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Living with (Four!) Kids: Ideas to Steal from Tessa Hop’s Organized and Serene Home

Tessa Hop Kids Room Swing from Socialite Family

Many expectant parents reluctantly accept as fact that their future will be littered with plastic playthings, loud “educational” toys, and garish stuffed animals. Tessa Hop—a mom of three young boys (Mees, Polle, and Guus) and one baby girl (Keetje)—is here to tell you: Step away from the Elmo.

She did, and her home (not to mention her sanity) is reaping the benefits. A few years after having their third child, Tessa and her husband, Menno, embarked on building their dream home in the town where she grew up, Alphen aan den Rijn, not far from Amsterdam. Designing it from scratch meant they were able to plan the house exactly to fit their family’s lifestyle—including freedom for her children to play without fear of ruining anything fancy and ample opportunities for her, a stay-at-home mom, to unwind.

Here, lessons from their beautiful home on how to keep a house for a family of six orderly, kid-friendly, and adult-approved.

Photography by Constance Gennari, courtesy of the Socialite Family. See more images of Tessa and Menno’s home on the Socialite Family.

1. Don’t shop in the kids’ section for toy baskets and bins.

Just because you’re looking for something to contain the kid stuff doesn’t mean it has to have pastel colors or a baby animal on it. Good storage is good storage. Period.

Tessa Hop Living Room from Socialite Family
Above: Tessa employs a bevy of woven belly baskets, tasteful enough to be displayed in the spacious living room, to corral the kids’ toys. “I have a big love for wooden toys. And I like them to be gentle to the eye. Since a family of six is already busy, I want to keep our house just peaceful and quiet wherever it’s possible,” she says. The baskets are from Cyrillus Paris; the Mags Soft Sofa is from the Hay store in Amsterdam.

2. Provide ample space to get out the door efficiently.

Tessa and Menno thought the entryways in their prior residences were always too small for their large family. This time around, with the luxury of being able to design the perfect space to fit their needs, they made sure it was big enough that they wouldn’t feel crowded when they bustle in and out the door together.

Tessa Hop Entry from Socialite Family
Above: The entry is roomy enough for the entire family—(from left) Tessa, Guus, Mees, and Polle. Built-ins by Hardeman Maatwerk voor Interieurs provide more than enough storage for coats and shoes; a collection of market baskets and bags hang from Muuto Coatrack Dots.

3. Make tidying up something they can do themselves.

When shelves, bins, and hooks are positioned in places kids can easily reach, they’re more likely to put things away. In the entryway, there’s a separate wall of coat hooks, hung at kid-height-level, so that they can put away their outerwear themselves.

Tessa Hop Kids Room Socialite Family
Above: In the bedroom of Tessa’s eldest son, Mees, a single cubby, mounted so it can be easily accessed from the top bunk (where he prefers to sleep), holds a few of his favorite books. A ledge holds his collection of treasures. The modern bunk bed is from Rafa-kids.

4. Don’t put away just clothing in the closets.

Every bedroom has a wall of built-ins in Tessa and Menno’s home. In the kids’ rooms, the closets don’t hold just their wardrobes but also their toys and books. Keeping children’s items out of sight contributes to their home’s organized and peaceful aesthetic.

Tessa Hop Kids Room Swing from Socialite Family
Above: A wall of built-in cabinets in each bedroom makes cleanup a breeze—especially when there are breaks for swinging. Tessa had a swing (purchased from an Imps & Elfs store in Amsterdam) installed in each child’s room.

5. Consider vintage when looking for storage and organization solutions.

“The furniture that really has my heart are the vintage items, the ones you can’t buy again so easily,” Tessa says. And oftentimes, these finds can offer unique storage opportunities.

Tessa Hopp Pencil Holder from Socialite Family
Above: In Polle’s room, a vintage two-seater school desk has open drawers for his art supplies. A wooden pencil holder is perfect for organizing his markers and coloring pencils.

6. Make space for laundry baskets in the bathroom.

Trust us, if there’s no dedicated spot in the bathroom for dirty clothing, the floor will become the de facto laundry bin. Avoid this less-than-ideal situation by carving out a nook for laundry baskets.

Tessa Hop Bath from Socialite Family
Above: The Hops have just one bathroom on the second floor that they all share. Good thing they designed it to be the biggest room on the floor. A trio of extra-roomy drawers form the sink’s vanity and provide roomy storage for toiletries. Two Korbo Wire Baskets—one used for lights, one for darks—round out the storage solutions in this room. On the other side is a large shower room outfitted with two showerheads so that the boys can bathe at the same time. (The faucets are by Marcel Wanders for Boffi.)

7. When in doubt, go for hooks.

Choosing between towel bars and hooks for the kids’ bath? No contest. Always opt for hooks. Hanging towels up on a bar requires that they first fold it neatly, then tuck it over the bar. That’s two steps—which means two reasons for them to skip hanging it up at all. With hooks, all they have to do is hang up the towel—one step and they’re done.

Tessa Hop Bath Hooks in Socialite Family
Above: Flanking the towel warmer are wall hooks on which Tessa hangs a hand towel, robes, and cotton bags. In the little bag she stores elastics and small items. (See DIY: A Simple and Elegant Towel Holder for Under $10 to learn how to make a similar towel ring.)

8. Give little ones a sense of ownership.

When there’s more than one child in a family, sharing (toys, food, clothing, sometimes bedrooms) becomes a part of life. Giving them something that’s theirs and theirs alone (whether its a chore, a cubby, or a cup) encourages personal responsibility—and they’re more apt to use it and care for it.

Tessa Hop Cups from Socialite Family
Above: Kids will go through glasses and cups with no regard for the stack of dishes piling up in the sink. Tessa bought each boy a monogram mug. This eliminates the need to track which cup is whose—and ultimately, cuts down on the dishwashing required. (You can find her Arne Jacobsen cups at the Finnish Design Shop. We also found cute alphabet mugs at Pottery Barn.)
N.B.: This post is an update; it was first published 2018.

For more on living with kids without sacrificing good style, check out these posts:

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