From the category archives:

Home Tours

By Gabrielle.

Remember Julie? She was the lovely one who moved to the country – 30 minutes outside of Seattle – with her family, and enthusiastically embraced all that the outskirts has to offer. Like relishing any opportunity to mention that someone or something is “in the barn.” That still makes me smile! One year later, I wondered how life had settled into itself and changed. Julie was kind enough to respond, and Mother Nature sweetly sprinkled some snow to accessorize her holiday photos. Welcome back, Julie!

Q: One year later, how is country living suiting you and your family?

A: Our family is really enjoying country living! It’s been amazing to have the extra space (a little over two acres) for our boys to play and explore, the ability to have more animals, room for a garden, more outdoor entertaining area, and the general sense of privacy and freedom we have here.

Adorable advent buckets, just ahead!

{ 11 comments }

By Gabrielle.

I hereby declare Noa Weintraub Queen of the Stunning Staircase! She is ruler over two of the most startlingly stylish sets of steps I’ve seen, so I really think she deserves the crown. (There should really be a crown.)

Her home is a fun house, for sure. You would never in a million years think that the force who designed these spaces thought she didn’t want a child! This honesty, this unabashed creativity, and Noa’s great advice — one of her gems is “Life’s too short to wait for a special occasion! — all make this tour a favorite of mine. I hope it’s one of yours, too!

Welcome, Noa!

Q: Tell us all about the family who lives here.

A: Hi! I’m Noa, an artist, illustrator and ceramicist. My partner, Mark, is a photographer, and we live with our six year old daughter, Matisse. Until recently, we also lived with Mark’s son Wyatt who is 20, but we are still lucky to see him frequently — especially when good food is involved.

Sharing our house are Wyatt’s two snakes: Psycho Sy is a King Snake, and Fluffy is a Royal Python. I know, I know! It took me a while to get used to them, but they really are nicer than they sound and conveniently very low maintenance.

Mark and I met while on an advertising job, back in my more glamorous days when I used to be a fashion stylist. These days, I’m more inclined to be wearing flats and wellington boots than high heels and sequins. That’s not to say I don’t try and dress up as much as I can. I’ve always believed life’s too short to wait for a special occasion. Wear the clothes you love as often as possible, even if it means dressing up for the school run! Working as an illustrator and being a mum work well together, I’ve discovered. I have the flexibility of choosing my own hours and I make sure that I work around Matisse’s schedule. (It’s also a really good excuse to buy loads of vintage children’s books, one of my favourite things!)

Second set of stellar stairs, coming right up! Come see!

{ 13 comments }

By Gabrielle.

Most of us can look around our home and get a sense of what we love, decor wise. Maybe there is a lot of grey with peacock blue accents. Or maybe you’re a yellow kind of a family. Perhaps there are bookshelves nearly fainting with the weight of your books, and baskets hiding all of your plastic, lit up, talking toys. You could be a bring the outside in decorator, or your black thumb may discourage that design concept altogether. And maybe, if you’re anything like Andrea, you own three blue floral couches.

I love that fact about her so much, I think it should be on her calling cards.

But it’s true, isn’t it? All that surrounds you tells the rest of us a whole lot about you. It may surprise us at first – three blue floral couches?! – or it may make perfect sense once we get to know you a little better. In Andrea’s case, it makes perfect sense. In fact, I think she should own four. Please welcome the very lovely Drea, everyone!

You’ll want a floral couch in blue, I think.

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By Gabrielle.

When Susan wrote and expressed interest in participating in a Living With Kids tour, she mentioned that she lives in Tulsa, that she teaches at a University, that she has two teen girls and a son, and that she strives to make her home a place to teach her kids the importance of hospitality.

Hospitality? That goal made me think and think and think some more, and I love it more each time. It is a learned skill for a lot of families, don’t you think? Inviting others into your space and making them feel like…well…mi casa es su casa. Easier said in Spanish than done! Perhaps Susan’s words will inspire you to open up your life a little, which I think would be a very lovely development. Welcome, Susan! I’m so glad you’re here!

Q: Introduce us to your favorite people.

A: I am so blessed to get live with my wonderful husband, Brian, and my three children. I am originally from Colorado, and currently work as a faculty member at a University here in Tulsa. Although I don’t have a lot of free time, decorating and being creative with my home is a true love of mine.

Brian and I met in college and have been married for 22 years. Brian develops and manages cancer treatment facilities throughout the Southwest.  He is an amazing husband and father and very involved in the kids’ lives. He rarely misses one of their events. He keeps us laughing and sets the tone for the fun in our family.

Warning for all those in cold climates: They have a pool. Sigh.

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By Gabrielle.

I enjoyed Amanda’s candor all the way through her interview, but when I read her answer to the final question…well…I adored her. I know what it feels like to put yourself truthfully out there for all the world to see, and I also know it’s not an easy task. It’s funny, isn’t it? Sharing our truths sounds like the most genuine, most effortless thing to do. But it really is difficult.

So beyond all the pretty scenes in Amanda’s home, I really hope you enjoy the gorgeous beauty that is her honesty. Friends, please welcome Amanda!

Q: We can’t wait to meet you!

A: My name is Amanda, and I share my home with my husband, Chris; our two kids, Quinn and Bennett; our two dogs, Vinnie and Cocoa; and soon to be Strong installment number three – name to be decided!

My daughter, if we are at home, is rarely wearing clothes. She’s even earned her own hashtag among my Instagram friends of #nakedjaybird. And, even though she’d prefer to be running around in underwear, she does love to put together her outfits for leaving the house. Her unofficial motto for dressing is “more is more.” The girl LOVES an accessory…or 15. She’s also shown a creative streak in the last few months with her drawings and coloring pages, which makes me wonder if we aren’t raising another little designer in this house!

My son is obsessed with cars, trucks, planes – if it has wheels and moves, he’s into it. At all times he has at least two cars on his person and takes a whole gang of vehicles to bed. He lines them up along the ledge of his day bed and collects them every morning to bring downstairs to breakfast. He is such a loving, affectionate kid. he has been known to tell my girlfriends, “I love you” and is generous with his hugs and kisses.

Lots of beautiful blues, coming right up!

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Candice Stringham for hayneedle.com and Design Improvised.

You might remember the cute Chicago condo I featured a while back, owned by Haeley and her husband, and adored by their two little girls. She mentioned in her interview that she was moving to San Antonio, and the loveliest thing happened: a few readers reached out to lend their advice, support, and eventual friendship! If ever I needed a burst of positivity to remind me of how lucky I am to be a part of such a nurturing community, this would be it.

So it’s with a huge smile that I welcome back Haeley in her new Texas home. It’s pretty fantastic! Let’s go see.

So much inspiration! I can’t wait to show you!

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By Gabrielle. Photos by Sarah Knight Photography.

When Hillary first wrote to me about her home, she mentioned solar panels and I was hooked. Someday I want a home that’s run on solar power, but until then I’ll just have to live vicariously through people like Hillary!

Another draw was her and her husband’s very, very different design preferences. For example, this is a tee shirt available in Hillary’s shop. And this is one from her husband’s shop. I love them both. But how do these different styles merge in the home? You’ll see. Friends, please welcome the Barney family!

Q: Tell us all about your family.

A: Hello! We are a family of four, living in the Salt Lake City, UT area. I am the Creative Director for Petite Lemon, and my husband runs his online shop, Blonde Grizzly.

We have two daughters, Lily and June. Lily is our three year old. She is full of energy, very willful, and our social butterfly. She amazes me every day how smart and creative she is. June is 11 months and I can’t believe how much our hearts have grown having her in our lives. She is all smiles, very mellow, and always on the move.

We also have a little chihuahua mix named Bear Grylls. We got him as a puppy, and I love that my children have grown up with this furry friend of ours. He is a total sweetheart and a true lap dog.

More goodness, straight ahead!

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By Gabrielle.

My favorite part of this home tour is Megan‘s answer to my query “How did this house become your home?” I guarantee chills and a smile. The way life works out so often takes my breath away.

There’s some practical goodness in here, too, especially for those of you who may find yourselves on edge whenever the paints come down off the tip top shelf! Megan runs a design company that specializes in helping people set up kids’ art spaces, and she completely understands that not everyone enjoys a Jackson Pollock-esque living room at the end of a creative session. Enjoy the tour, Friends!

Q: Please introduce us to your family.

A: I live in a small cottage in Mill Valley, California with my loving husband, Aaron, our 16-year-old dog Shanti, and  our two little girls, Karuna and Ora. Karuna recently turned six, but could pass for 36 by the way she nurtures her little sister Ora, who is two. Whenever I leave them with a babysitter, Ora says, “Okay, Ra-Ra will be my mommy.” Ora is a spunky little girl, completely opposite of her sister, so they make a great duo!

Aaron and I met in college at a bar. It was the day after I returned from a solo trip through Europe and the Middle East.  According to him, I was emanating a traveller’s cheerful, free-spirited vibe. When I first saw him, he was sitting across the room, smiling at me like we had known each other forever. He had this look in his eye and huge dimples that drew me in. I have been smitten ever since.

Craft room ‘fraidy cat? You’ve gotta see Megan’s!

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Living With Kids: Alisa Burke

September 30, 2014

By Gabrielle.

Inspiration overload. You’ve been warned. If you only look at the pictures, you’ll want a wall of floor-to-ceiling blooms bursting into your life and a drawn-on dishwasher. But, oh! If you read Alisa‘s words, you’ll suddenly see everything around you in a crazy haze of beauty. (She’s an artist; she has that effect!)

Her perspective is one that I can’t wait to share, and I truly hope you’ll leave this post overwhelmed with encouragement. Friends, please help me welcome Alisa and her family!

Q: We can’t wait to meet you all! Tell us everything…

A: I live with my husband Andy and two year old daughter Lucy in a small town on the Oregon Coast. My husband and I have been married for ten years, and together we live a very creative and non-traditional life working as artists. A few years ago, we put a plan in motion to chase after the dream of simplicity. We wanted to leave our fast-paced life in Southern California, and move back to my small hometown on the Oregon Coast where we could focus on raising our daughter and running a creative business together.

My husband quit his job as a structural engineer to be a stay-at-home dad and pursue his own art career, and my business became the means for our survival. We knew that if we decided to start a family, there was no looking back! We wanted to say goodbye to the predictability of steady jobs and income, and choose the road less traveled.

More gorgeous, straight ahead!

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By Gabrielle.

Is it just me, or are we all a bit fascinated with New York? I know so many people who either reminisce fondly about their time in The Big Apple, or else dream about someday living there. And tell the truth: When you hear the first few chords of New York, New York, you can’t help but belt out all the lyrics, right?

LaTonya Staubs lives a colorful life in Brooklyn. From the red and white polka dotted rug to turquoise chairs and on to orange spotted walls, this is an explosion of creativity. And yet, it’s still a calm from the storm that is the city, just outside their front door. That’s a trick that requires constant attention to balance and intention. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from this designer, mama, and lovely blogger. Friends, please welcome LaTonya!

Q: Tell us all about your family. (Also, your babes have such unique names, so please share how you chose them!)

A: My family and I live in Brooklyn, NY in a small and loving space. We started our family at a pretty young age, by total surprise. I was 21 and Peter was 24. River was and is still the most amazing surprise!

Before I got pregnant with her, Peter and I were young people just having fun in the city. There was always a party or show to attend, and my life was pretty much the typical life for a girl just barely out of her teens working and living in the city. I wanted a peaceful pregnancy and baby, after all the hoopla. I also wanted a baby girl with a unisex name, so she wouldn’t be judged about a job etc. before others ever met her. It goes so well with her personality.

We came up with Oak after I had already lost a baby well into my second trimester. I went into my pregnancy with him incredibly nervous and private, with a lot of feelings, and not knowing exactly how to sort through them. I soon realized that the insecurity after getting pregnant after a loss like that doesn’t just go away. All I could do was share my feelings with friends, and later with blog readers. I wanted to be strong and I wanted my baby to be strong. I knew if he made it through all the endless high risk appointments and past that 24 week mark he would be strong. Oak is a representation of that strength, like an Oak tree.

River’s room and those orange spotted walls, just ahead!

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Living With Kids: Agnes Hsu

September 16, 2014

By Gabrielle.

Agnes would be a lovely friend to have, I think. She owns a cupcake shop, is a family photographer, and also runs a kids’ creative site. Life with her must be sweet, DIY divine, and photogenic. (As an extra bonus, she lives in my neck of the woods, so I call dibs!)

But with all those professional endeavors, something’s gotta give, right? If you’re struggling with your own overwhelming schedules, you might like to hear how Agnes deals with it all. From the division of duties, scheduled personal times that refuel the family’s energy levels, and effective out-sourcing, it’s good stuff. Friends, please meet Agnes! Hello, Wonderful!

Q: We can’t wait to meet you all!

A: Hi! I’m Agnes Hsu, mom to two feisty kids who keep me on my toes: Alia, five and a half, and Kian, who is three and a half. I’m married to my college sweetheart, Tim. We’ve been married for 12 years and together for 18, which seems like a lifetime but it’s all flown by so quickly!

I’m the entrepreneurial/creative spirit in the household. I run on energy and am a non-stop person. I’m an introvert by nature and don’t enjoy small talk, but can talk for hours one-on-one with someone because I love getting to know people from the inside. I’m inspired by those who take chances and have gone through trials in their lives. I am an avid reader, particularly biographies and memoirs. I’m typical type A, compulsive and frenetic. But thankfully, my husband Tim balances that out.

He’s an extrovert, super friendly, and people generally love him upon first meeting. He’s solid, laid-back, and is the most optimistic person I’ve ever met. Our interests couldn’t be more different, too. He’s very much into technology and works in marketing at Twitter, and just prior to that he was at a gaming company. He’s extremely witty, funny, and a hoarder, whereas I’m serious and a neat freak who is scared of clutter. It’s a miracle we are married!

Our kids are the center of our amusement and love. Interestingly, they are also polar opposites like my husband and I. My little girl is like a mini-me. She loves arts and crafts, creative projects, and is also super neat (actually loves to clean her room!) and enjoys baking/cooking in the kitchen as much as I do. She’s also on the shy side and it takes her a while to warm up to people, but once she does she can’t keep quiet around them.

Pretty scenes and worthwhile words, just ahead!

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By Gabrielle.

I have a soft spot for this home. Any home, actually, that provides a safe and sweet haven for someone who needs it most, which is exactly what the Anderton home does on the daily.

It’s been the spot for homeschooling and studying, wrestling and relaxing, dreams great and small – even Cher’s youthful goal that someday she would allow her kids to write on their walls! But maybe most significantly, it’s been the landing pad for their recently adopted son, making room for one more with just a few tiny shifts.

If you’ve ever thought about foster care adoption, this is the read for you. Maybe your home has room for one more? While you consider that, please welcome Cher!

Q: Tell us all about your family.

A: Jon and I started our family 16 years ago when we married, then became parents 14 years ago with the arrival of Ella, and added Will 12 years ago before adding Noah eight years ago. Jonny joined our family two years ago and is ten years old. We are in a short period of even numbers!

Jon works market hours as a bond trader with a small start-up on Mercer Island. My job history has been a little eclectic with short stints as an interior designer and property manager, among other jobs. I homeschooled our kids for five years before making the switch to public schooling last year so I could pursue a remote Masters in Social Work at Boston University. The process of adopting our son from foster care helped me recognize the huge need for therapists who specialize in trauma and adoption, so that is where I really want to focus my career.

More goodness, straight ahead!

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Living With Kids: Amy Doak

September 2, 2014

By Gabrielle.

Amy seems like the type of friend who will always tell you like it is. The unedited truth, if you will. Those of us who have a treasured friend or two like that know how valuable a trait this is! So I can assure you that if you’re thinking of starting an online endeavor or company of your own, Amy has some solid advice for you. And if you’re ever worried about your child not displaying traditional boy/girl qualities, worry no more. Truly.

A number of lovely reminders, just ahead. Please enjoy Amy, Friends!

Q: Tell us all about your family.

A: There are six of us in total. I’m Amy, and I still don’t feel like a grown up or a parent despite how it all looks on the outside. There’s my husband Rod, an incredibly talented carpenter and an absolute perfectionist and details man compared to the big picture gal that is me.

Rounding out our family is our eldest son Oscar, almost five, who is sweet, and kind, and loves beautiful things and making things beautiful), and my younger son Sebastian, freshly two, who is funny and charming and and crazy and has a greater sense of self than any person I’ve met in my life.

And then my fur-children: a black cat with green eyes called Halle who goes missing in cupboards for most of the day, but when the house is quiet late at night and I have a good book and a moment on the couch, she always appears to sit in my lap, and a mad golden cocker spaniel called Keira. We were told that cockers are fairly crazy for about four years and their puppy stage lasts longer than most breeds, but Keira is 11 this year and still acts and looks like a puppy! So we wait for her to one day calm down.

More sweet spaces, straight ahead!

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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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