A Sneak Peek of Our New Home

Interiors & Decor

Living Room Design

All the experts and therapists will tell you it is not ideal to make a big life change during a pandemic. Given all the financial instability and general anxiety, I have thought to myself many times, REALLY. WHY NOW, KATE? 

Yellow Wall Color

As it turns out, finding ourselves neck-deep in all the work that goes into buying and selling a home ended up being a welcome distraction once Joe and I came to the agreement it was time to make a change. Wit & Delight has been operating out of a studio for four years now, and while our team has grown and changed a lot over the years, home is where most of our work is done. We decided it was time to take Wit & Delight “in house.”

Pink Wall Color
Kitchen Design

The Qualities We Were Looking to Find

This meant finding a place that could balance work and life. A place I could make the artwork for our prints and cook and style rooms; a space where things were stable and not changing every few months. We looked at a number of fixers across different cities in the Twin Cities, all the while feeling in great hands with our realtor who totally “got” the uniqueness of what we needed.

Wit & Delight New Home

We also didn’t want to have to gut another property entirely, so we were looking for a fixer with cosmetic issues but great bones. It’s not the easiest brief. We looked at homes with no shortage of character but a host of “Mayo Clinic” type issues (a term I’ve adopted from our realtor meaning there are internal issues with plumbing, electrical, and heating that need major repair). Thinking about how much we spent just moving our mechanical room a few feet in our current home on Otis Ave. makes me nauseated, so we left those properties for someone else to bring back to life.

Wit & Delight New Home
Pink Bathroom Tile

The search was focused outside of St. Paul. We were considering public schools with high ratings—Edina, Minnetonka, and Wayzata. The more we looked in these neighborhoods, the less at home we felt. Maybe we were more of an urban family? I could imagine us walking the sidewalks of the incredibly beautiful home in the Morningside neighborhood—but that felt a couple of years away for us. Once we started crunching the numbers and considered moving the kids in elementary school vs. preschool, we opened up our search in St. Paul again. 

And funnily enough, we found a home right under our nose.

Our New Home

Wit & Delight New Home

In a plot twist, a photographer and art director we’ve worked with in the past, Beth Cath, messaged me late one night in March exclaiming that she had found a home with “Wit & Delight” written all over it. I looked at the listing and made an appointment the next day.

The house we looked at had just dropped in price and our realtor felt we could go in even lower if it was something we were willing to explore. When I walked through the doors, I told myself I couldn’t fall in love with a property because it clouds your judgment. But it was hard to not swoon at elements of this home: the windows, the floors, the molding, the sheer uniqueness of the layout. I looked at Joe and he looked at me and nodded.

When I walked through the doors, I told myself I couldn’t fall in love with a property because it clouds your judgment. But it was hard to not swoon at elements of this home: the windows, the floors, the molding, the sheer uniqueness of the layout. I looked at Joe and he looked at me and nodded.

This home is truly one of a kind, and it’s hard to name all the things I love about it. A few things that stood out to me when we first toured include:

  • The floor to ceiling windows.
  • The private backyard.
  • The rooms designed for entertaining.
  • The herringbone floors. 
  • The woodshop in the basement with plenty of room for the hobbies that currently crowd our dining room table.
Basement Design

I saw a space that was already brimming with character, built by a family who put a lot of love into the place. In so many ways, we are here to update it and put our own stamp on the property. But I love it for its idiosyncratic flourishes, and instead of scraping it to fit the trappings of a new build, we’re planning to make do and improve what exists today.

Yellow Bathroom Tile

Our Plans for This Space

This place is bigger than we ever imagined ourselves living in, but given the fact that our team will spend time working in dedicated spaces, it feels more manageable. We’re in a neighborhood I love, with a view I’ve always dreamed about, and close to the neighborhood and neighbors we’ve grown to love so much during our almost six years in our current home.

Skylight and Chandelier

It’s got great bones and is in very good shape, which means some paint and cosmetic changes will go a long way.

Wit & Delight New Home

But, of course, I have big plans. In the next month or two, I will lay out the phases of renovation I hope to tackle in this space. We’re going to be doing things differently this time around, doing a lot more work ourselves, and going SLOWLY. We’re much wiser than we were before, and since our previous remodels, we’ve taken a good hard look at some of the work we ended up having to redo because we just didn’t have the experience of homeownership yet.

Wit & Delight New Home
Basement Bathroom Design

This new chapter has felt like a long time coming (truly…you can read about my initial thoughts about moving in this post from 2018). Starting fresh in times of uncertainty feels oddly “right.” Even if it is a wild time to take a big risk. 

What do you think!? What would YOU do first? I can’t wait to go through this whole process with you.

BY Kate Arends - April 27, 2020

66
Leave a Reply

Shannon

I’ve been waiting all weekend for this post! Thank you for sharing this and the pictures are ARRESTING and MYSTERIOUS and GORGEOUS – they remind me of images from the early 70s home design books parents had on their shelves from when they built their home in 1975-1977. They made a huge impression on me – more every day as those colors and shapes and design ideas have started to feel fresh and usable again.

You found MY dream home. The floors alone had me at Hello.

Ann

So beautiful! I’m really excited to see what you do with it. I hate to be negative at all, but I’d love to see a post breaking down the decision behind something like this, especially financially. Honestly, we’ve seen a lot of posts on here recently about finances and how hard it is to run a small business, and there’s a little cognitive dissonance for me, as a reader, now seeing you purchase a huge, expensive home on one of the most desirable streets in St. Paul and then pour in a lot to renovate it. Obviously, maaaaajor props to… Read more »

OMG the sauna and tiled bathtub (?)! This move is the ultimate optimistic move. So excited for you guys and (selfishly) to watch the transformation unfold.

molly

ohmygoddddd. such a gorgeous space!!! congrats!! can’t wait to see your take on such unique features. (i’m kiiiinda obsessed with the kitchen–so excited to see what you’ll do with it.)

Tori

I am HOOKED. This home has found worthy new caretakers. Cannot wait to see the process, observe your choices, and see Wit&Delight’s style applied here. You got this, Kate.

Allison Quinnell

Are you closing Studio 125?

It is 2020 and not every day that I think to myself “I can’t wait for that blog post to come out!!” but alas, I found myself thinking about this multiple times over the weekend! It feels like such a good fit. Cheers to what’s next and what was!

Kim

I’m so excited to see the journey of this house!

Catherine

Minnesota transplant in DC — I saw both this house and your Otis house on Zillow about a week ago while homesick for MN and browsing listings! SO excited to see how you’re going to put your stamp on it. (Although I’m hoping you keep the sauna!)

WOW! This is going to be interesting indeed! A very different home and I am always intrigued by basements – we don’t have a lot of them in home in my area of central Virginia. You have us hooked and we want to see EVERY LITTLE THING! Carry on…..

Katie Farrin

What an absolute gem of a home! Kate, it is stunning! I love the goodness of it but also know that you will put your stamp on it. I also love that you are going slower. I feel that it gives you a better sense of what you need.

Can’t wait to follow along! 🙂

Jane O

I would love to own this home and my first purchase would be a paint sprayer….so much can be achieved neutralizing this home. I can see what you love about it!

Beautiful! I grew up helping my parents fix up an old home and can totally see all the details and potential. You are going to make it something truly magical.

Cassie

This house has so much character! I love it! I look forward to seeing how you make it yours.

Amanda

Loooove this! I just moved to Saint Paul from six years in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. Can’t wait to follow along on your journey.

Amanda

I’m so excited for this!

Miikka

Wow. One word: Sauna. Do you have it all yet? The house, the sauna, the kiddies, the hot husband, the calm dog, the money, the rooms filled with stuff, the clothes, the trips to Europe, and the fame as America’s Lifestyle Blogger Guru. I think you did it Kate. Your # Uno, #1.

This house is so you Kate, I love it. It’s one of the most unique places I have ever seen and I can just imagine what you guys will do with it. I would personally start with the area your family spends the most time in, for us that’s our living room and bedroom. What are your plans for an office space? I thought for a long time about building an office space but we also do most of our content in the house. I would love to see more bts of your shoots, maybe styling and what your team… Read more »

Malorie Bertrand

Kate, congrats to you and Peter and the kids. This is an absolute gem. You must be so-damn-excited to move in and setup house/shop. It seems to make financial sense to have everything under one roof. I’m sure you’re eager to save on rent for the studio! I have a challenge for you, and this may very well be your approach for this reno, but, would you consider updating this home with a less-is-more approach? You’ve been taking small steps to reduce your ecological footprint by eliminating single-use plastics, and you favour quality products that stand the test of time.… Read more »

Rachael

I am so excited for you guys and of course, to follow along on your design journey 🙂

Sarah

Wow. Great bones. Congratulations! Do the kitchen first! Huge transformation there. I would want to do it all right away. You have great self restraint! Would love to see the backyard too!

Lane

Beautiful. Such great bones. I love everything about it. My house is much smaller but I had similar criteria. The interest factor was just so important for me. I would still replace and upgrade all electrical and plumbing during reno. If those bathrooms are over 50-60 years old then it just makes sense to do all that before spending more money on the visible things. That way you’ll be good for another 50-60 years in the future. You may not care for such a long timeframe, but you don’t want to pay $20-30K per bathroom to have things start leaking… Read more »

Sabrina Kondelis

Wow, wow, wow! Looks dreamy and intriguing; can’t wait to see what you do with it.

Taylor

Wow. What an awesome and unique home! I’m so excited for you and am looking forward to following along as you design this home. I love the idea of going about it slowly as well to really get a feel for what you really want/need long-term.
Good luck to you, Kate!

Katerina

Hi Kate! I felt compelled to join in on this conversation (I am a professional realtor and my husband and I renovate homes as well). First of all – Congratulations on your new purchase. You did well! This house is beaming with so much potential! I agree with you completely- go slow. Take your time getting to know this house, understand what it really needs. The longer you are in it, the more you get it. Personally, I would start with determining the “theme/direction” and go from there. You have some elements of mcm, traditional, contemporary, rustic – too many… Read more »

Tara in Texas

I lived in Apple Valley for a summer, worked in St. Paul and my college boyfriend grew up in Minnetonka, I LOVE St. Paul and I’m so glad y’all found a fabulous house! I love everything about it and can’t wait to see your updates. 🙂

Kristy

I just…woof. Acknowledge the privilege? I need to stop following you/all this.

Megan

Love the new season! I think I would tackle which areas are team vs family. Maybe setting a hard boundary will allow for creativity to flow for both areas

CHRISTA

Oh My God! What an amazing house, and you will make it perfect! Every room has such interesting and amazing details. I even love the original bathrooms with quirky wallpaper. It’s great. Congratulations.

Anna

Its disappointing to see you only keep the positive comments that support you unequivocally. Mine has been deleted multiple times for…what? Politely pointing out a blindspot of privilege?

I absolutely love the room with the brick arches! I wouldn’t change those for anything. I do love the wood floors in other rooms though.

Tim from Toronto

Just discovered you on Instagram.Wow, what an opportunity! So much potential for both your family and business. I will never be able to afford to live in a property like that, but get all kinds of visions of what the house could become. The only thing that would stop me from going head first into the renovation, would be the financial side of things. I grew up living in homes that my parents saw potential in and we worked together to make it happen. Both fond and frustrating memories haha. Seeing the home they had purchased and being excited at… Read more »

Thanks Kate for informative share! I am really impressive with images of your house.

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Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.

Hi, I'm Kate. Welcome to my happy place.

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