9 By Design’s Cortney Novogratz on Raising Seven Kids

And people tell me I have MY hands full! Bravo TV’s new reality show 9 by Design covers a mom/dad duo design team and founders of Sixx Design that renovate homes with their signature mixture of chic and fabulous cheap all the while raising their seven (yes, s-e-v-e-n) kids… in the homes they’re renovating! Breezy Mama talked to star Cortney Novogratz on life with a full house (Wolfgang, 12; twins Tallulah and Bellamy, 10; Breaker, 8; twins Five and Holleder, 4; and Major, 14 months), design tips for kid’s rooms, and more.

Are you done having kids?

I just try and focus on today, to be honest.

Was each pregnancy different?

Each one was more exciting every time. Having the second set of twins was a shock, but we felt so fortunate because we knew it was [great] the first time around and I’m very blessed that I’m able to have children naturally, very easily. It’s just parenting – raising them is the hard part.

Do the older ones help with the younger ones?

You know, they do. Basically, the nice thing is they have each other and they also have us. So, we’re definitely part of being from a big family. My husband — also being from seven – helps. You just learn to roll with the punches.

How many are you from?

I’m from five.

Oh, so you’re both from a big family?

Yes, and that is something we were both attracted to over each other that we both wanted a large family.

Do you have any tips for decorating kid’s rooms?

Yes. You keep things for younger children low. So, if it’s a hook, you put it low. You don’t have to put it at eye level, but where they can actually hang their things. Store toys down low. And, if you have boys, have space where they can wrestle. A carpet or a rug is nice and the furniture is not too precious, but still you can have nice art in their room and expose them to things.

How many kids do you have in a room right now in the current place you are renovating?

In my last house we had four boys in one room and this time we have two, two , two and the baby.

What was the set-up when you had four in one room?

Well, in the temporary apartment we actually had six in one room and that was two trendle beds and a set of bunk beds. When all four boys were in our last house, we had two trundle beds.

Do you feel having your kids in the same room makes them closer?

It does make them closer. And the nice thing is that you don’t want to give your kids too much. For example, my oldest son, even though he didn’t sign up to be the oldest of seven kids, he’s part of a team. He’s part of the family and he needs to realize that along with everyone else. And it’s a fine balance of letting them do a lot of things that isn’t slowing them down, but also making them aware that they’re a part of a big family and this unique team.

I have three kids and moved recently and someone said to me, ‘Wherever the family is, that’s home.’

We went to a two bedroom apartment for three months when I actually had my seventh child and I always think sometimes less is best. And there’s a moment when there should be closeness and it doesn’t matter where they are, if you’ve got four walls and all of you together – it didn’t even register to our kids that they were moving from one big space to a small space. They were more excited about, “Oh we get to pick out bunk beds! And stay up and hold the baby at night!” And it was winter and it was cozy. We played a lot of Game Box and Wii, I admit [both laugh], there wasn’t a lot of space to run around, but it worked out. You can do anything if you’re all together.

Do any of them have an eye for design?

Two of them really enjoy working with us and moving furniture, but who knows what the future holds.

And the oldest is 11?

The oldest is 12. He’s in 6th grade, in middle school.

So is he excited to be on TV?

Interestingly, our fourth child loved it. He really loved it. And some surprised us. Of course we sat down with them before we filmed and we told them we’re doing this show and some had a little anxiety and the very next day we started to film and they were the ones front and center! We just think, no matter what, we went through this all together. Of course the baby and the little ones are wondering what’s going on. But we’re open people in general.

We saw in a clip that you were interviewing a nanny. Do you really have just one nanny?

I have two nannys. This last one I definitely needed more help because we were doing the show and I always needed someone home with the baby. We constantly change what our needs are from time to time.

I felt like each of my pregnancies went faster than the first. Did you feel that way about yours – especially the last one?

Yeah, but because you’re also running after the other kids. I really don’t slow down during my pregnancies. I have close friends that have to go to bed [early when pregnant]. I was still able to be there for the other kids because I was still doing things that you normally do.

Was it hard to come up with a 7th name?

Well, we thought it was going to be a girl — I don’t know why — so we had Liberty Grace picked out which would have been kind of cool because he was born on Inauguration Day, but we had a million names. His father was a Major and always went by Major Robert so we went with Major. Each name has a meaning at some point with what we’re going through at the time.

I just can’t imagine naming 7 kids!

Well, if you pick crazy names, it doesn’t really matter [both laugh]. Maybe that’s why one of them is named Five, because we were going for the fifth kid and we kept saying, “Number 5! Number 5!” We chanted that for six months.

Win it! Wal-Mart and P&G have teamed up to bring family movie night back into the house. They’re releasing Secrets of the Mountain, a thrilling, action-packed adventure on NBC tomorrow night, 8/7c. They’re also giving away the video, as well as the soundtrack (produced by Randy Jackson) to one lucky Breezy Mama reader! To enter, tell us what your family’s favorite thing to munch on during movie night in the comments section below. NOTE: This contest has ended but keep an eye out for more!

To learn more about Secrets of the Mountain, click here!

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  1. Popcorn with peanut m&m’s mixed in…..the warm popcorn makes the chocolate a little melty, but no messy. The shell keep it together nicely, what a great combo!

  2. brenda shults says

    we have become very fond of the new Kraft Mac N Cheese crackers! Mix with pretzels and melba snacks with a lil chilli powder and peanuts maybe and whala!

  3. movie night= ice cream sundaes at our house. LOVE IT!

  4. Terye Musolff-Carney says

    As our kids have gotten older Movie night has become harder & harder to pull off w/kids activities & our work schedules. But the jist of our master plan is 3 movies in 1 night, each kid picks out 1 fave or new movie & no matter what EVERYONE participates. Each kid picks out 1 snack & we share all 3 snacks. For my 12 yr old its always something chocolately & gooey, for my 16 yr old its salty & crunchy, & for my 18 yr old it’s always sugary & sweet. Thank goodness because all together you get the same variety you would if we went out to the movies!!! LOL.

  5. Kristi Faramarzi says

    Okay so my husband gets cashews and melts chocolate and dips them into clusters and freezes them. We wait patiently ( ya right) and then eat these yummy homemade chocolate nut things! Its so good and our special treat.

  6. My kids love popcorn and muddy buddies!

  7. Sorry but those are the most ridiculous names I ever heard in my life Wolfgang Tallulah Bellamy, Breaker Five Holleder, and Major. Imagine the parents calling out these names in public. People would laugh. I will never understand why parents give their children such ridiculous name. What would people think as the children get older get job and said hi my name is five.

  8. We have 6 kids 12 to 1 and we all love popcorn and m&m’s. we like to make our own kettle corn too!

  9. Tami Lewis says

    popcorn of course!!!

  10. This woman is fabulous….she is a practical, down to earth person and a really good mother….I think there are lots of mothers today who could learn a thing or two from her. And I love her kids’names. I thought I was going to find this whole show and the people involved totally obnoxious….but boy was I wrong. I am the oldest of 8 children, so I know what it takes to be a good mother of such a large family. Cortney, you are my hero.

  11. Fortunately, Michelle (post #6 above)neither the family of nine nor anyone else is holding their breath waiting for your approval! Sorry! 😀

    FYI…I’d be thrilled to have a name like Tallulah or Bellamy, especially compared to a dated Baby Boomer name like “Michelle”. Adorable names! Major, Breaker, Wofgang and Five are great names for their boys.

  12. The names are unique to say the least, but I just feel bad for Five. What a completely thoughtless and careless name. “He was the fifth kid, and a twin, so we just didn’t give two sh**s and named him ‘Five’.”

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