From the category archives:

Home Tours

By Gabrielle.

This tour doesn’t exactly qualify for our Living With Kids series. Rather, I should probably title it Living Without Her Family And Missing Them Like Mad While She Is In Outer Space! Because Karen Nyberg is an astronaut. I know. Incredible, right? Just wait until you see her daily views from her windows.

(New York and south along the US East Coast)

I couldn’t resist her generous offer to show us around her out-of-this-world living space (A little sterile, but the view!), share some of her best coping tricks (Again, that view!), and maybe even inspire those of us with kids who routinely travel as part of our careers. (A two-hour plane ride and three days at a Hilton doesn’t sound quite so unbearable when you compare it to a six-month expedition with a waiting husband and toddler son!)

She’ll tell us how she brings her family into the mission with her, how she prepared to climb aboard a rocket and leave her family, dog, and home for six months, and how she will satisfy her need to create something with her hands (She is a DIY girl and an astronaut!) and clear her mind with a good run while living on the space station.

Super inspiring. Friends, you are going to love this one. I promise.

Q: I think this is the first time I’ve described a home as “out there,” but it truly is!

A: I am currently living on the International Space Station about 250 miles above the surface of the earth. We orbit the earth every 90 minutes; that’s sixteen sunrises and sunsets every day! There are usually six crew-members living here at a time, and we exchange three crew-members approximately every three months.

I arrived on the Space Station via a Russian Soyuz rocket on May 29 with two others, and will be departing for home in the same capsule on November 11. Other residents of ISS at this time include one American astronaut (an US Air Force Flight Test Engineer), an Italian astronaut (an Air Force Test Pilot), and three Russian cosmonauts.

Her current home probably looks nothing like yours! But it’s awesome!

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By Gabrielle.

There are certain moments during an average everyday when I count my virtual pals among life’s little treasures. If I’m feeling low and worrying about it, one will probably send a note from South Africa or Germany or even Los Angeles to tell me I’m not alone. And if I’m wondering what in the world to do with the Treehouse’s floors, I will be gifted with at least three or four “I’ve been there, Gabrielle, and here’s what we did!” letters. With cute photos, tutorials, and source lists.

Courtney is one of those friends. You may know her as one of the stylish partners behind Babyccino Kids. (Remember when we met Esther?) She’s a lovely mom and entrepreneur living with her husband and four children in London, and someone who sends the sweetest, kindest letters. Oh! And her house is enviably crisp and chic. If I ever decide to paint our floors white, you will know who is responsible! Friends, please meet Courtney. I know you’ll adore her.

Q: Please tell us all about the gorgeous family living in this gorgeous home.

A: Oh, where do I begin? My husband, Michael, and I are both from big families in America; he’s the oldest of seven and I’m the oldest of five! We met in Los Angeles in 2003 and moved to London together two months later. He signed a one-year contract for work, and we thought we would enjoy a year in London and the opportunity to travel around Europe. That was ten years ago this month!

I suppose the allure of European travel never grew old, and as we became more and more familiar with London, it proved difficult to leave. Having children here has also rooted us even more. We have four children: two boys, Easton (eight) and Quin (six), and two girls, Ivy (four) and Marlow (ten months). All of them were born here in London, and the six of us now have both UK and American passports.

Gorgeous kitchen and those white floors, straight ahead!

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Living With Kids: Debora Kolb

September 24, 2013

By Gabrielle.

I’ve always wondered what it must be like to live in a popular vacation destination — fabulous, right?! — and this week’s tour answers some of my queries. Doesn’t everyone know one or two families who enjoyed their Florida vacations so much that they moved there? Now I do, too!

Debora and her family now happily reside in South Florida after a stint in the Southwest, and would probably tell you that life there is exactly like a vacation. Except for those pesky jobs that get in the way of beach time! Relocating came with obvious perks (sunshine and proximity to family), but also a smaller, not-exactly perfect home. Not a problem for the Kolb family, though. Here’s their refreshing story; a lovely mix of postcard-perfect and real life, which is exactly how we should all be living!

Q: Please give us a rundown on the family who lives in this fun and functional Florida home!

A: We are a busy, happy family of five. I’m Debora. Before I took on the challenges of being mom to three kids and keeper of household affairs, I enjoyed my work as a professional architect and interior designer. I keep my toe in the water and my creative side engaged, though, as I’m still licensed and working the odd design job on the side. I live design. I even appreciate bad design!

My husband Kelly is an attorney by weekday, kayak fisherman and jack-of-all-trades on the weekends. He’s a great partner and often helps bring my designs to life. One of his biggest challenges, he would claim, is the fact that he is outnumbered threefold by the females in the house; we have a trio of lovely daughters.

The eldest of our children is Taylor. Once a moody, slothful teenager she is now a college freshmen, and a delightfully kind and appreciative 18-year-old. She has survived those tough years and “come back to us” as a young woman who once again appreciates her family and life’s little luxuries. Like a home cooked meal and clean laundry!

Of course there is a pink flamingo! Just ahead…

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Living With Kids: Ashley Reese

September 17, 2013

By Gabrielle.

The major element in Ashley and David’s story that intrigued me right away was the path to finding their home. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it was less of a path and much more of a hike. A hike up Mt. Everest! With very little equipment or even a guide, at times! And they traveled the same grueling, often heartbreaking trek to find their daughters. In so many ways, the Reese family has worked hard for the life they’re living, but I know they wouldn’t have had it any other way. This is one of those stories where the end justifies the means. I’m so touched and inspired by this remarkable family in so many tangible ways, and I hope you will be, too. Friends, I’m pleased to introduce the Reese family!

Q: Please introduce us to the family who makes this house a home!

A: Our family of four lives in this little house: my husband, David, and our two busy girls, Amelia (Mia) and Julianne (June), ages four and 18 months. The locals call it “the white chapel on the hill” because it is so tall, white, and just plain conspicuous set against our rolling plains of farmland.

David and I are both students for a second time after deciding to make career changes. I taught high school English and History, and am now studying Speech and Language Pathology. He owned a landscape design and construction business, but is now is studying to teach high school Science and does personal fitness training on the side. We thought it’d be fun to cover the entire career spectrum before we hit 30!

Like most parents, our girls are the joy of our lives. We realized early in our marriage that our children would need to arrive unconventionally after several rounds of IVF, and now couldn’t be more grateful. They don’t look a thing like us, but I tend to forget that. Some biological mechanism kicks in when you adopt – particularly when adopting from birth, I think – and although my girls both have beautiful brown-skin-chocolate, as Mia describes the look, and David and I are pretty run-of-the-mill for our corner of the globe, I can’t fathom pinching a white bum or kissing a head without curls.

We are a high-energy family and tend to be either doing, creating, or dreaming something up to do or create. We spend a lot of time outside hiking, running, and biking. My husband runs ultra-marathons competitively, while I run just enough to claim sanity, and our four-year-old runs laps on a dirt track around our house as her specially tailored time-out. We thoroughly enjoy growing, assembling, and consuming good food, appreciate interesting architecture, and although we don’t have traditional television, as a self-diagnosed Anglophile, I can never pass up a good period drama or British detective series!

open kitchen shelving, sparkly wallpaper, and a backyard to make you swoon…all just ahead!

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By Gabrielle.

I normally begin these Living With Kids tours with a stunning shot of the kitchen or a vibrant welcome from the entryway. But today, I am starting off by showing you a few highly covetable pairs of children’s boots. They are the coolest, as are all the offerings from a fairly new Dutch shoe brand called de Vries. And now we get the chance to see inside the equally cool designer’s home!

Her name is Lilian de Vries, and she is a talent. When she first wrote to me, she casually mentioned she is a shoemaker. Too fun! I consider hers an artisan career that would be fantastic to announce at dinner parties. Or home tours! “Hello. My name is Lilian, and I make fabulous shoes. It is nice to meet you.” Friends, it really is nice to meet Lilian. You’ll see. Please enjoy the tour!

Q: Tell us about the family who makes this house a home!

A: I met my husband Charles in 1996 in Rotterdam while I was in art school. We used to live there for ten years in a great apartment. Two years after our daughter Ella was born in 2003, we decided to move to a house with a garden that was also closer to my work in Amsterdam, and we ultimately ended up in Utrecht, the center part of the Netherlands.

More dreamy sunlight-washed rooms ahead!

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Living With Kids: Anna Keep

September 3, 2013

By Gabrielle.

There are a few moments in this tour when my heart aches for Anna. She currently lives in the home she and her former husband built and dreamed of living in for their family’s future. As we all know, though, some of the most beautiful plans are the ones that change into other plans altogether. Still beautiful, just maybe unexpectedly so. The marriage is no longer, but the boys and home Anna and her ex built together are still thriving. And so, I can happily tell you, is Anna.

I didn’t know her circumstances during our correspondence — homeowners and I email a lot back and forth throughout this process! — but I always thought of her as so upbeat and positive in her words and decoration. I had no idea of what she may have endured emotionally to get to this point. Her honest answers were probably difficult for her to write, but I believe she made herself write them to remind herself (and us, too) that lessons are everywhere, just waiting to be learned. The hard way, the easy way, and all the ways in between. I love this tour so much, and thank Anna from the bottom of my heart for giving us so much of her own. Friends, please meet Anna.

Q: Please tell us about everyone who lives here!

A: I share my home with my two freckled boys: Ross, aged ten, and Ben, aged eight. Plus, at last count, nine goldfish, four wild green parrots, and a rotation of hamsters. There is also a puppy dog coming soon! Our housekeeper named Sharlena hails from Zimbabwe, and she and her teenage son, Thami, also share our property in a garden cottage.

Cute boys’ rooms, straight ahead!

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By Gabrielle.

Buying land and building a home takes so much more than a clear vision. There’s always a headache-inducing budget involved, isn’t there? Made all the more agonizing when that budget keeps increasing throughout the process! Because you want that gorgeous wood floor, that dazzling light fixture and all the others that coordinate, and spectacular kitchen drawer pulls and – darn it! – they’re custom. It must be hard to reconcile dreams and dollars. Carey and her husband’s plan almost didn’t make it to the kitchen cabinet hardware, but luckily they were rescued by a contractor with a heart (and vision) of gold. This is a good story with a beautiful ending, and one to which I probably mega relate because of our French cottage! For those of you also in the midst of building fever, read on (and good luck!). Friends, meet Carey Denman!

Q: Tell us all about the lucky family who calls this place home!

A: My husband Jory and I live here with our four children: Ella, Samuel, William, and Amelia. Ella is eight and has a penchant for horses and anything that sparkles. Our second born child, Samuel, is seven and loves Legos, balloons, and pancakes. William, five, has a mischievous streak a mile wide; he has been known to paint his whole body with black paint and has a fondness for anything on wheels. And Amelia, our fun-loving three-year-old, usually has a doll tucked under her arm and a bag stuffed full of miscellany draped over her shoulder.

I homeschool this raucous bunch and write a column about the adventures of parenting for my local newspaper. I also tend to a large garden that makes my heart happy, and dabble in making herbal concoctions. My husband is a nurse at a nearby hospital, an avid outdoorsman, and a man dedicated to loving our children in real and tangible ways.

The Denman backyard goes on forever and ever!

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By Gabrielle.

Oh, is Emily refreshing! Hers is the classic and always happy-making story of a family living in not their forever home…but their growing home. I love that term. And I also adore that the Hart family hasn’t pushed pause on living with kids with style just because of that fact; they choose to make pretty when they can, always with an eye on whether it’s a smart project for resale value. So sensible. But so difficult to resist when you’re craving new kitchen cabinets, right? Friends, I’m pleased to introduce you to Emily. I just know you’ll enjoy peeking into her home today!

Q: Please tell us about everyone who lives here!

A: Josh, Emily, Blake, Luke, and Gracie the pups all reside together in our little home. I’m Emily, a stay-at-home-mom-blogger-photographer, who has a love for home decor and finding old things to make that love affordable. I’m enamored with vintage objects, old houses, and dusty books, and I sometimes think my home will start to smell like a library soon if I’m not careful.

The man behind the home is my husband, Josh. He’s my absolute and complete opposite…and thank goodness for that. I always joke that we cancel each other out, which is much needed for our individual strong personalities. He’s a banker by trade, and a triathlete and health nut by choice. I’m a wannabe health nut, so when I’m not sneaking french fries I’m usually following his lead and making a healthy meal.

Our boys – oh, our boys! Blake is ten, with an emerging entrepreneurial spirit and a budding talent for broadcasting when he’s not finding ways to sneak in way too many video games. Luke is almost three, and his nickname is Lil’ L because of his penchant for rapping and hip hop dancing. His love for music brings us all together in the best ways, usually during a kitchen dancing session or a YouTube video playing fest where Josh tries to find the clean versions of all his old favorite hip hop tunes. (Not an easy task. by the way!)

The cutest kitchen table coming up next!

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By Gabrielle.

I’ve known Esther was stylish ever since the launch of Babyccino, which has grown from a parenting blog written by three friends scattered across Europe, to an internationally consulted site for those seeking unique inspiration with a cultural twist. Their kid-friendly city guides and well-researched boutiques are goldmines. But her home takes living with kids with style to a whole new level. It’s visually stimulating, yet calm. Color everywhere, but they somehow all blend together. Even her day-to-day basics look cool the way she’s curated them! (See kitchen utensils below to see what I mean.) This is one of those homes where the lines between adult and kid decor are completely blurred, and beautifully so. Welcome, Esther!

Q: Please tell us all about this Amsterdam-based family!

A: My husband, Tamar, and I met 13 years ago when I was just finishing my studies in Delft. We both wanted to explore the world a little bit, so as soon as I got my degree we moved to New York together where we stayed for three years. Just before we moved to Brussels, Tamar asked me to marry him in a helicopter above Manhattan! We got married in Antwerp in 2004, and one year later we lived in London where our children Sara (2005) and Pim (2007) were born. We now live in Amsterdam, where we’ve had two more children: Ava (2010) and baby Casper, who was born in 2012.

Q: What makes you love your home in Amsterdam?

A: After a few years in Amsterdam, we found this little house for rent and we immediately fell in love with it. It’s built in the 1950s and has beautiful big, steel windows and cool mid-century design details. It also has a little front yard where we can park our bikes, and a small garden in the back where we can grow herbs and some vegetables. All the houses in our block are connected in the back through a little pathway, so our kids can always find our neighbors’ children to play with in one of the gardens. I also love the fact that where we live is very close to the centre of Amsterdam, but it still has the feel of a little village!

One of the main advantages of living in Amsterdam is the fact that it is such a compact city, and that it is totally laid out for the use of bicycles. My husband works around the corner from our home, and the shops, schools, and crèches for the children are also within walking distance. With the bike or the bakfiets (cargo bike), we can get to anywhere in the city in a less than a 30 minute bike ride.

Although we love living in Amsterdam, we also love to travel. Which is easy as our international airport (Schiphol) is only a seven minutes train ride from where we live!

The kitchen wall that will prompt most of us to get out the hammer and nails!

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By Gabrielle.

Remember Sarah? She showed us what life really looks like when you’re living with kids during a major home renovation. She also took my breath away with photos of their toddler daughter helping rewire the kitchen’s electrical (Not really! She was completely safe!), but Sarah just laughed at my worry (Really. She is completely cool like that.)

As she told us, “I’m planning to create a checklist to determine if you are emotionally and mentality capable of handling renovations with small children! I imagine most people are not. Here’s my advice: Be flexible and adaptable. If you are not that type of person, just don’t even think about it!” I hope she makes that list, don’t you? It would be hilarious to read.

But my favorite piece of wisdom from Sarah is this: “Even though the safety of our children is a high priority, our philosophy is to let the kids experience life…not protect them from it.” Pretty wonderful.

You’ve got to see the kitchen…Lula did an awesome job on the electrical! Ha!

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By Gabrielle. Images by Iris Thorsteinsdottir for Kid & Coe.

I’m fond of our home tours for a lot of reasons, but one of my favorites is that it gives me the chance to truly learn about living with kids in every corner of the world. Practical advice and personal experience from real families are the best, made even better with pictures and local accents! As I mentioned to Laura this week, you just never know where you’ll want to move your family tomorrow. Perhaps to Bristol? It sure sound lovely. (And then there is the matter of Banksy, graffiti artist extraordinaire! How cool would it be to casually name-drop him as your neighbor?) I know you’re going to adore Laura and the Hall home, and I’m also pretty sure you’re going to love the company she keeps, known as Kid & Coe, especially if you’ve got little ones and despise traveling with all the gear they seem to accumulate! Welcome, Laura!

Q: Tell us all about your sweet family living in the UK!

A: Four of us live here. I’m Laura, the Communications Manager of Kid & Coe, traveler, magpie, and generally creative person. I’m joined by my husband Matt, an IT risk consultant by day (yawn!) but a dastardly food blogger and inventive cook by night (yum!). There’s also our bumptious three year old daughter Olivia, who loves to sing and read, often at the same time, and our four-year-old cat Sukie, who I rescued when she was just five weeks old. She’s lovely but thinks she’s a human most of the time.

Q: How did this house become your home? (And please tell us what it’s like to buy or rent in Bristol…just in case any of us are interested!)

A: We love our home so much! We bought it four years ago after living in a hip city center apartment, because we wanted to be near a park and to have a family in a lovely area. I got pregnant within a month of moving in. I have so many friends on this street and the next who all have three year olds. Who knows what they’re putting in the water!

One of the best things in my life was getting pregnant while living here. We live on top of a hill, and one day I was puffing up it, heavily pregnant, when a lady opened her door and invited me in for tea. She had a bunch of other mums from the street having tea in her garden, and just like that I was invited into the Richmond Street mums club! It’s lovely, and I really like that the vibe is like that round here.

More of this darling home…plus a bomb shelter! Just click!

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By Gabrielle.

Elise Morris has a super cute son, so it’s kind of  fitting that she has made him a home to match! It’s fresh, bright, rugged inside and out, and mostly uncluttered, except for beautiful treasures and fun bits, and airy enough to hold a young boy’s ideas. All of them. To add more cool to the mix, Elise is an artist. Her work is so soothing that I found myself zooming in for minutes on end at the art in her living room. (I think you will, too!) For some unknown reason, I couldn’t help but think that she must be a patient and wonderful mom to Jonah…simply from her brilliant use of color and talented brushstrokes! I’m sure there’s a connection, right? While we discuss that, let’s welcome Elise and her little guy. Enjoy the tour, Friends.

Q: Please tell us who makes this sweet house a home.

A: I live here in the Bay Area with my four-year-old son Jonah, two cats, and an involuntary bug collection that varies from day to day. I am a single mom with primary custody, and a full-time working artist. I am also a crazy project planner, organizer, and multi-tasker! Jonah is a very curious and suddenly talkative preschooler who keeps me on my toes.

Q: How did this home come to be yours?

A: After going through an unexpected divorce, I had to move out of our condo and sort everything out.  Jonah was two years old. I wanted a fresh start, so I considered locations a bit further east where I already have some good friends. The goal was moving to an area where Jonah could have space to play and be able to attend good schools. I never would have pictured myself living in a suburb, but as it goes, having a child makes the priorities clear.

Elise’s gorgeous living room painting, just ahead! Prepare to sigh!

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By Gabrielle.

This tour is a snapshot of sorts, because by the time I publish it the Giambalvos will be happily ensconced in their new  Texas home. But for the past seven years, this Chicago condo has nurtured a young family. There’s been stellar skyline views, all the city noises and its rushed pace, and more than enough room for all the creative projects Haeley can imagine and bring to life. In short, it’s been one of those homes the family will remember. I love homes like that. Friends, meet Haeley and her family. Please enjoy the tour, and give them a wave as they make their way to Texas!

Q: Tell us about this Chicago family — and soon-to-be Texans!

A: The Giambalvos consist of my husband Ross, Stella (three years) and Hazel (23 months). Ross and I met while attending the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and spent several years on the East Coast before deciding to call Chicago our home shortly after we got married. We had no real reason to move here; we just thought it looked like an exciting city, and we weren’t disappointed!

I grew up in Nebraska, and Ross in Texas, so somehow Chicago felt a little closer to home. We were thrilled when we bought our first place: a three bedroom condo in the hipster neighborhood of Wicker Park with views of the Chicago skyline. Neither of us thought we’d have two kids here, but here we are seven years later. Stella and Hazel don’t know anything but the hustle and bustle of city life, which is so different than my experience as a child in small town Nebraska.

This is such a cute home! See the rest of it just after the jump!

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Scott Adamson.

It’s been noted a few times in these tours that a homeowner’s true nature appears during a renovation. A worrier worries even more, someone who has a hard time making decisions will probably be on the phone (or maybe Pinterest!) a lot, and a procrastinator will get to that project tomorrow. Or next Wednesday.

I happen to love Jillian‘s reno-style: She had a home water birth at 11:00 am, and renovations were back on by two that afternoon. So awesome. As is this tour, especially for those of you interested in eco-friendly renovating and decorating. (Note to self: Paperstone sounds cool.) Enjoy, Friends!

Q: Please tell us who makes this house a home.

A: My husband, Jamie, is a carpenter and I am a naturopathic doctor with a blog and sideline dreams of designing and styling interior spaces full time. In the interim, we renovate and rebuild houses and flip them.

We have two children named Winnie (4) and Pippa (2), and we live in Kingston, Ontario.

Harry Potter would be so jealous!

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By Gabrielle. Most of the photos shot by Andrew Grinton.

You just might fall head-over-heels for this home. And then you may feel a little dizzy when you see the tree house so unlike any other tree house you’ve ever seen that you could want to call it a home in the trees instead. Because it needs a fancier title. Some of you might drool over the pool situation or the poolside bench that was once a Balinese boat, or the barn with lanterns to light up any night. A candlelit outhouse. And oh, yes. There is a mermaid shower.

But I’m betting that Lynne (and her amazing family!) is the element in this tour for whom you’ll all fall the hardest. I don’t know her, but I wish I did. She is strong and positive and happy with her life, and all of the qualities in between that I strive to make a part of me, too. If you look only at the pictures, you might envy her. If you only read her story, your heart will swell. Friends, I hope this tour will change your day. Or more. (Because, for me, it changed more.) Enjoy.

Q: Please tell us all about the family who lives in this paradise!

A: There’s my hubby, Michael, who is one of the kindest, most beautiful souls on earth. He is just one of those guys who really puts others before himself in an epic generous sort of way. He has always been a huge inspiration in my life. He was a world class facilitator teaching sales and communication skills to Fortune 500 companies before cancer made a grand entrance in his life. He was diagnosed with a rare one-in-a million cancer six years ago with 70% cancer in his bone marrow. The median life expectancy was five years. He is undergoing chemotherapy and giving cancer a swift kick in the butt.

Our children are Shelby(22), Tristan (21), Mackenzie (15), and Brett (14).

Shelby is living in British Columbia attending a school for psych nursing. She loves to learn. She’s a walking medical encyclopedia. It’s absolutely hilarious at times. She soaks in everything she can possibly learn at school and then she turns it into some good old funny. I wouldn’t dare pierce my ears; she would convince me that I’d paralyze my face and have droopy ears! She’s hilarious with some of her antics.

Tristan is studying psychology at the University of Western here in Ontario, Canada. She chose a small campus with close-knit ties to her teachers and friends. It’s a beautiful community and she is so happy! Tristan is a generous, wise old soul. She is so beautifully kind and giving with a whip of adventure and a big splash of funny!

Mackenzie is a little go-getter. She loves to sing! We can hear her sing when she is driving around on our riding lawn mower. It’s a hoot! (Now she will know that I listen to her sing. Busted!) Her singing grabs my heart. It’s beautiful. She is stunning on the inside and out. She’s a voracious reader. She doesn’t care where she is; she will find a book and read it. She would read on top of a telephone pole if the opportunity arose. She has a sense of kick butt in her. As an adult, I don’t think anyone will ever walk all over her. She has a beautiful sense of self.

With having four sisters, Brett might be the kindest boy on earth. He will certainly know how to be a great hubby some day! He jumps right into things and just goes for it. He loves anything with an engine. He drives tractors, lawn mowers, the jeep on the farm trails, and is a brilliant little bush mechanic if it breaks down. If there was one last cookie on the plate, he’d give it to you. He is just that kind of kid. Big heart. Huge heart.

Q: This place…I don’t know where to start! How did it come to be yours?

A: About 11 years ago, we had a bad neighbor. He was a big ‘ol burly brute. It was at that time that we decided that we wanted a home with neighbors…but ones that were further away! We wanted a long driveway, a barn for fun parties, and forests to walk through. We searched and searched and finally found it.

The moment I set eyes on it, I knew it was the one. Problem was, it was in super rough shape. The good news was that it had good bones. I could work with it. It had hope. Slowly, over the years, we’ve chipped away at turning the house into a home.

I love an eclectic style of home mixed with my little favorite things and special spots. I always want our home to feel warm and inviting to everyone that is in it. Our home is happiest when it is full.

Be prepared. The kitchen and treehouse are next.

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By Gabrielle.

When Ginger first contacted me about participating in a Living With Kids tour, she mentioned her love of books. Little did I know, her interview would read like an old favorite. I found myself getting lost in her description of her boys, carried away by her comments about her home and how she ultimately fell in love with it, and the way she writes about being a mother…Oh, it’s all pretty wonderful! She told me to feel free to edit her thoughts, but I just couldn’t do it. So please, grab something to drink, find a cozy spot, and curl up with this tour! This is Ginger Johnson.

Q: Please tell us all about the family who lives here!

A: I’m Ginger. I spend my days writing books for children and young adults, and my nights masquerading as Omnimom the Enforcer, ensuring that homework and chores are done, piano and cello are practiced, lunches for the next day are prepared, showers are taken, projects are worked on (A whale on stilts costume with laser eyes? Really? A dodo bird carved out of Styrofoam? Sigh), and most importantly, ensuring that everyone knows that I love them. I occasionally check in as Pantry Girl, particularly during canning season.

A treehouse and a dining room terrarium, coming right up!

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By Gabrielle.

Be prepared. This house is cute. Filled with sweet collections, cheery fabric inspiration, kid-crafty happiness in every corner, and a soft place to land on no matter where you may fall. I’d say it’s the perfect spot for two little girls to grow up. And I sure hope you agree! Friends, I’m pleased to introduce the Damiecki family to you. You’re going to love what Kendra has to share!

Q: Please tell us who makes this colorful house a home!

A: I live in Darnestown, Maryland with my husband Scott and our daughters Layla (4) and Hadley (2). We moved into this house just after Layla turned two and Hadley was a month old, so it’s the only home they have ever known. When I began the process of decorating I wanted to make sure it was a place they would always look forward to coming home to whether it was from preschool, college, or with their own children someday. I still have that feeling when we visit my parents.

More of the darling Damiecki home after the jump!

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By Gabrielle.

There’s something sweet about a home shared by new parents and a toddler. So many wonderful changes are happening all at once, whether we’re talking about decor or personalities! A gorgeous glimpse into a young family’s hip LA home was just was I wanted to see this week. Adding to the cool Hollywood factor is Tricia‘s professional bio. (Not to forget a turquoise Mustang convertible from the 60s.) I guarantee you’ve seen her work. And you probably loved it. I hope you love the Benson home — and car! — just as much. Enjoy, Friends!

Q: Please tell us who makes this sweet house a home.

A: My husband Mike, a brilliant IT engineer, our one-and-a-half year old daughter Evie, our dog Jake, kitty Beatrix, and two goldfish to have the complete food chain. The fish are named either Jack and Sally, or Ike and Tina. I’m not sure an executive decision has been finalized on the goldfish naming process. I think we’re leaning toward Jack and Sally though. We live in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, CA.

Q: How did this home find you?

A: We originally rented this house before we purchased it. Trying to find a house rental that accepts dogs can be difficult in LA. I found the house listed in the paper and ran over to meet the landlord after work. She had another woman who wanted it but said if I got her a cashiers check right then it would go to us. I called Mike and he said to go for it sight unseen. He is one trusting man! A few years later we were able to purchase the home straight from the landlord. We didn’t have to put it on the open market, thank goodness, because I don’t think we could have afforded to counter offer someone else.

The house has the original kitchen from when it was built in 1947. When we rented it, it had an amazing original O’Keefe and Merritt vintage stove that was so charming and I was desperate to keep. Our landlady wanted an outrageous sum of cash for it that we did not have. She placed an ad for it in the paper and I sat in the living room with her and her real estate agent on a rainy Saturday while no one showed up. Instead of an open house we had an open stove! She ended up donating the stove to take the write-off for her taxes instead of accepting our lower cash offer. What can you do.

More goodness ahead! Just look at her studio!

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By Gabrielle.

As anyone who is living with kids knows, smart storage is essential. It’s the difference between a quick clean-up at the end of the day, and exasperation and a lot of sighing. It’s the difference between a frustrated ten-minute hunt for winter boots when you’re already running late for school, and spending that ten minutes in a much more relaxed way. It’s the difference between cluttered and curated. It’s an intelligent design concept, but it’s also a brilliant way to live well with kids. It’s simply smart. Julie knows this, and executes it daily and stylishly with her cubby design. What’s so cute to me about it are the collections her kids keep inside! Like their own little Pinterest boards! Enjoy the tour, Friends. (And just you try not to get all sentimental when you read what Julie will miss most about living with her kids.)

Q: Please tell us who makes this house a home.

A: There are five of us now, and we have another baby on the way this fall. Gulp. Stella is seven, Cedar is five, and Jules is three. They have plenty of fun together, run pretty wild, and spend lots of time at home. Kevin is a scientist, and active on the Rocky Mountain Rescue team. He negotiates year-round for more hunting time, and wakes up with the kids every morning. I tend the home fires, and run Bundle, a franchised cloth diaper service and baby shop.

The insides of those cubbies, up next!

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By Gabrielle. Most photos by Arlene Bax, Ruth’s talented sister!

If you’ve ever participated in a Living With Kids home tour, you know how much thought goes into one. Which photos to take, which photos to send, which words to write, and how in the world to keep the house clean until all of the above is completed! I definitely appreciate all the hard work and extra thought on top of all of the usual work and thoughts that fill up a day, and I hope you do, too.

Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about thoughtful environments – both living and working – and Ruth‘s Perth home and philosophy epitomize this idea perfectly. From concept to actual daily use, this is one thoughtful home, work space, and family. It will make you rethink your home office and the size of your dining room table! Also, you will probably want floor-to-Everest-high-ceiling bookshelves. And a ladder. You’ll see. Please enjoy the tour, Friends.

Q: Please tell us who makes this bright house a home.

A: I live here with my husband Phil and our five children. For his day job, Phil is a project manager in the oil and gas industry, and at home he is the house-builder, gardener, caretaker, washing-line maker, story-reader and splinter-remover, and the one who usually tucks most of our children (ages ten, eight, five, three, and eight months) into bed at night. In our four sons and one daughter we are blessed with children who play really well by themselves and all together. No one is ever short of a play mate at our house!

More cool home ideas for kids and adults, just after the jump!

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