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