Living With Kids: Barbara Rucci

Barbara Rucci’s house is full of lovely clutter. I look over the scenes she’s shared with us, and I can’t help but think that all her keepsakes on display are nowhere near a haphazard situation, and way more of an ever-changing collection of memories made…as well as those still in the making. Yes, Barbara does clutter right!

Also, if any of you are in the throes of comparing your parenting styles or values or incomes to those families around you, please read on. It seems that living in an affluent community brings with it a wonderful yet problematic set of challenges — maybe you’ve experienced the same dilemmas that Barbara worries over while printing out gratitude quotes from Pinterest! (Barbara, I giggled at the realization of how Pinterest can save us at our most frantic parenting moments!)

All this to tell you that you’re going to love more than the gorgeous photos this week; there’s a lot of wisdom and knowledge well-earned over time in this one. Please enjoy it.

Hello! We are a family of five. My husband and I have two daughters who are 15 and 12, and an eight-year old son. My kids are very fun, but really loud. My son plays hockey in a room that was originally the formal dining room. Now we call it the hockey room. It has hardwood floors and is in the center of the house. He commentates every move and shot on goal. His imaginary hockey games are literally the soundtrack to our lives.

The girls love to sing and act, so they usually have something loud going on upstairs. When they were little, they would put on nightly shows. I have hours of video footage that we actually dig up and watch from time to time. It is amazing to see that their passions when they were really young are the same as they are now.

My kids are in three different schools with three different start times this year. It’s quite a long morning. My oldest is in high school, which is hard to believe. I feel like she was just standing on a stool in the kitchen singing Annie in her footie pajamas. It’s actually pretty cool because my husband and I both went to the same public high school she’s in now. No, we weren’t high school sweethearts. Now that would be a great story!

We sold our beloved first home in 2014. Picture a renovated cape, sort of beachy-modern, on a cul-de-sac teeming with little kids. We lived there for 13 years and had all three kids there. When we sold it, my kids were pretty devastated. Our reasons for selling were varied, but part of it was looking ahead to the future and saving for college. It was also just time for a change.

Since we sold our house quickly, we didn’t have time to find a new purchase. We decided to rent. We heard about this one house that our friends had rented before. It was an old colonial owned by the Historical Society. In fact, it was on the Historical Society property.

We loved the location, about 200 yards from the center of town, but the house was very run down. It was falling apart, mostly because it hadn’t been taken care of from years of turnover. There were broken floorboards, cracked fixtures and plumbing, crumbling plaster walls, and worst of all almost no light switches or lights. We kept walking through the house, over and over again. I could picture us there, but nobody else could. My oldest said “No way.” We had some work to do, but it wasn’t our house so it was hard to justify spending the money.

Then my husband, who is a real estate attorney in town and my hero, talked to the owners and worked out a deal. Whatever money we put into the house, they would take off of our rent over the first year. Can you believe how nice this was? I went to work finding the cheapest ways to fix my problems. We painted floors instead of sanding, we painted walls but not molding, we bought bath fixtures from Home Depot and an electric oven on sale from Best Buy. I was in problem-solving mode, which is one of my best modes.

The challenge was rewiring for the light fixtures and switches. My electrician was not too happy to have to deal with plaster walls. But he did it, and we moved in and I set out to make it as homey and cozy as possible so my kids would be happy. I believe the key ingredient into making a house a home is creating a space that feels loved. I put up all of their artwork, made sure their beds were made with their soft, old sheets, and cooked the food they loved most so the house would smell like theirs again.

Our town is beautiful. I would say that it is the ultimate dreamy New England suburb with all the charm of a picture postcard. We are in the heart of Fairfield County, in a community that is about 40 miles north of New York City. It’s a commuter town that started out in the 1800s as a village of shoemakers. In the 1940s, the “Harvard Five” began creating homes here in a style nobody had ever seen before. So nestled amongst the old colonials and new McMansions are a group of historic modern houses. The most famous being Philip Johnson’s glass house. I love this about our town – that it has such a deep history of makers.

We live here because our parents raised us here and we wanted our kids to grow us with their grandparents close by. They come to all of the recitals, plays, games, and birthdays, giving the gift of extra unconditional love and attention. We also love being close to New York City where we can go to the MoMa or see the penguins at the Central Park Zoo on a whim. Our public school system is exceptional, so it’s nice to take advantage of a top-notch free education. It’s a real community with struggles and triumphs like any other. Our roots here run deep, just like the trees.

But it can be challenging at times, raising our children in such a wealthy town. There is an intensity and competitiveness that permeates the schools and social scenes. The drive for over-achievement sometimes makes me feel like my good-enough parenting style is way out of place. My kids have asked me more times than I can admit if we are poor. We are not, I tell them, and then I go on Pinterest and print out lots of quotes about being grateful and tape them to the walls. Some parents in affluent communities value success more than kindness and decency.

So the task lies in raising our kids to be okay with failure and imperfection, and to encourage them to explore who they are and to nurture their talents rather than be fixated on money and popularity. I think we’re doing a pretty good job so far because our kids are kind of great.

I would describe my aesthetic as artsy. I have something homemade in every room. Whether it’s garland or paintings or notes that my kids have written, I hang up anything that I love. People who come over to my house always comment on all of the interesting stuff to look at. Sometimes I think maybe that is a nice way of saying that my house resembles a tag sale, and I do get into modes where I need to just throw out because it’s too much even for me. I consider myself a collector, but it can border on cluttered. The key to keeping my home looking fun and artistic is cleaning and organizing.

I have boxes for each of my kids. Big boxes for their artwork, and smaller boxes for their schoolwork. I have a cleaning lady who comes every two weeks which forces me to spend three hours before she comes throwing out and organizing. I moan about it every time, but then at the end of that day of cleansing I have rotated art, found lost items, filed away all of the papers on the floor of my office, and I’m ready to start collecting again for two more weeks! It feels good.

I teach my kids to do the same. They purge often, and are in charge of their own rooms. They decorate them, clean them, and make their beds. I’m starting to teach them to do their own laundry, which will be a game changer for me!

I sometimes envy other homes that are so pristine and uncluttered. Such discipline! I do dream about a fresh, modern space from time to time. But then how could I live in it for very long without draping a pom-pom garland over the doorway, or hanging up that drawing my son made with the penguins that says how much he loves me?

I could not live a happy life without being surrounded by all of the things that my kids have made.

When I move into a new space, I always draw a floor plan to scale before moving in. I measure every room, I measure all of the furniture that I have, and then I see how I can make it work so that it best suits the needs of my family. Utilizing the space efficiently is very important to me.

There is nothing that bothers me more than non-functional rooms or spaces. That’s why I don’t have a formal living room. I don’t understand the concept of having a room just for occasional fancy guests. First of all, I don’t have fancy guests. And second of all, rooms that aren’t used feel sad and lonely to me.

Nothing in my home is too precious. My hockey player son has shot many pucks into lamps and vases. I try not to be too uptight about my stuff. With that said, I do love beautiful things. I have a few pieces that I cherish and they just make me happy every time I look at them. My dad is an artist and I’m lucky to have a few of his paintings. They are just so stunning and colorful, they make me happy.

And I love my quilts. I have made one for each of my kids from their old clothes. We use them every day. They are perfect for snuggling by the fire.

Before I got married, I had my own line of children’s clothes called Saskia that I made by hand and sold in New York boutiques. After I found out I was going to have my first baby, I decided that I wanted to work from home but with an easier job. Working in the garment industry was too stressful. I took some classes in Illustrator and Photoshop and I became a graphic designer. I was a textile design major in college, so being a graphic designer was just another path along the same road.

I did this for 15 years, during all of those long baby and toddler days. I worked during naps, at night, and on weekends. I feel so lucky that I could be there when they were growing up and still build a life for myself.

One day I read an article about blogging. My oldest was around 11 at the time, so this was about four years ago. I was intrigued. I started looking at blogs, Design Mom being one of the first. True story! I decided to try writing so I started a Tumblr blog. After about a year, I took it up a notch and started Art Bar, my current blog and now my life’s work.

When the kids were little, before blogging, I always had an art area or an art room. I would leave out “invitations,” like some play dough and rollers, or watercolors and different shaped paper. They always had an option to be creative. I would hang everything on clotheslines draped around the kitchen and in their rooms.

Now that they are older, they don’t choose to do art that much anymore. My girls love performance art and spend most of their free time playing the guitar, trying to harmonize, and just generally being dramatic. My son plays hockey night and day, but he will draw me a picture if I ask him to. Usually hockey logos or penguins, so not the best blogging material, but I still love them. About a year ago I began to realize that if my kids weren’t doing art, what was I going to blog about? That’s when I decided it was time to teach.

I started teaching four-year olds in my living room. Remember that I said nothing is too precious in my house? Turns out, I’m even okay with paint on my living room sofas. And thankfully, I have a very patient husband who understands me completely and almost never complains. I teach two times a week and it’s something that I find both incredibly challenging and rewarding at the same time.

My teaching philosophy stems from my years of leaving out creative invitations for my own three kids: Expose my students to new materials, teach them new skills, but let them explore their own creativity as much as possible by setting up open-ended art experiences.

I get up at 6:30 so that I can wake up the first one and get her off to school. I have about 20 minutes in between the first and second to quickly check and reply to emails. Or, more likely, get sucked into the social media vortex. Pinterest is my weakness. By the time they are all off to school, it is 9:15.

My office is my sanctuary. I just love that place. On days when I don’t have art class, I usually make lots of tea and work at the computer until lunchtime. My husband works a block away and often comes home for lunch. We check in about the afternoon of driving ahead and what to do for dinner. It’s really nice to have a partner in crime.

After lunch I try and get away from the computer. I’ll either make something, photograph stuff, exercise, or get new ideas going for art class. This house has such great light, so capturing part of each day on film is very rewarding for me.

Art class days are very different because they basically take up the whole day. The morning is prep, class is at 1:00 for an hour, and then it’s clean up.

By 3:00 I am done working for a few hours. It’s time to pick up kids, drive them places, host play dates, grocery shop, and cook dinner. But I’m so close to my office, it’s hard to stay away! Usually I’m back and forth to the computer throughout the night. I have an extra desk in the office so my kids will come and do homework with me. And honestly, most of the time everyone is huddled around me and my desk anyway. It’s just the way it is!

When you work at home, it’s hard to ever really put work aside. As a blogger, my life and my work are sometimes one and the same. My kids and my husband love my blog, and they are very proud of me. They know I am in work mode all of the time, but they also know that I love it and it makes me happy.

I involve them as much as I can so they don’t feel separated from me ever. It’s why I think blogging is the coolest job because what I’m ultimately doing is documenting my life with my kids, so there is a very deep connection between work and family.

At the actual end of my day, I turn everything off and read books. I love to read. I have to read. Reading is my favorite.

I really hope they look back at their time in this house and feel like it was a happy, cozy, fun place to live. It may not be everything that they want but at the same time, they are learning such a valuable life lesson. When you make a big change, try not to look back at what you’ve lost, but rather live in the present and be open to creating new experiences. Something beautiful is on the horizon!

My daughter started high school in this house. School is tough; there is a ton of homework and she misses her childhood. But in another year, she’ll get into her groove and I hope someday she thinks of this house in a nostalgic way. As the place where she got her license, went to her first dance, grew from a girl to a young woman. (Sniff sniff.)

My other daughter will live here most of her middle school years. Actually, she hates school right now. I am working really hard to cultivate her talents and gifts so that maybe, just maybe, her memories will not be of those horrible middle school years, but instead will be of the time she got her first video camera and started her own YouTube channel and made her first movies. I will let you know how that goes in about ten or 20 years.

My youngest, the eight-year old, misses his friends from the old neighborhood. But in this house he gets to have a hockey room! And a huge yard. He gets to walk to town with his sister and buy gum at CVS. I drive him to school every day instead of taking the bus, so I hope that he will remember our funny questions game and the ridiculous car clock that never says the correct time.

This home is the place where I started teaching. My family is so much a part of this new adventure. They always ask me about art class, they know all the names of my students, and we laugh together about funny four-year old questions and sayings. My kids have a cool art space in their living room that they can use whenever they want. Usually it’s to write thank-you notes or work on school projects, but making stuff is part of their lives and I believe it will help them become creative thinkers and problem-solvers. I hope they remember this quirky, original, artsy house as a place where their minds grew and their hearts opened.

My children have allowed me to live my childhood over again. It sounds cliché but it’s how I really feel about being a mom. I’m creating memories of a home filled with music, books, games, baking, singing, dancing, movie night, cartwheels, fireflies, smoothies, tooth fairies, and lots and lots of arts and crafts. It’s magical for me so I will assume that it is for them, too!

What has surprised me most about being a mom is how culture and where you live play such a huge role in how you parent. My family immigrated to the US when I was five. My parents are Dutch and I was raised in a very simple way. Nothing fancy. Just plain and good and safe and honest.

Now that I’m a mom, I really look to my own mom sometimes and value that simple way of parenting. But it’s almost impossible to pull off when you live in a place where everything is over-the-top and huge. I’ve learned to find a happy medium and I try and practice what I preach to my kids: Comparison is the thief of joy. (Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt.)

I wish someone had told me that my children would be nothing like me. I think I would have adjusted to parenting that much sooner.

For years, with my first, I kept trying to raise a mini-me and it was kind of frustrating because she wasn’t cooperating. It wasn’t until she was about five and my second one was becoming a toddler that I finally got it.

We were actually all growing up together.

I was growing as much as they were, and we were all becoming our own unique selves.


Thank you, Barbara. This was pure sunshine. I especially loved your description of your own childhood: “Nothing fancy. Just plain and good and safe and honest.” May all of our children enjoy the same.

I wonder how many of you are living in a situation where those around you are unknowingly competing with your style of parenting? Does that make sense? I guess I’m asking if your community adds to the ease with which you live, or somehow makes it all the more difficult? I always love your stories.

P.S. – Are you interested in sharing your own home with us? Let me know! It’s a lot of fun…I promise! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.

79 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Barbara Rucci”

  1. Wow. What a fantastic person and mother. There’s so much of her ideals and philosophy that I can relate to. I love how she has shared art, her life’s work, with her kids. I am a piano teacher and it has been so meaningful for me to teach my kids my instrument. I also love how she let’s her son play hockey in the dining room, uh, I mean ‘the hockey room’. I can also relate to some of the high-pressured parenting thing. Our town is pretty laid-back, but many of the towns near us are very affluent and high-acheiving (Boston metro west). I went to high school in an affluent town, and one of my brothers struggled in high school with not going on all the fancy trips his classmates went on. It’s all so relative.

    I always enjoy this series, but this one, Gabrielle, was my very favorite. I just love her priorities.

    1. thank you so much for your comment, megan. i love reading that you have also shared your passions with your children…the piano (my favorite instrument)! i think learning an instrument is such a hard thing to do. you have given your kids the gift of perseverance and patience! each of my kids have started and instrument and then dropped it because they realized that it was hard! i played piano for 10 years growing up, my mom was pretty strict about practicing. but i was less strict and i just want to say bravo to you!! it’s a hard job raising your kids to follow through on something that is difficult. thank you for taking the time to read about me and my family! xo bar

  2. My favourite ever of all time – Barbara you are such an inspiration and have created such a beautiful home. I love the prints on the walls of the kids in motion – joyful motion! – and the notion of something handmade and arty in every room (and I also love your wheeled trolley for storing artwork; I’ve made a note to hunt one down!). Thank you too for your honesty and openness; your comment about the moment when you discover your kids are destined to become entirely themselves, regardless of how you try to bend and shape them into a mini-me, made me smile in wry recognition. Bravo :-)

    1. thank you so much kate, i feel such love and connection from you comment! i really appreciate you reading about me and taking the time to leave a note. it means the world to me! and yes, the trolley is from IKEA. i also have one in charcoal gray. they are the best. lots of love…xo bar

  3. I love her personality and style. I love that her house is perfectly imperfect. I enjoy all the living with kids homes but this one speaks to me. I appreciate the amazon boxes stacked with the art supplies. The bed without a skirt that shows its red frame. The peaches on the counter. Anyway, thanks again for a great post!

    1. angela, thank you for noticing the imperfect details of my life. i love them the most and i love that you noticed! thank you for taking the time to read about me and for leaving a comment! xo bar

  4. Thank you Barbara for a look inside your creative home. Your tour and parenting philosophy spoke to me deeply. We live in San Francisco with three kids and it’s a lot of comparison and hyper-over-achievement parenting that just isn’t our style. We get dirty looks for letting our kids walk our dog around the block, or being ok with them going to the library on their own, and for enjoying a meal out with our children at a restaurant that kind of can’t believe there are children in the city at all.
    I love the bits about your family supporting you and how you all grew together into your own people along the path of parenting and being a family. A truly wonderful expression of what parenting is all about.

    1. thank you so much gia. i love your comment! i wish i lived in san fran so we could have a tea while the kids are walking the dogs around the block. i will be daydreaming about that little scenario as i am holed up in my old, creaky home with a foot of snow outside! you are a kindred spirit. thank you for leaving your words that are so positive and kind. xo bar

  5. So inspiring! I could stare at the art supplies organization forever! I loved what she said about living in a wealthy area and the air of competitiveness. Finally, someone said it! I feel it is not just in wealthy towns but everywhere. Beautfiful writing.

  6. Really nice Bar. Great pics, great interview. Poor Livvie and the goldfish got left out of the family description! We are so proud of you. Xoxo

  7. I love this series in general, but this house tour is my absolute favorite! What a refreshing attitude and light space. I want to move in, or at least let my kids go by for art class!

  8. I agree with what others have said; I like this series and this one is my FAVORITE so far. The colors! The quilts! The teal chairs!

    I just clicked on “Late Night Cake” and I now already know where I’m getting my New Year’s Cards next year; I may have squealed (which I do not do often) at their perfection.

    Like Gabby, “Nothing fancy. Just plain and good and safe and honest.” spoke to my heart directly. I want to steal those words and hang them next to my bed to remind be of the real goals of parenting. It is a sacred job.

    Sorry, I’m gushing.

    1. wow, thank you jenny! i’ve been reading the comments over and over again, they just light up my world. i love that you love my quilts. and my teal chairs! i found those in Rhode Island on the side of the road. someone was going to throw them away! my husband nearly had a spazz when i told him to stop. thank you for leaving a comment and i’m so glad that you found my cards! xo bar

  9. Wow, what a great interview! I loved it even more that the pictures (which I also loved). When I saw the “OMA” art, I thought you’d be Dutch (didn’t get a German vibe) – thanks for confirming it ;) (For those wondering, Oma is Grandma in Dutch and German.)

    1. thank you natalie! i love that you notice OMA. that would be my mom, we were working on her 75th birthday card. thank you for leaving a comment! xo bar

  10. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    OH JOY! Love this home. Love your philosophy.

    I too live in an affluent town. We are known as ” The Cake Eaters” As in “Let them eat cake”. Competition about child rearing starts at birth. For real. You should hear what people worry about here. Never mind what kids go through with pressure and school by the time they are in about 5th grade. Kids here get everything they want. The High School senior party rivals what most people do for their weddings. I can’t stand it. That said our little part of town is an outlier. We are a true little community. Much more down to earth. I love my neighbors. Just blocks away it is totally different. I have always liked/loved people who don’t fit in. Who look at living as a life-long lesson. I just don’t buy the culture I am surrounded by in this town. I don’t value it so I don’t feel bad about being surrounded by it. My kids go to very good schools- but I am constantly tweaking my message to them about what they are exposed to. Very much like yours. Gratitude, helping others, not bragging, not coveting. My house is messy and creative and a little whackadoo. Sometimes I do think I could get it together more. The piles of stuff…well…pile up. I guess I’ll have time for that as an empty nester. Not that I don’t throw a fit about my family not cleaning up after themselves. Normal mom stuff I guess. People also comment that there is always something interesting to look at here. I love that you said about that yourself. I have visited so many homes in our town where you couldn’t begin to figure out who lives there. No heart and soul. Kind of creepy to me. So, all that to say…you, your home and what you value speaks to me. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Pamela,
      Like the post, so much of your comment is true for me, as well. You’ve perfectly expressed some things I’ve been trying to put words to. Thank you!!

    2. wow! thank you so much for this really lovely and detailed comment pamela, i have read it a few times now and you touched on some things that are really quite true. the hard part about raising our kids in affluence is keeping them from comparing to others. kids just compare, that’s what they do! i mean, i compare too. not about money and stuff and life in my town, but i do compare my work to others. i am on the internet all of the time wishing i could be this person or that person b/c their work is so stunning. so here i am trying to teach my kids not to compare when i clearly haven’t learned that lesson either! but i do chip away at it little bits at a time. whenever there is a little lesson to be taught, i will say something (as much for myself as for them). i repeat myself a lot. and then sometimes i hear them say things to their friends, like “our house is just the perfect size” or “my grandma is my best friend” and i smile…knowing that they really are getting the message about what’s important. it sounds like you are in my tribe! just doing your own thing and trying to raise thoughtful kids. high fives to you!!! thanks, again, for commenting! xo bar

  11. Wow! There’s so much good stuff here. This really resonated with me, though, “We were actually all growing up together.” That is so true of parenting. It’s something I wish I’d realized when I was a newer mom. It would have made the hard days easier.

  12. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing your home! I love your Dutch relaxed-ness about parenting and playing hockey in the house (niet te geloven!:)) It’s also interesting to hear your perspective on the competitiveness; something that concerns me a bit as my kids get older. I’m an American who has emmigrated to the Netherlands, and I indeed quite enjoy the more relaxed way of parenting here (although it can be out of my American comfort zone at times:) and the less-is-more attitude that it sounds like your parents raised you with.

    1. ha! meghann i loved reading your Dutch saying there. my mom says that all the time! it’s literally all i hear when she’s gabbing on the phone with her sisters in Holland. i’m slightly jealous that you are living in my birth country. it’s always been a dream of mine to bring my kids there to live for a year. i feel like i missed that opportunity now that my oldest is in high school…but i still dream about it! thank you for leaving a comment, it has been a gift to find so many people can relate to my way of living. xo bar

    1. this comment cracked me up. i had to go back through the photos to see where i had left amazon boxes! ha! i use them in art class as trays for messy projects. this photo i think more than any represents my house. there was no styling that day, i just snapped the photo because the light was so beautiful. thank you for leaving a comment, angela! xo bar

  13. Beautiful home and family—and thoughts. Thanks for sharing! I really loved this peek into your home and your parenting.

  14. I wish my four-year old could take art with her! Wait, scratch that, I wish I could!

    What a lovely home and interesting piece. Plus I have a new blog to read now. I do love her aesthetic, but for me personally it would stress me out! I like a little clutter, but need balance with clean to be able to relax. We’re all so different! So wonderful!

  15. What an inspiring read! I love her perspective and her home shines! We just moved from Connecticut to Idaho! I needed her encouragement. Thanks for your words.

  16. Oh, I needed to see this. My home is overflowing as of late…art, homeschool, visitors, baking, life…and I have been too hard on myself and now I have a bit of peace in my day. I am going to enjoy the herd of cousins running through the house with my kids and be grateful for my less-than-precious approach to life. Thanks for such a beautiful tour.

    1. thanks so much for leaving a comment, becky! i’m so happy to hear you will be embracing the beautiful chaos that is called life. and your life sounds so full and wonderful. enjoy all of the moments, especially the messy ones! xo bar

  17. Love this home! I also relate to living in an affluent area and having to explain to my oldest that we are certainly not poor. It’s a tough balance but hopefully I’m doing it right! My house too is an ever changing display of my children’s artwork & things that just make me happy to look at. A little kooky but definitely cozy.

  18. I eagerly wait for Tuesdays, and this Living With Kids surpassed all of my expectations! I wish I could sit down and make art with Bar and talk about the trials of middle school and trying to raise grounded kids in an affluent community where values can be out of whack. I’m a recent empty-nester and raised three kids in a similar environment. (Another CT town up the road a piece.) I learned that the kids’ friends love the homes that are warm and cozy and full of love and laughter. (And adults who are relaxed and interested in the kids and their lives.) Size of the house truly doesn’t matter. I also learned that as much as I sweated my daughter’s miserable middle school years, eight years later she really doesn’t remember them that way. (I still do!)

    Bar, your home is absolutely beautiful. I love your aesthetic, and I love all of the personal touches that make your house a home. Your blog now has a new follower as do your Pinterest boards. Thanks for sharing your home with us.

    1. “I learned that the kids’ friends love the homes that are warm and cozy and full of love and laughter.” Thank you for that. We are an average young family living in an affluent area and that gives me so much peace as I am trying to teach my daughters what truly matters.

    2. thank you ellie!! i am so happy to have you as a new fan. and I adore your sage advice about those middle school years. my middle schooler is super dramatic, i can’t imagine her ever forgetting these turbulent years. but maybe she will and that would be a miracle!! i also agree whole heartedly that the friends really do love our house because it is cozy and real. and they can paint whenever they want! if you ever do want to have a tea you know where to find me. would love any advice you can give! thanks for leaving a comment! xo bar

  19. Wow, Barabara, so much of what you shared is exactly where we are right now. I love your home and your outlook on parenting. This was an incredibly reassuring and enjoyable read!

  20. I love her home and I love you for showcasing it. It’s REAL. It’s not pinterested out, and perfect. The children’s rooms are their own, they are perfect. There is SO much pressure to have the perfect decor, the perfect home. I love that her’s screams love and comfortability and beauty instead of just beauty. Kudos to you both!

  21. I absolutely love how real and down to earth her house is. It is refreshing to see a house that is truly a ‘home’ and looks lived in! So often we see these staged and immaculately decorated homes that are near impossible to achieve if you live there! The house looks comfortable and welcoming- as if I could go over and truly be myself! Love it!

  22. I love that this interview captures Bar just like the photos capture her style. She is as real and down-to-Earth and gifted as people come. We locals are lucky to count her among us!

  23. What a pleasure to read this interview. I know Bar personally and absolutely love her and her work, but this interview shared so many new and wonderful aspects of her life. I love the idea of putting quotes up for her kids to read. And I can relate to so many ideas and struggles and new beginnings. My house is covered with art and piles and craziness and reading this helped me appreciate it all the more. Thank you for this wonderful interview and incredible pics of her dreamy artsy home.

  24. Such a big fan of Bar and so nice to see her home here! Love the colors and happy feelings the home exudes. Just bursting with creativity! My favorite quote “My children have allowed me to live my childhood over again. ” Just perfect. Love it!

  25. Wow, Bar, your home is so full of life and and love! Thanks for sharing your story. I really relate to your experience living in an affluent area. In my community, most of the young families have become wealthy later in life and are fairly down to earth, but there is still an assumption that everyone has an abundance of money (which we do not). We often can’t partake in all of the social activities because of the cost- like fancy dinners, weekend trips, and even after school classes. It is an interesting way to live in a community, but it is a constant reminder for me about what is important in my life. I love your idea of posting gratitude notes for your kids to see. I will definitely be doing more of that now!

  26. A couple of thoughts after reading this;

    1. When it is said and done (adult) kids will always remember the time you spent (or didn’t) with them way more than any stuff they received growing up.
    2. Kids who grow up with engaged parents tend to be more successful adults, including financial success if that is their objective.
    3. I live in an area that is predominantly middle class but with pockets of upper middle class scattered about the City so the there is at times a noticeable gap in the family economics sometimes. That being said, when a close friend was raising her kids; her and her husband made a conscious decision that they were going to “give” their children experiences, namely travel (foreign and domestic) with cultural arts a close second. At a young age her kids were able to understand this decision and recognize the “sacrifices” they made as a family to achieve this goal. By communicating this at a young age her kids never felt slighted when “stuff” comparisons were being made at school as they could express a choice was made. Not the same situation as Barbara described (and lord knows social media is a game changer today) none the less I guess the point I am trying to make is when kids are part of the discussion and decision, even at young ages – they get it and can find a comfort in their position.


  27. I think this home and Brabaras words are my favorite by far. Everything is so warm, so creative, so real. They seem to be a nice family. I like that she admits that happiness isn’t always around. Thanks for sharing.

  28. What a warm, cozy, wonderful home! Certainly one of my favorite tours so far.
    And this comment: “My kids have asked me more times than I can admit if we are poor. We are not, I tell them, and then I go on Pinterest and print out lots of quotes about being grateful and tape them to the walls. Some parents in affluent communities value success more than kindness and decency.”
    So true. Love the message she’s sending her children to value what’s important. It’s certainly reflected in her lovely home!

  29. Wow Barbara, of all the Living With Kids posts (and I think I’ve read and looked at them all!), yours resonates the most with me. Your house reminds me so much of my own and your words seem like they could have come straight from my mouth. It’s comforting to know there are kindred souls out there! And it just so happens that my husband was born in Holland (Rotterdam to be exact!). Your post is my favorite LWK ever!!! Thanks for sharing….

  30. Lovely!

    Our family just left Connecticut for Salt Lake City, but I too worried about the financial/overworked professional expectations that came with living there. Everything was quite intense that way! That being said, we miss NYC and the unbelievable fall leaves!

  31. Oh my, I love your home! And your life! LOL I also have two girls and a boy with the very same age differences! I love seeing/hearing about families like mine.

  32. What a wonderful post. Two things I’ll work on in my own mothering and home:

    – I love the thoughtfulness shown by the details she paid attention to when moving. Art hung, familiar sheets and favorite foods. Especially at a time when it’s so easy to focus on your own priorities and everything to be done.

    – Inviting art corner with things pulled out to jump into.

  33. Thank you for posting a home that I can relate to!!!! This was the best one yet. Real, loving, happy home. I want to move in. So many of these postings of homes are filled with a lot of money — which I cannot relate to. This home is one that brought me inspiration & joy bc it’s relatable!

  34. LOVED this post! I too feel pressure of having a perfectly posh Pinterest worthy house when I know that is just not my style! What a delightful breath of fresh air to see a beautifully styled home with character, individuality, and FUN! I loved so many little details in this tour and have found tons of real life inspiration in Barbara’s interview and pictures!

  35. Great post and as a side note, happy to know that someone Living With Kids has not just littles, but teenagers. Cause I do too. :)

  36. I can’t tell you how much I loved this interview with Barbara!! We live in a very affluent, success-is-god area (Washington DC) and we have four children. I am a stay-at-home-mom and that is my full-time job – I don’t have other things on the side (maybe something more creative in the future to fill in the spaces). There is a such a pressure to be and do More. We don’t live in a house – we rent a 3 bedroom apartment. We have one car. We attend public school. We try to live simply, as simply as possible with four kids. So reading this interview gave me more encouragement that the life we have chosen is Good and Well and Enough. I want to follow her blog but for some reason the site is giving me an “Error Establishing a Database Connection” notice. Please be advised. Barbara – you are an inspiration!!!

    1. esther, thank you so much for leaving such a heartfelt comment. i appreciate all the love from this post so much. i plan on replying to everyone but i’m starting with you b/c i wanted to let you know that my website is back up. it crashed over the weekend, sadly. so please follow! and we’ve always wanted to make it down to DC, so if we do i will contact you first. thank you again for making me feel so great! xo bar

  37. This is one of my favorite Living with Kids posts! It’s too bad I don’t live closer to you, Barbara. I think we would be great friends! We have a similar style and wants for our lives. We are an average young family living in an affluent area and I worry so much about my kids wanting more stuff and fancy vacations and going to all of the events at the country clubs…I loved the quote that you shared “Comparison is the thief of joy”. It is so true. I’m working to show my kids that being their own creative and caring selves is what matters. Thank you for the inspiration!

  38. My husband is Dutch and “just plain and good and safe and honest” sounds like his perspective on parenting. We often find ourselves to be out of step with our American peers, and found our parenting fit better in Australia. I feel stretched between American expectations, and my husband’s approach (which I believe in, in a saner world). This post resonated with me for those reasons, and I appreciated the emphasis on simple beauty.

  39. More houses like this, please! I can feel the genuine love for living with and among the children here. Just lovely, and so inspiring!

  40. I love love love this! You also live right around the corner from me ;) I wish I knew about your art classes before my little one started Kindergarten this year! (sob!!)

  41. This: “We were actually all growing up together. I was growing as much as they were, and we were all becoming our own unique selves.” Gosh, if anything ever summed up my life as a parent thus far, this is it. My kids are only 4.5 and 2 and it’s been an amazing, yet challenging journey.

    You are awesome. My kids would be in love with you. I want to be a kid in your home. Does that sound weird? I’m sure it does. In any case, I wish I lived near you. Your approach to life is much like mine and I also feel nothing in our house is too precious. I am so glad you were on Design Mom today. Art Bar is now on my list of everyday go-to blogs.

    1. hey, nothing like responding 10 months later! i’m over here reading this article again, trying to motivate to write something new about family life for another project, and just wanted to say thank you Jen, for leaving such a heartfelt and awesome comment!! you are making me smile today :) xo bar

  42. Love the house, how do you keep the rugs so clean. I hsve purchased some of these but panicked to put them down with kids around.

    1. hi jelly! is that really your name? i love it. my rugs from Ikea are pretty easy to keep clean, the other ones…well, they are not always that clean but then I have them professionally cleaned once every two years or so. my feeling is this…what are you waiting for? better on the floor and on display and a little dirty then rolled up and put away where nobody can see them! xo bar

  43. Pingback: DIY Painting // XOXO - ARTBAR

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