Living With Kids: Kristy Rulnick

I’m happy today to introduce you to Kristy from Pennsylvania and her beautiful home. When Kristy and her husband were looking for a home, they decided that a new build was best for them. The price was right and it allowed them to get the exact home that they wanted.

With the build complete, the budget being tight, and two small children at home, Kristy has focused on DIY projects to get the interior the way she wants it. The results are so welcoming! You’ll love getting this chance to take a look around. Welcome, Kristy.

In my chaotic home is myself, my husband, my son JJ (age 3), my daughter Sophia (age 1), and our dog Lucki (age 38539) — or so it feels that way since having my kids. I’m not sure about anyone else, but before I had kids I was a fur momma and he was just perfect. Since having kids, it feels as if I own a new dog that knows he isn’t the only child anymore. He barks louder, needs to be taken out more, has more jealous accidents, and has lived nine lives and counting.

I’m a stay at home mom, with a bow business on the side called The Dainty Crown (insert crazy face here).

I wouldn’t change it for anything as much as the photos of my house look clean the behind photos are where you cant see the color of my floor, because lets face it nothing stays clean with children. I cant even count the number of times I have stepped on a Lego or baby doll accessory and limped off to the side of the couch with a scrunched face holding in what I really wanted to say and shouted “Mommy’s Fine”!

My husband, Josh, works long stressful hours, so for most of everyday I have the kids. He works as Director of Business of Development for Zire Nutrition and R&R Express. So he works pretty much all day and sees the kids for an hour or two before bed. I’m grateful for him and the life he’s been able to provide us with. We met in College, and married in 2014, had my son JJ in 2015 and Sophia in 2017.

Side note: I must say no one warned me that girls can be dramatic at such a young age! I was prepared for the Terrible Twos. However, I had no idea that tantrums can start as early as right after the first birthday. (Is it just my daughter?) So if you’re reading this, you’re welcome for the warning.

Both of my kids love moving their bodies constantly! I would love to tell you they calmly watch TV, or play nicely with stacking blocks, and sit down with coloring books. And sure sometimes they do. But for the most part, if they could swing from the chandelier they would. They are super active, so even though I’m a homebody, I make sure we get out of the house a couple times a week and visit the zoo, the local science center, the local duck pond, or — lets get real — TARGET.

Oh. And Starbucks, once a… okay, I admit: everyday. It’s my splurge. Just take my money Starbucks I need my coffee.

Side note: Why do you think they came out with cake pops? Because they knew we parents run out of coffee. And why not add cake pops to the menu so your kids think they get one every time you get a coffee? Genius!

I have found getting the kids out of the house keeps my house somewhat organized too. Somedays its nice to not have to clean up the same thing day after day!

We live in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, or Collier Township — we are right along the border of the two just 10 to 15 minutes out of Pittsburgh! We live in a newer planned neighborhood. When we built, the homes in our ‘plan’ started at $200k and up. There are also newly built townhomes in our ‘plan’ as well.

What’s nice about our planned neighborhood, is it’s tucked back up in a hill, so you really have to search to find us. Our backyard sits high in the hills and overlooks Highway 79, which gives us a city-living feel without living in the city. I love hearing the car sounds at night. This was one of our ‘pros’ for moving and building — we loved the view from this neighborhood, and that it was so high.

We loved how easy the commute was into the city and how affordable a new house was, so this is why we decided building was right for us.

Side note: I also knew I wanted to live in some form of a planned neighborhood where I could get to know everybody, because I’m already worried about my kids riding the school bus when they are old enough. It’s a huge factor for me! I really need to know the people who are riding the bus with my children!

Our planned neighborhood is quite small, and it’s one way in and one way out. The houses here don’t last long if they go on sale. In fact, we’ve had a couple of home for sale in the past couple of months go well above asking price — and they were only on the market for a couple days! Yes days!!

The only downside with our neighborhood, is the houses are really close together. Most of the properties had spacing between homes that was a little tight for me. But I think our particular yard size is perfect. And we are in the works of landscaping to create a backyard oasis this summer! (Crossing one thing off the list at a time!)

But our neighbors are great! We even have a neighborhood Facebook group, so we can all easily communicate.

For me, the moving and selling and buying process was just so nerve-wracking, from start to finish. Not because we didn’t have the right realtor, but just because the whole situation involves so many unknowns, so many what ifs! I admit, I don’t enjoy that process.

We got lucky when we were looking for a home. We knew we wanted to be in a certain school district, and that we wanted to live near my nieces and nephew, so my kids could go to school with them. We set a budget for $315,000k and jumped into a home search.

We started by visiting a few houses, and then made a list of everything we wanted. At that point, we realized our wish list didn’t fit our budget. So we sat down and thought through things. We knew we were growing our family, and we concluded we needed the space more than pretty finishes.

For a couple of months, we looked at homes under budget and right at budget — but they didn’t provide the space we needed. It turns out building solved our goals, because we could get more square footage within our budget.

My son was 18 months old when we moved in. We actually stayed with my parents for 6 months while building (thanks Mom!). We sold our house in four days and the buyers needed a 30-day close, but our new house was still months away from being done, so we were able to stay with my parents, and saved some pennies, which was such a blessing.

Ever since we moved in, I’ve been decorating and making this house our own. My husband isn’t handy at all — he will be the first to admit it! But luckily, I am.

It’s funny because I didn’t start out as a DIYer. But because of lack of budget, and lack of resources, the only option was DIY! My attitude was: Okay, I’m going to try and do it; if I mess it up, then I will get someone to fix it. I pretty much just learned by asking questions and trying things.

Side note: Once, I was hanging a mirror in my powder room, but I didn’t know the main water pipe was right behind the mirror. So I ended up screwing into the pipe . I didn’t know it until two days later when my mirror fell off the wall and I could see the drywall was wet. So I made a friend in plumbing, and now I have someone I trust, who I can text with questions when I need to. (Also, my dad is a contractor, so I can always call if I need him to fix a big hole in the wall.)

Things are never perfect. But you don’t know what you can do until you try! (And there’s always YouTube!)

I love a clean and simple style — and I love objects and design decisions that I know I won’t get sick of in a year or two. (I don’t want to do them again, nor do I have the time.) But I love the idea of DIY as character. You put yourself into your project and you make it unique and yours.

So for me, DIY started out as a budget-friendly option, but turned into something that challenged me creatively. I see what I can create and really make my space and home mine.

Sidenote: Most evenings, once the kids are in bed, I work on my DIY and decor projects. But not every night. I make sure I save the weekend nights for my husband — we hang out and watch movies, or have glass of wine or beer on the porch, and talk and enjoy each other’s company sans kids.

All moms and dads have superpowers. You don’t get it until you realize how much you can accomplish with such little sleep. I enjoy cooking meals with my kids. I let my oldest help me make dinner while my youngest naps. Then my husband can heat it up when he gets home from work. (I’m not trying to make dinner with a 3-year-old running around the house with toys as weapons, a phone in one hand and spoon in the other, with a crying 1-year -old on my hip, all while trying to make chicken fingers. Can you picture it? Was it you yesterday? Great let’s be friends!)

I also try to maximize my house management time. I’m not great at it but getting there. Some things that work for me: Our bedroom is off limits for kid stuff. It’s the only place I don’t have toys in a corner or in a bin and I believe it should be that way! I also do one load of laundry in the morning and place it in each room by nighttime. Then, I’ll finish putting my son’s laundry away while he picks out his books for bedtime reading. I feel like I can never get fully caught up with laundry, but my plan of one basket a day helps!

After dinner, my husband takes the kids downstairs. This is his “Daddy Time.” While he has the kids, I do the dishes and run the dishwasher. I love waking up and knowing I have a clean kitchen! I also empty the dishwasher while the kids eat their breakfast.

Honestly, this stage of life is hard, tiring, and exhausting, but so rewarding and loving all balled into one. I feel like all moms can relate even if they don’t have young kids, because every stage of life our kids go through is something different and new!

I know we are all told to live your life in the moment and forget the little things, but sometimes we get so caught up that we forget. Time with our kids is so short — before we know it, we wont be needed by them as much.

I’m not there yet, but I often think of this when I’m running short on patience with them and myself. I try to look at my priorities and make sure our happiness as a family comes first. I do the best I can and when it’s all I can give it’s enough.

Home to me is home base, it’s a safe place. It’s where you can go and always feel loved, no matter what. Home is a place where you aren’t scared, you don’t feel misplaced or misunderstood. It’s a place of peace. Creating that kind of space is my goal as I design my home. And I hope my kids never forget what home means to our family.

No one can prepare you for what what life is like with a child or children. I do miss my personal space. (You know when you are in the bathroom with three kids, a dog, a horse, two cars, and 2 square feet to yourself, while you do your business? Haha!) Although more personal space will come with time, I try to just embrace the craziness of now.

I like to design with my kids in mind and I’ve found that buying the “kid-size” furniture ends up meaning I have to buy more, instead of just buying them a more sophisticated furniture set and making it kid friendly. So I like to invest in bigger pieces that can last, and then change up accessories as needed.

It’s so much more budget-friendly when you are simply changing small décor items rather than the whole design of a room. When my daughter is sick of pink and elephants, all I have to do is change the small stuff. I don’t have to change furniture, wall color or lighting fixtures. Same with my son’s room — his love of tractors will surely change at some point and all I have to do is switch out some elements on the shelf and dresser.

I wish someone had told me its okay to not be perfect. To the mom that can’t breast-feed and wants to, formula is great too! Whatever makes you and your baby thrive is what’s most important. I’ve been there.

To the mom struggling with a colicky baby, hearing oh it’s just colic is like nails on a chalkboard. IT’S HARD. You can’t figure it out and you have no answers. Your anxiety level grows when you know the crying time is starting. I’m telling you, it’s just a phase and it will pass. It really does! I’ve been there.

To the men and women trying to become parents, don’t give up hope. I myself had a miscarriage. I lost my very first baby — I was 27 years old, a non-smoker, with a healthy life style. I thought to myself: What if I can’t have kids?? No matter how you conceive, or if you adopt, or foster, or whatever your way of parenting might be, it will come eventually, and you too will be the best caregiver you can be.

My last advice: Embrace the mess — take your chance to live like a kid again, and grow with your children. Explore, learn, create, and try something different. Don’t let comparison make you forget your blessings. Sit on the couch with a glass of wine and a snack, and remember you’re not alone in this thing called life.


Thank you, Kristy!

I love what Kristy about creating a home. So often we get hung up on making our houses look perfect, but when it comes down to it, we are designing our homes to make a comfortable and livable space for ourselves and the people we love.

Everyone’s definition of comfortable and livable is different, so no two houses are going to look exactly the same — but perfection isn’t really the goal. Every home is going to have half finished projects, or counters that are endlessly sticky, or messes that never quite seem to be cleaned up. But that is because our homes are for living. They aren’t museums. So let’s all embrace a bit of the chaos and be okay with the imperfections.

What have you done to make your house feel like a home? How do you find the balance between making your home look just the way you want it and the reality of budgets and small kids and messes?


Storage Bins

Living Room Rug

Kitchen Island Seating

You can follow Kristy on Instagram here. Living With Kids is edited by Josh Bingham — you can follow him on Instagram too.

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

6 thoughts on “Living With Kids: Kristy Rulnick”

  1. Some of her descriptions and side notes were hilarious. Also, I love how she said “don’t let comparison make you forget your blessings.” So much truth. Hello, Kristy, from a fellow western PA resident :)

  2. Lovely home! Thanks for sharing. I love your family name above the coat rack and the unusual frame above the kids table and chair – might you have the source for these?

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