Whether she’s transforming her kitchen, styling effortlessly chic outfits, or fielding questions about relationships and parenting, Kate Arends lives up to the name of her popular design and lifestyle company: Wit & Delight. Like your friend who always thrifts the coolest finds, Kate adds her relaxed and irreverent style to everything she touches.
That’s especially true of the sprawling Colonial rambler she shares with her family in St. Paul, Minnesota. The classic architectural style is a dream backdrop for Kate’s playful twists on traditional decor. But when the family first moved in, it was full of wild paint colors and a few questionable design choices. No matter! Kate has spent the last two years turning it into a home that’s unmistakably hers, from the pink-and-marble kitchen to the inviting blue library. Each room is a constant work in progress — with evolving combinations of artwork, vintage rugs, and charming accents — but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
With her keen eye and abundance of rooms to fill, Kate has decor scouting down to an art, whether she’s browsing thrift stores or searching online. “I have a running list of pieces I’m keeping an eye out for,” she says. “You never know when you’ll stumble upon the perfect thing!”
When Kate shops online, she uses keywords to locate looks that reflect specific styles, eras, and designers. Shop with Google helps her compare items and prices at a glance without visiting multiple sites. “It saves time and energy, plus I find items from new-to-me shops that I would have otherwise missed,” she says. (And now that Apartment Therapy house tours are shoppable, you can identify and bring home those special pieces that just make a room work.)
The constant treasure hunt means that when Kate finds a piece, whether it’s a print by a new artist or an old cabinet destined for a DIY, it fits into her home like it’s always been there. “Design for how you live and who you are,” Kate says. “Your home will support and enhance your life, and you’ll enjoy it more.”
My Style: Traditional with a modern twist.
Inspiration: Period pieces like Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Wes Anderson films.
Favorite Element: Our property and the way the house was designed with views of the outdoors in mind.
Biggest Challenge: The layout. With two additions, we have run into costly issues when renovating. We’re working with the existing floor plan to minimize those extra expenses, like having to remove all the subflooring.
Proudest DIY: Our dining room chairs!
Biggest Indulgence: Swedish kilim rugs and our artwork.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? The pendant above our kitchen island, the Swedish kilim rugs in our foyer, the Eames chair in my office, the HUGE sectional in our family room, and the vintage chairs in our formal living room. They are items that I fell in love with as soon as I saw them, and I think they act as focal points in each of these spaces.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I search for hutches and reclaimed cabinets at salvage shops. I love using them for organizing toys, storing linens, and hiding clutter in high-traffic areas. These larger pieces are often cheaper than buying something new and can act like extensions of your closets.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or piece of decorating advice? Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through when designing your home. Surround yourself with the things you love and you’ll be surprised how unique and beautiful your space becomes.
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