Living With Kids: Shelly Bergman

By Gabrielle.

At some point during the process of preparing these tours for publication, I usually ask our tour guides for just one more photo or just one more story or just a few more sentences about that sweet thing they mentioned in passing. Or “Where did you get those vases, because they’re super chic?” In Shelly’s case, I simply asked for a few more close-ups of her stunning gallery wall plus maybe a bookshelf.

And this is when she told me she was in the process of moving out of this home, away from her stunning gallery wall plus definitely her bookshelf! I still wanted to show you her home and share her words, because she has a lot to say about following our gut instincts and being brave and tackling DIY even if it scares the heck out of us. Also, there’s that gallery wall.

Please welcome Shelley as she takes us on one final tour of her home! She’s been in her new state for a day as of this writing, and so far, so good.

Hello! I’m Shelly and I’m living in Illinois with my best friend, lil bean, and pup. I could gush about my family all day.

My husband, Jeffrey, and I met at Purdue where I fell head over heels for him and his pet bunny. My mood is VERY much affected by his, which is good because he is the yin (calm/quiet/thoughtful/patient) to my yang (anxious/loud/quick to speak/impatient). He is a curious learner who can figure out how to do/build/navigate just about anything, but most of all, he makes me laugh.

My daughter makes us both laugh. Constantly. She is almost two years old, and such an empathetic, kind-hearted child. She’s great for a pat on the back, share of her cookie, or silly face to make you laugh. My husband has instilled his love of books while I have instilled my love of dancing in her.

Our rescue, Lexi, can’t stand to be more than three feet away from any one of us, but knows when she’s being annoying.

Our favorite family activities are playing at the park, visiting the book store, and wrestling.

We live at the very edge of a college town in Illinois. If you walk a block from our house it’s cornfields as far as you can possibly see, which makes for amazing sunsets. We were lucky enough to build our home in 2010. We’d looked at a ton of homes and realized it would be compatible in price to build. I was able to choose everything! Flooring, paint, cabinetry, tile, carpets, roof color, siding – everything was my decision and I loved it and I’m still happy with everything five years later.

Even though we chose everything about our home, we’ve still done a lot of DIY projects: built a deck and pergola, added a backsplash in the kitchen, and built-in shelving and automatic lights in every closet. I never feel like it’s finished; there are at least ten things on my DIY list, but that’s just because I’m crazy.

Our neighborhood also makes me very happy about where we live. We have at least eight families on our street that we trust and love hanging out with. There is a huge park in our neighborhood with tennis courts, a soccer field, baseball diamond, skateboard area, sledding hill, playgrounds, and a walking path that goes through wildflowers. It’s heavenly. I love the fact that we’re out by cornfields, but at the same time I’m only ten minutes away from the grocery, restaurants, theater, and Starbucks.

With the University being in our town, there are a ton of restaurant selections, different boutiques, and live music all the time. The library and YMCA are both brand new and are where Soph and I spend most days of the week. We’re only two hours away from Chicago and Indianapolis, where both of our parents live, so we have fun weekends visiting them and enjoying all that those big cities offer.

If I had to define my style, I would call my taste Modern DIY. I like the structure and foundation to be modern, but have personal touches to make my home feel special. I have art and photography from several family members as well as a ton of art that I’ve made. Clean lines in furniture (IKEA and Crate & Barrel mostly!) but with a few thrift finds thrown in the mix. I’m learning that everything in my home must have a place. It must be functional or beautiful. Otherwise there’s no use for it in our home.

We’re completely adjusted to life with a curious toddler. We put locks on the kitchen cabinets and stove. We also got glass and a screen for the fireplace. We keep the toilet seats down and if we really don’t want to worry, we’ll close the doors. For the most part, she likes to hang with us. We have all of her toys at her level so she has access all of the time.

She’s in a Montessori inspired room which has worked out better than we could dream. She goes to sleep easily, and when she wakes up she reads books or plays with her toys while singing the whole time. It is the sweetest thing in the world.

The only thing she can’t seem to keep her hands off is Lexi’s food and water dish. She eats Lexi’s food. It makes us crazy.

I have a blog called DIY Mama, which has been my savior while being a SAHM. I needed to have more than just baby routine in my life, so I started the blog when Soph was born to update friends and family. I have a passion for crafts and wanted to show that you don’t have to be afraid of arts and crafts.

No one is naturally good at ANYTHING. You have to try and fail and as you try more, you get better. I know so many people who would tell me “Oh I couldn’t ever do that!” or “You’re so talented! How did you even think of that?” when I believe anyone can do anything after enough tries!

My tagline is “Let’s try this again, shall we?” which I have transferred to all of my DIY/Craft/Parenting projects on the blog. I show all. I also throw in Disney posts because Disney is a huge part of my life as a Mickey lover, past Cast Member, and now new mom with a kid to spoil at Disney! Two weeks ago I took the giant leap and decided to monetize my blog, so I joined a few affiliates and am learning the ins and outs of the money side of the blogging world. I would like to be able to pay for Sophie’s food and diapers with the blog. I would LOVE to be able to pay for a blogging conference with my blog income…but it will take time.

Two things draw me to DIY. Not looking like everyone else, and knowing that we can make things less expensive and often with more quality than we can buy. I grew up with my parents being extremely hands-on with house repairs and DIY projects. Both of my parents were very crafty as well. We would make stained glass as a family, my sister and Dad would pause the TV to sketch the Disney movies I was watching, and my mom was always sewing for us or friends.

Since I’ve always grown up in an artsy environment, it’s strange to me when people don’t do crafts with their family, but I have learned why everyone doesn’t: there’s only so much time in a day! Still, my life has been enriched by arts and crafts, for sure. I can’t imagine a life without it.

My favorite part about having a daughter is watching her learn and experience new things. She is such a joy to have in our lives. Her interactions with her dad are my favorite time of every day. She has different things that she likes to do with each of us. I wake her up every day and Jeffrey lays her down every night. We all share dinner together and talk about our days. We talk to her like she’s an adult and she responds (in her own language) with such emotion and thought. She is already a performer and knows how to get a laugh out of us.

Two things have been a huge surprise to me as a new mom. First, breastfeeding is impossible and terrible for more than half of all mothers (me included) which makes you feel like a failure from the start. Also, being a stay at home mom is harder than working a 9-to-5 job for me. Never getting off work ever is hard. Thankfully, Jeffrey is very sweet to me and Sophie and lets me go off on my own sometimes. Usually I want to stay home to be with them, but when I’m particularly frustrated it’s nice to be alone to grocery shop, have dinner with a friend, or even take a normal length shower.

There’s actually been a majorly huge, bigger than big change in our lives: We’ve moved from this home! My husband, daughter, dog, and I are in the process of moving to Indy to be closer to family. We’re so fortunate to be welcomed by my sister to live with their family for three weeks while we wait to close on our new home. It’s quite perfect, actually, because she has two little ones, and having all three girls spending more time with each other is amazing!

Finding our home was super easy, as was selling our home! I’m beginning to think something terrible may happen soon since we’ve been so lucky with everything in our lives. I went to Indy to check out 17 homes in one day, and realized our price range was not reasonable. My husband and I both went back a week later and saw ten more houses, fell in love with one, and put an offer in that day. This home had two showings on the first evening, and we got an offer for full price that night.

The transition as been incredibly fast. I’m just starting to have time to realize the impact of moving from a place I called home. Coming from such a strong-knit neighborhood has me worried for what’s to come in our new neighborhood. I’m also struggling with having to go back to work rather than spending my days with Sophie. I’m worried I won’t know her as well if I’m away from her. My husband has been so strong, patient, and gracious during this whole process, which has made a huge impact on my feelings towards the move. The hardest part so far has been watching Sophie say goodbye to her friends. I’m thankful we’re moving to Indiana now while Sophie’s too young to have too many close friends in Illinois.

We’ve only been away from our home for one day, so it feels like I’m just here for a weekend trip. Our friends will be the number one thing I miss about living there. I’ll miss the deck and Sophie’s room a lot, as well. I didn’t tear up when we left until I stopped in Sophie’s room, realizing she’ll never sleep there again. We wouldn’t be making such a huge change in our happy situation if we didn’t know it will be even happier closer to our family. I’m really excited to know all of my family better, without having to rely so much on FaceTime.

I wish someone had told me if there’s something you’re nervous about, just press on because what’s on the other side will be amazing.

Thankfully, I have a lot of wise people in my life so I’ve been told a lot of good advice like communicate with your husband, sleep while your baby sleeps, don’t be afraid to ask, and be kind. The thing that I’m learning now, from past experiences, is to be brave. I’m not especially brave but when I have been brave in the past it’s always brought me great happiness. For me, the bravest thing I’ve ever done is to leave my friends and family to take a semester off school and work in Disney. It doesn’t sound like a hard decision to most people, but I was terrified.

Thankfully, I took the leap and it was one of the happiest times of my life. Be brave.


Be brave, indeed! I think you’re right: So many of us would say “Disney?! That sounds like so much fun!” But change is change, no matter how fun it might be in the end. Thank you for showing us around Sophie’s first home. I hope Indiana will be good to you all!

When Shelly said, “I’m beginning to think something terrible may happen soon since we’ve been so lucky with everything in our lives.” it made me pause and think for a bit. I sometimes worry the same way. Do you, as well? Why do we do that? Why can’t we just enjoy the fabulous while it’s happening? And then I consider the opposite concern: if everything is going poorly, when will some luck finally hit? We’ve all probably experienced both sides of that coin. If you’ve got any solutions to avoiding that sort of thinking, please share! We will all benefit.

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! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.

31 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Shelly Bergman”

  1. Beautiful, and the kiddie room in particular made me smile. :)

    Something stuck out at me from the intro, though. Shelly describes her husband’s yin in all positives and her yang in all negatives, “anxious/loud/quick to speak/impatient.” I think I do this to myself! Could just as easily be “energetic/talkative/quick minded/enthusiastic”, right?

    1. That was super insightful, Angela. You’ve got my thoughts spinning on that one because I think I do that to myself too!

    2. What a nice way to think of my traits Angela! I really should think of myself in a more positive light. I definitely am a pessimist when it comes to myself. I’m going to use ‘Angela Logic’ today and I’ll bet I’ll have a better day! Thank you!

  2. I love this: “I’m learning that everything in my home must have a place. It must be functional or beautiful. Otherwise there’s no use for it in our home.” I am working on that myself. It makes it things so much easier and I feel freer because of it.

    1. Renee, I had been working on that for a while when I came across the book The Magic of Tidying Up and it really hit home. I’ve been practicing this even more since reading that book and am excited to continue practicing it in our new home!

      1. Ha! I read that book as well. Clearly the author does not have children, amiright?! I’d love to see how her life changes and her tidying changes if she has kids. But, it’s a great theory and I have simplified all my “stuff ” after reading it.

        1. Too true! Her ideas can still be implied but not on such a grand scale (especially when it comes to saving toys/clothes for future children!) My favorite thing to remember from her book is to only have things in your home that you love or that serve a purpose. That’s a really hard thing to do when you look at every item!

      2. As soon as I read that comment, I thought, “She’s read the book!” It really has changed my life – I love it!

        Beautiful home – thank you for sharing! I agree – being brave has been the slowest lesson for me to learn, but it really is the most rewarding. :)

        1. It’s SUCH a great book Summer! I’m glad it’s made an impact on you as well.
          Thank you. :) It is so rewarding, whether it’s for a big decision or small. Today I was ‘brave’ and had a mother/daughter day at the Children’s Museum when she’d been crying about everything all morning. She was a perfect angel and so happy about everything. I’m so glad I was brave enough to take her. ;)

  3. Beautiful home, Shelley! I’m trying to soak in your thoughts about being brave… Especially with regards to moving to a new home/state when you’ve invested so much time & energy (and have so much familiarity) in your current home. We are considering a similar move (to be closer to family). It’s scary! And there’s this voice telling me that it would be silly after renovating our entire home. Feels like a waste. Did you have thoughts like this?

    1. Thank you Danielle. I TOTALLY had those thoughts, and still do. Now that I’m in my city (where I grew up) and am able to introduce Jeffrey and Sophie to the attractions, I’m feeling so much better about our decision. I’ve been able to help my Dad and Grandma out with things and see friends that we haven’t seen in years (all in a week and a half!)
      It’s hard when you have blood, sweat, tears and sleepless nights over a home. It’s harder when you have so many things you love about the community you live in. I knew it was the hardest to be away from my family though. We’ll now get to have new DIY memories (and failures) in our knew home! I was very scared and cried every day for two weeks until I moved in with my sister’s family (in IN) and was able to be in the environment we’ll soon call home. You just have to weigh what makes you happier: being closer to your family or your home.

  4. Shelly I love your wooden measure attached to the wall. I regret not keeping track of my own daughter’s growth in this way and I wish I had something permanent like this to give her. She is very curious about what she was like when she was a small child and wants us to tell her stories about the things she did or said, she never tires of hearing them.

    My daughter (who is also Sophie and now 10 years old) woke up singing every morning from the time she knew could make a noise. I loved it and it made my heart happy to lay in bed and hear her wake this way. I remember my husband and I would lie awake waiting for this to happen.

    Your comment about breastfeeding bought a smile too. I breastfed my daughter until she was nearly three years old. Thankfully I did not have any problems doing it as I know a lot of women do. In the early days I was terrified that my milk would run out and the convenience of feeding in this way would disappear from my life. I did not like the thought of having to prepare formula or sterilise any bottles. I was also panicked about possibly having to switch to formula because my baby would not drink from a bottle. I spent a small fortune on trying out different teats and bottles without any success at all and I was so anxious about how I would be able to feed her if I stopped producing milk.

    My other problem was that I naively thought that babies just stopped breastfeeding of their own accord when they were about 12 months old. I ended up going to Paris for 2 weeks with a friend to break the habit because I did not have the stamina for a distressing withdrawal. It was getting way past the point in time that I thought this should come to an end. If someone had told me before I was pregnant that I would be feeding feed my child until way after they could talk I would have scoffed. I was an older mother, a senior executive in a large public company, definitely not the earth-mother type. When I got back from my 2 weeks away, the first things she said to me was “can I have a drink from Mummy?” I said no, my milk disappeared while I was in Paris. Her next question was “did you leave it somewhere, has Kerrie (my friend) got it?”

    To my mind it was clearly time to stop if you were having this type of exchange with your child.

    Thanks for prompting those memories! It has been a happy day.

    1. My parents had a paper measuring tool growing up and I’m so thankful. It was a special memory for me so I already knew I wanted that for Sophie. You can definitely still talk to your Sophie about memories and that is still extremely special!
      The morning singing is seriously the most special sound in the world. <3
      Breastfeeding causes such commotion and it is extremely frustrating and disheartening as a new mother. I wish everyone could just raise their children the way that works best for them and not have to worry if they're being a bad parent for not breast feeding or feeding until their child is older. That is too funny that she asked if Kerrie had it though!! HAHA! :D
      I'm so glad you had a nice trip down memory lane today with your Sophie. :) Enjoy your happy day!

  5. OMG – I love your house!

    I need to beg for the exterior color paint names — we are about to hire a consultant to help us pick colors but I adore the exterior. What brand/colors were used?

    Pleeeeease, preeeety please!

    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Sandra! I’m glad you like it and how exciting to get your house painted!! It’s not paint though, it’s siding. It’s the only green that was available and I’m not sure it has a name other than green! HAHA! I remember on the contract it saying ‘black shutters, white trim and green siding’.
      I hope you find a green you love! I’d love to see a before and after photo!

  6. Just a wave hello from half of another Boilermaker couple! Your home was lovely in Illinois. I move a lot. I think it is such a fun challenge to make a new space my own, but fresh. Best of luck in Indy.

    1. Boiler UP! Sometimes I like the ‘let’s make this our home and change it’ and some times I think ‘ugh there’s soooooo much to fix, it’s going to cost a fortune!!’ ;) Right now it’s the latter. ;)

    1. Thank you! I had no idea I was so lucky until I’m moving into my new home where the washer/dryer is in the kitchen!!! :) Although I never folded on the ‘folding counters’ we did use the sink in the laundry room a ton after doing DIY projects…that will be missed.

  7. Chandra Lawrie

    Loved it! And your home is fantastic! I have kids, love them to pieces, but trying to be a SAHM and work from home pulls me very tight at time. I wasn’t good with boundaries and needed to learn better ways to make it through the days. So into self help books I went, I would say Kim Buck’s The Thriving Woman’s Guide to Setting Boundaries has been the best book for me. Makes the daily life work a little smoother and maybe now I can make my home look like yours!!

    1. Great advice on that book. I’m getting a library card this next week so I’ll put it on my list to check out! Thank you. :) I applaud you for being a SAHWM! Honestly, I think it’s very difficult to be a SAHM and have a blog. I wouldn’t be able to have deadlines and hours to meet while staying at home with Soph. I hope the book helps make things go more smoothly. Just remember, things aren’t as stressful as we make them. Just take a step back and breath and always sleep on tough decisions. <3

    2. Hi Chandra, Thank you for the book mention. I appreciate that. If you don’t believe that your time matters, no one around you will believe it does. As you start to believe that your time matters you will be teaching those around you that your time does matter and they will start to honor that. Setting boundaries is really a retraining process. Honor yourself enough to stick with it.

    1. Thank you Jocelyn! I was definitely going for the clean line/modern but with a lot of personality! Totally wish I could pull that off in my wardrobe! ;) I’m excited for our new home! We move in this weekend :)

  8. So beautiful!! I don’t think our homes could be friends…. please come to my house and make it look JUST LIKE THAT!! : )

    1. :D Oh goodness! 1. I have less children, who are younger and haven’t accumulated so much STUFF. 2. I get a little bit crazy when things don’t have a place (and are in said place) which is not always a good thing. 3. I’d LOVE to come to your house to make it look just like this. ;)

  9. Shelly, my heart just leaped when I saw your house tour here! I’m so happy to read from you and to get a glimpse of your home. I love your deck so much. I wish you all the best in your new home. :)

    1. Thank you Rea! I actually thought our deck would be your favorite part because I remember you talking about how much you love to spend time outside in your yard, despite it’s size. It looked like a perfect oasis to me! Thank you for suggesting I submit our home to Design Mom! <3

  10. I love your home and hope you enjoy decorating your new home just as much! Welcome back to Indianapolis! I’m a transplant to Indy who moved here to be near my husband’s family, so totally get where you’re coming from.

  11. Thank you Jenny! We closed on our house yesterday and went last night to clean. I’m a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of elbow grease that will be going into the house to make it to my standards (germaphobe) but am excited to get paint up on the walls to make it feel more like us. :) How are you liking Indy so far?

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