A family of four in a small space absolutely has the potential (and the right) to drive you a little stir crazy – but Emily Bogertman, who stays at home with her two toddler daughters, exudes gentleness and curiosity at these two children she’s raising. Of course, we’re sure it helps that her 950 sq ft. home is nothing short of charming and cozy.
With lots of color and, yes, kid stuff everywhere, the Oak Park home that she and her husband, Dave, own is a representation of their real-life – family-focused (you’ve got to see the amazing family heirloom piece in their dining room) and full of love. Read on for Emily’s best tips for creating a not-so-big big-girl room for her two littles, her go-to meals that work around her family’s allergies, and the sweet family moment she caught on video:
Name: Emily Bogertman, owner of Pinkadot Stitches
Square Footage: 950 sqft.
Rent or Own: Own
City/State: Oak Park, IL
Children: Adelaide 3, Frances 1.5, and baby number three is due Valentine’s Day
You’re busy raising your two toddlers, Adelaide and Frances, in a cozy home with your husband. What were you looking for in a home? How is your current home different than you imagined?
We bought the house before the girls, but we had them in mind when we bought. I really wanted bedrooms separate from the main living areas, but we realized that wasn’t an option in our budget in the neighborhood we wanted. Our bedroom is off the dining room and the girls’ room is next to the kitchen.
While it’s not ideal, we just moved past it and naptime became quiet time for all of us since our house is so small. It ended up being a hidden blessing as mama needs a break in the day too.
Did you create a design plan with your kids in mind? How has it changed as your kids have grown? We’d love to hear your secrets.
With our house being as small as it is, I knew we didn’t have the luxury of a designated kid space. I decided to blaze forward embracing the baby toys and furniture as part of my decor plan.
Storage bins really are my lifesaver. I’m thankful there are so many beautiful options these days. We are the third family with this Stokke Tripp Trapp. Another example where function meets beauty.
Tell us about your entryway – we love it!
Ha. I love how it came together, but honestly, it was a random collection of free things scavenged out of my dad’s old optometry office basement. The chairs, storage cabinet, and eye chart hadn’t seen the light of day for many years. Without a front closet, I knew we’d need a coat rack. We snagged this at an antique shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where we lived before Oak Park.
Did any rooms in your house have design quirks? How did you deal with them?
The girls’ room is so small. Although I wish they were old enough for bunk beds, we just aren’t there yet. Their beds take up most of the room, but they’re learning to share and love more deeply, right?
What’s your approach to creating a space that fits your design style while still keeping your family in mind?
When we moved into our house five years ago I thought, “let’s go minimalist, we’ll paint the walls white!” Ha! The walls may be white, but not much about my style is minimalist. I love color. I can’t escape it. And it really helped when incorporating all of the girls’ things. It all seemed to just fit right in!
How do you keep your home as tidy as possible with kids around?
We generally clean up before lunch or before nap time and then before bed. We think it’s important to include the girls. Being a part of a family is work, and we love giving them little glimpses of how they can participate.
Any tips on controlling the spread of “kid” stuff?
With a house as tiny as ours, there are kid products everywhere, but for me, the key has always been practical, beautiful storage. There is no designated playroom and their room isn’t large enough to hold many toys. We want them to have the freedom to play and imagine everywhere.
Your home is filled with family heirlooms but is very cohesive. How did you do that?
I have no idea! We have family with good taste? I’m not really sure how it all fits together. To be honest, I was quite nervous when my husband said we would be getting his grandparents’ old kitchen table and chairs. I hadn’t ever seen it and was fairly confident it wouldn’t be my taste. A little later we found out that a buffet came with it. When I laid eyes on that beauty, I’m pretty sure I apologized multiple times to my husband. It’s gorgeous and has this beautiful, rich history – his grandparents immigrated here from the Netherlands. The table, chairs, and buffet were handcrafted by family members as a wedding gift. These pieces were the only pieces of furniture they brought to America on the boat with them. We feel honored to have the opportunity to care for these pieces. It’s our dream to restore it all soon.
Your toddlers share a room – how did you create a space that reflects both of them?
Well, I feel like a terrible mom answering this question, but I originally designed the nursery before A was born. We’ve tweaked a few things here or there, but for the most part, it reflects more of my taste than it does their personalities.
That being said, we talk about what they would like their room to look like in the future. Frances has no clue yet, but Adelaide is set on a “pink room with bunk beds.” She may convince me of the lightest mauve at some point.
How did your girls adjust to sharing a room? What tips have helped your family?
The biggest thing we learned is that kids are far more resilient than we give them credit for. I was so nervous to switch A to a toddler bed thinking it’d be terrible. IT WENT GREAT. I was also so nervous to transfer F into the room with A after she was done in our room. I thought they’d wake each other up and we’d be up all night. THEY DIDN’T. I’m the worst with transitions. I just need to give my babies more credit — they are great.
Tell us about your girls. How are they similar? Different?
Good question! I think they both may be naturally independent. Adelaide is extremely extroverted, social, outgoing, etc. With a little encouragement, she’ll accomplish anything. Frances can be more reserved, however, she doesn’t want help with an.y.thing! She’s been using a spoon and fork since just after we introduced food, which had to be solids because that’s what she saw her sister doing. She’s shy, yet brave. She wants to be able to do anything her big sister can do.
Your family has food allergies, so you’ve learned to creatively cook with loads of flavor. Can you share with us some easy recipes?
Oh man. Everyone’s idea of easy is so different. How about this — I’ll share a handful of my go-to’s year round. We have plenty more seasonal favorites that I love to swap in and out, but these are my tried and true, always repeated & loved meals.
- Tortilla Soup – The Modern Proper
- A Couple Cook’s Roasted Cauliflower Risotto – A Couple Cooks
- Healing Chicken Soup – Voeden’s Life (for EVERY cold)
- Sweet Potato Hash – The Kitchn
And for a treat:
For us, a family with multiple food allergies (with a desire to eat clean and healthy food), the key has been planning ahead for the week and making meals that can be eaten again (freezer meals give me LIFE).
What tips do you have for parents whose kids have food allergies?
Be open to learning new skills and be ready to provide your child’s own snack at school events and birthday parties. It gets easier. You learn to adjust to a new norm and you forget the easier days of the past. It takes time but you’ll find new favorites and go-to’s. Find friends who’ve paved a path, I know they’ll be so happy to share what they’ve learned.
How has raising two toddlers impacted your marriage, and how do you and your husband divide parenting roles?
I was just thinking about how with our first child we both tucked her in every night. Then we had two and the process moved to divide and conquer. Dave is really the best dad. When he is home from work, he is fully engaged in parenting responsibilities. Dave takes the girls on Saturday mornings to give me a moment alone and it’s the sweetest weekly recharge to stay in bed, drink hot coffee, and catch up on some reading.
You’re busy taking care of your children – how do you make time for you?
I don’t do it nearly enough, but for me, it can be as simple as an afternoon latte. It can be completing afternoon chores before naptime and choosing leftovers for dinner so I can snag a nap or some tea and a book instead of working while the girls rest. Every time I get a pedicure or manicure (barely ever), I am so refreshed and wonder why it took me so long to make an appointment. Which reminds me…my nails would love some attention soon…
When it comes to being a mom: what are you insecure about? Confident in?
Hhmmm. Living in Oak Park has got me thinking that I need to be doing so much more than I am to get my children ahead, which in many ways feels like just keeping up. However being an introvert keeps me from doing all of the things. So although I can often feel insecure about not doing enough for my girls (classes, activities, etc), I’m thankful that my husband and I are on the same page to just let these babies be babies (kids be kids).
I guess that’s also what I’m most confident about – paving my own way with what works for my kids and for me. Of course, I want my children to be successful, but it can’t come at the cost of mama’s sanity. We’re all just trying to do our best, right?!
If you had to pick, what is your favorite memory from motherhood so far?
When Adelaide met Frances at the hospital. She was so excited yet so gentle. We have it on video and I could watch it every day. It was love at first sight. Truly such a sweet, sweet time for our family.
Emily Bogertman is The Everymom…
Guilty pleasure? So Delicious Cashewmilk Frozen Dessert
Favorite family night activity? A walk around the neighborhood that ends up at Hole in the Wall.
Your camera roll is full of… a 3-year-old’s selfies and a gazillion pics of my kids.
The best way to spend a weekend? Together with all four of us. Doesn’t even matter what we do as long as we’re together. Donuts and lattes do make it a little sweeter.
Next vacation spot? A little Airbnb in southwest Michigan with friends & their kids. How much sweeter is life when you get to experience it alongside friends.