Creative Family Home

sitting room

cfhwe might live in a rented flat, but we’ve been trying to make our home fit all the needs of our family. we didn’t want Pip to be relegated to a playroom because (a) we don’t have space and (b) we enjoy spending time as a family in our living space, cooking, playing, reading and being together.

For Pip’s first birthday, I made her a tipi, which sits in our sitting room and contains some of her toys and gives her a (private) space to play, whilst still being part of our main living space.

(our current living space above)

M 254 x 216

M 254 x 216

M 254 x 216

I was therefore instantly drawn to this book, Creative Family Home (by Ashlyn Gibson), when I was thinking about new ways to improve our flat. We are currently trying to decide whether to move to a slightly bigger place which would have a proper bedroom for Pip, and possibly a separate kitchen, and hopefully less damp, or stay in the current place and make some improvements and changes.

I’ve always kind of thought that living in a rented flat means living with limitations. I think it still does, but, I’ve also seen two flats this week which also made me think that we can reach a happy medium. Yes, we might not be able to paint the walls and install built in shelving and so on, but we don’t have to also live in quite the student like fashion that our flat sometimes feels. One was a friend’s place we went to on Friday where every inch of the place was full of beautiful although not all new furniture, artwork and plants, all arranged in a grown up way. The other was A Cup of Jo, which might have been all sponsored and be product placements and carefully styled, but it was still done in a rented flat and had a mix of adult and children’s needs all catered for in one place. Actually, the designer that Jo collaborated with, Emily Henderson, had a couple of posts which are more useful in terms of thought process and tips. (such as looking at the floor plans and planning arrangements of furniture on paper first – both of which I might do if I had bought a place but would never have done but might well do now).

For Christmas, we are making Pip a kitchen. (If you follow me on Pinterest, you will have seen that my For Pip board is full of pinned inspiration). We have cleared our corridor and are using that to make her an area of the flat where she can use her kitchen – it is outside our bedroom door and right by our living area/kitchen so that we can watch her play without having to always be with her. I have been perusing the pages of Creative Family Home and making notes of ideas which I like – I also want to make Pip’s bedroom more bedroom like and less nursery come thoroughfare to the back garden – that said, I will need to find somewhere else to store bikes, gardening equipment and 10 years worth of Vogue before we can even think of moving Pip over to a little bed rather than a cot. Thankfully, she hasn’t started climbing out yet, and there is as yet no new sibling looking for a place to sleep, so we can remain with the cot a little longer…

One thing I like about the book is that it is a lovely mix of real homes combined with lots of ideas – and as the premise is family homes, there is none of this idea that people don’t have *things* in their house. or dolls prams in their sitting rooms. sure, the photos are styled, but they somehow really do manage to look like *real* people (with great taste, and probably large furniture budgets) live there. It’s certainly helped inspire us to make the most of the lovely pieces that we do already own and to keep an eye out in cheaper places for other pieces which will work well with what we have. (a quick analysis of our furniture shows that our pieces include Ercol, Gplan, vintage trunks, vintage side tables, vintage dresser, bentwood chairs and an interesting old chest of drawers as well as plain white bookcase and the usual Ikea stuff – we have some good pieces and nice things, we just need to be better about placement, use and keeping it tidy!)

I will report back on our progress…

At my request, I was kindly sent a review copy of Creative Family Home by Ryland Peters & Small (View my policy on such matters here)



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    Every time you post pictures from your vitiss to your sister’s farm, I am so envious! It’s almost as if the farm exists alone in its own dimension, away from the every day stresses of normal life. You and your family are so lucky to have such a haven.

  4. April 29, 2016 / 2:21 am

    Ahhh. This is one of my favorite books. A few years back World magazine had an article that compared and contrasted Wendell Berry’s Port William and Jan Karon’s Mitford. I found it very interesting. Like Sue, I downloaded Hannah Coulter for free from That month they also had most of the other fiction by Berry for ~$5.00 each and I also downloaded those. Now I am enjoying listening to Jayber Crow. It’s fun to be transported to Port William and even better to marinate in Berry’s phrases.

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