Living With Kids: Jan Scarpino

By Gabrielle.

Jan Scarpino has the most pinnable kitchen! I’d catch sight of it here and there on Instagram, always stop and sigh, and so I reached out to see if she’d show us the rest of her home. It’s all completely pristine and very pretty, which is something rather important to Jan — but maybe not in the way you may think!

Come see what she has to say, won’t you?

My name is Jan, I am 33, gluten-free and mother of three. I was working full time as a hairstylist in a local Aveda salon when I met my husband Danny. I fell for him hard. He is a man of many talents. He has worked in architecture, film and animation, health and wellness, product development, and marketing. He is currently the CMO for Rain International. I have always been smitten with his creative mind and his strong work ethic, but the thing that drew me in to him the most was his generous heart and seeing how involved and present he was as a father to his little girl Gabrielle.

I learned quickly that whether it was my best day or my worst, he was the man that I wanted next to me. He has given me the blessing of experiencing motherhood in two beautiful ways, both as a stepmother and birth mother. Both wonderful and challenging in different ways! I can’t imagine a better fit for myself than having our family exactly the way it is.

It was meant to be. Our oldest Gabby is 12, Rohme is six, and Nixon is three.

I will say that the hardest part about having a blended family is sharing time. It’s difficult to see my boys sad on those days we don’t have Gabby in our home. We aren’t complete.

The best part is seeing the bond that our children share. When I was pregnant with my oldest son, we had discussed naming him Rome as a sort of homage to our family’s Italian heritage. But when Gabby was five, she wrote ROHME on a white board in our office in the first home we shared together, and it stuck with me. I feel like she was waiting for her brothers’ arrival and the beginning of the growth of our family.

The best part about being a mom is the tight neck squeezes, and the nose licks, the morning snuggles, and the instant forgiveness when I make a mistake, the tiny hands that reach for mine when needing help, the smell of freshly bathed babes, and the wildness that fills our home.

The things that drive me crazy are constantly stepping on trucks and small Lego pieces, fishy crackers in every nook and cranny and — my favorite— scrubbing little boy pee pee off the floor in every single bathroom because…for the love…they just can’t aim!

We live in Vineyard, an area close to Utah Lake. It was a farming community where my husband spent a lot of time in his youth. Playing in the lake, helping the local farmers to earn extra money, he always liked that it had a small town feel while close to everything.

Although it hasn’t completely lost that feeling, it has been growing rapidly and will soon have a pond behind our home next to the running trail that frames our yard. The area is currently under construction building a neighborhood pool and splash pad to spend summer days. Parks and pathways are being added along with protected and undeveloped areas to keep the open and natural feeling about the whole community.

I love the simplicity here. I love our neighbors, we all are in the same stage in life, children playing out in our cul-de-sac while us parents bbq and sip on Diet Coke — although I finally quit my Diet Coke addiction!

We first fell in love with the area of Vineyard. Before we lived here, we would visit often and spend time by the lake and enjoyed the quiet.

When we decided to build it was because we couldn’t find what we were looking for in an existing home. We would spend Sunday afternoons driving around looking; the kids hated sitting in the car for what seems like hours, but we kept coming back to one new development that had lots of open area and was a bit secluded.

Once we found a lot and builder, the process began and we were excited! We began with making changes to the house plans that allowed us to make it our own and give it a signature of our taste and sensibilities. This quickly went away with all of the delays and time extensions.

Once construction finally began it seemed to have a set of problems all of its own — framing repair, wrong finishes, exterior touches that just never fit what we wanted. I was pulling my hair out and losing sleep. I quickly added our builder to my speed dial to constantly work through issues on a daily basis.

The kids always loved coming to see the progress of our home, and it was fun to help them visualize each new stage. They would run through the house and pick their rooms, while dreaming of what they wanted for their new space. Tree houses and forts were always in the mix, along with a list of animals including Nixon’s monkey that needed a room.

I remember in the very beginning, our daughter seemed disappointed when we finally broke ground and we showed her the hole. She was like, “That’s it?” As if we were going to live underground!

My son Rohme would comment on how he was so excited to be in a house that wasn’t stuck to other houses, speaking of our town house we lived in while under construction.

My style is a mixture of contemporary meets classic. I have always loved the antebellum styles from the South. Large open spaces, wrap-around porches, places for people to gather. I love indoor-outdoor living spaces, and I can’t get enough windows spilling natural light into a room.

My husband and I tease back and forth because he says he needs to have his own separate rooms in the house to prove that a man does in fact live here — I think my style can be very feminine. I love fresh flowers in the house as much as possible; it just gives it a calming and happy feeling.

Any time I leave the house, my husband asks if I’m buying more ‘pots and pillows,’ his go-to phrase meaning literally anything house-related. My boys are getting really good at chopping throw pillows to keep them shaped and styled after sitting on the couch. Ha! I guess from watching me follow behind them and restyle the room.

My feeling on keeping a tidy home is this: there is so much clutter and chaos outside in this world, I really make it a priority to keep our home put-together for my children. It is so important to me that they can always count on a safe haven within our doors. It is hard work to keep up on the house, while being a mama to three messy kids with different needs and schedules, but I do it every single day in hope that they will learn by watching my example and take care of the things that we have.

My husband says I need to mess up the house a little to make it look like someone lives here. Everything has to be in its place and I love to keep it in order. Although I do have my junk closets for things without a proper place.

The kids love to mess up their rooms, and we built this floor plan with the idea that the upstairs would be their own space; they each have their own bedroom and a playroom. It was intended to get messy and be functional while keeping the other two floors clean as much as possible, but they mostly want to hang out in Mom and Dad’s room and snuggle up in our bed and watch movies. I guess we didn’t need the extra space after all!

My boys must have their favorite cars lined up in their rooms along with the latest Lego projects that must be displayed and not played with. My daughter though, she just HAD to have her vanity to flat iron her hair and get dolled up for school. She is turning 13 soon and has all the new tendencies of a tween. She loves her cozies (soft blankets), collecting dance trophies, and having a place to listen to music loud, dancing and tumbling on all of the furniture.

When I hear someone say that my Instagram feed is beautiful — I mean — it is filled with my story, my life, and each square means something to me, so that is truly a compliment that I take to heart. All of my followers know that my kids are my inspiration. I love sharing snippets of their personalities and having an outlet to connect with mothers going through similar stages and challenges. It is a way for me to share everyday experiences and keep connected with family and friends that live far away.

I love interior design, and I’m inspired to share my own personal style. I open up my home to my followers, so they can really get a sense of who I am. I feel like that is so personal.

I love Instagram, although it can also be a BIG distraction. I don’t want my children to remember me as always having my phone in my hand, I want them to feel as though I’m always right there present in the moment. I may be known to bribe my kids with Mambas to snap a pic from time to time, but for the most part I try to keep it real and candid to share those moments in my life where I see beauty.

I hope my feed promotes positivity and inspires my friends to want to be collectors of happy! We all worry too much about being pretty and perfect. So many lose touch with reality and ‘gram as a way to say “Look at me!” This ideal is the antithesis of sharing with others.

Instead, let us be pretty kind, pretty smart, pretty strong, and pretty selfless. If we put as much time and effort into kindness and generosity as we do worrying about if our photos are edited and filtered just right, it would take the pressure away and make room for more positive energy in all of our little squares.

My kids ages are spread apart. Having a soon-to-be teenager this summer changes everything! Although, we do finally have a babysitter so Danny and I can enjoy an occasional date night! (Happy dance!) Gabby likes to babysit. She is a great little money saver, and she recently bought herself an iPad! She was thrilled and worked hard to earn it. I think having your kids earn money for the things they want most is such a great learning experience for them and teaches them to respect the things they are blessed with.

Let me paint you a quick picture: dinner at our favorite place Oteo, that serves contemporary Mexican food that will change your life. A trip to Alice Lane, my favorite home furnishings boutique, Yogurt Land for chocolate with strawberries and a whole lotta chocolate sprinkles, and then a late night movie.

My routine is pretty normal. We wake up, I blend up a healthy smoothie before I send my man off to work with a kiss. Breakfast for the kids, which at our house is usually pancakes and waffles with peanut butter, Nutella, and strawberries.

I prefer a hot bath over a shower any day, but I don’t even remember what privacy is like! Who gets to bathe alone? Is that even a thing for moms? The second my hot water is running, I have two little boys all up in my grill. Nixon would be perfectly happy living as a nudist. He’s a full-blown streaker and he loves every bit of it. It takes a team effort to dress him, then you can bet I find his undies lying on the floor somewhere and there is a naked bum to be found!

I do homework with Rohme before school starts. I found that he does so much better completing his assignments earlier in the day; for some reason, his excuse is always “My legs are tired” by the time 5:00 pm rolls around!

I also volunteer in Rohme’s classroom each week, which sadly got Nixon out of his routine of napping, but I love being involved and connected to his classroom. It is fun to watch Rohme socialize with others and hear him be polite and stay on task.

Before I know it, I’m cooking dinner, bathing children again, jams, stories, tickles, singing Hush Little Baby, and family prayer. Sometimes, I’m trying to remember what I accomplished that day other than managing my time to play with my babies, while completing what seems to be an endless list of chores as a homemaker.

We love to plan Mommy/Daddy date nights with each of the kids to have one on one time with them. I believe in the benefits of spending alone time, staying connected, but honestly we just like being all together as a gang the most!

If there is anything I hope for my kids to remember about our home, it’s that it is safe, cozy, and always filled with love. I also want them to understand the sacrifices made to get this home; it was important to my husband and me to buy a home so that our kids have the sense of putting our roots down. We aren’t going to be moving anytime soon — we’ve done our share of moving — but we made a goal together to create a home.

This may not be our forever home, but it is a place for our little ones to call home for many years to come. A place where they are free to be themselves, to know that everything is ok here. I want them to understand how much thought I put into creating their spaces; we still have bare walls, but that’s the fun part! Hunting for treasures that have meaning and speak about each individual.

I want my kids to remember the messy side of me, too, the side that can be silly and playful. The side that turns music up way too loud in the kitchen to have dance parties while cooking. Playing make-believe with my little boys, talking in my MineCraft creeper voice with the best of them. I want them to remember Pancake Sundays. I want them to remember the smiley faces I draw with ketchup and the way I spell out the shape of their initials on their plates with fruit.

I want them to always remember Peak and the Pit — going around telling the best and worst part of our days.

I want them to remember the words to the lullabies that I sing to them at night.

I want them to remember my touch, so they can feel it even when I’m not around.

I want them to know they are my greatest adventures.

I wish someone would have told me not to dwell on the things that I cannot control. I used to really feel the pressure of other peoples’ opinions and impressions of me. As I have grown older and become a little wiser, I learned a little secret: those thoughts belong to the other person and not to me.

I can control how I choose to treat others and the type of person that I really am inside. At the end of the day, I am happy with that. I like who I am, but I am always hopeful for improvement. This is some advice that could have saved me from a few migraines!


Thank you, Jan! I love the game Peak and the Pit! Adorable. Also, that point in your life when you hopefully learn that other peoples’ opinions belong to them and not to anyone else is one of the greatest moments, isn’t it? “I like who I am, but I am always hopeful for improvement.” So good.

I had to laugh at your MineCraft creeper impression! Anyone else have a voice only their kids hear? I’d love to hear about your secret alter ego!

P.S. – Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me knowWe love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! I should also mention, I have a goal to bring more diverse points of view to Design Mom this year. So if you don’t see yourself or your community reflected here, let’s make it happen — send in your details, or recommend a friend! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.

11 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Jan Scarpino”

  1. [rephrased for rudeness]

    It definitely seems like a very orderly environment, and I can see it works for their family, but I think I would have the tendency to get too obsessed at my house.

  2. We do a version of Peak and Pit at our house (and I do it with my high school students at school too)–I call it Rose, Bud, Thorn. Rose for something you’re enjoying right now–something that is working well or creating joy. Bud for something you’re looking forward to: a happiness on the horizon. And Thorn for, well, that thorn in your side.

    Wonderful home tour–thanks for sharing your gorgeous space with us. And that shot of the two kids in the tub! So tender and loving–a treasure.

  3. Loved seeing this beautiful home filled with so much love! So curious where your boys’ desks are from … thank you!

  4. What a beautiful and stylish home-those pale colours are so restful (and brave with 3 children!). And I adore the enormous windows.

    Your comment about tiny hands reaching for mine really struck me. My twins are still tiny and every time they reach for my hand, my heart bursts.

    Also lovely to hear such a positive take on a blended family. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I absolutely loved the white everywhere. So fresh,elegant, simple yet inviting. I recently remodeled a room and painted it a shade of white …first time, I did it!!LOL
    It is quite something for me, all my walls are typically very bright in color. Anyway, loved your house and loved the picture of your sons in the bathtub….so adorable

  6. I’m always looking for the bookshelves in the Living With Kids posts. I think it’s so interesting how this home doesn’t seem to have any! There are still books: books on the table, books on the wall, books on the dresser, books on the desk, books in the baskets. But no shelves. Whoa. That’s kind of revolutionary.

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