...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Welcome to House*Tweaking’s first ever S.M.I.L.F. Week!  What’s that?  You don’t know what a S.M.I.L.F. is?  Well, it’s a stylish mama I‘d like to friend, of course.  And I’ve got a long list of them. They are blogging mamas with incredible style, great senses of humor, inspirational blogs, cute kiddos and beautiful outlooks on home life and beyond.  In honor of the impending Mother’s Day holiday, I asked some of my favorite S.M.I.L.F.’s to answer a few questions related to design, kids, and life in general.  I’ll be sharing their answers with you throughout the week.  I know with kids AND work AND house projects AND blogs these women are busy bees, so I’m very grateful to them for taking the time to participate in my nosy little interview.  Thank you, S.M.I.L.F.’s!

Belinda from The Happy Home

It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of The Happy Home.  I love Belinda’s sense of homemade, handmade style.  Everything in her home looks effortless and nothing looks overdone.  Plus, she lives in Australia and I’ve always been drawn to simple Australian design.  I like deciphering her Aussie lingo…although I don’t think I guess right all the time.  Here’s what Belinda had to say about being a mom and what that means for her home.

H*T – What do you do for a living, where do you live, and who all lives in your home?

Belinda – I’m a freelance writer and contributing crafter/project creator for Real Living magazine (www.reallivingmag.com.au) and Kidspot.com.au. I’m just this week moving my family from the NSW Central Coast of Australia to Sydney as my husband scored a new job. We’re moving from a five-bedroom home with good-sized yard to a two-bedroom garden flat until we sell our house and find somewhere to buy. Eek. “We” is myself, my husband Steve and our three children Zak, 4, Layla, 2, and Imogen, 8 weeks.

H*T – What’s your favorite baby/kid item in your home?

Belinda – Hmm, I think my pram/car-seat/wheeled board/baby carrier combo is the most practical. The car seat (xxx) clips onto the pram frame (Bugaboo Chameleon) and the wheeled board lets me keep Layla under control while Immy’s in the car-seat. But if I want to have all three under lock and key while out I can put the pram’s seat on the frame, Immy in the Baby Bjorn and Zak on the wheeled board. I’m stuffed if I have more children though! It’s all because I refuse to part with my beloved Bugaboo and buy another pram! Toy-wise it’d be the wooden blocks my parents bought Zak one year – we all sit and build things for hours. And sometimes it’s just Steve and I!

H*T – What’s your #1 piece of advice for mixing kids and style together successfully under one roof?

Belinda – Don’t remove all signs of children from your home, but don’t let them – and all their stuff – overtake it either. You want that happy medium: have a few dedicated kids zones in the home – a blackboard or writing spot in the kitchen, the bottom shelf in the living room dedicated to books and baskets of toys – and keep it to the style of the rest of your home. So don’t throw a bright pink and purple plastic table and chair set in the corner of your living room if your home is decorated in neutrals and blues. Choose a little wooden table with mismatched thrift shop tiny chairs and paint them in colours that will suit your space. Decorate in a mini version of your home – frame their pictures in proper frames and mix in with your own images and prints.

H*T – What’s been your biggest surprise since becoming a mom?

Belinda – That I’ve survived on no sleep for the past four and a half years (none of my babies are very good in the sleep department!). But also how incredibly clever they are and how much I enjoy teaching them things I know about and learning with them about things I don’t. I thought I’d be lazy in that area, but they’re just so interested in everything about life, the world and beyond, it’s so much fun to see their little brains expand with all this knowledge.

H*T – What do you and your hubby do to keep the spark alive?

Belinda – We really don’t get a lot of time to ourselves – the kids don’t sleep much so are up late and up early. But we do enjoy the occasional movie or dinner out. And we’re good at playing Zak’s Where’s Wally books, chatting about our hopes and dreams and drawing/planning our next home’s projects.

H*T – What’s your favorite activity to do at home with your kid(s)?

Belinda – Arts and crafts. They help me with my work and when we’re not doing my work, we’ll make playdough, do some paintings or some other craft activity. I also love baking with them, though I think they just like to lick the bowl (and to be honest, so do I). I also enjoy building garages and castles with them out of blocks and puzzles. I don’t think there’s an activity I don’t like, actually!

H*T – What’s your favorite time of day and why?

Belinda – Probably first thing in the morning – it’s usually the calmest part of the day and I love when they come running in all happy and cheerfully sing out “good morning!” all singsong. I also love hearing them ask each other from afar. That is adorable. Plus we have a daily routine of the kids helping Steve get ready for work and then waving goodbye to him.

H*T – How do you unwind after a busy day?

Belinda – Sometimes I don’t get much of a chance – I usually use that hour or two of peace and quiet to read and answer emails, blog or write for work. Or say I do, but really procrastinate by reading blogs, magazines or websites online and gathering inspiration from everywhere. I do also still love a good magazine or curling up on the couch – or bed – and watching NCIS or Man vs Wild.

H*T – What do you hope to teach your child(ren) about home and family life?

Belinda – That your family and home should make you happy. Even if everything else is falling apart, there should always be a safe place you can retreat to – and a network you can depend on – to cheer you up. If you surround yourself with people and items you love and cherish, life will always be at least a little bit better.

H*T – What home-related items would make it onto your Mother’s Day wish list if money wasn’t a concern?

Belinda – Ooooh, where to start?! A white iPad, a Harry Bertoia wire side chair in white, an antique farmhouse kitchen table, a grey and white striped dhurrie rug, a Kitchenaid mixer…..

Thanks, Belinda!  Handy Hubby, ahem, you can pretty much copy Belinda’s Mother’s Day wish list for me…even the Kitchenaid mixer…a little something for yourself.

image:  Belinda Graham for The Happy Home


She owns a Pouf, I like her already!! :)


oh wow, i’m an idiot. i totally forgot to fill in the xxx about the car seat (I couldn’t recall the brand when i was writing it). the brand is NOT xxx, but Peg Perego!!!
THANK you for having me! A lovely series you have x


Belinda – No problem. Too funny…I assumed that was an Australian brand!


too funny about the car seat name…there is an Australian beer called XXXX, though, so it’s not that far of a stretch :)