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A Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function & Dinner Parties Reign

by Sabrina Smelko

When Chris and Julia Marcum, a marketing consultant and blogger, respectively, made the move to Idaho three years ago, there were a total of just six houses available for sale in their price range. Coming from Pittsburgh, PA — where Julia grew up and where they bought their first house — the lack of options initially brought some worry. “When buying our first home [in Pittsburgh], we looked at close to 90 homes, so there was a stark contrast in the sheer number of homes available that being picky about the style of home wasn’t so much a luxury,” Julia explains. “It wasn’t like moving to Pittsburgh and having to choose between boroughs or a Craftsman or Victorian.” But as the couple pulled up to this 3,200-square-foot Rambler-style home, the mature trees that lined the quiet street gave them hope. And while the outdated interior may have scared some off, Chris and Julia reveled in its potential to become the perfect family home to raise their two daughters, Greta (six) and Faye (two), as well as Charly, their Saint Pyrenees.

Upon moving in, they made a few immediate changes to help it feel like home, such as hanging art, tossing cozy throws over the side of the couch, and filling their home with plenty of new friends, “but I think what really helps a house feel like a home,” Julia begins, “is when it starts functioning the way you function. Maybe that’s having a small, convenient workspace on the main floor so you can be with your kids while answering emails.”

The largest project they took on, one that immediately brought the house into “forever home” territory, was the kitchen renovation they tackled in just seven weeks by themselves. After saving for it for nearly two years, they were anxious to get started — and not only did they gut it completely and re-jig the layout, but they also removed the adjacent bathroom and replaced it with a laundry room. “It was freeing, scary and exciting,” but now that it’s done, the space functions for the family better and brings them pride to be able to welcome dozens of friends over and treat them to a good meal. “I’ve always been a homebody and Chris loves to entertain, so we have people over several times a week,” Julia shares. “Almost every morning, at breakfast, our six-year-old, Greta, will ask ‘Who’s coming over for dinner?’ and it makes both of us smile proudly. Opening our home to others is a big part of what makes our lives full.”

While many rooms have a new lease on life thanks to Chris and Julia’s hard work, there are still areas on the to-do list, namely their master bathroom. “The layout leaves a lot to be desired, with a toilet closet in the middle of the room and a tiny shower shoved in the corner — it’s going to be a ton of work, and we’re taking our time to work out all the details before we’re at that point of no return — without a bathroom!”

Julia and Chris have learned to “look at checking each item off the list as a victory instead of waiting for a whole room or our whole home to be ‘done’ before celebrating,” Julia says. “‘Hey! That paint color really works!’ Celebrate. ‘That piece of art works so much better in here.’ Celebrate. ‘We finally replaced that terrible boob light.’ Celebrate. We’ve had a lot of those moments of panic and uncertainty, sometimes resulting in do-overs, but mostly we surprise even ourselves.”

For the couple, looking at where this house came from three years ago (generic, dark, and outdated) to now (family-friendly and functional, bordering modern and traditional), and knowing they did it all themselves for their family, puts a smile on their faces every day. “Our house was pretty ordinary when we moved in… But I think what makes this home special is that we made it special,” Julia shares. “… I feel like every home deserves love.” –Sabrina

Photography by Julia Marcum

A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
1/19
Nestled between their kitchen and living room is the family dining space which Julia describes as "a must-have when we were on the hunt for a home." To avoid crowding the area, the couple looked forever for a long, slim table and they finally landed on this BluDot one at just over 31 inches wide. The appliances are all Frigidaire Professional, and the hardware is from Rejuvenation.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
2/19
The whole family together (minus Charly) in the heart of the home. "Having a kitchen that we love, that functions the way our family functions, has changed our lives and the way we live in our home and that's a huge victory," Julia says.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
3/19
Before the renovation, this window didn't exist. Instead, this is where the fridge sat. "Never underestimate the power of adding a window," Julia says. "We were surprised to find it was less than $500 to add this one!" The cabinets are IKEA's Laxarby, and island pendants are from Rejuvenation, the sconces over windows are Cedar & Moss and the backsplash is from Mission Stone & Tile.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
4/19
"Because we're always entertaining, and both come from big families, Chris had his heart set on a 48" range or larger," Julia explains. "Once we started pricing them out, they quickly ate up our kitchen budget." Instead, the couple put two 30" Frigidaire Professional ranges right next to each other. "They look like one big range and we now have Thanksgiving at our house every year, happily." The Persian rug was found on eBay.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
5/19
Off of the kitchen, this impressive laundry room used to be a fourth bathroom. "No one ever used it," Julia notes, "so after a year of hesitation, we ripped it out. While some people might say we lost some home value in removing a bathroom, we've never been happier while doing laundry. Ever. So, that's worth something."
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
6/19
"We aim to create spaces that our whole family can enjoy, after all, parents are a part of the family, too!" Julia shares. "It has to look good for me, and function for Chris and be safe for our girls, with enough room that our big dog can move around in the space, too." On any given day, Chris, the chef of the house, can usually be found in the kitchen while Greta and Faye play and wait at the dining table.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
7/19
Once again, this room was without a window, so Chris and Julia added this one to the right of the sofa which fills the entire great room with light. The sofa is from Crate & Barrel, as is the Baxter Indigo area Rug. The leather chairs are from Pottery Barn, the arc lamp is from CB2, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore's "Hazy Skies."
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
8/19
"I'm thankful our home provides a place to raise our girls safely," Julia begins, "I'm thankful for its open layout where we can fill it to the brim and everyone feels welcomed."
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
9/19
"Unlocking our home's potential, that home that 'didn't get much action' when it was for sale, is one of my favorite things to watch unfold -- three years and counting," Julia explains of their family abode.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
10/19
"Our home came with the shiniest maroon door (I think it had to be painted at a car shop!) with decorative glass," Julia says. "We replaced it with this wood door that feels like a sneak peek design-wise at what you could expect to find inside our home," which is just what a front door should be. Beyond it, off the hallway you'll find their home office/den.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
11/19
This room used to have wall-to-wall beige carpet and pale yellow paint. "With a wall of windows, we knew it could handle a dark, inky green," Julia says. They added the solid wood shelves and header for the sconces. "The girls love to look out the windows that face the front of our home, and wait for Chris to get home from work." The Lily Sofa is from Younger Furniture, the faux cowhide is from Wayfair, the acrylic coffee table is from Lulu & Georgia, the black leather chair is from Wayfair and the walls are painted in Clark+Kensington from Pine Grove.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
12/19
Being a work-at-home mom, Julia needed a place to work that wasn't too far away from the main living area so she could easily and quickly respond to an email or comments while still making sure "the Littlest Pet Shops were being fairly distributed," Julia laughs. This tiny wall (it's less than 40 inches wide) is the perfect fit for her Crate & Barrel desk and chair.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
13/19
Back in the entryway on the opposite side, you'll happen upon a bathroom and -- around the right corner -- Chris and Julia's master bedroom. The area rug is from FLOR, the bench is from Overstock, the art is from Minted, the wallpaper is Hygge & West, and the hooks are from Pottery Barn.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
14/19
A peek into their bedroom, which is outfitted with the same flooring used throughout the main floor. "I never want to not use a room to the fullest because I'm too worried about something breaking or floors getting ruined," Julia explains. "We laid faux wood tile on our main floor so we could get the warmth and beauty of wood, without the fear of our young girls spilling something and damaging the floor or Charly scratching it up."
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
15/19
"Both of us are represented in our bedroom," Julia says of the space, "My love of art. His love of warm woods and clean lines. I wanted something soft underfoot, he loves sleeping with a ceiling fan on." The bed and rug are both from West Elm, the lamps are from CB2, the art is from Etsy and Artfully Walls, the pillowcases are from Urban Outfitters, and the ceiling fan is from Wayfair. The walls are painted in Benjamin Moore's "Chelsea Gray."
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
16/19
Downstairs, you'll find the family living room, which they just finished renovating. "It's our favorite place to relax and play as a family," Julia says. "We custom ordered the sectional to fit the room and we doubled up on chaises, which has always been the dream for us!" The sectional is from Ainsley by Interior Define, the pillows are from Studio McGee, the coffee table is from Shop Candelabra, and the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore's "Simply White."
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
17/19
The sectional divides the room into two sections: one for lounging and movie nights, one for crafts and storage. The lighting and area rug are both from Rejuvenation, the craft table and chairs are from Wayfair, and the darling dog portrait is from Anewall.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
18/19
"We DIYed a simple swing for the playroom side and it's used nonstop," Julia says. In addition, Julia took these basic IKEA curtains to new heights with the addition of black pom-poms and trim.
A Welcoming Family Home in Idaho Where Comfort, Function and Dinner Parties Reign
19/19
The couple's most recent project is their massive back deck. "And the cherry on top was the outdoor fireplace we DIYed," Julia says.

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