Don’t you ever just want to get away from it all? Get away from the busy streets, and noisy neighbors and go find your own sanctuary on 17 acres in some of the most beautiful country you’ve ever seen? Then you are going to love this farmhouse home tour. This home is as full of light and colorful and welcoming on the inside as the views are breathtaking on the outside. There is charm and personality in every corner or this place, and when you finish reading, you’ll want to rush out and get wallpaper for your fridge. I’m serious!

Come say hello to Julia Ditto and her family of eight (plus a puppy!).

Hi there! We’re the Ditto family — I’m Julia, Ringmaster Extraordinaire and lover of sweets (we’re talking epic proportions here), decorating, writing, reading, watching movies, and hanging out with my family. I stay home and run the big show. My husband, Logan, is a dentist, which I know sounds super boring, but he is anything but. He does lots of stuff to toughen up his “soft dental hands,” like fixing our cars, playing basketball anytime he can, water-skiing at 6 in the morning when the weather is warm, and hiking, climbing, snowboarding, etc. etc. insert any exciting activity you can think of and he will have done it or will have mastered it within 15 minutes of first trying. So that’s him — the fun parent, obviously.

Lucy is our oldest, a newly minted teenager who thankfully has yet to learn that she is supposed to be filled with angst. She is pleasant and easy going and really really likes hairstyle tutorials on YouTube. George is 12 and Captain Responsibility. He takes his commitments very seriously and watches over his siblings with a gentle care that I admire. He is also quick witted and can throw down a punchline with serious panache. Jane is 10, and could probably run our entire household by herself if Logan and I somehow became incapacitated for weeks on end. She loves lists and making plans, but she also has an incredibly creative imagination.

Henry, 7, is our sweet little cuddler who gives seriously awesome kisses and hugs. But when he is hyped up, he is like a human pinball machine. The boy has some major energy and loves basketball, riding bikes, and jumping off of anything in general. Emmett is 5, and as such, says some pretty hilarious stuff. Couple that with his adorable lisp and penchant for grumpy-old-man sarcasm, and you’ve got material for days.

Hyrum is 2 years old, and, as our little caboose, is adored by every single one of us. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I don’t remember my other kids getting into things as much as Hyrum does. Seriously, if you leave the kid alone for more than 3 minutes you will be in a world of hurt (and probably toilet water). Maggie is our puppy that we bought in a moment of insanity on Christmas Eve in 2015. Maybe not our most rational decision ever, but we certainly do love her!

Logan and I were introduced about 17 years ago by a mutual friend. Logan happened to be talking to him outside his house as I was jogging by, and our friend stopped me and introduced us. It was a meet-cute minus the cute; I was sweaty, wearing baggy pants and some dumb t-shirt and for sure not looking my best. My scintillating personality must have won Logan over though, because it only took him A WHOLE YEAR to ask me on a date. I knew he was something special that first night we went out, when we parked in a city lot and Logan kindly shot the breeze with the elderly parking attendant for a few minutes before we headed on our way. We’ve been married 15+ years and he does not disappoint. I think he’s the funniest, hard-working-est, most capable man in the world (capable in all ways except noticing full trash cans and hearing children in the middle of the night).

We live in Greenacres, Washington, which is about 20 minutes east of Spokane and about 10 minutes west of the Idaho border. I grew up in Spokane and I truly, madly, deeply never envisioned myself settling down here. Logan’s family moved to Spokane shortly before we met, so we both have lots of family in the area. When Logan was finishing up dental school, we were trying to decide where to move. Spokane had everything we wanted, so even though it had never been my plan to move back here, we decided to do it anyway. And we love it! Spokane (and Greenacres, we have found) is such a fantastic place to raise a family. People are down to earth, friendly, and willing to help each other. There are mountains for hiking and skiing, and lakes all over the place. Spokane’s downtown has been undergoing a major revitalization for the past decade or so, and is getting to be quite the trendy place to be. We have an Urban Outfitters for heaven’s sake! My mind is blown.

We live in Greenacres, Washington, which is about 20 minutes east of Spokane and about 10 minutes west of the Idaho border. I grew up in Spokane and I truly, madly, deeply never envisioned myself settling down here. Logan’s family moved to Spokane shortly before we met, so we both have lots of family in the area. When Logan was finishing up dental school, we were trying to decide where to move. Spokane had everything we wanted, so even though it had never been my plan to move back here, we decided to do it anyway. And we love it! Spokane (and Greenacres, we have found) is such a fantastic place to raise a family. People are down to earth, friendly, and willing to help each other. There are mountains for hiking and skiing, and lakes all over the place. Spokane’s downtown has been undergoing a major revitalization for the past decade or so, and is getting to be quite the trendy place to be. We have an Urban Outfitters for heaven’s sake! My mind is blown.

Our home sits on 17 acres situated across from a working cattle ranch (it’s only stinky every now and then — on those days we say it “smells cow-y” and try to relish the authentic country experience). To our right is vast property owned by a rancher we have yet to see or meet, and to our left lives the sweetest widower you could ever know. He raised his kids in that house and tells us time and again what a treat it is for him to hear the sound of children’s voices coming down from our yard, or to see our kids walking to the bus stop. I’m glad he’s so kind to our children, because they are everywhere and they are loud!

It sounds like we are a lot more remote than we are. Just a 3 minute drive down the road are several housing developments where lots of our kids’ friends live, and it takes less than 10 minutes to get to the freeway. We love that it feels “out in the country” without actually BEING way out in the country. We hope to get cows, goats, pigs, and chickens someday, and I dream of opening a pie shop and selling $1 slices from a cute little country stand in our front yard. That just sounds like heaven to me!

When we first moved into our house last July, it was hot; our yard was 99% rocks (a by-product of digging out the basement); and our kids had no friends yet in the area. So getting them to play outside anywhere beyond our front porch was a tough sell. “Go explore!” I’d say, watching them all mope around. “The grass in the field is too tall; it’s too hot; there’s no shade; there’s too many bugs; it’s too boring.” Logan and I were exasperated. We moved out here so they could have room to roam, and there was no roaming going on, so why did we go to all this effort????

It got to the point where I printed up some “Adventure Bucks” that they could earn for every activity they did beyond our porch and driveway. I know it sounds lame that we had to bribe them like that, but they were seriously out of their element and very homesick for their friends and old neighborhood, so we had to do SOMETHING. That got them exploring a little bit, and it has just gotten better and better since then. Friends have been made, an ultimate frisbee course has been plotted, and the sledding this winter off our back hill was epic. I can say that this officially now feels like home.

A few years ago, we were living in a cute Craftsman bungalow in the happiest little neighborhood you can imagine: kids all over the place, an ice cream shop and three parks each a 5 minute walk away, neighbors who felt like family — we’re talking Norman Rockwell here. We absolutely adored it. But our house was T-O-O S-M-A-L-L for all our kids and all our stuff, and our yard, though awesome because of a play fort, rope bridge and zip line that Logan built (I know!!!!) was ridiculously tiny. We wanted somewhere for our kids to spread out and run around and explore, so we knew we’d need to move eventually.

Even though we didn’t really feel ready to make the move, I was pregnant with Hyrum and we knew we couldn’t squeeze into our little house much longer, so Logan and I started half-heartedly looking around at houses. One of the first houses we looked at was nice, but we knew it wasn’t for us. We happened to mention to the realtor that we’d toyed with the idea of building, but had no idea how to go about finding land. “Well, the owners of the home we’re standing in right now have 12 acres just down the road that they’re getting ready to sell. Do you want to see it?” We drove 30 seconds down the road and up a little hill onto a beautiful piece of land with a view of the valley all around.

The property already had a utility shop and pole barn on site, along with a well and septic system. Everything was perfect…except for the price—waaaaay too high. Over the next several months, we tried to forget about it, but it was always there in the back of our minds. We would bring family to see it when they came to town, saying, “Wouldn’t this be amazing? But because of A, B and C, it could never work.” And then, when I was 37 weeks pregnant with Hyrum, our realtor called to let us know that the price for the property had dropped, and they were adding in 5 acres (for a total of 17), and hey, even though it was right before Christmas and we were about to have a baby, would we like to buy it???

We thought and prayed and discussed till (literally) the cows came home, and a quote I’d heard at a recent church meeting really resonated with me: “Just because things are going well does not mean that we should not from time to time consider whether there might be something better.” We decided that building a house on this beautiful land just might be our “something better,” and we jumped.

We interviewed a few builders and finally found one that not only came highly recommended but also seemed to really get us and the look we were going for. There was never a doubt in my mind that this piece of land called for a white, gothic farmhouse. There’s an old Grange Hall down the road that I just adore, and I think I was channelling that look the whole time we were designing the house. Along with our builder, Logan and I (and Pinterest and Houzz!) designed the whole thing.

Lots of people warned us about building a house, that it’s a grueling experience for a relationship. But Logan and I loved it! Logan had so many good ideas for the nuts and bolts and layout of the house, and I know what I like design-wise, so we had a great time. There were many Friday nights when we had a family movie party and I sat on the couch searching Pinterest on my iPad while everyone else watched Kung Fu Panda or something. It was awesome.

Since moving into our house, we have heard from several people how lucky we were to find this property. We had no idea at the time, but acreage in this area that has not already been bought up by a housing developer is very hard to come by. We feel so blessed that we were apparently in the right place at the right time to discover this property.

I never thought I’d have a big family. I have two brothers and I always thought that three kids was the perfect number, because we had such a phenomenal time with each other growing up. Logan comes from a family of seven kids, and man, do they make having a big family look fun! Once our own kids started coming, we just loved it and loved the relationships they were making with each other. So why stop? Our kids are all about 2 to 2.5 years apart (give or take) and it has not been a walk down Easy Street, I’ll tell you that. I realized recently that I have had a toddler/baby combo for the past 12 years—and that is a GRUELING combo! But for us, the joys outweigh the challenges.

I love having someone to love. I love nurturing and seeing each child’s personality blossom. Each one has been an adventure and a challenge, but they are most of all each a blessing. It’s probably obvious at this point that I am typing this during Hyrum’s quiet, relaxing nap time, because if it was anytime between the hours of 4 and 8 pm (the hours of homework, chores, sports, activities, dinner, bedtime, underlying chaos) I would most likely be singing a less benevolent tune. But right now, parenthood is the best! Lots of kids! Yay!!!!

Having a big family means that there is often a copious amount of chaos. Sometimes when we’re trying to gather everybody together or get out the door on time, it feels like we’re herding cats and I’ll look at Logan and say, “I think we have too many kids.” But then there’s the times when they’re all playing outside, building a Lego kingdom out in the lone dirt patch among the rocks that we have out back (still no landscaping!), and I watch them interact and it makes me so happy. I love it when I see my kids helping each other, or seeking each other out to play or have a conversation.

In our old house, we loved having neighbors and friends nearby. We all relied on each other to watch kids in a pinch, or provide an egg for a recipe, or to plow a driveway in a snowstorm. That has been difficult for me to get used to, that we’re kind of on our own out here. If your power goes out, oh well…the city doesn’t really care that much because you’re likely the only one with no power. If your well dries up, good luck — maybe spend $30,000 and dig a new one? Granted, civilization is only minutes away, but getting in the car and driving down our winding road is a lot different than running across my driveway to knock on my neighbor’s back door.

This winter was a brutal one, and it took a while to get used to the fact that if we were going to get our car down our driveway, there was no other way to do it than for Logan to get on about three heavy coats, fire up the 1960s tractor that we bought with the property, and plow the snow himself—and possibly plow part of the street too, because we’re not exactly a high priority for the city out here. I remember one night in particular, it had snowed off and on all day, and the wind had been fierce, so there were snowdrifts all across our driveway. Logan was supposed to get home after dark, and I knew his little car would never make it up the driveway with the snowdrifts the way they were.

So I put on my big girl underpants and headed out into the 8 degree night, shoveling the snow down to a level that would allow his car to get through. I thought, “This is not how I usually roll. But since I chose to live in the country, I guess I have to do what it takes to actually live in the country.” It’s been a slow shift in my mind, but I’m coming around to the idea that occasional inconveniences and hard work are a small price to pay for the joy I get when I look out my windows each morning and see the valley sprawled out before me in every direction.

I have a bit of a color addiction, and it covers every color under the sun, except purple, weirdly. I don’t think people should be concerned so much with “does this and that match,” but more with their initial reaction to something when they see it in the store or at the garage sale or whatever. Are you immediately drawn to it? Does the color make you happy? If so — and if you actually need the item, whatever it is — then I think you’re safe to buy it and know that there will be a place for it in your home.

As I look around my house, it is abundantly clear that I am drawn to yellow, coral, navy blue, and aqua. And so, without even planning on it, the random tea towel that I bought off etsy and the baby-weighing scale from the 1930s mesh with the pillow I bought a few months ago from Target and the “For Like Ever” print above the fireplace. I bought every single one of those things because there was something about them that I loved (color, kitschy-ness, whatever), and so they naturally found a place in my home and look somewhat cohesive together. Aaaaand possibly like a thrift store if you ask Logan, but no one is asking him, so let’s move on!

I don’t change things up very often in my decor. I’m not one to switch out couch pillows with each new season or constantly change the art on the walls. Many of the tchotchkes that I have on display have been with me since my childhood; I love decorating with pieces that have a story. We worry so much about if something is on trend, but really, it’s YOUR house, so who cares? If you love it, do it! If it speaks to you, do it!

One of my favorite spots in our house is the hallway leading to our master bedroom, which I’ve covered with items collected from dear family members over the years: my great-grandmother’s hair crimpers from the 1920s; pictures of my dad when he was in high school; a type-written letter from my great-grandparents (married 76 years!) with advice for a happy marriage; an adorably scrawled note from 7-year-old George (“Mom I love you no madr wut”). It is certainly random and unconventional, but it brings me joy every time I walk by because those things speak to me and remind me of where and who I come from and what matters most.

I always thought I was born in the wrong era, and that I should have grown up in the 1930s or ‘40s, because I LOVE things from that time —c lothing, decor, lifestyle. I’m sure my grandparents who lived through the Great Depression and World War II didn’t think it was that fantastic at the time, but from my perspective, that simpler life seems wonderful. A lot of things in my home have been passed down to me or found second-hand. The quilt that lays at the foot of my bed was made by my Great-Great Grandmother in the 1930s. It was pretty dingy and gross until I washed it using this method and now it’s bright and fluffy and smells nice.

Another one of my favorites is the yellow stadium chairs that sit in our entryway. I just about drove off the road when I spotted them at a garage sale near our old house, and I made a deal with the owner on the spot (after semi-safely parking my car). At the time, they were red and had gum stuck under the seats. Logan (aka Captain Perfection) said there was no way he was living with that in his house, so he painstakingly took it all apart, scraped all the gunk off, and we repainted them bright yellow. I love them, and they are actually pretty comfortable — I guess they had to be, as they used to be in Spokane’s old hockey arena!

I hope my kids remember how it felt at the end of the day when it was dark outside and we were all cozily gathered inside together. I hope they remember that this home—and this family—is always a safe place to land; that they can always come here and take off their armor and we will love them just as they are. I hope they remember the awe and gratitude we felt as we watched absolutely unreal sunsets from our back porch and couldn’t help but utter, “I can’t believe we live here.” I hope they’ll remember that we laughed a lot and tried really hard to keep things in perspective — that this life is so much bigger than any one of us, and each person is infinitely important and worthy of goodness and tender care. And I hope they’ll remember that they can do hard things — that they are so capable and more than what others (or themselves) might tell them.

I hope they’ll forget that sometimes I couldn’t stand one more minute of noise and chaos and lost my temper in a major way. I hope they’ll forget that I often sang the Hallelujah Chorus as I walked down the stairs after finally getting them all in bed, and that it took their parents a full 10 months to get up the gumption to pull down a frisbee that had landed on the highest windowsill in the living room. I hope they forget that my first reaction was often an over-reaction, like the times that I freaked out about some minor damage one of them caused to our new house and made them feel like I cared more about the carpet/screen/siding/wood floor/whatever than I did about them. I hope they forget all the times we weren’t what we should have been for them, in whatever form that took.

We took a parenting class once and the teacher was a mother and grandmother with a refreshingly chill take on parenthood. She gave the advice that when you go on a family trip, even if it was the lamest trip ever and nothing went as planned, to just remark over and over again in front of your kids how awesome of a trip it was, how fun it was, how you’ll remember such and such event forever. If you say it enough times, the bad stuff will fade away and they’ll be left with, “Wow, remember that awesome trip we had?” I guess that applies to being a parent as well. I hope as we reminisce about the good stuff, the less than ideal stuff will fade to the back of their memories a bit, and in the end, they’ll be left with, “Wow, remember the amazing childhood we had?”

One of my favorite things about being a parent is the perspective that it brings. Kids don’t know how to be fake. They are genuine — the real deal. It’s very humbling to be put in charge of beings like that, because they see you for YOU, and they strip away notions that you might have about yourself. I used to be a bit of a guilt-ridden mess before I had kids, wondering if I was enough of this or too much of that. But once my kids came into the picture, I didn’t have the drive to obsess about it anymore, worrying about my own overwrought issues — because I saw that life was so much bigger than ME. These little beings relied on me for EVERYTHING, and my connection with them was cosmic — beyond any connection I’d ever experienced. Being a mother has made me realize that I am way more capable than I had ever given myself credit for. This is not to say that I don’t deal with issues and fears of inadequacy and all that fun stuff. But it doesn’t paralyze me like it used to. My world has been expanded by my children.

Philosophical stuff aside, I love the hilarity and joy that my kids bring to just about any situation. Every day could be cause for celebration if we let it (Thursday? That’s Friday Eve! Party time!). And the stuff they say is just off the charts. We still quote something George said when he was way little, when we were driving home from church and someone asked what we were having for dinner. George piped up: “Chicken nuggets and — let’s face it — top ramen.” The next day, I made a “Let’s Face It” sign and have had it on display ever since, because in this messy life, sometimes you gotta just face it.

I can hardly stand to think about the things I will miss about living with my kids. We’re in such a charmed stage right now — we haven’t hit major teenage struggles yet, and our kids still enjoy being at home and being with each other. It seems like time is flying by, especially when I think about Lucy leaving for college in 5 years! That’s crazy!

I think I will miss the constant ebb and flow that each of their personalities bring to our family dynamic, even when it makes things crazy: George pounding out songs on the piano; Jane fluttering around making up stories and plans; Henry and Emmett huddling around Pokemon cards; Lucy curled up on the couch reading a book; Hyrum babbling to himself while driving cars around the floor. It’s hard to imagine that all of that will someday be gone and it will just be Logan and me puttering around a quiet house. Ack, I can’t even think about it!

I wish someone had told me that you don’t have to get it juuuuust right for everything to turn out okay. In my mind, it often seems like things need to go a certain way for the correct outcome to be realized. I’m slowly learning that it doesn’t always have to be A + B = C, but it can be a combination of detours and straight lines and starts and stops to get you to where you need to be.

For example, I might think that to achieve family togetherness on a Saturday afternoon, the equation needs to go something like this: Hike + Healthy Snack on the Trail + Singing Like the Von Trapps + Jovial Conversation = Quality Family Time. And then I’ll get super stressed out and bummed when it goes something like: Hike + Rainstorm + Snacks Got Wet Because the Kid Who Was Handing Them Out to Everyone Dropped Them on the Trail — Singing Like the Von Trapps + Fighting the Whole Way Back to the Car About Who Has to Sit in the Back Seat + a Trip to the Donut Store to Make Everyone Forget They’re Soaking Wet. But guess what? That roundabout equation, though totally different from the one I had in my mind, still resulted in quality family time. The stories we’ll tell about it might be a little different than what I was expecting, and the less than ideal parts might need a little smoothing over with some humor, but a family memory was made — mission accomplished.

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Thank you, Julia! This home is so full of charm and personality. I’m dying over the bluebird wallpaper in the bathroom. So many wonderful gallery walls too full of fantastic art. It really feels gathered and collected and you can see Julia’s amazing personality in the pieces she displays. And can you imagine waking up every morning and seeing that sunrise? I think I’m ready to get away from it all and go live in the country.

And I keep going back and rereading the parenting advice Julie and her husband got: just pretend everything is amazing and talk about the great things and that is what your kids will remember! It’s genius!! And I love the idea of “Adventure Bucks” to get the kids to venture out and explore and try new things. Maybe I need to give myself some adventure bucks…

So what do you think? Could you go and live on 17 acres where you rarely see your neighbor and your on your own when the snow plows don’t quite make it to you? Or do you need to know that you can borrow a couple eggs on Sunday morning from someone just a few steps away? Would your kids embrace the idea of exploring and roaming free? Would you want them too?

SOURCES

Coffee table with DIY Pinwheel Art

Removable wallpaper on the fridge.

White + wood 2-drawer table in the entry

 


Credits: Edited by Josh Bingham. Follow him on InstagramWould you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! Reach out at features@designmom.com.