From the category archives:

Home Tours

By Gabrielle. Photos by Jylare Smith Photography.

No matter how many times I read Elle’s words, they still make my heart lose a few pounds of worry and stress. If you’re feeling like you’ve not enough space in your home or too much chaos in your life or even too much fear creeping into your parenting style, read this. I promise you’ll feel the warmth, gratitude, and sincerity with which she tries hard to surround herself daily.

In short, I really like Elle. I hope you do, too.

Q: Tell us all about your family.

A: My husband, Jared, is a surfer boy from Southern California. Half of my childhood was spent in the swamplands of Texas and the other half in the mountains of Utah. We married while we were still just babies eight years ago. We finished our degrees together, have had three children (Lucy is five, Solomon is three, and Frances is three months) and run a baby carrier business called Solly Baby from our 740 square foot home on 3/4 of an acre in North County San Diego. Somehow, we’re still pretty crazy about each other. Or maybe we’re just crazy. Either way, I think we’ve got a good thing going.

Lucy is our fiercely independent, creative spirit. She can be found thinking of sad things just so she can watch herself cry in a mirror, carrying around her chicken “Cloudy” like she is a doll, and scrambling eggs for lunch for herself and her little brother. At her dance recital this year, she told me she “enjoyed being on the stage, but next year would rather do something ‘freer’ and maybe even a little bit ‘wild.’” Yeah, she’s amazing.

Solomon is pure energy and laughs. He was almost kicked off of his soccer team this year for repeatedly spanking the coach’s bum as well as gymnastics for coming up with (what I would call “creative”) alternative uses for the apparatuses. He can be found kissing his baby sister every. waking. minute. He’s always telling me to not be so “serwius” and he’s got a thing for superheroes, being strong, and the music from Les Mis.

Effortless and airy, coming right up. Breaths of fresh air included!

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By Gabrielle.

When we last visited Kirsty, she was outnumbered as the only female in a male-generous family. That ratio certainly didn’t show, however, in the family home’s decor. There was an abundance of white-not-scared-of-dirt-one-bit, a lacy tablecloth or two, and an elegant settee and white leather chair that just didn’t seem conducive to trampolining. I loved her style.

I still do, in fact. Especially since the family has added another member, and considerably more shades of pink to their surroundings. Friends, please welcome Kirsty one more  time!

Q: You’ve got a new addition to your family! 

A: Yes we do! Since you last visited our home, we welcomed the sweetest little girl into our all boy family. Her name is Scarlet Evangeline and she has her brothers’ whole hearts. She turned one in May, and is an absolute beauty who loves to tumble around with the boys and gets us all giggling with her scrunch nose, eyes closed smile. I have a little taste of every personality with my four kids: laid back and serious, daredevil and go-getter, goofball and best friend, and sweet little love. Scarlet is such a wonderful gift to our family.

Q: The last time we toured your home, you were living with four males, three of whom were under eight. How has this little lady made her mark on your aesthetic?

A: Well, I’ve always had a romantic style and aesthetic. For example, I love vintage chairs with tufting, quilts on all the beds, and fresh flowers around the house. And I’ve not necessarily shied from those inclinations even when my home was filled with boys. But the opportunity to decorate a room devoted entirely to a girl was just about the most fun I’ve ever had.

Click here to keep reading!

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Maris Garcia.

The Dolgin’s Chicago apartment is as hard-working as they come. Scanning through Amy’s introductory photos, I kept coming back to her hallway and getting more ideas. (Built-ins and a desk nook are now on my wish list!) Somehow, she’s made an apartment feel as wide-open comfortable as a sprawling house! You know I enjoy a good vertical solution as much as anyone, so I was particularly taken with this tour. The window seats, the all-white with vibrant accent wall colors, a sleek and friendly kitchen — and did I mention the gorgeous built-in storage — all sealed the deal. I like this space.

Please be warned: This tour might make you yearn for a citified life. Friends, please welcome the Dolgins!

Q: Please introduce us to this Chicago clan.

A: There are five of us: me, my husband, Harell, and our three kids. Mischa is six, Romy is four, and Emmett is one. A family of five sounds so big to me when it’s in reference to other families, but doesn’t feel big to me in our home at all. I think that’s part of me still feeling a bit stunned by being a parent to three children! Kind of like how my age doesn’t really match how I feel anymore. I just turned 34, but feel stuck at 28 inside.

Harell is a contractor in a family construction business, so he renovates and builds both residential and commercial spaces. Although I was trained in public health and nursing, I recently started working with him to help during this period of fast-paced growth in the business. I still teach a Women’s Health course at a local university too, but I’ve loved getting involved in construction and design beyond it being a hobby or obsession. Harell is the calmest person I know. I feel so lucky about his general calmness, as he balances out some of my anxious and wanderlust tendencies. He is the eternal optimist, finding the silver lining in any challenging situation.

Our oldest daughter, Mischa, is finishing up her first year at our neighborhood public school as a kindergartner, and our middle daughter, Romy, will start kindergarten there in the fall. Mischa is determined and driven, but also silly and musical. She literally sings her way through each day. Romy cares deeply about clothing, colors, sparkles, and things being just the way she envisions them. She idolizes her big sister, but is also the only one in our family that Emmett kisses – and he does so about a hundred times a day! Having two girls so close in age (18 months apart) has been both exciting and exhausting, but we’re coming out the other end of those early years with girls who love each other endlessly and keep good company together. We waited a while longer before having our third child, Emmett. He is such a funny combination of cuddly and reckless, and we are loving every minute of his baby stage since we know how short it really is. I like to think that growing up with two big sisters will help him learn to be a respectful man.

Coming right up: the hardest-working hallway!

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By Gabrielle.

With a blog called Less Than Perfect Mama, you can bet that Lindsay has a good grasp on this whole living with kids thing! The day before Hurricane Sandy flooded her home, she packed all of the family’s important stuff: toys, clothes, the family’s favorite books, and photos. I love that she chose much comfort over more costly items, don’t you?

Please join me in welcoming Lindsay. I know you’re going to enjoy touring her home and reading her words. (If only there was an option for this former pastry chef to bake a little something for us!)

Q: Please tell us about you and yours!

A: I live with my husband, Michael, in a tiny house in a small beach town on Long Island. We have two kids: Luke (7) and Madeleine (4). I’m a stay-at-home mom these days, and I try to nurture my creativity by writing a blog about the ridiculous nonsense that goes on around here in addition to anything food-related. I was a professional pastry chef before I had the kids and I still love, love, love to bake. Michael is an arborist, which means that often he spends his day dangling from a tree with a chainsaw in hand. I try not to think about that!

Luke is an old soul. While he has all the silliness of a typical kid, he also has a serious, intense side to his personality and can be quite focused when he wants to be. He’s an unyielding Thomas the Train enthusiast and says he’d like to drive trains when he grows up and also have a model train shop on the weekends.

Note to self: Steal Lindsay’s china cabinet. See it up next!

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By Gabrielle.

When Sharon‘s friend, Chedva, contacted me to inquire about a home tour for her pal, it was an easy, easy yes. All she had to do was mention Israel, the Maharal Valley, and Paper Bella. Then there were the photos of Sharon’s home. And then there was the view.

I was hooked. And I was curious, especially, to see how Israel’s ever-changing and charged political climate affects the entire process. Turns out, that’s not even a factor – or, at least, not in the way I imagined. The view, however, is. Enjoy the tour!

Q: Tell us all about this sweet family in Israel.

A: Are you ready? We’re quite a group! I’m the artistic type, which means I’m constantly losing my glasses and then finding them in the fridge. Everyone is used to it by now and try to make up for it. My husband Alon is a businessman which should mean that he’s the grown-up in this relationship, but actually he’s a kid at heart who goes to flea markets on Saturdays at 5 am to collect old transistor radios and antiques, and rides an off-road motorbike.

Yahli, our 10 year old daughter, follows in my footsteps, which means she’s very musical and extremely messy. And then there are Ben and Daria, our twins. Ben’s highest goal in life is being Messi (as in the football player). We call him our Mowgli because he just loves being outdoors as much as possible. Daria is in charge of our family; at just seven years old, she is amazingly responsible and together.

The kids love watching TV with Alon, but their other favorite pastime with their dad is being outside in nature. With me, we spend hours on crafting websites, downloading patterns for paper-cutting projects, and things like that. As a family, we love taking trips, hikes and mini-journeys, and going anywhere where there’s water – like trips to lakes or going to the beach.

More inspiration, straight ahead!

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By Gabrielle.

I definitely wouldn’t look at Kat‘s home and think to myself “I’ll bet they did all this debt-free!” No, that would not be my first, second, or even tenth thought. Because there’s so much else to think about in this tour! Like the rustic kitchen island or that gorgeous countertop, the ceiling in the nursery and that insanely lush carpet, the leather couch that looks like it was plucked from a London pub…I could go on. Wait! One more: her master bedroom and bath was once a two-car garage.

But back to the debt-free part. Yes, the renovations and decorating took far longer than if they had sped along their wish list and borrowed the funds and bought new. But where would the fun be in that? Friends, I hope you’re inspired by Kat today. (I know I’m off to check Craigslist!)

Q: Tell us about this family of BOYS!

A: It’s true…we have three little guys who are our world: Ryder (6), Bryce (4), and Finn (18 months). Plus there’s Mitch, my better half, whom I met in high school. We went to college together too, but were just buds then. We didn’t start dating until after we graduated. We’ve been married almost nine years! And I’m Kat, the momma of this all-boy household.

Q: Where do you live, and how did your house become your home?

A: We live in Lancaster County, PA, in a little white rancher. From the first time we saw our no-frills little box of a house, we knew it had potential. Mitch bought the house before we were engaged, but I put my touch on it right away by picking out crazy paint colors and going to town. We literally had a yellow kitchen, red living room, bright green bathroom and a purple spare bedroom; I cringe when I think about it.

Right from the get-go we ripped up carpet, painted, scraped off wallpaper border, and did pretty much whatever we needed to make this house more us. We weren’t afraid to roll up our sleeves and apply a little elbow grease to our little two bedroom rancher.

I want to borrow her countertops. You might, too!

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By Gabrielle.

When Leah first sent me photos of her home, she almost didn’t include any photos of her kitchen. It’s a huge work in progress, you see, and still reflects the 90s almond craze in appliances! But she figured there are others living with some big sections of their homes far from magazine worthy and not exactly the way they want them to look, so she submitted it all. Somewhere along the way, she found a lesson in that room’s cramped configuration and dated colors, armed only with a positive attitude and some chalkboard paint!

It’s life, isn’t it?

I’m so proud to share Leah with you, and I just know you’ll find some inspiration in her home and words. Welcome, Leah!

Q: Tell us about this family of yours!

A: Our family is a happy little family that I wake up every day thankful to be a part of! My husband and I have been married for nearly seven years, and we have two little girls: Ida (two and a half years) and Amy (seven months). Andy is a high school teacher and soccer coach at a classical Christian school, while I get to stay home with the girls and help them grow up.

Ida is an observant, thoughtful, and high-spirited girl who loves books more than anything. At the moment she is busily paging through a Latin and English dictionary that caught her eye on the bookshelf. Amy is our beacon of joy; she is always scanning the room just waiting for someone to catch her eye so she can smile at them. She throws herself wholeheartedly into every moment, like when she grabs my cheeks and bites my nose just to say “I love you.”

Lovely ottoman and an even lovelier shade of green in Amy’s room, coming right up!

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By Gabrielle.

I think it would be so therapeutic to live near a lake, don’t you? There’s something calming about that indescribable shade of blues and greys and the dance of the tiny ripples. Having a rotten day? Just grab a fishing rod and cast away mindlessly. Need a break from homeschooling or that looming deadline? Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Plus, a lake makes for a killer kitchen sink view.

Yes, Lesli and her family are lucky ones, living the good life on a lake just outside of Chicago and enjoying it to the fullest. Yes, she is ever on the lookout for lake dangers — especially since her kids are five and two — but I’d say she’s ready for pretty much anything. You’ll see. Friends, please welcome the Gresholdt family!

Q: Tell us about this lakeside family.

A: Our family includes my husband, Mark, and our five-year-old daughter Adelaide and two-year-old son Oliver. My husband is an operations coordinator for a communications company, and I am currently a regional manager for Bella Baby Photography, a nationwide company providing in-hospital newborn photography.

Adelaide is affectionate, stylish, and stubborn – and takes after her social butterfly father. Oliver is easy-going and much more independent, with a great sense of humor and the ability to quote movies just like his mom.

Years ago in college, I had a strong urge to learn sign language. I took a few elective classes, learned a little bit, and kept up practicing through the years. Little did I know that five years later, I would say yes to a date with a deaf guy I knew in college and we would end up where we are now! Life as a bilingual family is sometimes challenging, especially since the kids are still learning how to sign. Of course, we don’t know it any other way.

We also have a very old farm cat, Sasha, and our new love, Mae, a Norwegian Forest Cat rescue. I don’t really think of our beta fish, Eric, as a pet, but he lives here, too, and requires daily feeding so I guess he’s part of the family.

Q: You’ve recently purchased a lake home. Tell us all about it choosing it!

A: We were finally in the market to buy a home but at the time, Mark was commuting by train to Chicago, so we had to be within 15 minutes of a train stop. This house was in a neighboring town, close enough to the train station, and we had seen it online many times. We both liked the layout, the hardwood floors, and the price, but I would write it off immediately due to the lake. After all, families with young kids don’t live on the water, right? But one night, in an attempt to be open-minded (and maybe out of desperation to find a house!) I emailed a list of houses to our realtor to see the next day and included this one. Not ten minutes later, my fear got the best of me, and I wrote him again and asked him to take that lake house off the list.

The next day, he either forgot or never got my message, because this house was the third one we saw. It felt like home immediately. Our former home had been so dark, and this one was filled with light with such a peaceful backyard and an open floor plan that is a must-have for families with a deaf family member. Being able to see each other (when you can’t hear!) is crucial.

A teacup collection and the most genius bathroom wall, coming up!

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By Gabrielle.

When Jennifer casually mentioned her home was an in-fill in Ottawa, I casually wondered “What is an in-fill?” And it happened again when she told me it had earned Platinum LEED certification. Oh, I just love when these tours give me new dinner party conversation starters!

Truly, this family’s life sounds very intentional. They think about the food they eat, the music that fills their rooms, and the health of their home materials. I loved reading about their life in Canada, and I hope you enjoy Jennifer’s words, as well. Welcome, Jennifer!

Q: Please tell us all about your family!

A: I met my husband, David, in 2006 via an online dating profile that a friend forced me to sign up for. I was about to delete my profile when I saw his, and we immediately started corresponding. I liked that he was a vegetarian (I’m vegan) and that he had two cats and two dogs (I had one cat and one dog) and that he made me laugh a lot, which he still does. We have very similar values, but very different ideas of what constitutes a good time. He has no interest in music, where as I like to collect records and go to see live bands. I have little patience for board games or computer games, but he loves them. Luckily we both like to read, so before our son was born we spent many weekends sitting in cafes together reading the newspapers or fiction or graphic novels. We got married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator! David planned the whole thing as a surprise for me, which was perfect because I am not the wedding planning type.

Our son Milo was born in October 2012. He also loves books and animals and music, is generally very cheerful and fun to be around, and amazes us on a regular basis.

We also live with our close friend Meghan who has her own space in our basement. She is helpful and silly and creative.

We have four roommates of the furry variety: a sweet lab-shepherd mix named Sacha, a wiley husky-border collie mix named Catie, a very waggy border collie-terrier mix named Oreo, and an ancient tabby cat named Potter. All the animals were rescues, which is something we feel very passionate about. Unfortunately they are all senior citizens, and we are now dealing with the new challenges and heartbreaks that come with older animals.

Lovely home, lovely words! More of both after the jump…

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By Gabrielle.

Nadine Mellor has believed in adventure – at least once a month – for most of her adult life, and that didn’t change when two kids were added to the equation. While it seems to be a much easier proposition to just stay at home with young ones, she lays out a pretty convincing argument of why we should just pack a carryon and go! I like her style.

Traveling with kids is, admittedly, a huge part of Nadine’s life. She is the London-based editor of i-escape Kids Collection, which features over 850 stylish family-friendly hotels, B&Bs, city apartments, and house rentals spanning 45 countries worldwide. I can’t wait to take you on a tour of her life! Friends, please welcome the Mellor family!

Q: Tell us about this jet-setting family.

A: Hi, I’m Nadine and my lovely Irish husband, Colman, and I have two charming and articulate children: our daughter Esme, almost seven, and son Cormac, who will be three in a couple of months. We currently live and work in London, but two years ago we returned home to this great city after five and a half wonderful years in San Francisco – and yes, we definitely left our hearts there! Both kids were born there so they have American citizenship (as well as British, Irish, and Australian nationalities).

Q: You’ve lived and travelled a lot of places with your family. Tell us why you’ve settled in North London.

A: I am actually from Islington, which is where I still live and my parents are 15 minutes’ walk away, which is super now we have kids. I was born and raised in this village. When I met Colman, he was living in South London, which is a great part of town but just not my village, so he did the gallant thing and moved to my area when we decided this was for life. And then just a year later, we had the opportunity to move to San Francisco, which I resisted to start with as I couldn’t imagine uprooting to live abroad again – I had already lived in Australia for seven years in three different stints – but once I was there I fell in love with it and we very nearly stayed in the States.

However, it is the right decision to return to London, closer to family and friends, and being in Europe speaks to us. Ultimately, we are from the British Isles. And Europe is such a fab place to live – so many different languages and cultures in a relatively small and accessible area – so we will never run out of great places to visit!

More fireplaces and charm, after the jump!

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Cassie Jones.

When I put together a Living With Kids tour, I try to mix in at least one photo of the family – or just one small member of it who happens to be running through a gorgeous glimpse of a room! But never have I posted a home tour where every photo includes a family living in it. This week is different, then. And instead of distracting from the interiors and bright ideas, the Carpenters added something decidedly sweet to our peek. The home came alive. You’ll see. (And you’ll also probably laugh out loud when you read Hannah’s response to when her home works best!)

Welcome, Carpenter family!

Q: Please tell us all about this adorable family.

A: We are the Carpenters. My husband, Heath, is a writer, college English professor, and is currently getting his doctorate in Heritage Studies. His most loved authors range from the greats like NT Wright and William Faulkner to the equally great Andre 3000 and Johnny Cash. Needless to say, Heath has diverse interests…which keeps things fresh around here.

I am a freelance illustrator and, like many moms, I enjoy blogging. Between my illustration work, blogging, and homeschooling our kids, I have a full plate and a full life. Heath and I spend our lives learning the balance; the balance of home and work, of family and friends, necessity and want, of us and others, and the ultimate balance of the secular and the spiritual. We’re a good team, Heath and I.

We have four kids: Tristin (11), Silas (seven), Enid (five), and Tom (almost two). Tristin is your classic first child, responsible to a fault. She is a second mother to my other children. She loves Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter, and manatees.

Silas is my creative child. While he can’t focus on a task like cleaning his room for longer than, oh, 30 seconds, he can sit and draw for hours. His little brain is always creating, and he can make up a killer joke:  ”Why wouldn’t the wheel turn at night? It was notturnal.”

Enid is emotional and excitable and skips everywhere she goes, even from one room to the next in our little home. She loves koalas and sucking her thumb and has the power to simultaneously make you feel like the best person ever and the worst.

Tom. Oh, Tom. Tom has rocked our world. He is unlike any of the others: busy, destructive, fearless, needy, and just sweet enough that we love him anyway. We all live together in a little home in a little city just north of Little Rock.

More day-in-the-life scenes, coming right up!

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By Gabrielle. Some photos by Sarah-Marie Photography.

There’s often a little internal struggle when all of our life’s dreams don’t look exactly like they did with our eyes closed. Even if the reality is just as wonderful and just as ideal, it takes a moment or two of growing pains to adjust! It happens, doesn’t it? So I completely understand when Anne talks about her reticence to fully embrace suburban life for a while. Homes all on top of each other and neighbors knowing when you’re leaving and when you’re coming home wasn’t how she envisioned her life, but their location and all the lovely friends they’ve made in their neighborhood turned out to be a huge factor in the happiness levels of her family! Eyes closed or open, that is just heavenly.

Friends, I hope you enjoy the bright colors and bright ideas in this tour. I sure did! Welcome, McGraw family!

Q: Please introduce us to your sweet family!

A: My husband, Ryan, and I have been married for eight years and have two vivacious daughters. Cora is six, and is wickedly smart and all the fun things that come with that: strong willed, independent, and determined to eek every second out of every day. She actually says, “Today was the best day of my entire life” at the end of most days. She’s my mini-me and my teacher in so many ways.

Greta is four, and is literally the happiest child you’ve ever met and always has been – even as a baby. She’s full of sweet sass and loves to sing and perform and make everyone laugh.

Ryan is a technology consultant and works out of the house when he’s not traveling to visit clients. We met in Atlanta where we went to college together, and moved to New York City and Minneapolis before settling down in Nashville almost seven years ago. I work at a very large and well known global organization, which is what brought about our move to the suburbs in order to reduce my commuting time. I’m also producing Nashville’s first Listen To Your Mother show this April!

Brightness and happy colors, straight ahead!

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By Gabrielle.

Confession: I kind of harassed Emma to participate in my Living With Kids series. Truer confession: I kind of harassed and begged. And then emailed her over and over to ask if she had finished her questions yet, and could she please send more photos. Because even though I had more than enough, I simply wanted to see more of her life. It’s pretty remarkable.

The problem is that Emma was kind of busy. You see, she’s 15. I should’ve known that she was probably super occupied with all that average ordinary teen stuff, right? Not right. Not even close.

Emma is a change-maker. She has a blog, a nonprofit, and travels a lot with her family. And the reason she was a little late in sending her finished interview was, well, she had just won her county science fair, competed in the state science fair, unexpectedly getting in to the international science fair, which resulted in a crazy flurry of getting everything together for that. It ended up being an incredible experience, and she won a big special award grant from China and placed second in her category of the top 90 high school studies in the field of Environmental Management. Oh, and she is fearless, especially when it comes to ziplines.

Friends, I am so proud to present my first teen house tour, starring the very awesome Emma.

Q: Please introduce us to you and your family!

A: I’m Emma and I’m 15 years old. I’m a passionate young change-maker, conservationist, blogger, photographer, writer, leader, and adventurer. I love bright colors, wilderness, funky design, hard work, good writing, close friendships, and engaging learning. My blog has been a journey, as many are. I (usually) like blogging every Sunday with my favorite photography moments from the week. I also enjoy backpacking, ballet, science, swimming, planning parties, and cleaning the fridge.

My brother Max is 13. He’s an apprentice beekeeper and a pretty good shot at archery. He’s on a fencing team and plays way too much Minecraft. He loves being outside more than anything.

My mom is a multi-tasker. Mostly she drives us around, but she’s also an event coordinator, baker, infographic designer, and teacher. My dad has a nonprofit to help people and organizations with “emotional intelligence,” or EQ. Basically he helps people become better leaders to make positive change. He’s always talking about things like “noble goals” and saying stuff like “when people feel pushed, they resist.” Sometimes it’s annoying but I’m beginning to realize how great it is to be in a family that talks about emotions and emotional intelligence a lot.

Emma’s room will make you wish you’d kept all of your childhood collections…

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By Gabrielle.

Hallie Burton‘s energy and joy for life is completely contagious. It’s refreshing to find someone so equally enamored with her family life, professional life, and the city she calls home. (Ahhh, New York! It has that effect!)

And it’s a fabulous reminder that falling in love with your day-to-day doesn’t necessarily mean over the top gestures, jam-packed schedules, and excess. Sometimes, it means scootering to school, having a daily uniform, and simplifying the aesthetics that surround us. Yes, simplicity is a very good friend to Hallie and her sweet family. How inspiring! Friends, I hope you love this tour as much as I do.

Q: Tell us about this stylish family.

A: We are an Australian (me), a Canadian (George), one loud New Yorker (Pompie), and one Shoodle (Maxi)! I’m a working Lifestyle photographer whose clients include Target, Crate and Barrel, Jonathan Adler, Martha Stewart, Club 21 Global, and Como Hotels and resorts. George is a partner in a contracting business. Pompie is a student and a passionate ballet dancer already! Maxi is an international dog of Mystery, and we are all dedicated Roger Federer fans!

Together we ride, scoot, dance, skate, and sing through our days! We really are the “family that plays together stays together!” We are a one-child family by choice and love every minute of it…we are the three musketeers of our own destiny. As three individuals and as a family we fit, and we knew our family was complete the minute Pompie came out.

We love the idea of equally shared parenting, and the concept really drives us to be better individuals and keep our lives and careers going and, of course, being the best parents possible. Equally being in her life and not one out doing the other really is creating such a beautiful independent child. We travel a lot coming from other countries, so we try hard to keep this side of our life moving for the grandparents. We love bringing up a child in New York; it’s exciting daily and what’s on offer is amazing. We actually try and stay in town in summer so we have a better chance of discovering the city without so many crowds…

Sleekest kitchen ever. Straight ahead.

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By Gabrielle.

I’m not sure what’s most visually stunning in this tour: Mount Etna or the fireplace! (That shot above is the kitchen window view. Gulp.) But then there’s Becca‘s super intentional style of parenting and innate gratitude for her life, and the views somehow become secondary.

The Garbers are an American family on a military tour that ends this summer, so I’m glad we have the chance to tour their home before they head off on another adventure. Just one look out that kitchen window, and I’m sure it’s going to be incredibly difficult to say goodbye to this space and pace of living with their kids in Southern Italy. Friends, welcome to the Garber home!

Q: Please tell us all about this family living in Sicily.

A: This family started in Boston in 2008 with a blue-eyed, bearded veterinary student and a determined young nurse. Even before we started dating, we knew we’d marry each other….and we were right! We got married in a surprise snowstorm in 2010. Shortly after our wedding, Elliott left for a 12-month deployment with the U.S. Army, an experience that challenged us but also gave our new marriage a unique texture and fortitude.

Now we are the stretched-but-grateful parents of vivacious Lena (three) and curly-haired Gil (one). We also have an opportunistic Maine Coon cat named Siena.

We live in a yellow house on the edge of a cliff in Sicily. Elliott is a veterinarian in the Army, where he cares for military working dogs and runs a vet clinic on base. I’m taking time off from my career as a nurse to stay at home with our children, and in the meantime I’m pursuing my creative side with blogging, knitting, and photography.

Q: How did you end up living overseas?

A: After Elliott’s yearlong deployment away from his new bride, the Army gave him his choice of assignment. Starry-eyed, I chose Italy. The rural, quiet beauty of southern Italy appealed to us because of our love for the outdoors and our desire to live a simple life.

We arrived in July 2011 with three-month-old Lena. A few days later, I was looking at photos of potential houses, and I saw one with a spectacular view of Mount Etna, exposed brick, dark wood trim, a rustic fireplace, and a balcony overlooking a green valley. Right outside the front door was a Norman castle from the 12th Century. “I just found our house!” I said.

The fireplace is a work of art. Truly. Go see.

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By Gabrielle.

We’ve got another family who has moved away from the hustle and bustle of New York City, this time to South Dakota. That’s interesting in itself, but then add the wide range in ages of the children and I’m completely hooked to the story!

With all boys and one lovely little girl and a husband who travels quite a bit, Michelle has created a home that fits them all. And don’t even think for one second that Lily, the youngest and only girl, has to live in a boyishly decorated space! Her bed is dreamy, dreamy, dreamy. You’ll see.

Welcome, Arnold family!

Q: Please tell us all about this cute family.

A: Hi there! Our family consists of my husband Rod and me, our boys – Ben, Bo, and Jackson – and our daughter, Lily. And I have to add our beloved family dog, Gracie, because she will feel rejected if I don’t include her.

Rod and I met and married in college 25 years ago. Can’t believe we’re old enough to say that! We have lived all over the place, which my kids have said is both awesome and not awesome, depending on the point they are trying to make with me at the time.

Lily’s room sure is cute. Click to see it!

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By Gabrielle.

Never before have I asked a Living With Kids tour guide about her family and received a response like Nell‘s. It’s beyond lovely and lucky and all those words we use when someone is exactly where they should be in life!

And this house! Oh, what a house. In my imagination, Nell’s family home is just like the one in the game of Clue, come to life. (My best guess is James in the Music Room with a cello!) All of it is so interesting to me, from the family input into decor to the incredible sense of deja vu that must happen on a daily basis. Please, please enjoy this tour and help me welcome this sweet – and growing – family!

Q: Please tell us about you and yours!

A: My whole family includes this clan of our parents, beloved four siblings, their partners, and their kiddos. We’re Irish Catholic and were raised to be fiercely loyal, and very much involved in one another’s lives. My parents have been together for 40 years this year! Both are doctors – dad a gastrointerologist and mom a psychologist. My eldest sister and her partner live in Minneapolis and are true urban farmers. My second eldest sister is a social worker who specializes in older adults and little kiddos, her nieces and nephews benefitting from her proximity of living in the Twin Cities as well; she’s the auntie who teaches them about the periodic table and splatter paint! The sister right above me is our New York star, a graphic designer turned herbalist whose organic skincare line is fabulous. Her husband has opened two successful bar/gastro-pubs in Manhattan and is burgeoning on his third. Their toddler daughter and baby girl are perpetually on our FaceTime feed chatting it up with my kiddos. Our little brother is an officer in the Army, though he’s a world traveler and adventurer (and still our baby brother) behind all that ordered life. He and his wonderful wife have a nine month old whom we all wish we could gobble up, but can’t as they live in Tennessee.

There’s me, the fourth, the creative writing major-turned-lawyer who married her law school love, and we have James who is almost four, Maureen who is two, and a little baby boy due to join us in early May. I’m haphazard about cleaning but love to tidy, my husband is a poet who’s an insurance coverage lawyer, and our children are obsessed with all things church and baseball related. We eat as healthfully as possible but also indulge on my mom’s homemade and certainly unhealthy caramels. Despite our children’s screen-free life, my husband and I love to curl up with fatty fatty ice cream and watch Netflix once the kids have gone down for the night!

Q: You’re living in your childhood home! Tell us about why you wanted to buy it from your parents, and any difficulties or second-guesses along the way.

A: All of us siblings had agreed growing up: somebody had to buy the house someday. I feel so lucky it ended up being us! We were the first to get married and have children, and once our careers had lined up so that it was financially feasible, we made the leap. The house has so much character and personality. It’s roomy but intimate, majestic but practical, stunning but humble. It had never really occurred to me that another family could raise their children in it, unless that family were one of ours.

The carpets…oh, the carpets!

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By Gabrielle.

When Mary first contacted me about a possible tour, she was sweetly hesitant and sent along a few photographs to share the space she and her husband are living with their four daughters. As I always do, I asked for a few more and added a lot of exclamation points to my request.

And when she sent me many, many dozens scenes from her daily life, I spent a good afternoon poring over them. I had to beg Mary to edit them down for me because I simply could not! This tour would have included at least 750 photos! Because, Friends, this life of the Heffernans is pretty lovely. And busy. And thoughtful. And supremely well-designed. I love it all, and I hope it just makes your day, too.

(Just maybe, there will be a follow-up post this summer with all the photos I couldn’t use this time around! I’m keeping my fingers crossed, because I would really, really love a tour of the family businesses!)

Q: Please introduce us to your sweet family!

A: Hello! I’m Mary Heffernan, a mom and small town business owner and a country girl at heart. My husband Brian is a manly mountain man who is surrounded by a crazy wife and four independent, strong-willed little girls. Luckily, they tend to be tomboys and are out there hunting and fishing with him, so he couldn’t be happier. Brian and I met in 2006 at a charity event, where he was on the board and I was volunteering. Eight years later, we have four daughters and a fun and crazy life together, running a range of small businesses in Los Altos, California.

All four of our girls are named Mary, which makes traveling interesting! They are all named after different grandmothers, as we are both from big Catholic families with a lot of Marys! Our eldest, MaryFrances or Francie, is six and the leader of the pack. MaryMarjorie or Maisie, is four and a sweet, maternal soul. MaryJane or JJ is the wild child at three and full of personality and outfit changes. MaryTeresa, Tessa, is one year old and packs a punch to keep up with those big sisters! We have a chocolate lab named Moose, and three Navajo Churro rams on our ranch named Chief Big Horn, Geronimo, and Eugene.

I can’t wait for you to see the kitchen. Truly.

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By Gabrielle.

[ Note: House Tour are always, always posted on Tuesday. Except this time. It's an odd week at my house, which makes for an odd posting schedule. : ) ]

Imagine relocating from Brooklyn to Austin. The different paces of life and even language would shock even the best of us, right? But a drastic move was exactly what Jessica and her kids needed after a devastating loss. When she told me her story, I lost my words for more than a few moments, but when I found them again all I could think was “Jessica, you are brave, brave, brave.” And that didn’t even begin to cover it.

I know you’ll be inspired by Jessica’s hunt for happiness, and join me in hoping for an easier life for her in the sunshine days to come. Please, enjoy this tour. Welcome, Jessica!

Q: Please tell us all about your East Coast family living in the heart of Texas!

A: It’s been an adjustment for sure! The first couple weeks I was here, when I talked to people they would ask me to slow down! The driving thing has been rough, too, but we’ve adjusted nicely.

Most of the reason we picked Austin was that it’s pretty hip! They have a great recycling program, farmers markets, our lovely food coop Wheatsville, and we can even find a decent baguette!

I’m an active tennis loving, book reading, know-it-all with a propensity towards over-friendliness. After nine years in various marketing positions, I started my own business! I’m a ENTJ and – according to The Tipping Point – a connector. I really love putting people in touch with great products and services, so running an expectant parent expo and parents group have been perfect avenues for my personality.

Emilia Emanuele, my nearly five year old princess, only wears pink and purple, loves My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop, but has no issue with stripping down to play in a mud puddle at the drop of a hat. She’s insanely smart. Not much is lost on her, a trait she gets from her dad. She walked just before she turned nine months, and I’ll forever associate her with that fierce determination she had on her face as she got up and walked to me.

Lucien Michel wasn’t supposed to have a very French name at all but somehow does! Lulu, as we call him, is our little oddity. Despite being half-French, he doesn’t kiss anyone. He only licks people! But he’s so kind and sweet to his core. He loves anything with wheels.

So much wonderful plus a necessary reminder for all of us! Straight ahead…

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By Gabrielle.

Wouldn’t it be neat to live in an arty loft? No walls to obstruct views, maybe some exposed ductwork and a few brick walls, with city lights twinkling all around. Oh, it seems to me like the design possibilities in one would be as endless as the ceiling height! But then reality sets in, and I wonder how I would divide space for six kids and one Ben Blair and also one me! It would have to be a pretty long loft, wouldn’t it?

Katie, however, is living the loft dream. What began as her husband’s super cool bachelor pad and spent many years being thought of as the wrong sort of house for the Gnau family, suddenly turned into the perfect home for one daughter and one Tony and also one Katie. Isn’t it funny how a simple change of mindset can make all the difference in how well you’re living? Friends, please join me in welcoming this loft-loving Chicago family!

Q: Please tell us all about your family!

A: Our family includes my husband Tony, our two year old daughter B, our two cats Maggie and Hermione, and countless dolls and stuffed animals.

Tony is an Emmy-award winning journalist and writer who runs our family business, T60 Productions. Lucky for B and I, he also uses his creative talent to document much of our personal life; our home videos are amazing! He’s athletic, creative, kind, successful, and good looking. I still feel like I hit the jackpot every time I remember I’m actually married to him.

B is often described as pragmatic. She’s an aspiring ballerina who loves the color pink. She loves to bury herself in a pile of books. She has the gift of gab, and can entertain herself all day long playing with dolls and stuffed animals.

More loft living to inspire you, just ahead!

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