This Home’s Decor Proves You Can Still Have Stylish Spaces with Kids (and Pets!)

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home tour

If you’ve never said to yourself, “this is why we can’t have nice things,” are you even a parent? Maybe it was after your toddler scribbled some artwork on the wall in permanent marker or when someone squirted a half-eaten pouch on the sofa.

Life with kids is beautiful and wonderful, but it sure is messy. And not every parent would choose to buy a white couch after they have kids (and pets!), but interior designer, blogger, and mom of two Michelle Pulman stands by her lightly colored couch. Why? Because investing in family-friendly textiles is one way to create a thoughtfully designed home with kids. “I can’t tell you how many cups of coffee have been spilled on our living room rug or our white sofa,” she said. “But it all wipes clean because these are pieces that we chose to invest in.”

Michelle shared this home design tip and more family-friendly design hacks along with a tour of her gorgeous New Jersey home. From finding clever storage options in her living room to creating a brand new space made just for kids (you have to see her basement playroom!), Michelle managed it all within her home’s aesthetic. Read more about the inspiration behind her home, where Michelle spends and saves when it comes to home decor, and which project she’s excited to tackle next!

 

Name: Michelle Pulman
Age: 38
Location: Westfield, New Jersey
Home’s Square Footage: 3,800
Years Lived In: 4 years
Rent or Own: Own 
Children: Jacob, 6, and Ava, 3, and our mixed-breed dog, Chewie, 13

 

Tell us about yourself and your family.

I actually had a successful career in public relations before launching my blog Girl on the Hudson about six years ago. I started the blog to document some of my home and DIY projects, and it organically grew into a side hustle and eventually a full-time business! I’ve always had a passion for interior design (as a child, my mom would often find my bedroom furniture completely rearranged), so after our first child was born, I decided to take a step back from my corporate job to focus on motherhood and found myself with more time to spend on design.

We were living in Hoboken at the time and I slowly began taking on projects for friends around town, and it just grew from there! Today, my family and I live in Westfield, New Jersey (a close suburb of New York City), and when I’m not hanging wallpaper or rearranging rooms in our home, you’ll find us at one of the many playgrounds in town or heading out for an ice cream regardless of the weather.

 

How would you describe your home decor style?

This is always a tough question for me because I feel like my style is a mix of modern and coastal and is constantly evolving. I sometimes hear people refer to my style as transitional, which might be accurate, but honestly, it’s hard to pin down! I know what I like and I enjoy pulling in pieces from different styles and price points to develop a well-curated home—and nothing I design is too precious.

 

I know what I like and I enjoy pulling in pieces from different styles and price points to develop a well-curated home—and nothing I design is too precious.

 

Nearly all of my clients have children and/or pets in the home, so I always design with busy lifestyles in mind! In terms of inspiration, I find it everywhere I go, but Instagram and Pinterest are probably where I pull inspo from the most. I love scrolling through IG and finding new accounts to follow in the Discovery section. I also often find myself diving into Pinterest in the evenings while binging a TV show with my husband.

 

living room

living room

 

Where do you invest/where do you splurge when it comes to home decor?

I like to invest in bigger upholstered pieces that will last. If you spend on a sofa or a rug in the right performance fabric or material, it should withstand everything that your family throws at it. I’m often asked how (and why?) we have light sofas or an expensive rug, and the reason is that these textiles are totally family friendly! I can’t tell you how many cups of coffee have been spilled on our living room rug (which is from Serena & Lily) or our white sofa (Interior Define)—but it all wipes clean because these are pieces that we chose to invest in. Something cheaper and in a darker color wouldn’t do nearly as well.

 

living room decor

living room decor

 

Get the Look

 

What 2022 home trends are you most excited about?

I don’t typically follow trends, but a few that I’m loving at the moment are mixing metals, the increase of brass fixtures in homes, incorporating in natural elements (like rattan, seagrass, and jute), and the use of sherpa/boucle on upholstered pieces. But again, these are just design elements that I really like and are drawn to. Choose items you love and don’t worry about whether or not they fall in with a trend.

 

You’ve managed to do what so many of us strive for: blending your home’s overall style into your kids’ rooms and play spaces. Tell us how you did it!

Kids’ spaces can absolutely blend seamlessly with your home/aesthetic while still being fun. I tend to keep the bigger items like furniture on the more neutral side so they can grow with the child and then pull in color through paint, wallpaper, and accessories—all of which can easily be updated over the years.

 

I tend to keep the bigger items like furniture on the more neutral side so they can grow with the child and then pull in color through paint, wallpaper, and accessories.

 

Wallpaper is one of my favorite ways to really make a space fun, and it doesn’t have to be permanent! I use peel-and-stick wallpaper quite often in kids’ spaces and then layer in artwork and cute accessories to punch it up a notch. As a parent, you’re spending a lot of time in your child’s room or playroom, so I like to keep that in mind. You want the space to be fun for your child but also welcoming and comfortable for you!

 

Do you have a favorite spot in your home?

My favorite rooms are probably the kids’ bedrooms because they’re so sweet and we have a lot of fun in there, but I also really love our breakfast nook. It gets the best natural light, so I usually find myself working at the kitchen table. Before I hung the wallpaper, I worried that it might feel too busy, but honestly, it makes me so, so happy! This room is a good example of how a space can be neutral but still interesting and full of personality (and proof of how artwork layered over wallpaper totally works!)

 

kitchen decor

kitchen decor

kitchen decor

 

Get the Look

Etsy | Unique Forest Arts

Artificial Olive Tree

multiple sizes available

Shades of Light

Soho Sconce

multiple finishes available

 

For fellow neutral home decor lovers, how do you create interest and warmth in a space without going bright and bold with color?

For me, it’s all about layering in patterns and textures. A neutral home doesn’t have to feel cold or boring! Instead of going bold with color, I’ll incorporate wallpaper (there are so many beautiful patterns and materials out there!), and then I like to layer in artwork to really personalize the space. I also love to mix textures, so I tend to incorporate a few different textiles throughout a room: rugs, upholstered furniture, and plenty of pillows and throws.

 

What are some organization hacks to keep control over all the kid stuff?

Despite having a playroom, toys always creep into our main living spaces, so I like to invest in furniture that doubles as storage. In our living room, we have a few lidded baskets for smaller toys, an upholstered storage ottoman for blocks and Legos, and a dresser in the corner for books and puzzles. Even our coffee table has underneath storage to hold a few toys so that they’re off the floor.

In our breakfast nook, I added a large dresser to store the kids’ art supplies and sticker books since they typically work at the kitchen table. This way, it’s all close by and simple enough for them to access but also easy for the kids to clean up themselves. At the end of the day, the living room and kitchen are where we spend the most time together, so it makes sense for there to be kids’ items in there! And as long as it’s organized and contained, that’s totally fine by me.

 

Living Room Storage Hacks

living room storage hacks

living room storage hacks

living room storage hacks

 

Design advice you’ve used yourself that you find yourself recommending to clients?

I always tell clients to stick to their gut and go with what they truly love regardless of whether or not they have kids/pets in the home. If you love the look of a light sofa, don’t get a dark one just because you’re afraid of spills. And if you pass something up but can’t stop thinking about it, it’s probably a sign that you should get it—maybe just wait for the sale price.

 

Do your kids contribute ideas yet, or do they leave it to mom?

For the most part, they leave it all to me, but I do try to incorporate what the kids like into their spaces. For Ava, she’s really into animals at the moment, so her artwork and stuffed animals reflect that. I actually asked her recently if she’d like new wallpaper (something more colorful?) and she said no! Jacob loves animals as well, so I did his accent wall in jungle wallpaper a few years ago, which he’s still really happy with. He’s also into Pokemon at the moment, but I’m going to wait on painting the room yellow.

 

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

 

Get the Look

rattan basket
Serena & Lily

La Jolla Basket

2 colors available

penant
Etsy | Fellow Creatures Co

Wool Felt Pennant Flag

10+ colors available

 

Are there any small decor hacks that can make a big impact on a room?

Wallpaper and lighting are two easy ways to transform any room, and both can be simple and fun DIY projects if you’re up for it! If you’ve never installed wallpaper before, I’d recommend starting with a good quality peel-and-stick paper (Spoonflower and Chasing Paper are two of my favorite brands). It can be such a fun project and requires very few tools. I promise it’s something that anyone can do and once you get started, you’ll want to wallpaper your entire home!

 

Wallpaper and lighting are two easy ways to transform any room, and both can be simple and fun DIY projects if you’re up for it!

 

Swapping in new lighting is also such an easy way to change the look of a room. Replace builder-grade flushmounts or pendants with fixtures that you truly love and reflect your personality. And if you’re in a rental or would rather not hire an electrician for hardwiring, you can hang a sconce anywhere and use battery-operated lightbulbs that are rechargeable. It’s a game-changer!

 

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

kids bedroom decor

 

Get the Look

 

What home projects are you most proud of from this past year?

One of my favorite projects from this past year has been our basement playroom. On a whim, I decided to wallpaper the entire space (a true labor of love), and it’s made the playroom so much happier and cozier! Our basement doesn’t get a ton of natural light, so I used wallpaper to brighten the space and then layered in more color and texture through rugs, floor pillows, and artwork. Plus, the kids love the new play gym that we installed. It’s really a lot of fun to hang out down there now!

 

Basement Before

basement renovation

 

Basement After

basement renovation

basement renovation

basement renovation

basement renovation

basement renovation

basement renovation

 

Get the Look

storage basket
H&M

Cotton Storage Basket

5 colors available

wall art set
Etsy | Little Folk Printables

Neutral Rainbow Wall Art

set of 3 prints

Etsy | EZPlayPlaygrounds

Jungle Gym for Toddlers

ball pit
Amazon

Play Ball Pit

multiple colors available

 

What home project is next on your list?

What I’m most looking forward to this year is transitioning our daughter’s nursery into a big-girl room. The wallpaper will likely remain the same (for now), but we’ll soon be adding a big-girl bed, bedside tables, and a new rug. I’ll also probably swap in new artwork and change the layout a bit so that everything flows and feels refreshed.

 

Michelle Pulman is The Everymom…

Last show I binged? Jack Reacher

Favorite kids’ movie? The Secret Life of Pets

I never leave home without… My phone

Go-to coffee order? Extra hot, nonfat vanilla latte

Best parenting advice I received? Everything is a phase, so don’t stress!

Most laughable (or memorable) mom moment? Just the other day, Ava (who’s 3) asked me if I’m married. I told her yes. Then, she asked, “to who?” haha!

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