Living With Kids: Kimberly Taylor

For the life of me, I can’t figure out Kimberly Taylor’s math. Four boys plus one full chicken coop plus kittens and dogs plus a horse and sheep plus did I mention four boys just does not equal this elegantly ordered, white slip-covered home with glossy-worthy vignettes spilling from every cupboard and gasp-inducing views from every window! But if you ask Kimberly, it’s exactly the addition of her young men and their menagerie that makes the Taylor home add up to just perfect. Get ready to be inspired by her answers; I know I was!

My name is Kimberly Taylor. I am a food and lifestyle photographer living in the Pacific Northwest. I live on a little farm just outside of Seattle with my five men: Mr. Taylor, #1 (Riley), #2 (Noah), #3 (Owen), and #4 (Finn Henry). We are also surrounded by a menagerie of farm animals, from chickens and sheep to a horse, kitties, and three dogs.

Our home is a 1928 farmhouse that used to sit on ten acres which were used to breed thoroughbred horses. We bought our home ten years ago. Today, our property has an acre and a half that is part pasture, part gardens, part lawns. We also have a barn that was built around 1930, a chicken coop that my husband built me for Christmas the year after we moved in, and a playhouse he built for the boys. I also have a little retreat that is the perfect space to enjoy the quiet and either nap, read, or write — my airstream Mabel — another gift from my husband.

Our property sits at the top of a hill just east of Seattle with a view (more so in the winter) of the Space Needle. The house has been renovated a number of times, most recently by us when we did a major renovation on the main living space. As the entire house is rather eclectic, we decided to remove the kitchen and put in a new one that was better suited for the very open space that it occupied. The main floor of the house is where we do most of our living as it has the kitchen, dining area, and living room, all of which sit in basically one large open space. The house itself only has three bedrooms, so the two bigs share a room as do the littles. The bigs’ room is a huge dormitory-like space with exposed beams, huge windows, and an industrial feel. It really is perfect for teenagers with its own bathroom and fireplace.

One of the greatest things about our home is that there are always dreams and plans for things we could do. I am dying to put big black french doors in the kitchen that will lead to a gorgeous open deck with a fireplace. I think that if we had that, we would eat every single meal outdoors if it wasn’t raining!

I fell in love with this house, and I started falling as soon as I saw the driveway. It curves in from the road and is lined on both sides by gardens that have beautiful blooms throughout the year. It is such a welcoming entrance to the farm. Next would be the windows on the house; they are gorgeous! They are the first thing I noticed when we came to look at the house nearly ten years ago, and I fell in love immediately. The entire front of the house is filled with these beautiful windows. One of my favorite things is to walk down to get the mail from the post box at dusk and look up at the house through those windows. It is often lit up from inside and it looks so warm and inviting, and my heart swells knowing that my loves are inside.

As our house is a fairly small space for six people, we don’t have any off-limits spaces. However, we also have a home filled with things that we love, some of which are fragile and not to be played with. Our boys know this and thus don’t mess with breakables.

However, our home is a place where I want people to be comfortable, so I don’t stress about things. Recently someone spilled a glass of red wine on my linen slip-covered sofa. She was beside herself with worry when I arrived home. But, for me, a sofa isn’t worth someone you love being so upset, so off came the covers, a little stain remover overnight, and — presto! — it was all fine.

We have a long farm table that has its share of bumps and bruises, but that gives it character in my opinion. We have marble on the kitchen counters and center island and, yes, it too has scratches and dull spots where wine or lemon juice has sat for longer than it should have. I guess when the years have passed and our children have moved on to their own adult lives, those counters and that table will tell a story of the family that was raised in this house and the fun times we had here. All that being said, I like tidy! So I tend to eliminate clutter. I also like clean, so I do spend time keeping things in order.

I think that my favorite part of living with my kids is the time we spend at our farm table sharing meals together. We eat as a family, and that is something that I really think is important. It is where we talk together, hear about what is going on with each other, and share a lot of laughter. My husband has a great sense of humor — we all do, really — and so many a meal is filled with some pretty hearty laughter. I love making big weekend breakfasts to share with my boys, or having a bonfire and eating our dinner and s’mores next to it.

On a side note, I want to say that I also really love individual date days with the boys. There is something about one-on-one time with each of them that allows me to really see their personalities and hear what is happening with them that they may not want to share in front of their brothers.

I have never been comfortable with boys being crazy in the house. I really do think that there is appropriate indoor and outdoor behavior. I have to admit, I do run a pretty tight ship when it comes to the boys. I also don’t believe that boys should fight just because they are boys. My boys will argue and they may occasionally thwack one another, but a quick end is put to it. They are welcome to disagree, but not to fight. And honestly, they really don’t.  However, don’t confuse not fighting with #3 bossing and #4 whining in return; that can sometimes be a daily ritual! I do like them to work things out themselves, but they know that they aren’t allowed to be physical against each other.

When I find that the littles have a bit more energy than I can handle, I send them out onto the property to play.  They often come in filthy dirty, covered in dirt or sand, but they are far more tired and calm then when they left!

I have that feeling of “I am rocking this homemaking thing” at two times during the day. First is when all four boys and Mr. Taylor are off to school and work. The house is tidied for the day, the laundry is running, the animals have been fed, the windows are open, and it is quiet. At this point I would love to say I sit down with a lovely cup of tea and a book and enjoy it. However, that would be a rarity! I keep busy even when it seems like it is all under control. It might be a sickness!

The second time is in the evenings, after dinner when the dishes are done, the kitchen is clean, the boys are off to bed or doing their own thing, and the day is winding down. There is a sense of accomplishment knowing that you have completed another day with small victories, good food, and a content family. These times bring me great joy, and they are certainly not happening every day!

I think a beautiful, rich home comes from the people in it being happy. I love a home that is lived in, well loved, and comfortable. I think one thing that I have learned is to only add things to your home that you really truly love. If you have an empty space, rather than rush out to find something to fill it, keep it in mind and then be patient to find something just right for it.

My second piece of advice is remove clutter.  There is a difference between collections of things — like my camera collection on the mantle — and clutter. I have learned to really only keep things that matter and part with the rest. I am a great supporter of our local charity and drop bags (and bags and bags) of things there often. I also don’t keep every piece of paper, every broken toy, or things that we never use. The less clutter, the easier it is to whip through a room and do a quick tidy to keep it looking fresh. And trust me: I do a LOT of quick tidies throughout the day. There is something about an organized space that makes me very happy.

And finally, the white linens. Oftentimes I see a home filled with vibrant colors and think “Wow! I envy that.”  But for me, our relatively neutral color scheme is soothing. White can be great if bleach is your friend. The linen slipcovers on the sofa are wonderful but they have spots that I can’t get out. I’m okay with that. (Okay, I don’t love it…but it isn’t the end of the world!)

A younger me would have been changing out the decor on a regular basis, what with all of the incredible inspiration online these days. But the older content and grateful me knows that I love the things I have, and that there is a time for decorating and a time for sitting in your decorated home and enjoying the people in it. That being said, I am always on the lookout for fabulous finds!

Chores is where it gets creative! First of all, there are always things to do on a daily basis, like setting the table, clearing the table, taking out garbage, getting the mail, etc. I basically try to distribute it all evenly, but simply call on the boys when I need help. They are pretty great about coming when I need them.

Then there is laundry. I do the littles’ laundry as well as Mr. Taylor’s and mine. The bigs do their own. Finally, if I need any help with farm/animal/barn chores, I ask the bigs and pay them a certain amount per hour. A few years ago we started paying them for work, and in turn they pay for all of their own things. If they want to go out to eat, to a movie, or buy something, it comes from their wallet. We pay for certain things, but we really wanted them to begin understanding the value of money, and it has been eye opening for them. They now really have a respect for how long it takes to earn money, and they prioritize that expensive sweatshirt or pair of shoes based on how long it will take them to earn it. Also, it means that they are often willing to help me do outdoor chores when I need help!

I recently posted about parenting and how I have had moments recently that I want to scream at the boys in that screechy scream, which clearly isn’t about them. But I have definitely had my frazzled moments! However, I have never been one to stay angry and tend to get past things very quickly. I also have the most incredibly supportive husband who knows exactly when my cup is absolutely dry and needs refilling. And it is because I am able to travel or even get out on my own for a day that I am able to recharge and feel motivated again.

Beauty. It is funny because I don’t see what I have surrounded myself with as beauty as much as it is comfort and warmth and welcoming. I often find myself working on something and saying to myself over and over “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be lovely.” Seriously! I talk to myself. A lot. I try to remember that beauty comes from inside and that happiness just exudes beauty, don’t you think?

As far as the photography is concerned, I think that the heart of my photography is based on the childhood dreams of what I wanted my life to be like when I grew up. I love capturing moments that speak to me, and remind me of the simple life my grandparents lived in a small town in the Midwest. I loved hobby farms and sweet groves of trees with a little farmhouse in the middle surrounded by corn fields for miles. Even when I travel I’m drawn to wise old faces with a sparkle in their eyes, or anything old or industrial, as it reminds me of my Grampy. I love things with a story, with depth, and capturing them with my camera is almost as good as getting to take them home with me. I find such beauty in things like farmers’ markets or the markets in Europe or India. I could spend days and days just wandering and making photos of it all.

Balance is such a tricky word, as there really is no right ratio is there? Some days I give it all to the house and my family, some days I have an entire day all to myself to explore or visit a friend or eat someplace I am excited about. Many days I do both, which is probably more balanced. I think it all begins with being happy with what you are doing. Life is simply too short to spend the rest of it doing something you don’t like, so if you aren’t happy, you really need to think about what it is that you could do to improve your situation.

I know that for my family, if I am happy then everything tends to have a positive spin on it: more smiling, more laughter, more silliness. If I am feeling like the resident indentured servant, then I know it is time for me to take a break, feed my family take out pizza that evening, and find a way to recharge. I don’t put too much pressure on myself to do everything perfectly because it isn’t possible. Some days I am good — really good — and some days I am definitely not. That is okay, because I can always learn from those days and be a greater mom and wife going forward. I try not to judge myself by how others are living (Or by the images on the internet! Holy cow!) but use my family as my meter for how it is going. They seem to be pretty good at keeping me in check.

I wish I had known how important happiness and joy are. When I was young, I spent so much time worrying about what others thought, rather than creating a life that made me happy. It really is true that it is what is on the inside that matters; if happiness is inside, beauty will naturally be on the outside. That is true for people…and for homes.

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Thank you, Kimberly, for adding such beauty to Design Mom today! (Note to self: White linens and Bleach. Check.)

There are just some people out there living so intentionally and happily so that their lives should be documented to inspire the rest of us. My favorite: “Life is simply too short to spend the rest of it doing something you don’t like, so if you aren’t happy, you really need to think about what it is that you could do to improve your situation.” What’s your favorite take-away from Kimberly’s interview?

P.S. — You can find all the homes in my Living With Kids series here. If you’d like to share your home with us, drop me a note! I’d love to hear from you!

59 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Kimberly Taylor”

  1. Love it! As a family of five in a small, 3-bed apartment it is great to hear how others manage to create a beautiful, yet relatively small, living space. Too often this seems to be done by those who have heaps of space so this makes a refreshing and inspirational change. Now I must go and get rid of the clutter….

  2. I’m absolutely in love with the colors & design of this home! Thanks Kimberly, for showing that it IS possible to have a lovely home & busy family life (despite all the animals & boys!).

  3. I have read her blog for a while now, and love, love, love her photography. I am so jealous of her chickens and you could just tell that her home felt homey and comfortable through the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I loved this post! I am also a mom of 4 boys who are now teenagers. It is fun to see how other people live. What a beautiful farm! Owning a property like that has always been our dream, but we seem to make things beautiful where we are planted, even if it’s not perfect. Thanks for posting.

  5. I have read her blog too for a while and love her photography and styling.

    And although it is a luxury to be able to make big lifestyle changes, it IS something that I too wish I had known when I was younger – put aside worrying about what others think and focus on making a happy, fulfilling life.

    Even small tweaks and adjustments can make a difference.

    Lovely!

  6. Gabrielle, bless you for bringing all these kindred spirits into our lives! I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking they must be related to Kimberly. :-)

    I loved the entire interview (I’m always happy to read that you can be a relaxed mom AND like things tidy and clutter-free), but what made me happiest was Kimberly’s description of looking at her house in the dusk: “It is often lit up from inside and it looks so warm and inviting, and my heart swells knowing that my loves are inside.”

    I’ve done that more times than I can count and it’s the best feeling in the world.

  7. Thank you for sharing- love her home. I have four boys and a girl {all grown} I like what she said about her boys and how they have been taught to handle disagreements….our children were raised the same way….when they were young so many friends thought that it was weird they didn’t deck each other all the time…now that they are grown and married… I get thanked all the time by their wife’s for how they were taught ….it makes for a great husband and Father.

  8. I love that mug holder. What is that and where is it from? I’ve been looking for one just like that.

  9. Oh Kimberly! You really outdid yourself with this lovely post! The words and the photos give me butterflies! wowie! You are a lovely wife and mother and your home is one of my favorite spots on the planet! beautiful beautiful!

  10. It’s funny – I was just about to scroll down to the comment box and write about how even though I love this series it always makes me feel a little, well, inadequate. Then I got to that last question and it gave me lots to think about!

  11. I love this series and every home and family featured. I do feel a tinge of the green eyed monster though and wonder if I am the only one. I wonder about women like myself who work full time (40+ hours per week) outside the home, raise kids and try to manage a home that my family will love to spend time in. I feel like I dont have enough time to devote to creating that special space. Heck most weeks I feel lucky if I have time to clean the bathrooms :) I can’t be the only one. That being said, there is great inspiration in this series, and I thank you for sharing these stories.

  12. I was so completely inspired by this feature. Her home is incredible and her words, resonating. I’m a mom of 3 boys and I found so many wonderful tidbits here to keep with me daily, both in decorating and raising these boys of mine. Beautiful!
    xx Kirsty

  13. i love this home…it is all the missing parts i dream about – chickens and gardens and wide open spaces. i especially love kimberly’s comment about getting older and not wanting to change things as much as live in them. i’ve found that to be the same as well (well beyond the initial stages of setting a house up)…that yearning for something different seems to fade. i’m just happy to have things that look good and can survive kids…though, i must say i want to come “shop” her house for 20-40 items that must come home with me. wonderful, beautiful…

  14. I love Kimberly and she is such a wonderful person to hang out with. I was amazed with all that she does before I saw her house! I don’t think I’ll be inviting her to my home anytime soon. Her place is enviably lovely!

  15. Love reading her answers to the questions and seeing photos of her gorgeous home. I would have guessed she lived on much more land as in photos it looks so vast and open. Lucky lady and lucky boys!

  16. this home is so inspiring, i am lucky to know kimberly and her kind spirit, genuine friendship, fun and loving way. i know her to have great style and exquisite eye but nothing prepared me to how lovely her home is. such a beautifully thoughtful family home. we all have dreams of what the backdrop of our daily life would be like and this by far is the closest to my dream. i am inspired by kimberly daily, her gracious ways and generosity have touched me deeply, reading your questions and listening to her answer has once again proven to me how selfless she is, for in these answer there is so much to learn and put into practice in my own daily living thank you gabrielle for this series and now especially for showcasing someone in the beautiful home she created that i admire and love very much.

  17. What a great post! I loved reading about Kimberly, her family, and home, and seeing her pictures. I, too, live just east of Seattle so I imagine she doesn’t live too far away.

  18. What a beautiful home – I especially LOVE the pendant lights above the dining room table! Does anyone know where they are from?

  19. This space is dreamy – I love color too but in my house I want to be neutral and calm. I love that you said your “sigh” moments are after kids go to school and after bedtime. Of course we love time with our kids but those peaceful moments when things are still and the house is clean are my favorite too!

  20. This is lovely, but to me, YOU need to start your own magazine, Gabrielle! There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder how you do it all, and make life with six kids, a successful career, and everything that comes along with all of this seem so effortless and happy and carefree. You are amazing, amazing, amazing.

  21. I have long been a follower of Kimberly’s, and I love her pictures and her gorgeous home. It feels relaxed but beautiful at the same time. Love it!

  22. Beautiful!! I agree on everything!! But would you please come to my home and un clutter, please? When I try to do it no one lets me! Even the baby is like an earthquake shadow, he takes out anything that I put away right behind me… ha!

  23. Love,love,love! I am a mom to 5 boys, living in a small house, and agree with what she said about raising boys and keeping clutter to a minimum. Great series Gabrielle!

  24. I love how Kimberly mentions her countertops and dining table will have a story to tell years from now with all the acquired scratches and dull spots. Great series!

  25. Beautiful. I have two boys, and simply can’t imagine the chaos that comes with four. I love the tranquil feeling in this home, and can see how a moment alone here would be so peaceful.

  26. Kimberly is truly lovely and what a gorgeous home! I especially adore her gracious and beautiful way of living. After today’s read, I’ve fallen for her even more…

  27. Well, this made my week. I adore Kimberly…having spent some super fun filled time with her at Alt. this year and she does, indeed have: a fantastic sense of humor ( wicked), immense love for all of her men & creatures & a beautiful take on life. I adored getting to see more of her gorgeous home! Love each inch, the restful, loved & well edited spaces. Wish I lived just up the road so, I could invite myself over for a meal. ;) YAY, Kimberly! :)
    xo
    Melis

  28. Gabrielle, I think that you may have the nicest readers ever! I am so moved by their kind words. It truly has made my day. Thank you so much for introducing me to them- you are a lucky girl to be surrounded by such admiration and love~
    Thanks again for this opportunity,
    xx

  29. Miss Frazzled

    My favorite takeaway is gauging your success at homemaking by how your family is doing. My house is a mess right now. My youngest (#4) is 9 months. I have difficult pregnancies and babies. We have moved 10 times in our 10 years of marriage. I have never really decorated, just filled the space with functional furniture. My mantle and most of my walls are bare, and we’ve been in this house just over a year.

    But my kids are happy and healthy. And when I spent some time organizing our master bedroom closet yesterday, my husband was so excited he dipped me and gave me a huge kiss. My walls won’t be white, and my floor won’t be covered with ugly plastic toys forever. If my family’s happy, and I can live with it, who cares about the rest?

  30. Thank you so much for including this larger family – I also have four boys, and also ascribe to the philosophy that just because they are boys doesn’t mean they have to fight or that they are unable to comprehend the differences between indoor and outdoor-appropriate behavior, so Kimberly’s story resonated particularly with me. I love the Living With Kids series, but many of them have focused on one or two-child families, so it is great to see one that covers those of us with lots of little bodies squirming through the house!

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