Before & After: “MOHO” Style in a Colorful Family Home

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“I call my style MOHO,” says Kari Firak, a writer, social media manager, photographer, stylist, and blogger. “Modern boho — like equal parts Stevie Nicks and Devo.” She hates clutter, but at the same time, wants her home to feel lived-in and loved. “I’m talking white walls filled with vintage artwork. IKEA furniture on Moroccan rugs. There’s a fine line between mid-century and middle-aged cat lady, and I want to walk that line,” she jokes. Alongside husband John (“With his last name making mine into a palindrome, we knew it was fate!”), a photography teacher, and their small kids Max and Lola, Kari spruced up their 1,700-square-foot, 1910 Victorian in Crystal Lake, IL with stylish and functional solutions. Though she loves color, Kari “has a thing” for white walls. “It always feels crisp and clean to me, refreshing,” she offers. “It also opens up the small rooms we are working with, making them feel larger. White walls create a blank canvas; I can go as crazy as I want with everything else in the room.”

Before she even began working on it, the house had good bones with its original wainscoting and crown moldings. The biggest adjustment was made to the living room. The previous owners used half of the long space as a living room, and the other part as a sitting room. “We just aren’t formal enough to have a separate dining room,” Kari explains. “With small children, and since I work from home, it made more sense to make the formal dining room into an office and playroom.” They then turned the other portion of the living room into the perfect family table spot around which to share meals. New ceiling light locations and fixtures were added to made the space adaptable to different purposes. “A combined living room/dining room makes entertaining more friendly, and the office/playroom gets much, much more use than if we had left it as a formal dining room,” Kari says. In the laundry room, oak cabinets and countertops surrounded the old washer and dryer. Their bulk filled so much of the tiny area that the homeowners removed them immediately after moving in. Custom shelves feel airier, and provide the open type of storage the couple prefers. Though there are still projects left to complete, Kari appreciates a home that is always in need of a little improvement. “It keeps things interesting!” —Annie

Photography by Kari Firak

  1. Meryl says:

    very fresh and trendy transformation…love it!

  2. Completely transformed! So much lighter/brighter!

  3. Lauren Chorpening says:

    obsessed with this tour. great job annie & kari!

  4. Pat Baker says:

    Love your clean fresh taste and designs, Kari. I was fortunate enough to visit your home and its even better in person. Keep on coming up with ideas and show the rest of us how it’s done !
    Pat Baker

  5. Candi says:

    Love the transformation….so colorful and yet airy.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Lisa says:

    I actually like the use of ceiling fans, in the world of central air, ceiling fans do an amazing job of cooling a room. Batman decals may I inquire where your purchased them? Also what is the colour of white as it is such a hard colour to pick!

    1. Kari says:

      Hi Lisa! The decals are from Urban Walls,, and the paint is Ralph Lauren Polo Mallet. Amazingly, white really is a tough color to pick- so many variations!

  7. Christine B says:

    Gorgeous! And such a delight to visit – as well as it photographs, it’s even better in person!

  8. dkk says:

    Ouch that hurts – because I’m a middle aged lady with cats and my house is awesome!

  9. Lindsey says:

    What a lovely home, Kari. I was wondering if you might share the source for your rocking chair? It looks so comfy and modern; a perfect combo, basically!

    1. Kari says:

      It was from IKEA, many moons ago…

  10. Sariah says:

    I’m going to borrow Moho! Definitely describes how I see my style too. I just love the colours in the dining room. Feeling inspired – thanks!

  11. Alienor says:

    DKK – me too…but then again, one of the nice things about being a middle aged woman is that we might just have the resources to qualify for the french version of MOHO: Bo Bo (Bourgeois Bohemian); the odd bit of glamour makes all the difference. The young and hip don’t know what they are missing!

  12. Ruth says:

    This is beautiful, but the name is also funny because “Moho” is a technical term in geology! So as a style, “moho” should definitely include some beautiful maps on the wall ;)

    *in geology, “Moho” is the boundary between the brittle outermost layer of our planet (the lithosphere) and the silly-putty-like second layer (the asthenosphere) where the magic movement that drives plate tectonics takes place. “Moho” is short for the long last name of the person who identified this feature — which is only rarely preserved in a “fossil” form at the earth’s surface, usually it stays hidden miles below our feet.

  13. Quelcy says:

    I love the bit about the palindrome! :)

  14. Heather says:

    Beautiful home! I am looking for a low and wide book shelf like the one at the bottom of your “book wall” could you share the source? Thank you!

    1. Kari says:

      Thanks :) That one was custom built by my dad, it was based off a Montessori design. If you google “low Montessori shelf” there are some options that come up.

  15. Kristin says:

    Beautiful home, Kari. That pink accent wall color is just the pink I have been looking for. Can I ask what brand and color paint you used?

  16. DRTVrMoi says:

    I love a home that isn’t cookie cutter and your’s certainly isn’t. Pink in a dining area….genius. Care to share the brand and shade of the pink paint/

  17. Nicole K says:

    What a fun and light-filled home! I can’t imagine how much work went into all the changes. Beautiful!


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