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My Family

Happy Fathers Day (weekend)


The last few weeks have been a doozy emotionally and physically. I’m taking the day off to be with those three humans who mean more to me than all the lampshades and throw pillows in the world. That particular man-human in the navy shirt, above, is the best of all the humans in the world. He’s not perfect, no one is, but he is the best dad to our kids that I could ever imagine. I won the dad-lottery and it is a $479 billion proverbial check in our family’s emotional bank.

I had a really good conversation with one of my best friends, Robyn, last night that made me feel better about my parenting stress. I cried to her about how upset I was that my job, with all the shoot chaos really disrupts our kids’ lives. Even worse, I confessed, that I have a terrifying fear that my job is inadvertently spoiling our kids and turning them from being normal and grounded to eventually entitled and bratty. It’s been what brought on my breakdown last week and I can’t stop thinking about it. The castle! The new big boy room! They are living such a different life than how we were raised and I feel like we’re fighting a daily battle in which I’m unprepared.

She reminded me that Brian and I have been and will always be laser focused on what is best for our kids – OUR FAMILY. She’s right. Nothing is more important to us than them. NOTHING. It’s always nice when someone who has known you closely for 27 years reminds you that you are still a good person. I get glassy-eyed just reliving the conversation. But I would die without that man being so supportive of me and the chaos.

Brian, I am grateful for so much that you do for us. You set the coffee every night for a 6am brew. You pick up Charlie from school on your bike often which makes him feel special and proud. You do bath time with toddler-like energy. You know how to decipher Birdie’s 19 month old adorable language. You battle the monsters with imaginary swords far longer than I can muster. You can calm Charlie down in the middle of the night way faster than I can. You make Birdie laugh harder, Charlie engage longer and you hide vegetables in their meals with a secret spy technique that I haven’t the energy to execute. You are also an incredible actor and can make some extremely beautiful branded digital videos. You are talented and your potential in every category in life is endless.

While we aren’t perfect and we can somehow still have the same stupid arguments that we’ve had for the last 17 years, you, YOU, my love are my own personal fantasy of a father, and they are certainly going to have a happy ending because of you.

Happy Fathers day weekend, Brian. I love you so much. xx

Fin Mark


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What a loving tribute to a great dad!


Emily, read the book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*&^’. It really does help put things into perspective. Most interesting is how we, in our pampered American worldview, feel that anything negative is automatically an issue to be fixed. When really, the pursuit of happiness is itself a window into what we are lacking and always wanting to be something we are not. I’m not putting it correctly, but the book is definitely worth a quick skim.


Emily, what a beautiful and heartfelt post. I teared up reading it so I can only imagine how your husband will react.

I too am raising my sweet little girl in much more privilege than I had as a child. It is an ongoing struggle to give my family a sense of security and possibility while also allowing them an understanding of how much ease and plenty they have compared to most of the world. My husband and I have approached this by trying to be transparent: this is what mommy and daddy do for work, this is the work required to run a house, etc. as well as letting her know that it is not just hard work but also enormous luck and privilege that have allowed us to be where we are and we owe much to our community and earth.

You, Emily, seem to lead your life with such transparency, honesty, and awareness that it would be difficult for those two littles to take it all for granted.


tears. I have tears rolling down my face. What an awesome testiment of love and life together.


What a sweet, honest post. Thank you. I struggle with the same question with my kids. I grew up in the countryside of El Salvador eating dirt and chasing goats. We had nothing. Today, these babies of mine have so much, but I worry about how to implement that grit and humility one needs to stay grounded. It’s such a deep-rooted sense of of perspective that’s crucial in life. I try to have them socialize with a mix of kids from different social backgrounds and emphasize giving and donating. I’d love to see what other advice parents would have on this topic.
And happy papa’s day, Brian! You seem like a mm amazing dad.


Same worries. Here are some of the things I’m doing (son is 2.5)
-Buy less. Every kid we know has 4-5x the toys he does. Consequently, our house is not very fun to come to for play dates, but I’m ok with that.
– Make him help. He’s 2.5 but he helps unload the dishwasher, puts his toys away, etc. Yes, it takes forever but it’s worth it.
– I bring him to my hometown to visit family and friends that still live where I grew up. Luckily, my friends are all doing better than our parents did but it’s vastly different from where we live.
– Going with me to do Meals on Wheels once a week
– Say NO. One of the things I understood early on as a kid was there are ways you act and ways you don’t, and you get what you need, not everything you want.
– Continuing to encourage him to say HELLO to everyone, including the homeless guy on the street.

This is a topic I think about several times a week…. looking forward to other people’s ideas.


Such a great question! I have these same worries for my 6 yo and 1 yo girls. My approach so far: 1. Our example is the biggest and best resource i have to fight entitlement. We have to allocate our time and behaviors to highlight our values. So, we prioritize family time for actual activities together with no screens (eating meals, bike rides, going to park – nothing fancy most of the time!). And we try to prioritize generosity to each other and those around us in ways that make sense (in the winter we hand out hand warmers and granola bars to the homeless), being active in our school and neighborhood communities and volunteering for organizations whose mission we support. 2. Agree on the buy less toys! so, so many toys everywhere…but i do think investing in active, imagination building playthings like Emily’s fort are the best! We do a lot of lake time in the summer and I’ve bought my daughter some very expensive rafts and floats…but the hours she spends playing with her cousins and the crazy games they make up are so worth it…and the cheap ones just break! 3. Yes to chores! we are working… Read more »


I love that you seek out families of different socioeconomic status. That’s such an important thing generally, but also, it forms some critical social skills that hopefully will lead your kids to more empathy and understanding of others.


This is why I’m planning on putting my future kid(s) to the closest public school, I want them to make friends outside our very well-to-do-people-in-tech circle of people and maybe through my kids, I can widen my social circle to include a more diverse group of people.

Apparently US schools are segregating again, this time voluntarily.

You just made me cry! 🙂 So lovely.


What a lovely tribute.


What a beautiful tribute to your partner in life and father of your children! Enjoy your long weekend with family and relish in knowing that love is love is love is love is love. THAT is what your kids will internalize and carry forward in life.


Mic drop. Well done. Caring enough to worry that your kids might not be as “grounded” as you were growing up means you are winning the battle:) Not noticing or caring would be a big problem. Have a great weekend.


Beautiful post, Emily. Happy Dad’s Day, Brian!


Did you guys get a kitten?!?


Lovely, just lovely. <3

What a sweet and heartfelt post. My little girl is a month younger than Birdie, and I’ve had the same thoughts. She will have a much different and more privileged childhood than I had which I’m so incredibly thankful for, and yet.. I want to make sure we’re raising her to be gracious and humble, and to understand what we have is the result of hard work. Anyway, still figuring it out, but I’m with you. Hope you guys have a great weekend. <3

Happy Father’s Day!



The older I get, the more I feel that the only way for us to really connect as humans is to be vulnerable and open. That means sharing our failures and our fears. Vulnerability is crucial for empathy.

Emily, I’ve heard lots of people talk about transparency and truth online, but you embody it. Your willingness to share your fears and doubts in a way that feels honest and raw is very brave. I’m sure it costs you much more emotionally than walling things off would, but I am so grateful that you’re willing to model vulnerability as a highly successful woman. That inspires me even more than your amazing design talent.


Happy Father’s Day and wishes for a wonderful weekend to you and your beautiful family!


This is so sweet!!!


Sweet words. My husband and I are in the same boat, raising our kids to have a much more privileged life than we had growing up. My kids are 12, 15, and 17 and although they want for nothing (or so it seems to me) we remind them daily to be gracious, polite and grounded. The best compliment I ever received was from a teacher of one of my kids who told me that kids (she taught all of them) had such an honest sense of appreciation for the smallest things. That made me feel so good as a parent. Your babies are still little and I’m sure you are doing the best you can to help them see the bigger world picture already. You keep doing what you’re doing and I’m sure your kids will turn out just fine. Happy Weekend to all of you and Happy Father’s Day to Brian.


About my own husband, I know he’s not perfect, but he’s pretty great (as both a husband and a father, and also miscellaneous things like being a handyman and lifting things). And there is no one I’d rather have by my side to raise our kids than him. Frequently, he feels under-appreciated, and so do I, but I think that’s normal, which is why Father’s Day is a great time to remind him how special he is to me and our kids.

About giving kids too much or not enough, I wouldn’t get wrapped around the axel about trying to recreate your childhoods for your kids. It’s a different time and a different place. If I could afford to get my kids a castle playhouse, you’d better believe I would. And if they didn’t love it or play with it, that’s fine too. It’s really hard to predict what kids will ultimately play with. Either way, it’s cool, and an awesome thing to be able to do for them. Just breathe, grab some lemonade, and enjoy the summer outside with them!

Really lovely post. Glad you’re getting the support you (and we all) need. Good husband and friends!!


Oh my goodness! This is so sweet!

What a beautiful tribute to Brian. I am a step-mom to my darling husband’s 3 children. They weren’t as little as Birdie and Charlie when we got married so not every moment was easy, but HE, their father, has done it and continues to do it with so much grace. I remember him telling me early on, that kids do not come with a manual and we do the best we can. Your children are precious, I love them in your Insta Stories and you and Brian are clearly doing a terrific job loving and parenting them. We are way harder on ourselves than anyone else is. Happy Father’s Day to Brian, my hubby and all you wonderful men out there! Thanks for sharing this Emily. xo


Emily, I am a relatively new reader to your blog (less than one month) and seem to have found it just as your are dealing with a lot of angst from some of your readers. From what I can piece together, you must be receiving nasty comments about your ability to design, a perceived entitled life style, and accusations of spoiling your children. I find your blog to be a breath of fresh air. I subscribe to House Beautiful and am frequently frustrated when virtually every item (even pillows) contain a comma in their price tag. From the get go, I’ve loved that you feature a wide variety of price points. Additionally, I am clueless when it comes to decorating so I find it reassuring and informative to watch you change things out. Complete visibility into your approach makes me feel that not getting it right the first time is part of the process and seeing the things that you swap out, along with your explanation for why, provides me with an education that I’ll pull from when I’m redoing my own rooms. Regarding your lifestyle, every person will always know people who have less and people who have more… Read more »


Beautifully said!


Emily I hope I can word this correctly….. I stayed home with my kids and never had a career. I never missed a moment of them growing up. But if I could go back and do it over I would absolutely have finished my degree in interior design (did 2 semesters), and worked in some capacity, even part time. Even if that meant missing some moments I’m glad now I didn’t. As long as you always consistently carve out family time they will be fine. I wish my kids could look at me now and see what I know your kids will see in you someday, a hard working woman doing something she’s passionate about. I’m working on getting my dreams going now, but it’s much harder at my age. I know my kids will someday appreciate me staying home with them and the sacrifice it was to do so, but I’m a little embarrased to say I think they only see someone who cooked and cleaned and took them to soccer practice now. Your career is important to who you are and your kids will see that and be very proud. I think the way your doing it, from… Read more »


I worry about my kids being spoiled and privileged. You can’t manufacture hardship, so I try to instill the message (articulated by JFK, I think), that to whom much is given, much is expected. Society needs people with skills and resources to help with all of our problems. With privilege comes responsibility. You truly seem to embody this and I have no doubt your kids will too.


What a lovely, lovely post. As you’ve said, what you see on a blog or Instagram is a curated window into a larger, messy life, but from what I get out of reading your blog and seeing your Instagram stories, your family is an inspiration in how you and Brian work together and how you support and treat your kids. Both of them seem wonderful and sweet and not spoiled – not that you’d post those moments, but it can come through in other candid moments! I don’t have kids yet, but I’m 4 months pregnant and have been thinking a lot about how we’ll raise our daughter. I grew up with a lot of comfort and privilege but my parents both worked hard and instilled in me good manners, consideration for others, the value of hard work, and an awareness of how fortunate I am compared to many, many others, and a sensitivity to that. Obviously I haven’t had a chance to put any of this into practice just yet, and real life is always different than what you plan, but if you’re instilling boundaries for your kids (no is a very important word!), not automatically giving them every… Read more »

Jocelyn Pascall

What a sweet post. Great Dads need to be applauded and celebrated. Also, I think just the fact that you are so self-aware and getting so worried about your kids living a life that is so different than how you were raised shows that you aren’t taking it for granted, and you will pass that long to your kids as well. Once the parents start acting entitled and taking it for granted, that is when there are problems. You aren’t like that, so your kids won’t be either. I really believe that. Side note – I knew this incredibly wealthy family growing up, and I always thought they were interesting because their kids had to earn EVERYTHING. Like, to an extreme level. When the kids became teenagers, they had to sleep on a mattress on the floor and had to work to earn an actual bed, for example. They also did things like on Thanksgiving, they handed out sandwiches to the homeless instead of having a big meal that day (they did it the next day). I remember thinking it seemed a bit extreme, but the parents probably had the same fears you had. I have a 2 year old… Read more »


This is so incredibly sweet and heartwarming and encouraging (esp to a young, unmarried person — great partnership in all manners of life is possible!!), and I really don’t want to sound like a crazy anti-social/off-point person… but did you get a new kitten, Emily?!?! Because (again, I’m sorry, I realize how bizarre and anti-social this sounds) I also did recently and have been wanting to write your team requesting some guidance on (a) design-friendly cat furniture/toys/gear and (b) how to live and keep house with pets! So, if you are willing, I for one would LOVE to hear your thoughts 🙂


The kitten is one they had in the house the other day for a photo shoot I believe. Isn’t it cute? But they do have an older cat and every so often she talks about life with a cat. There is a recent-ish post somewhere if you search about having the kitty litter in a cabinet in the laundry, for example


All the feels! What a lovely tribute to Brian. Hope you start feeling better. You’re doing an amazing job at parenting and being an inspiring career woman. Hugs.

E. Redde

What a beautiful tribute. And what refreshing honesty about your worries for your children. Kids are extremely resilient. For my family, what has helped us stay grounded is being part of a church community, and having chores. The church community provides both meaningful interaction with families of all socio-economic levels, but it also encourages regular self-reflection and a sense of perspective. Chores are another way to help kids feel a part of something bigger, a sense of responsibility, and satisfaction in real accomplishment (as opposed for trophies for trying). Sounds like your little ones are just on the cusp of being ready to do that, so it’s good you are thinking ahead. You are a wonderful mother and it shines through in the way you care for and care about your family.


Thats what I was going to say. Being a member of a church exposes children to so much good.

This is a wonderful post. ✨ So happy for you, Emily. Thank heavens for the anchoring people in our lives. So glad you have found that in your husband, Brian.

Thanks for sharing the ups, the downs, the successes, the failures, the advice, and all the in between. You are a hero of mine, in design and in motherhood.
Hope you have a relaxing weekend with those you love most. ♥️♥️♥️


This post came at a perfect time. We live in Silicon Valley, and while we live in a regular middle class neighborhood, our kids have the privilege to go to a very good private school, because dad works there. That said, it’s not easy to make them look out of their Silicon Valley bubble – our son is 12, and currently, his main interest are expensive cars, web design and computer games. To get him a bit of a flavor of the real world outside his door, I took him with me volunteering at the family shelter here in San Jose. It is a wonderful place where families that have become homeless get an apartment for 90 days, daycare, homework help, financial literacy assistance, case assistance, dinner etc. to get back on their feet. We worked in the kitchen and served dinner. He grumbled, a lot, initially and I almost wished I did not bring him because he was such an unpleasant person (this was not voluntary, I made him come with me). Then, slowly, he discovered how rewarding it is to help, and he filled people’s plates with a smile and could not get enough. We had a long… Read more »


Your kids will be okay! You are not oblivious parents and that means you’ll take advantage of the ‘teachable moments’ when they arise. As they get older they can donate old (and new) clothes, books and toys, talk to you about causes you support, get involved in volunteer work, have bake sales to raise money for charities, join Scouts or Girl Guides etc which are great at getting involved in the community. I don’t think it’s an automatic guarantee that growing up with less makes you a better person or vice versa! I grew up in a well-off family and went to a fancy school and I promise I turned out great, haha. Ditto my children, and my oldest is now extremely involved in advocacy for disadvantaged groups and I could not be more proud.
Have a lovely father’s day weekend!


You are a beautiful human being. These are the honest struggles that we all go through as parents – trying to work hard and provide for our kids, and yet also find a way for them to appreciate the privilege that they experience. We want them to be protected and comfortable but we don’t want them to be jerks. It’s so complicated. Thanks for being brave enough to keep it real here on the internet.


Emily, love your blog, your style, your honesty, your vulnerability and this tribute to Brian. Loved also all the other comments from the community you have created around you. Kind of special that from all around the world we can listen to each other and have concerns about similar things ( I live in New Zealand, children 16 and 14, and echo many of these sentiments) . Thanks to everyone for all these supportive helpful comments- and do hope you have a restful weekend with your gorgeous family Emily, your children really are adorable! I could borrow them in a nanosecond if you were my neighbor!


Emily and Brian,

You are doing a GREAT job 🙂 You are giving them a beautiful world and as long as you teach them values and to be considerate to people, they will be good.
I also think that if they hang out more with their cousins they could get a sense of how you guys were raised.
Happy Father’s day to Brian who obviously deserve it by the way you describe him.


I think what you are doing is art. Therefore it is not corrupting your kids, but teaching them to value the overlap between beauty and function. This was a lovely tribute to your husband.

A lot of jobs have perks. Yours is really nice surroundings and ambience (castle!!!!). Other people have other perks.

I am a trainer. The big company that I teach for had a “wibit” pool party for the kids today. I got to bring my kids because I work for the company. It was wild. I thought–wow my kids are getting spoiled. But then I thought, nope. I work hard for the company and while it’s not particularly lucrative, I get nice perks like this.

Maybe your kids will have the opposite reaction and actually think all of this is a handicap because your home is so lovely and they just want to draw with crayons all over the wall and smear ketchup on the upholstery.

The fact that you even worry shows you are on the right path. 🙂 You are in my best wishes and visions.


This…THIS is the best thing I’ve read all week. Being at that turning 29, looking for my forever guy, feeling the itch for kids age, it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of what really matters. Your words are such a sweet reminder of the things that matter most in marriage and parenthood and life. I hope I should be so lucky to find something like this someday.
Have a wonderful, light-filled, joyful weekend Emily!


Also, I grew up pretty privileged and spoiled. I am now a social worker whose life passion is helping the homeless. When I was 18 I moved from Oregon to LA (hey-oh!) by myself and learned to single-handedly support myself in one of the priciest cities in the US. My life was far less glamorous, but oh-so rich. This is not to suggest I’m mother Teresa, but I agree that your kids’ character is not primarily shaped by the material goods in their lives. Your willingness to be vulnerable, authentic and empathic is equipping them with the skills they need to exist in the world as well-rounded, caring people. 🙂


The topic of not raising entitled kids is something I think a lot about as well since I have 2 young kids being raised in a bubble like suburb. I was raised in a wealthy family growing up and was pretty spoiled in some ways – never had to worry about a roof over my head or where the next meal was coming from. But my parents worked hard to make sure we were humble, appreciative and didn’t take anything for granted. Here are some of the things that they did – 1. When we travelled, we went to places where we saw poverty. We travelled to 3rd world countries and saw the way that most of the world lives. Yes, we were very lucky to be traveling, and we got that. When you see kids begging for pencils to go to school, or for your discarded water bottles so that they would have a toy to play with, or living on the streets starving it is something you will never forget. There are also many places in the U.S. that are struggling, and it’s valuable for kids to go to these places. 2. Volunteer work. My parents were involved… Read more »


So well said! And your parents seem to have done a wonderful job as you seem to be such a grounded, lovely person!


This has absolutely nothing to do with your post, which was lovely by the way. But I saw this amazing house; not everyone’s cup of tea possibly but so wanted Emily…and whomever to take a look! Have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend!'s+Home+That+Takes+Wallpaper+To+The+Next+Level

many thanks


<3 this. Also, love your honesty – I think we all live our values whether we mean to or not – and it's to clear to me that you are very focused on your family (in a good way). I think these thoughtful, beautiful and magical spaces that you have designed for your family are such displays of care and love on your part. Toddlers and kids test us, and It just takes constant adjustment & patience (and an occasional adult meltdown!). Hope your family has a wonderful Father's day!!!


I feel it makes you feel better I think there struggle is almost universal. In the generation we grew up in families were huge and our parents were crazy enough to try to raise six-kid families on blue collar incomes. Now we are all happy to be able to give our kids more attentions and opportunities than we had but we don’t want them to grow up spoiled. And I think expectations for parents are a lot higher now than when our parents had a brood of kids and let them raise each other. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I relate to your worries and YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB.


Ignore my iPhone typos, ugh. 🙂

Cogratulations to all father’s! We salute you in your doings and sacrifices in your family. Just stay happy.

Very sweet. Acknowledgement is one of the most important things you can give a man. Well, that and sex, haha.

As for the kids, philanthropy and volunteering are things you can start teaching them even at this early age. Donating toys and clothes that aren’t loved anymore to a child who needs them. Ideally, the kids can be the ones to do the physical dropping off with you. Birdie is a bit young, but Charlie is definitely old enough to start understanding that it’s important to share your good fortune. You’ll find the balance.

What a sweet post!
(Though, the mom in me suspects you’re not giving yourself enough credit 🙂 ).


I might just be over-caffeinated but this made me cry.


Wow! Your tribute made me a bit teary. Your kids have the gift of growing up surrounded by beauty and joy. Even more, they have the gift of living amongst all the hard work of creating that beauty. Doing shoots etc. at nap time sounds hectic and hard, by perhaps one future reward is that your children will grow up understanding all the care and hard work that goes into making
beauty. Instead of taking it for granted, they’ll just know that each of us has our part to play in making this world a little more beautiful, a little more joyful, a little
more just.

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