Mom Blogger: Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom
The design expert (and mother of six!) discusses everything from D.I.Y. endeavors to effortless Parisian fashion
Consistently ranked as one of the top design blogs, Gabrielle Blair’s Design Mom is the go-to source of inspiration for thousands of aesthetes worldwide. Covering the intersection of design and motherhood, Design Mom is chock-full of great ideas for anyone who wants to inject some fancy into their daily lives.
The great thing about Blair’s blog is that, massive following aside, she writes as if she's addressing close friends and family, updating them on the challenges and successes of her brood (she and her husband, Ben Blair, have six—yes, six—children). Her readers have followed her, Ben, Ralph, Maude, Olive, Oscar, Betty, and June faithfully from New York to Colorado—and then to France. When asked about her relationship with them she says, “Simply put, they’re my friends. They inspire me and support me and chime right in when I need their words the most. It’s a pretty wonderful thing.”
Tell us about the birth of Design Mom.
Design Mom began just after I became a mom for the first time, and it has grown and evolved with every one of my six babies. I’d been working as a designer for years but our first son, Ralph, changed everything. From the minute he was born, I questioned the need for style in the midst of sleepless nights, baby blues, and lots of diapers, and made a distinct decision to merge motherhood with smart design. And even though my side projects (like Kirtsy and Alt Design Summit) push me to new levels of creativity, my blog is still the place where I remember and teach myself, on a daily basis, that design matters. Whether you’re planning a party, trying to organize a family photo, or even serving breakfast for dinner, you’re making a memory that may live in your family’s hearts for the rest of their lives. Design it beautifully.
As a busy mom, how and when do you find time to blog?
I hunt hard for it. Most days, it happens during a regularly scheduled chunk of time, when I am a strictly a designer and blogger for a few hours straight. But other days, it occurs during a load or two of unwashed whites, a hastily prepared dinner that involves cereal as a main ingredient, or when the rest of the house is sleeping! It’s a juggling act.
Your blog is primarily about design for families and children. Why is it important to put so much thought into children’s spaces?
Where your babies begin is where their dreams do, too. A well-designed and carefully-edited space is the fresh piece of paper on which big dreams can be drawn. I think of uninspired kids’ spaces as crowded bookshelves, with first editions shoved haphazardly beside paperbacks, and collectibles of all kinds crowding each other out for dusty space. I say: clean, curate, banish clutter. Because if you don’t know what you have, you can’t treasure it.
Do kids know the difference?
In my experience with six of my favorite kids in the world, I would answer a huge “YES!” Just the simple acts of moving a bed for a new morning view, clearing out a corner and turning it into a mini art studio, or framing their artwork to make it look gallery-worthy can cause a serious shift in inspiration levels. I remember painting a huge mural of Napoleon Dynamite on Ralph’s wall back when we lived in Denver. He’s a major film buff, and the effort we put into honoring his current interest inspired him tremendously. It was more than just a décor choice—it was a way of saying that we believed in him, his passions, and his talents.
Your kids are incredibly creative! What is the most successful craft project you’ve ever done with them?
My favorite projects are the ones that begin as a plan of their own—marked by giant waving windmill arms and a never-ending barrage of effusive adjectives! Our son, Oscar, recently made an entire herd of large cut-paper horses. It was the coolest!
You write a lot about children’s style as well. How important is style as a form of kids’ self-expression?
I once read that the greatest gift we can give our children is the ability and occasion to communicate, and I think that translates to all sorts of self-expression. How you organize your opinions and present your thoughts is often equal to the way you dress and present yourself to the world around you.
You obviously have a penchant for fashion. What are some of your favorite designers, stores, and pieces to wear?
We recently spent some time in Rome, so I’m newly obsessed with motorino fashion with an occasional Roman Holiday twist. Anything tailored and Audrey Hepburn-esque works, right? Also, living in France has reminded me of the brilliance of timeless investment pieces, like an Hermès scarf passed down at least a generation or two. I have to say that I believe in textiles more than designer tags. A good cashmere, well-constructed wool, and sturdy cottons that get softer with age are the real stars of any fashion show—especially the one happening in my daily life!
What is your favorite thing about being a mom?
I genuinely like my kids. And every day, at least a few times, they give me another reason to stop, stare at them in astonishment, and feel like the luckiest person on the planet. It’s mind-blowing to me that my job is to get them safely, soundly, and happily (hopefully!) to adulthood. —Ludovica Pellicioli