Living With Kids: Kelsey Williams

Kelsey and I first started corresponding back in January. Of 2015, that is! Yes, sometimes home tours take a little longer than a few emails back and forth! But this one is so worth it.

Yes, Kelsey’s tour is well worth the wait, and not just because her interior style is fresh and inspired. If we had done the tour back in 2015, her baby Finch wouldn’t even be mentioned! I’m glad we waited for the little guy.

So please help me welcome Kelsey and her super cute family!

Hi, everyone! We’re Team Williams. My husband, Eric, and I met in college. I was literally the girl next door.

He’s an associate financial planner, and loves riding his bike and trying new craft beers. I’m an editor for our church, and love blogging and shopping. He’s an early riser; I’m a night owl. He’s a planner; I’m more spontaneous. He’s a spender; I’m a saver.

Our first date – which I didn’t realize was a date! – was to a Christian rock concert. We’ve been best friends for 14 years and married for ten. We have a daughter, Rooney, who is five, and a son, Finch, who is almost two. We love music, and both of our kids are named after bands we listened to in college.

Rooney is a classic first-born. She wants to please everyone, is a rule-follower, and care-taker. She is the best big sister. She loves art projects, preschool, and temporary tattoos. She’s very tall for her age and is naturally athletic. She wants to be a maker when she grows up, which to her means a baker/chef. She’s happiest when she’s eating.

She does not like toilets that automatically flush or getting her hands dirty. She’s a thinker and very cautious. She takes out the recycling without prompting, and likes to organize the shoes in our entryway when they get out of hand. She folds her own laundry because she wants it to be perfect. She can’t wait until she is old enough for Harry Potter. We are so blessed by her!

Finch is a hurricane. He has the energy of four kids and is absolutely fearless, which is an interesting combination. We often find him making a mess in the bathroom or climbing on top of the kitchen counters. He’s such a social little guy, loves being in a crowd, and likes to show off by climbing, running, jumping, etc. At the end of the day, he gives the absolute best snuggles, hugs, and kisses. He makes us laugh so much, and is the perfect bookend to our family.

We kind of jumped into the house search before we were financially ready. We were newly married and felt pressure to buy a house for equity. We looked at about ten houses and knew immediately when we walked into this one that it was The One.

Once we learned the floor plan was called The Rockstar Ranch, we were completely sold. It was a new build so we were able to choose some of the finishes like flooring, paint colors, and siding color. We’ve been here ten years and are still pretty happy with it.

Our neighborhood is wonderful, with lots of young families, and kids always running around and playing together.

I love our house but I’m not sure it’s our forever house. I have had vivid dreams recently of buying an older (less cookie-cutter) home and fixing it up…someday!

We live in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. The winters get long, but it’s a really great place to raise a family: good jobs, low cost of living, safe communities, great schools.

I’ve lived in Iowa my whole life. I grew up in a very small town without a single stoplight, and I loved the simplicity of that life. But now I really enjoy living in a bigger city and having access to several Targets! There are a few parks, restaurants, and ice cream shops close enough for us to bike to when the weather is nice, which is one of our favorite things to do as a family.

Both of our kids go to bed at 7:00 pm. I think it’s really important for their health and also for our sanity as parents.

One of my favorite things about our ranch is that our master bedroom is on the opposite side of the house as our kids’ bedrooms. We love having some adult-only time at the end of the day to connect. We spend this time watching TV, writing, reading, or just talking.

Sometimes we’ll sneak back into their rooms and watch them sleep for a few minutes. There is nothing better!

I would describe my style as Scandinavian mixed with mid-century modern. I prefer a lot of clean lines and lean toward minimalism. I love mixing black, white, and wood with lots of plants and little pops of color.

I think minimalism is good for kids – and everyone, really – in lots of ways. We all seem happier when our house isn’t full of clutter. I want it to be cozy and comfortable and a place for us to make happy memories. We want our kids to love our home and to want to bring their friends here.

I started my blog, Snappy Casual, to share outfit inspiration, but as our family has grown, so has my range of topics. Now I write mostly about our family adventures, child development, and home decor. It’s essentially a diary for my kids to read some day when they’re older.

I consider myself our family historian and take very seriously my duty to take pictures and capture memories. I keep up with it much better than a physical baby book!

I use Instagram as a family scrapbook. It’s my favorite social media platform! I get so inspired by the other moms I follow. Every six months or so, I print 25 of my favorite photos to hang on a wall in our basement. I’d love to get it completely filled someday!

Our kids are three years, three months and three days apart.

It was really hard for me when Finch was born because they were in such different stages. Rooney wanted me to take her to the park and Finch just wanted me to sit on the couch all day and nurse him.

They have always adored each other but are really just starting to be able to play with each other. I love having one-on-one time with each of them whenever possible, and being able to focus solely on what they need from me at the moment. Honestly, I find it difficult to manage both of them at the same time!

I work outside the home four days a week, with Wednesdays being my day at home with the kids. This schedule has really helped me to feel more balanced between the time I spend at work and with my family.

My favorite part about living with kids is having a front-row seat at the evolution of humans. It is really quite remarkable how quickly babies turn into toddlers and then into kids. It also amazes me how different their personalities can be from such an early age.

I hope my kids remember that I almost always chose playing with them over chores – which can drive my neat-freak husband nuts at times! I’m on the floor with them a lot. They love to wrestle and be chased. I know they won’t want to play with me forever, so I try to embrace it.

The hardest part of living with kids – at least for me – is that I am rarely alone and it is rarely quiet!

As a night owl, living with kids also means I get out of bed every morning before I want to. But I’m 100% certain I will miss these days when they’re old and grown!

I wish I had known that the reason your kids don’t come with a manual is because you’re the only one who could write it. I wish I had known that it gets easier.

I wish I had known that I wasn’t the only person that struggles with motherhood. It’s been a constant refining process and I am always learning something new.

Postpartum was a difficult time for me both times. I literally felt like I was drowning. But, thank God, it gets so much better.


I’m not sure why, but this line – “I wish I had known that the reason your kids don’t come with a manual is because you’re the only one who could write it.” – totally got to me today! It’s so true what Kelsey says, how parents get the best tickets in town to the greatest show on earth. I loved this one. Thanks for being here, Kelsey.

It’s interesting to me what she said about buying this home before they were financially ready for it. I’ve talked to a lot of people lately who are either totally into the idea of building equity in their property, and those who think renting is the new black. One friend describes renting like casual dating, with no strings attached and a complete absence of the term forever!

So I’m wondering: renting or buying? On which team are you?

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 know! We 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.

Photo credits: iPhone snaps by Kelsey. Professional photos by Haverlee Photography.

21 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Kelsey Williams”

  1. Love this! What a sweet family, and I also loved her reflections on motherhood.

    Funny you should ask, because we’re buying our second place today! I do understand why people like renting (and leasing vehicles for that matter), but I’m a security blanket kind of person. Now hoping to rent our our first place to give us even more cushion down the line.

  2. This was great. I also work 4 days a week and home 1 day. I get the best of both worlds, but I feel like I try to cram too much into that 1 day haha.

    The wall decor in the kids rooms is adorable.

  3. This family is darling. Such neat names for their babies!

    My husband and I bought our home a year into our marriage because the Homebuyer Tax Credit was something we just could not pass up. That, and the market being so topsy turvy was what enabled us to buy.

    That being said, home ownership is stressful. Something is always needing repair, and those repairs are usually SO costly (and where does one find that money?). While I love the freedom of choice: landscape, decor, etc., there is a lot about fully owning a home that is anxiety-laden. It has taken us a good 8 years to get our house to an aesthetic that we love, and there’s plenty more that is waiting for the funding!
    We have young children, so we’re not in a headspace to think about moving right now, but I think when a move seems right, we’ll probably do a lot of thinking about investigating the rental scene. As with most things, the second time around, we’ll go into it a lot wiser and more cautiously.

  4. I bought my first house (with my spouse) at 22 and 14 years later, we are finalizing the purchase of our 5th home. We decided very early on that we’d like to be mortgage free and essentially able to retire at 40. Investing in real estate is a big part of that plan. We have moved every few years, rolling the profit from the sale of one house into the purchase of the next. It helps that we’re not upgrading with each move. We essentially buy a fixer upper, do the fixing-up, sell it and make a profit. The next house we start over. We do generally live in it for a bit once it’s renovated so we enjoy our labor and then also rent it out for a couple years and get that income. Anyway, our 5th house will be “free” — we have enough equity to completely renovate it and move into without having a mortgage. Very exciting to have created this kind of security.

  5. I’m super curious what the rest of the sign says in Finch’s room!

    We’ve owned two houses , selling the first house we purchased last summer which we had also been living in for a few years. We still own some commercial property out of state which we’d love to sell.

    At the moment we are renting a house and are about to resign for a second year. My spouse isn’t a fixer and our income has been sporadic so paying someone else was often a challenge. All of the work fell to me, along with most parenting, homeschooling, house and yard keeping.

    And our first house we bought at the top of the market in 2005. It’s hard to sell in some markets if you have to leave the area (work/school, etc) and being landlords doesn’t always work out. We’re glad to be renting now. Our rental house is newer, bigger, cheaper, and nicer than our own home was.

  6. Clare Hewitt (@cottonflock on IG)

    We bought our new build in 2002 and after filling it with memories and two children, the addition of twins (once featured DMbabies might I add!) in 2014 shook us up that we sold our house, took the money it had increased in value by (with me not returning to my teaching job) and started renting. We moved around the corner then a year later held our breath and moved to the coast (we’re in the uk btw). Renting currently too, it is what I would class as my dream house… Victorian, huge rooms, bay windows and wide hallway…slowly each room is becoming a step closer to the white-walled calmness seen on this featured home. No way would we be able to buy this house but for now it’s ours and it’s our home. I do ponder, only occasionally, the distant future and whether renting leads you feeling unsettled and without the freedom that eventual mortgage-free status brings. However, the twins taught us that life is truly for living and that not being rooted and set on a long term plan certainly has its many upsides.

  7. Kelley Christensen

    I don’t think the dichotomy of team rent or team own is really fair. I’m on team rent, but wish I was on team own. There are people like me in this country who are laughed out of banks because we don’t fit into the cookie cutter mold of their perfect home owner. Student loans coupled with part-time jobs (which add up to 40 hours a week but the banks don’t see it that way for some reason) means even though the average mortgage payment for homes in our area are 1/3 of our monthly rent, we don’t qualify. I think you’re going to see more and more people renting in the future for the same reason; we were just graduating high school or college when the recession happened and the banks don’t loan unless you’re perfect now. As frustrating as that is, there are benefits to team rent, namely that all of the rentals I’ve lived in I would never want to buy (and the prospect of buying a home without living in it to give it a test run first is actually quite terrifying to me – think how many issues don’t crop up until you live in a place every day! How can you possibly catch it all during a home inspection?). Additionally there is such freedom is being able to just walk away if you need to at the end of a lease. Anyway, didn’t mean to rain on the parade, but I think there are larger issues at play than people renting or owning merely because they want to.

  8. Yes! “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”! I love it! I love all of it, actually. Great house tour. And I love your kids’ names, too. :)

  9. hillary barton

    You might be my style doppelganger! I just pinned your geometric nursery wall two days ago! Going to be trying it soon in my boys’ room. I’m also an editor, so it seems that great minds think alike.

  10. We were team buy but mainly because we needed to live in a certain school district because we wanted certain schools for our daughter with special needs and buying was the cheaper option than renting.

    I love this home tour and agreed so much with this moms’s sentiments, and style!


  11. I’d love to know what the rest of the sign in Finch’s room says! For all of my trying to fill in the blanks, I can’t seem to put it together!! I love the huge F above his bed and the R’s in Rooney’s room… nothing like a childhood attachment to their ‘letter’ as my daughter refers to it (her’s is ‘E’ and she’s so proud of it!).

  12. My husband and I have had the buy vs rent conversation for 15 years! First we rented. Then we bought in 2005. Then we had to short sell in 2011 and we were renters again. In the San Francisco East Bay our new rent was half of our old mortgage in a much safer/nicer neighborhood. I loved that we could call the landlord when something went wrong and have our weekends for fun. But that rent started climbing at a pretty quick pace and when our financial advisor told us we were on track to retire at 86(!) we had to do something to stabilize our housing costs. So back over to Team Buy we went, but by then there was nothing we could afford in the Bay Area. After 18 months of trying we completely started over in August by buying a house in a new-to-us midwestern city. The mortgage is about 2/3 of our last rent, the house is double the size and the neighborhood is beautiful. So I guess now I’m on Team Buy, and while I certainly appreciate the increased financial stability (and the decrease in stress that comes with it) I really miss the Bay Area a whole lot. For us, which team we’re on is all about timing.

  13. My husband and I rented when we lived in Chicago and I loved it. I found it less stressful to not have to worry about things breaking or the market tanking. We purchased our first home recently in the Cleveland area because there are not many family size homes to rent. I’m very stressed about the amount we have put into the home and the responsibility that comes with maintaining a yard and a home. I would have happily rented forever if we could but my husband believes that “renting is like throwing money away”, which I never understood!

  14. Aw! I loved this! My five-year-old daughter loves folding laundry, too, KonMari style! :)

    To answer Gabrielle’s question, we’re on Team Rent right now and plan to be for some time. We just signed a lease for another year on our 625 sq. ft. rental, which we’ve lived in for seven years. We live in the mountains, outside of Denver, and our rent is half as much as the current average in the area. I know for so many in the country, monthly mortgage payments are cheaper than rent, but that is not the case for us! We’ve actually put a lot of love and work into our rental, to make it a place that is comfortable for our family of four, and I so wish we could buy it and the adjoining cabin, but it is very unlikely it will ever be for sale. So, we are just appreciating and loving it for what it is right now, which is home sweet home!

    I’ve been reading Design Mom for six years and I’ve always thought it would be so fun to be featured on Living with Kids. We are in the midst of some painting projects, but perhaps next year we can share! :)

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