Fostering and Furniture: One Family’s Furniture Story

If you have kids, you know what a number they can do on a home… especially the furniture.

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Now, imagine having 32 kids through the years!!!

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A New Berlin family has opened their home to foster kids for 25 years.

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This is their Steinhafels furniture story.

Kathy and Pat McLaughlin have been married for 42 years.  Kathy, a neonatal nurse, says after they had their third child, she still wanted more.  “Pat had said, ‘Maybe, let’s see.’  I said, ‘Well, how about fostering?’  He said OK, and we ended up adopting 3 more children.”

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Kathy admits fostering wasn’t always easy.  The children ranged in age from infant to teenager, and some had special needs.  However, Kathy feels the experience has enriched the entire family.  She explains, “There’s always room for one more, and they bring so much joy to the rest of the family, and it helps the rest of the family to recognize the hardships some people have.  All of my children have become more tolerant of individuals who are struggling–whether it be emotionally, substance abuse, or neglect.  They’ve learned to really look at people and give them a chance.”

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Kathy is proud to say that many of her ‘kids’ have gone on to be successful adults–from graduating, to establishing impressive careers, to marrying and having children.  These days, Kathy and Pat are adjusting to being almost empty-nesters!  One of their adopted children still lives with them.  Kathy admits it’s been quite a change.  ”It was a very busy house, and now it’s so quiet.”

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As part of the couple’s new beginning, Kathy is working on redesigning the home, room by room, starting with the family room.  Given her large family, buying quality furniture was always a worthwhile investment for Kathy.  She has been a loyal Steinhafels customer for decades, and explains, “We always purchased a better quality furniture just because we knew how rough it would be with all the kids.  We had to do a lot of rocking, a lot of sitting, a lot of comforting, counseling–and that was all done in the family room.  We would sit in there together.  The kids did homework in the family room.  We would play games a lot.  On holidays we would have an average of 50 people.  A lot of the foster kids would come back, and bring their families.”

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Kathy didn’t have to look far to find an interior designer for the family room.  She hired Lori Green, a Designer with Steinhafels’ Decorating Solutions Interior Design Program.  As you can see from these pictures, the redesign project was quite a success!

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“The new furnishings have changed the entire feel of the lower level of our home. The furniture adds comfort that we truly needed,” Kathy gushes.

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Kathy admits that hiring a designer also allowed her to take a few risks.  “It’s wonderful.  Sometimes as a consumer you’re afraid to mix colors and blend colors, and to have them say, ‘Let’s try this,’ it’s beautiful.  They’re not afraid to go that extra step.”

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Many couples downsize once they hit their 60’s, but Kathy can’t imagine selling her family’s 3,000 square foot abode…yet.  The home has too many memories, and her children and grandchildren need a place to visit.

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So the redecorating project is far from over!  As you can imagine, after raising 32 children in the home, some of the rooms have seen better days.  Kathy says, “I’m really wanting a new kitchen set.  The boys have basically broken every chair.”   I bet moms with boys who are reading this blog are nodding their heads at that comment!

Kathy adds, “My next goal is the living room.  The furniture we have in there is some cheap stuff because we didn’t have money for anything else.”

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Kathy and Pat have worked hard to get where they are today, and they look forward to a future full of family, furniture, and fun.  As I talked about in my first blog, furniture tells a story.  For this special family, that story is one of love and acceptance–and a lot of wear and tear on the sofas through the years!!

Do you have a Steinhafels Furniture Story? Tell us about it!  We may feature you in the next blog.  Leave your contact info in the comments below, or email stephanieg@steinhafels.com