Living With Kids: Kirsty Gungor

July 24, 2012

This is the home where Kirsty lives with her four men, three of whom are under eight! At first glance, you might not see bold traces of their existence, but that’s just because Kirsty’s overwhelmingly feminine and clean romantic style is such a scene-stealer. It’s a trick, isn’t it, to retain your aesthetic and make it work even when you’re a tad outnumbered? It’s clear that this is a home designed to foster bright memories and happy moments, whether you love pink or not! Please enjoy this one, friends!


Q: Please tell us all about you and your men!

A: My name is Kirsty and I’m mom to three magnificent little boys: Parker is seven, Monty is five, and Elliot is two. I’m also a wife to (the equally magnificent but who probably won’t enjoy the adjective too much!) Phil, who has been the love of my life for the past 12 years. Our family lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but I’m originally from South Africa and moved to the US when I was 15.

My husband is a music pastor at our church. I’m a stay-at-home mom most of the time, but about 20% of my week is spent teaching ballet and jazz to 60 little ladies. While dance has been a lifelong passion for me, I’ve recently started freelance writing and photography for a few local magazines, as well as portrait photography for families in the area — newer endeavors but opportunities I adore. And I also write a blog called Lovelies in My Life, which is a sort of photo journal celebrating the beautiful things in life.

It’s not been until very recent years that I’ve finally had opportunity to snatch moments of time to stretch my creative muscles again. A delicious reality for me!

Q: How did this bright and airy home become yours?

A: We were on the hunt for a home six years ago when we first moved to Green Bay, and this house was love at first sight for both of us. Phil and I had very different ideas of what we wanted in a home, and so both had to compromise a little. I was longing for a charming historic home; one with a swooping staircase and wood floors, nooks and crannies, and a claw foot tub! He was happy to find a cookie cutter in the newest neighborhood that required no renovations.

This 1960s ranch ended up being a glorious middle ground for us. It had been recently updated, which appealed to him, but there were so many sweet details for me. And we knew the kids would go absolutely crazy for that tree house in the back yard.

Q: Was it perfect as is, or have you made changes along the way to make this home better fit your family?

A: The house was really lovely from the beginning, and since I was pregnant with my second little man at the time, I was so thankful for a home that wouldn’t challenge us right away. It required just a touch of paint, though the bigger job was decorating a space that was quite a bit larger than anything we’ve owned before. We changed several light fixtures (I have a soft spot for chandeliers!), sewed oodles of throw pillows, scoured estate sales and thrift stores for tufted sofas and chairs, and I worked on some paintings for the large expanses of wall space.

Creating a happy and comfy place to raise a family was an ongoing job for me as my family grew from one to three in a few years and our needs continued to change. Our smaller antique dining table was replaced with a long farm table and an easy-to-climb bench. We’ve changed and redecorated with each little boy that’s entered our family to suit our family’s new needs and interests.

At this point in time, we’ve not made any really fancy furniture purchases for our home because there’s just no sense in it! I’ve become an expert slip cover-er, as our couches take quite a beating!

Q: From the photographs, it looks like your style — even while Living With Boys! — is still fairly feminine and beautiful. How have the boys altered your style? And do you make a conscious effort to keep some feminity in the house?


A: I am, without question, a girly-girl. The things that catch my eye are most often feminine and romantic, but I’ve never actually made that intentional in my decorating. It just happens that way as it’s what I love. Living with boys has been such a pleasure for me (I have only sisters), and I have loved incorporating the boy things into my home.

You’ll see it most often when you take a closer look: the scooters parked in the laundry room next to the fire truck, the drums and guitars tucked under our TV stand next to the quilts, Buzz Lightyear and all his friends in baskets throughout the house and chilling on the couch, and all the art projects that they’re constantly taping to our walls. That’s what a normal day looks like, though we make a song and dance about tidying up before bed.


My husband is incredibly laid back and is happy to care only for the technology in our home and allow me to be responsible for the aesthetics. He’s a musician, so music and instruments are a huge part of our lives; a common scene would be all four of my guys making a giant “noise” together!

Q: What’s your favorite room in the house?


A: The fireplace room is my favorite. We have unbearably long winters up here, so that room becomes my solace during those frigid months. We love to stretch out on the couches snuggled under a blanket with a book while that fireplace crackles. It has a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows which boasts a pretty breathtaking view of our woodsy backyard during the snow-covered winters. It’s a cozy place to nap and an inspiring spot to create.

Q: Any favorite DIY secrets to share?

A: I love to find lackluster vintage art prints and to bring them back to life. I really enjoy oil painting, and have found that a few strokes of colorful oils can turn one of these cheap prints into something quite beautiful. It’s such a fun and inexpensive way to decorate our walls!

Q: Can you share your top three happy-makers in your home?

Any and all music makers. Quilts and afghans.  Little treasures from South Africa.

I’ve already mentioned music makers. And as far as blankets? Well, we all love a good snuggle and have quilts on every bed in the house. We have hand-knit blankets that were given to the boys as gifts when they were born, and there are some that we inherited. Others are found treasures and someone else’s story, now part of ours.

Growing up in South Africa has been the single greatest influence in determining what I find beautiful. The colors, patterns, and textures of my favorite flea markets infuse every aspect of what my eye is drawn to. I love the exuberance and happiness of the hand-made objects from those markets, the gorgeous paintings, the glass bottles wrapped in rainbows of seed beads, the hand-painted tin dishes, and the incredibly cool printed textiles. These treasures mean so much to me as they conjure up a childhood spent on soil far away and keep those memories rich for me every time I catch sight of them.

Q: What do you hope you’re teaching your boys with your home and design decisions?

A: I hope that what they see at home will encourage them to ask questions, and that from those inquiries they will hear the stories that have made Phil and I who we are today. I hope that they will develop a yearning to travel and see this beautiful earth. I’d love for them to develop an appreciation for time past and the oddities and beauties that live still.

But most of all, I hope to teach them that while it’s great to have lovely things to fill your home, we do not put much weight in them as they’re not forever; what is most important to us is each other, and not what we’ve acquired.

Q: What do you wish your boys will remember from their childhood home when they grow up?

A: I want it to be their absolute happiest place in their memories. The place where they first became Tarzan and wilderness explorers in the jungles of our back yard. Where they banged up their knees learning to ride their bikes, and sledded down the hill in our front yard. Where they learned to love dunking rusks in tea as much as their mom did, and where their dad taught them how to play an expert game of hide-and-seek. I hope they remember all the love we have for each other in the place where this family started growing together.


Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish I had known…

A: I wish I had known that there was no sense in worrying about the future. Though I knew it deep down, I suppose I just couldn’t grasp it properly.

I wish I had known that God’s plan for my life was indeed perfect for me, even though I was weary of it at the time. It is…more than I dreamed it would be.

—-

Thank you, Kirsty! I so love to hear when a life turns out to be better than the one in your dreams.

Friends, Kirsty’s top three happy-makers seem so simple, don’t they? Music, quilts, and treasures that remind her of her own childhood: all items related less to a home’s decoration and much more to the core comforts of a home. Tell me: What are your top three happy-makers in your own home? Are they simple or extravagant? I’d love to hear about both!

P.S. — You can find all the homes in my Living With Kids series here. And if you’d like to share your own home with us, just send me a note! It’s a lot of fun…I promise!

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andrea July 24, 2012 at 9:39 am

Lovely! Those huge windows are heavenly.

Some of my top happy-makers are my wall of books, my writing room, and the clothespin line full of my kids’ artwork hanging in the kitchen.

I loved this post. Thanks:).

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2 carrie b July 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

i am always so curious to see the outside of these great homes! is there a reason why we don’t see any shots of the outside? (and i love ranchers!)

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3 Laura July 24, 2012 at 10:37 am

What a great statement: “I wish I had known that God’s plan for my life was indeed perfect for me, even though I was weary of it at the time. It is…more than I dreamed it would be.”

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4 Jordan - Polkadot Prints July 25, 2012 at 10:27 pm

This is often so true eh? What a relief that God knows best : ) A real sense of beauty & peace comes from this interview…love it!

(And Kirsty, do you mind sharing where you got your boys’ loft beds from?)

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5 Kirsty August 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Hi there!
They’re from Walmart. :)
xx Kirsty

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6 how2home July 24, 2012 at 10:52 am

Love this post! The pop of bright color is amazing in this home :)

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7 patricia July 24, 2012 at 11:01 am

i love the kids bedroom, so dreamy and fun! and the leafy yard in front. Swoon!

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8 Caitlin July 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm

What a beautiful life you’ve created! I love the beautiful touch of the feminine you can see through your home, and the adventures that seem possible as I went through this tour. You strike me as someone who goes after what they want and loves it un-apologetically, and I think there’s great majesty in that. Thanks so much for sharing!

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9 Regina Gabriel July 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Where can I find those beds her boys have? they are great!

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10 Emilee July 24, 2012 at 6:49 pm
11 Tina Isakson July 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm

We have similar ones for our boys from Ikea.

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12 Adventures in Dressmaking July 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm

What a beautiful home! Did lots of pinning from this post. Thanks for sharing!

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13 Grace July 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Okay, I love this! So enchanting! And I just checked out Kirsty’s blog and can already tell that it is going to be one of my favorites :)

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14 jodi July 24, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I really love these posts. I feel like I’m making a new friend while reading through the answers and seeing the photos of their homes. What a beautiful home Kirsty and her family have!

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15 Rosie July 25, 2012 at 5:17 am

Delightful looking home! I like that she gives her boys good press – they are often vilified by interior lovers! Ha ha.

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16 vermontmommy July 25, 2012 at 9:06 am

Such a sweet home.

I am loving the green painting behind the sewing mannequin. Is that vintage or did you paint it?

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17 Kirsty August 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Hi Vermontmommy!

It was a lucky thrift find. Really amazing colors! Sorry it took me ages to see your question.

xx Kirsty

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18 kalanicut July 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Gabby, I love seeing the creative and inspiring interiors of these homes but the even great gift is to hear these mothers speak of the value of their families, the life they’ve cobbled together in their own unique and “perfect for them” ways. The visual inspiration is rich, but the inspriration for the soul is priceless. Thank you for the approach you’ve taken with these in your own special way.

My three happy-makers: photos of special days together framed around the house, nooks where we cozy up, much loved toys that evoke such a strong love for our little one when I see them.

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19 emily @ work mama work August 4, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I love seeing how moms incorporate their style back into a house with boys – living with 1 big and 3 little boys of my own, I haven’t quite found this balance yet. The use of creams and color is wonderful ~ I love how the bowls in the cabinets are playful and beautiful at the same time. And that couch with the side chairs – oh my!

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