Today, you get to meet Kelly Houseman, and see her gorgeously remodeled home. It’s a grand old lakeside home in Michigan! Kelly works as a therapist and has some refreshing things to say about social media and comparing ourselves to the lives we see online. We all know we shouldn’t do it, but sometimes it feels hard not to, you know?
Happily, Kelly is here to remind us that nobody is perfect, and as a therapist, she’s often the one that hears about the struggles someone who seems perfect is going through. I think you’ll love getting to spend some time with her. Welcome, Kelly!
We are a family of four, including my husband, our 4-year-old son, 1-year-old daughter, and myself. We also have an 11-year-old mini schnauzer who used to be our baby and number one girl up until about 4 years ago (poor thing). My husband is a neurosurgeon so that means he is almost always stress free and home all the time hah! I have my own private mental health counseling practice that I do part time, where I primarily work with college students, young women and lots of new moms.
We live in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. It is a waterfront city that boarders Detroit and has all the same charm that Nantucket or the Hamptons can offer. We fell in love with the small town feel, the lush tree-lined streets and how family friendly it is. The gorgeous never-ending view of Lake St. Clair out the front door is ultimately what sold us though! Grosse Pointe is lovely because there is enough space to spread out — which was important to us after living in NYC for 5 years.
There is minimal traffic even at peak rush hour, and we can get to downtown Detroit in 15 minutes. There are two quaint downtown areas that we frequent for restaurants, shopping and coffee dates. The only negative we would say is there isn’t a movie theatre, Target or large shopping mall close by, so we often find ourselves hopping in the car and driving the 30 minutes or so to get there when we need to. The median home value is $405,800, but there are certainly lovely homes for less, and huge lakefront mansions too, that are well into the 7-figure range if that’s more your style.
Neither my husband or I grew up really anywhere near water (unless you include me living in front of a large city drainage ditch we used to sled down in the winter), but we thought it would be amazing to live somewhere we could wake up daily and just be in awe of nature and see water every day.
Although no, I don’t ever see us getting a boat — which is a question we are asked often — I get seasick so easy. I swear I blame having children for my bad motion sickness!
We started our search with our realtor and never really had Grosse Pointe on our radar. It was pretty east of where we were currently living and we didn’t know much about it. We saw the house online and thought, hey, what do we have to lose, so we looked at it I think four times before deciding this was it. We put in an offer and funnily enough, it got accepted on the day we found out we were pregnant with our daughter, so we got confirmation that it was truly meant to be ours.
We did a pretty big remodel when we moved in. This house had several dining and sitting rooms, which weren’t going to be practical for a family with young children. We decided to turn a sitting room upstairs into an additional bedroom, and add a bathroom and a laundry room on the top floor. (I never knew how excited I would be to do laundry after lugging it upstairs from the basement for a year). The construction deadline was May, which was when I was due (about 6 months later), and they made it happen.
Most everything else was surface stuff — changing fixtures, painting the entire interior, furnishing and decorating. As much as we wish we were Chip and Joanna, we hired everything out and had a fantastic designer — Dana Mowat of Valia Design. Our house would not be what it is today without her guidance. We trusted her with everything from paint colors to picking out kitchen tables and each decision in between. We worked together to create our vision and I can honestly say we wouldn’t change anything.
We love contemporary design and funky, California style homes. It’s funny, because the city we moved to is extremely traditional for the most part, as was the home when we moved in. I am so curious what the previous owners would think if they saw what we have transformed it into.
We knew we wanted more transitional contemporary look and tried not to venture into the kind of 1980’s/1990’s looks that would feel dated. We were hoping for something that would look classy in any year.
We always joke that this house would be hard to sell now, because either people would love it or hate what we did — including taking a huge first floor office/study and turning it into a circus colored children’s playroom complete with chalk and dry erase boards up the walls!
But we knew we would be in this house probably until our kids graduated, and after years of renting apartments and not being able to paint or do fun changes, we threw caution to the wind. It was finally our time to do what we wanted and not really worry about a landlord not approving; it was so refreshing to finally have that freedom.
As I mentioned, I work in mental health. It’s important that people don’t feel scared to talk about it. Smashing stigma over therapy, and just talking to someone about how you’re feeling, is so needed, especially now. We are living in a society that places such value on how things look, perfection, and material objects. We need to remember that taking care of ourselves must come before that.
Perfection is a lie. I always say stop wanting to live someone else’s life because I can promise you all those perfect social media personalities have their own issues too ( I have heard them talk about them!). Spoiler alert: their lives aren’t actually perfect.
Every day I hear about people not feeling like they can measure up to a certain mom, daughter, or wife. But you know what? It’s not about that. It’s about finding your passion, asking what is your purpose on this earth, and what do you need to do to make that happen.
I am a huge believer in the power of talk therapy and that’s why I went into the field. I am so honored that my clients trust me to listen to their traumas of the past, their insecurities, and their phobias. And it helps too. Where else in today’s busy society do you get an hour for someone to sit and listen, and spend that time solely on you, without offering their biased opinion or telling you what to do? It sounds cheesy, but magical things happen in my office and I am so blessed I get to help facilitate that change for so many.
I didn’t start my practice until my son was 9 months old. I knew I wanted flexibility with scheduling so I could spend as much time at home with him as possible. For me, I always knew I wanted to be home with the kids. It was important to me. Having my own company made that possible. I only see clients in the office 1-2 days a week and do many sessions virtually, right in my own home office. It is the best of both worlds. I get to be home with my children and still use my degree and skills to help people on my own terms too. I love it.
We hope our kids always remember the funny moments — even when the dog poops on the floor and dad stepped in it. We love laughing and joking around, so there is no better sound in the world to me. We hope they forget when mom and dad have a short temper or yell.
Let’s face it, parenting is hard and daunting and not always fun. We get stressed and take it out on the kids. That’s when I know I need to work on myself and my stress/anxiety. It’s important to take care of our own mental health so it doesn’t spill over onto our kids — whether it’s stress from a long day, or processing ways your parents talked to you in the past so you don’t repeat negative behavioral cycles.
As little as I have slept since they were born, I would say that watching them grow has been the coolest thing I have ever seen. Watching their tiny personalities emerge, identifying what parts might have come from you, and what parts are your husband, and see the future happen before your eyes with hope, wonder and awe for what is to come.
Both of our kids are ridiculously tall so we miss that tiny newborn stage when they actually wanted you to cuddle them and would happily fall asleep grunting and making baby noises on your chest.
I wish someone had told me (and I had listened!) to stop taking pictures and take in the moment instead. How many times have you thought, oh I cant wait to post this on social media, and you’re not even focusing on the moment or the scenery, you’re just thinking about how other people are going to like it.
Stop it! Put the phone down. Take a picture with your mind. Be present. It’s like when I’m at a concert and everyone is taking a video. How about listening to the music instead?
Of course, I am a work in progress and the amount of time I’m on my screen is abysmal, so I need to really start taking my own advice. But yeah, I would say just listen to the music.
Thank you, Kelly! What a beautiful home. I love a home that has a point of view and where the owner’s aren’t afraid to make some bold choices. The bright colors on the walls in the playroom, the dark and moody dining room, the crazy red fuzzy chair on the landing — it’s so much fun and really shows Kelly and her husband’s personalities.
I loved the things that Kelly said too about mental health. As someone who suffers from depression, I am so grateful that it is becoming less and less stigmatized, and that people are more open to talk about what they are dealing with. I hope we never go back to the day when mental health issues were talked about in hushed whispers and swept under the rug. We all have our challenges, big or small, and we all can benefit from having someone to talk to about them. The work that Kelly does is so important and I’m glad she was able to share some advice today.
Do you have a heard time comparing yourself to people online? Or are you able to shut it out and remind yourself that everything we see online is a curated glance? How do you talk to your kids about these things?
Star Wars wall art
Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org