Living With Kids: Marjolaine Solaro

By Gabrielle.

Moving into a 200-plus year old home didn’t prompt Marjolaine to scour the shops for period-specific pieces and study traditional paint colors for months on end. Nope. She painted the whole thing white, added bright furniture and rainbow tiles as often as she could, and enlisted the help of her little ones in choosing bedroom wallpapers. I like her style.

Come see! Welcome, Marjolaine.

My name is Marjolaine Solaro, and I’m 37. I’m a French mum blogger and I write books about pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childhood. I’m also a freelancer who works with brands to help them in their relationships with bloggers.

I’m married to a wonderful man I met 15 years ago. At the time, we were both working at a local TV channel. He now runs his own business as a TV producer. Together, we have three joyful kids!

My eldest is a romantic blond boy who is eight. He loves gymnastics and he’s a quick learner, skipping a grade and curious about everything. My second one is a six year old sweet girl. She was born two months in advance so she is a fighter. She loves to wear what she wants and she’s the queen of the mix and match outfit! My last one is three and a half. She’s the funny one and she speaks a lot! She’s also passionate with gymnastics, like her big brother.

We love to spend time together doing nothing except reading at home or fixing the house and the garden. We enjoy long walks by the sea close to our house. We discovered camping as a family last year and we love that. In the future, we hope to buy a trailer to discover our country together.

We also have a big project for 2018. We are planing to spend three months in Japan in a camper van, which should be a nice way to celebrate our fortieth birthdays and my son’s tenth!

We live in Bretagne, in the west of France, in a small village close to a city called Lorient. My husband grew up there. The Parisian girl I was fell in love with the area when he made me visit. I love this place so much that I created a lifestyle blog where I document my discovery of Bretagne with the eyes of an outlander. I’m working on this one with my friend Céline and we are having a lot of fun together.

I love the breathtaking landscapes with wild coasts by the sea, I love the food — crêpes, cider! — I love the light, I love to be in the country far from the city worries…I love everything here! It’s been raining a lot but we have a saying, “The sun shines at least once a day,” and that’s true. The weather here changes very fast in the same day. I miss the fact that we cannot have delivery food at home, and it’s hard to watch foreign movies in their language, but this is nothing compared to the wonderful way of life we are enjoying.

In 2011, we decided to quit Paris for good to raise our children in the country. We sold our apartment and we visited some houses close to Lorient, close to my in-laws, just to see the market. We were planning on renting first and buying after a few months but we fell in love with our house. It was an old farmhouse, half renovated. We could live there and work at the same time. The old stones, the soul of this house, and its location made it just the perfect fit for us. It must have been destiny because everything progressed just perfectly, and three months later, we started our new life here.

We knew we didn’t want to stay in Paris after the birth of our first child, so we decided to organize our jobs in a new way to be able to leave the capital. My husband started his own business and I stopped my career as a journalist to become a blogger. My husband still works in Paris three days a week.

The hardest thing for me was to make new friends. I thought it would be easier, but it was a while before I was able to meet some great, friendly people. The kids were crazy about the house and the garden, running everywhere all the time. They both grew like crazy the first months! Looking back, I have absolutely no bad memories around that change because the year before was so hard with many months at the hospital for my premature daughter. Everything seemed easy after that!

Oh!  I did experience a lot of fear during a huge storm three months after we arrived, but we all lived!

This house is the strongest I know; even during storms, it keeps out all the noise! The walls are 80 cm thick made with granite stones. It looks unbreakable! When you are inside, you feel protected. I feel a great soul in here. My husband laughs when I say I want to live here ’til I die.

It used to be a pig farm and it survived the bombing in World War II. I think the house will still be here long after us! If I could make one big improvement, it would be the garden. We had one year of works inside and the garden suffered a lot. Our garden will be our work in progress for many years.

We’ve loved decorating this place, and we don’t really feel a need to stay true to its original design. We were afraid we’d get tired of colored walls, so we chose to paint the house white and add color with decorations and objects.

We made some bold choices with the graphic floor in the kitchen, for example. I also had this crazy idea of a rainbow bathroom for the kids and we went for it, not knowing how it would look like. We are not afraid of trying things and we simply don’t want a boring house, so we tend to just try everything we have in mind.

For the kids’ bedrooms, we let them choose their wallpapers. Even though we would’ve chosen something else, we are all happy with how it turned out.

We also wanted a house where the kids could live happily with nothing dangerous or fragile so that they can really own the place. We manage to organize things in order so they can do as many things as possible on their own. We still have a lot more to do but it will be done eventually!

The kids just love the house. It’s their kingdom! They love that we can host a bunch of kids for their birthday parties and that we have a lot of friends who visit during the summer for big barbecues. We have the chance to live near the school so we walk to school every morning. It’s a small school and everybody knows each other, making it a very nice setting for a childhood.

The place where we spend the most time is the kitchen. They work on their homework and they help us cook meals and we eat together, making it truly the heart of the house. That’s why we needed such a big table!

As a family, we laugh a lot, and I hope they remember the good times we share. The snuggles and the fights in our bedroom on Sunday mornings, the baths together in the rainbow bathroom, the movies watched under a cosy blanket, the hours jumping like kangaroos on the trampoline, the pancakes I made on slow mornings, the eggs we collected from our garden hens, the birds we heard, the sunsets we chased…

I  hope they will forget how tired and crazy I was when the last one was a baby and the other ones were both under five! I was so tired I forgot a lot of things that happened this year.

I hope they will forget that my husband and I are always arguing while we are working together but well, I guess they’ll know it’s just our way!

I will remember that it’s the house that welcomed us as a family of five when I came back from the hospital with my last baby. For me, it’s the house where everything is possible. It’s the living dream — even if the dream is bumpy and imperfect!

I love most that my kids are independent and that they play so well together. They are a great team who care a lot for each other. Of course they fight and scream, but they usually handle crises pretty well. I have to say that I miss having a baby at home after all those years with one and sometimes two, but I don’t miss it enough to have another one! We feel so blessed with the three of them and we don’t have too much nostalgia about that time with three kids under five at home. I think we enjoyed the best of that period in our lives, and we are enjoying the best of the time we’re having with them now. Next step is teenager life, so we’ll see how that goes!

I wish someone told me that you can lose yourself because of the lack of sleep. We had three bad sleepers and we had five years in the unsleeping business. Have I invented a saying? We managed, we did the best we could, but when my last baby was two or three months old, I just didn’t know if I could go further.

Every night was a nightmare with a screaming baby (she had stomach issues), and I kept dreaming of running away from the house just to get some sleep. I woke up every morning more tired than the day before with two toddlers, a baby, my work as freelancer, and a house to run with a husband away for many days during the week.

I had no patience for anything, and the only thing that saved me and my husband was our humor. We tried to make jokes about the situation as often as we could because we didn’t want to cry about it. It was a daily struggle for me and I had no idea when it would stop. That was the real torture: not knowing. Everything got much better when my baby was five months old. She started to sleep and I started to really be myself again.

Now, everybody sleeps perfectly! It’s a sentence I wouldn’t have imagined saying three years ago. So hooray!


I have a soft spot for anyone who uses the word hooray to describe their life, don’t you? Also, Marjolaine’s kids are pretty darn talented wallpaper choosers! (If that was a career, I’d go for it!) Thank you, Marjolaine, for sharing yourself and your rainbow tiles with us!

One of the prettiest descriptions of childhood memories I’ve ever read is this: “I hope they remember the snuggles and the fights in our bedroom on Sunday mornings, the baths together in the rainbow bathroom, the movies watched under a cosy blanket, the hours jumping like kangaroos on the trampoline, the pancakes I made on slow mornings, the eggs we collected from our garden hens, the birds we heard, the sunsets we chased…” That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

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.

18 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Marjolaine Solaro”

  1. Such a beautiful space!
    Wondering where you got the wall frames with different compartments (holding my little ponies and other small animals) in the kids’ rooms?

  2. I was so excited to read about a Breton family and home featured here:) I am from Bretagne but live in Kazakhstan. We bought a home in northern Bretagne last summer and are in the process of doing it up but it’s hard when you live far away. This post was inspiring. Thank you Marjolaine!

  3. Such a fun house…love the white walls combined with all of the cheerful colors. And your kids are great at picking out wallpaper! Swooning over those stars!

  4. I’m a Parisian who spent most childhood summers in Bretagne. It truly is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and Marjolaine’s house looks like such a dream. I love the mix of old and new, the white walls and the cheery colours. Maybe my partner and I will reorganize our lives and move to Bretagne one day!

  5. Motherhood and the concept of a perfectly imperfect family is soo beautifully captured in her writing. It makes anyone yearning to be a mother, ache with even more desire.

  6. Oh this made me laugh out loud!

    ‘Hooray’ is a great word. And ‘unsleeping business’ is the perfect phrase.

    I have three sons and my baby is 16 years old now, but I still remember crying every night when they were little. I was trapped in a medical residency with call every third night. My kids and my patients and my husband are all lucky to be alive!

  7. Debolina Sanyal

    Absolutely LOVE your kitchen floor! Were those original tiles? Or did you put them in? Would you mind sharing what the pattern is called?

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