As a blogger and mom of three, I am very interested in this topic as we navigate our lives as an online family. Love your blog. You are an original and am so happy to know we’ll be reading more from you and less from others (not that they weren’t lovely – just not you:))

  4. I am so thrilled about your book announcement, and the way you so carefully and thoughtfully make changes about your site. Your work is valuable, and I’m glad to see you are wise about how you manage and curate this wonderful site. It is always such a pleasure to visit, read, think and be inspired. I have really loved the content by Amy Hackworth–her posts are always spot-on, very thoughtful, transparent, sincere, and down-to-earth. Her posts tend to bring out the nitty-gritty and hard themes in our lives; since these things often are ignored or glossed over in many high-profile blogs, it was refreshing to sit in that place and acknowledge with her once a week. I’m hoping those types of posts will continue. AND! I’m OVER THE MOON about the return of the birth stories–such a wonderful series with so much depth. Thanks again for all you do, Gabrielle. It’s a joy to be a reader of yours.

  5. I love your blog! What you share is interesting. I love the real life posts you have shared and I look forward to the living with kids series every week!

  6. I can’t even remember how I found out about your blog, but I know I originally followed you because you were living in France, where my daughter also lives. It felt like a way to be connected to her life. I figured that when you moved back to the States I would quit following you. Wrong. I’m not your demographic. I’m in my mid-50’s with 3 grown kids, 2 of which are married, and I love reading about you and your family, which makes me remember when my children were young and as I anticipate grandchildren in the future, I love to hear what you do with your kids. I also love the fashion, DIY, home decor, etc. that you write about. I’m glad that you’ll be keeping those items. You seem like such a genuine person and there just aren’t enough of those people in the world. Thanks for always brightening my day!

  7. Congratulations on another great decision, and your book deal. I too missed the more personal Design Mom posts. I felt like the other approach (multiple contributors) was turning this blog into an “enterprise” (not exactly corporate but a bit impersonal & mass produced). I did think the contributors were excellent (Lindsey, Carter, et al) but better perhaps in their own space/blog.
    Thank you Gabby, for keeping it personal & real.

  8. i am happy to hear your news! i love the idea of contributors, but when my reader comes to design mom, i love to read your voice. so often i’d skip posts until i saw your name on them. and i check blogs once daily, so one post per day (for people like me) is totally enough! hooray on your book!

  9. Great!! We keep coming back for YOU. No offense to the other writers, but with blogs I just don’t think it works with more than one person, why is that?

  10. I went to a professional development seminar for technology use in the classroom. IT was overwhelming. I opened a twitter account to participate in some of the posting that was occurring and shown during the conference. Our featured speaker tried to reign things in by encouraging us to walk away with one new big idea. Twitter was NOT it for me. Too much information overload. Social media can water things down and spread things too thin. It looks like I will eventually set up Twitter again to stay current in the research in my field We’ll see…I like to be able to go to one site and read through curated items. I like the Friday suggestions and links.

  11. I don’t think I’ve commented on your blog posts before, but after reading how much you like the comments, I felt like you would actually read this :)

    Like the others who’ve written here, while I appreciated the content from contributors, I’m much more likely to read your posts. I think you put so much of the real you on your blog, that it doesn’t feel like your blog when other (albeit talented, creative people!) post.

    I would also like to reiterate another commenter who asked for more about older kids. I too have teens in the East Bay and carefully read your stories about your teens. It’s a very different experience with teens than it is with little ones! Fun, but different.

    And, of course, congratulations on the book! I’ll be sure to look for more details.

  12. I think everyone else has already said what I was going to, but I will chime in with one more voice. I read blogs because of the people who write them so I too am looking forward to having this be more your space. I can find ideas anywhere, it is the personal voice of blogs that I love. Of course I do also enjoy your content – I’ve really enjoyed seeing the changes you’ve made to your home and look forward to more details about your home and the cottage. And congratulations on your book! That is very exciting.

  13. I’ m very much looking forward to the changes. Your voice is the one I love :) Not a fan of the twitter and instagram. I like to come home from a busy day and read the blogs I love and relax from a hectic day. I’d love to read more blog posts about marriage, depression, fun travels, your family traditions etc.

    1. I love the marriage topic suggestion, Lissa! I don’t think I’ve written much about our marriage, but I love being married to Ben Blair. Might be fun to share some of what works for us.

  14. I love this blog, but more that one post a day is just too much for me to keep up with…so I’m glad to hear of the change in that direction.

  15. As you transition back to blog-sans-contributors, I want to say THANK YOU to them. Each one was classy, talented and individual. You chose them well! A worthy experiment.

    It WAS more than I could read, however, so this is good.

  16. Catherine Hoskin

    Dear Gabrielle,
    I found your blog only after seeing House Hunters International. I thought to myself-how does a large American family successfully pickup and move to France? With question in mind, I followed you and your family on an amazing journey.
    Being a truly adventurous spirit myself, and a life long Californian, I know just about every inch of our beautiful state. I will email you with some suggestions of where my husband and I have taken our children over the years. There is and old saying, and it goes something like this-“California is the only state where you can ski the Sierra mountains in the morning and be back to San Francisco in time for lunch”. May I also suggest a subscription to Sunset Magazine. It is the best guide to California life.
    Congratulations on your upcoming book, and may there be many blessings in 2014

  17. Yea! So great to hear of all your plans for 2014. While I enjoyed the content from your contributors (oh where would I be without the cookie baking tips!), your posts have always been my favorites. And the additional content was overwhelming. In a day and age where we are always pressed to do so much, sometimes something “less” but more personal is more.

  18. Phew! So glad to hear. I hate to admit it, but I usually skipped over other’s posts as I come to Design Mom to hear your voice, hear about your family, your travels, your home and your pick of what is cool. I love that no topic is too hard for you to write about – it just is what it is – bed wetting, depression, lice (!), whatever – it’s all real, it’s all informative, and none of the “my life is sooo much better than yours” that some blogs come up with.

    Good luck with writing your book – can I pre-pre-order a copy? ;)


  19. I’m so so happy about no more contributors! It was overwhelming and mostly I read design mom because I like you! I will definitely be visiting the sight more knowing you will be authoring all the posts- thanks for tuning in to what your readers want, just one more reason why we ♥ u!
    I’ll be honest I’m not on twitter at all, instagram very little, and while I do use facebook it’s mostly to keep in contact with my friends so I am a little disappointed about less posts and more social media, BUT I will still visit the sight often because of all the other positive changes. Thanks again for a great site!

    1. Good to know about not being on social media. As I read the comments, I’m hearing the feedback repeated. Which makes me think I may need to rethink the plan.

      I appreciate your comment, Nicole.

  20. I enjoyed your contributors but as a blogger too I can completely see why you have decided take it back – blogging is fun! My favorite blogs are in the end about people. Your site continues to be an inspiration to me and I really do love to read about you and creative and happy life! I never miss it!!!

  21. I am a regular reader of your blog. I find it so inspiring and fun. I’m glad to hear you’ll continue writing! And confession: I never read your contributor posts. I’m glad you’re doing away with them. Thanks for the great blog!

  22. Hurrah for the New Year and new changes! Like most of the other comments that I skimmed through, I thought the contributors did a good job but most of the time I (guiltily) skipped their posts. You are the reason I love this blog, yours are the posts I love to read and re-read. So excited for your upcoming book as well!

  23. I am very happy to hear you are stepping back into being the true voice of your blog. As many others have said, the contributors were very good, but most of us come here to hear you!

    With that said, I am a little sad to have one post every week about birth stories. Another person commented above voiced my concern very clearly – once your children are older and you have moved on, the birth stories lose your interest on such a regular basis. I love reading your blog every day, so to know that 20% of your blog will be birth stories will feel like a huge gap for me – I will miss out on YOUR voice 1 of 5 days! Really, those posts are by contributors, not you.

    Echoing an idea above, I would love to hear your voice about your family life and ideas of living with kids of all ages, especially older children and teens.

    Love your blog, and I will continue to read and enjoy!

    1. So glad you brought this up, Leasa. I need to clarify! I definitely won’t be sharing a birth story every week. I plan to start with twice a month and see how that goes. And since I know many readers are past the baby stage, I thought it would be wise to share two posts on those days — so that there’s something of interest for those who may not crave a childbirth or adoption story.

      That will be true on other days as well. I don’t plan on writing strictly 1 post per day. But I would like to try scaling back from 3 posts per day to see how that goes. Maybe instead of 15 posts per week, I could try to average 7 to 10 per week. But again, it’s an experiment. If the feedback isn’t good, I’ll change things up again.

  24. i’m happy to hear that you’re switching to your content being solely from you, to be honest, i love DesignMom because of you & i mostly passed over the contributing articles :)

    congrats on all the wonderful things happening for you & your dear family!

  25. Congratulations! Great news.
    I liked your contributors, but I was rather looking for your voice. I missed you and only you on the blog. You are right, people don’t need 6 posts a day. One a day from you and I will be happy.
    It must be a hard job writing a book, especially if you are not a writer. Maybe you need to be completely passionate and emerged into it to motivate yourself. Just saying from my perspective, some things are so hard and others come with ease. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to push ourselves.
    Good luck. I am so looking forward to read it. xo

  26. Étant donné que vous avez maintenant quelques traducteurs à la maison, je me permets de vous dire, en français, que je suis très heureuse de cette nouvelle. Un sondage portant exclusivement sur Design Mom serait aussi très intéressant.


  27. YAY! While your contributors have done wonderful work on your behalf, I fell in love with Design Mom because of your voice. I found myself scanning my feed reader for posts that you had authored and skipping the rest. They were excellent but it is your voice that brings me back to this site. I’ve missed seeing more from you over the last year and am thrilled that you’ll be authoring more posts! You bring such wonderful conversations to the internet with such a positive outlook. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2014.

    Congratulations again on the book, can’t wait to see your more local adventures! I know so little about the West coast and am looking forward to learning more about it through your family’s perspective.

  28. Hi Gabby!
    I’m also in the not-yet-a-mom group like the ladies up top and I just adore your blog and instagram feed, kid and non-kid related content alike. My favourite posts are those home and travel related, so I am very excited about your family’s future explorations of your area and the upcoming work on the Treehouse.
    Like some of the other commenters, the additional uses of social media like Twitter are not necessarily super exciting to me personally, but I am really looking forward to continuing to read your blog.

  29. I was terrified you ‘big change’ was going to be to step away from Design Mom. I am truly relived and excited for the new changes!
    I have always preferred your writing and voice on the blog, which also means I am thrilled to hear more about your book! I do imagine that it will be great to have something in print vs. web-based. Hurrah for Living with Kids, Birth stores and DIY projects! Hurrah for 2014!
    Would also welcome posts about marriage (and re-marriage), mental health for moms, and raising boys. Kind of a tall order :)

  30. Looking forward to the Life With Kids features. I always enjoy them so much. Sometimes they make me a little sad for the days my adult children were babies…Congratulations on your book deal and I look forward to hearing all about that as you make progress. Thanks for this very thoughtful update. I only discovered Design Mom last summer and have been enjoying all the posts. I’m happy you’ll be on Instagram and on social media more. I’m also on Instagram @lisathomthumb. Would love to connect!

  31. Hi,

    I have never commented before, but I started reading when you were in France. My favorite feature is the home tour (living with kids). I also enjoy your posts. Congratulations on your book deal.

  32. To be honest, I always skipped the posts that weren’t yours. ;) There’s just something about the way you speak through your blog that is inspiring, honest, and brings me back everyday, excited to read what YOU have to say. Good luck with the book! I can’t imagine trying to take on something like that!

  33. I was appreciating your posts a little more in December seeing that they were your personal thoughts and ideas. I will however miss some of the regulars like Lindsey’s food posts. Those are my favorite next to the Life With Kids features!

  34. Well! I don’t think anyone could be disappointed with the news that you will be posting more! Like a bunch of other people, I liked reading the contributor posts occasionally, but got excited when you shared an essay and really started such great conversations. Your grace and compassion come through in your writing- how thrilling that you’re putting together a book!
    I’m also in the ‘not a mother’ contingent, and Design Mom is one of my favorite blogs. I’m overjoyed to hear that you love what you do as much as we enjoy engaging with you!
    Thank you for inviting our feedback, and I’m looking forward to hearing your take on oil pulling (I recently did it for the first time), updates on both homes, life in CA, and mental health topics.

  35. For the past months I have been looking for the 5 words “image and text by Gabrielle” under every post tittle, no matter how appealing the tittle was. So after getting this news I’m thrilled for 2014 :) Can’t wait for your updates (and theme) of your book.
    Happy new year to all you Blairs family!

  36. Wow, some big changes for the new year!

    I had a feeling you might be cutting down the contributor posts and sticking to just sharing your voice. I do enjoy the contributor posts but I’ve got to say that your posts are always my favourites :) If I don’t have much time I tend to skip the contributor posts but I always make sure to read the ones with your name on them.

    Congrats on the book deal! That’s amazing. Can’t wait to hear more about it.

    Oh, and much as I’ve loved seeing all of your adventures throughout Europe I’m excited that you’ll be spending more time exploring my neck of the woods!

  37. This is good news for me! I subscribe to your blog through feedly and if I see an article written by someone else I never click on it! I love your voice the best!

  38. Congratulations on your book, how very exciting! I was thrilled to hear about your idea of beauty, style and Moms. When I had my first child (who’s now 11!) I had a major identity crises and it took a long time to figure out what my style was going to be (I also quite work to stay home so that didn’t help the crises!). I think it will make a fascinating topic!

  39. Your mention of working on a post about lice made me think of something a blogger friend posted recently: (
    She left the Bay Area for the French countryside right about the same time you did the opposite – I swear you guys just switched ;)
    She mentions in her post that they’re pretty relaxed at her kids’ school in France when it comes to lice and that it’s kind of expected that all kids will get them every year! Did you find the same thing?
    My girls have never had lice before but I’m always a little paranoid so they wash their hair once a week or so with a preventative shampoo and we use a preventative spray which doubles as a detangler. Not sure if it’s working or if we’ve just been lucky. I don’t want to stop using it to find out!!

    1. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

      Here in our town (Edina, MN) we have lice removal services. No nasty chemicals. I can not tell you how fab it would have been to use them when my daughter got it twice in one year! May be helpful for your research Gabrielle!
      It is amazing what having these services around has done for the mental state of Moms around here. No panic, no fear. :)

  40. Not interested in interacting on social media but would love to look forward to a blog entry most days! I get that it is a lot of work but so appreciated by your followers….

  41. Wow! Lots of big news!

    I have to admit that I liked how much Design Mom was updated. It was fun always having something new to look at. BUT – as some other readers said, I did skip a lot of posts because I wasn’t interested in the topic. And Gabby, the posts written by you are always the most interesting. I’ll be happy to compromise having less content if it means more meaningful discussion!

    Congratulations on your book deal, and holding out until you felt you could be passionate about it. That’s a very brave thing to do! I can’t wait to hear more about it.

  42. I am so glad you’re switching back to just you as author. The added content doesn’t really give me what I want to see here, which is all the great projects you do and your thoughts on being mom. Now, bring on the birth stories!

  43. Congratulations on the book! I agree with others that your posts are the ones that interest and intrigue me the most. They are the ones I would email to people and say “check this out!”. I did enjoy some of the contributors, and I did like a few updates a day, but I like your plan to focus more on your own posts. I don’t do twitter or instagram though, so it does make me feel like I will miss out on some things if you move more in that direction. I tend to just check the blog. Maybe link out to those conversations from time to time so some of us who aren’t on those sites regularly remember to check them out?

  44. So exciting! I love your attitude of “let’s try this, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll just change it up!”. That’s a hugely valuable lesson for us perfectionists!
    I personally am ecstatic about your decision to move away from contributors. They were lovely – great writers with interesting content. But my favorite part of Design Mom is YOU! Your writing, your personality, your honesty, your take on the world. I’m thrilled that you’ll be giving us more of it!

  45. What an exciting time for Design Mom! I am also in the camp of happy with less contributors – too much is overwhelming, and your voice is what captures me the most. Like another commentor, I’m not a mother, but I find your blog just as engaging! I’m particularly interested in the Treehouse, your travels, and your overall thoughts on “living well.” I’d love to understand not so much how you do it all, but exactly what it takes to pull off what you do – I’m fascinated by how much work it takes for things to feel effortless, which I think speaks to a lot of the behind the scenes work of a blog/content focused career. Best wishes for a fantastic year ahead!

  46. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    I truly admire you for making shifts where you need to. Especially when it involves others and their work. Brave.
    I come here for YOU!
    I’m 47- so the new fangled ways of communicating don’t come naturally to me. I like your blog posts. Happy to check in on FB occasionally but for most of your content I’ll be looking at the blog. Every day. First thing.
    SO excited about YOUR BOOK! Better believe I’ll be getting that to hold in my hands. On paper.
    Looking forward to 2014 with more YOU!

  47. You inspire me to no end on both personal and professional levels, and I’m excited for the changes ahead on Design Mom. I love reading your writing and learning about your unique life experiences. Cheers to 2014!

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