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In Colorado, A Scandinavian-Inspired Home Full of Gratitude

by Lauren Chorpening

The home-buying process seems like it takes a lot of small miracles before anyone can move in. Dream homes get snatched off the market incredibly quickly, and even if an offer is accepted, nothing ever feels truly settled until closing day and the keys are handed off. After seeing all of the different stories over the years here on Design*Sponge, it’s safe to say that most people are relieved, thankful and inspired once they can call their house their home. Jen and Aaron’s “miracle” home is no different — it gets their full amount of gratitude.

Jen, a calligrapher and designer, and Aaron Wagner, a worship pastor and the lead singer, songwriter and producer of the band Medic, were looking to buy a house in Castle Rock, CO. The housing search had become very discouraging as houses they toured would be off the market by the end of the same day. The couple put their name on the waiting list for a new-build development that they loved, and they kept looking. After months of searching, nothing happened. They chose to pray about it. “Three hours later we got a phone call from the builder saying that someone had backed out of their home purchase at the last minute and that we had inexplicably gotten bumped to the top of a waiting list of 65. We immediately left our condo to get all the paperwork filled out at their offices and get started on designing our brand new home,” Jen says. “Just the process of how we got our home is how we knew it was the one. It was seriously a miracle.” The couple’s love for their new house is evident and they have spent their energy on making it their dream home.

Jen and Aaron are drawn to a Scandinavian aesthetic with a vintage vibe. Their home is bright, airy and practical for their lives working at home. “We picked a general color palette of black, white, wool and began to accumulate furniture that tied in with those themes. We also wanted our space to be very functional, so with every purchase we made, we checked that it would serve every purpose we needed it to.” The wait was worth it for Jen and Aaron’s home and they have settled into their new space beautifully. –Lauren

Photography by Jen Wagner

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Jen and Aaron have taken affordable, Scandinavian design and have given it their own personality and perspective throughout their home.
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Jen and Aaron's bright and welcoming entry gets used more than they ever anticipated. Jen says, "We stopped using the garage for both cars because it's now full of empty moving and furniture boxes we still haven't gotten rid of, so we find ourselves going in and out of the front door more often these days while we park on the street. To make our home less awkward for friends with purses and backpacks or, realistically, for us at the end of the day, we set up a sort of mudroom in the entryway to accommodate all the extras we leave the house with. I honestly bought the bench as a decorative element, but I use it every morning when I put on my shoes. I think it's funny how something decorative can unintentionally become something extremely practical."
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The living room is open to the kitchen, making a sectional the perfect solution to separate the two spaces.
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"I loved the challenge of styling a bar cart. I've only ever styled the dresser in our bedroom and a few other similar spaces, so a bar cart was a new challenge that was tougher than I thought it would be. Learning how to create function without clutter became the main task of styling, and I ended up having a lot of fun figuring it out," Jen says.
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The living room is a cozy mix of styles that gives it a perfect transitional look.
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Jen's creativity in her decorating is fun and inventive. The record player doubles as a display surface when it's not in use.
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Several of the pieces in the Wagner's home were purchased at IKEA. They have been styled in a way that features the furniture well, while making the overall space the true feature.
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"Kingsley is our 'little cuddle guy.' A friend of ours found him in a ditch in downtown Denver two years ago (soon after we got married) and we agreed to welcome him into our new family! He was extremely malnourished and so skittish, but he has since become one of the most loving and hilarious dogs I've ever owned. His personality comes out more and more every day and he's seriously the biggest cuddler ever," Jen says.
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The living room looks into the beautiful kitchen. "I absolutely love all the light that our kitchen gets throughout the day. Light from the windows in the living room help[s] brighten up the corners, so it never feels dark. Our kitchen island is also big enough to serve as our dining table, which we love because people usually go straight to the kitchen island anyway! It's been a great setup that invites friends into the process of cooking and great conversation simply by proximity."
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"The sink area is somewhere I wanted to be really intentional because I spend a good amount of time there throughout the week doing dishes," Jen says. "I'd hoped that decorating the corner with a photo of Aaron and me, a print I made him and a couple [of] other details might make doing dishes enjoyable. It didn't, but I do love our kitchen!"
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"My favorite thing about our bedroom is that it really feels like a sanctuary. We intentionally keep the TV and computers out of the bedroom so that whenever we step foot through the door, we can relax. Because we run our own small businesses, every room in our home is used for work in some capacity except our bedroom. We're thankful our bedroom is a place where work isn't welcome," Jen says.
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The bedroom is styled, yet free of clutter. The combination of big-box pieces with vintage furniture throughout their home creates an approachable aesthetic with personality. "The mid-century dresser that graces our bedroom is my favorite piece of furniture in the whole house," Jen says. "We found it on Craigslist for $50 in northwest Denver and it was in desperate need of some TLC. I refinished it soon after we bought it and kept all the original hardware. Isn't she beautiful?"
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The first cosmetic change in the bedroom was switching the builder-grade lighting with a pendant from IKEA. They noticed the space's style was immediately elevated. Jen and Aaron's wedding photos on the wall add a sentimental touch.
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"Aaron bought me this piano for Christmas last year. It’s old and out of tune and the previous owner got stain all over the keys, but it’s perfect," Jen says.
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Jen and Aaron call this the writing room. It's where Aaron's new songs are written and inspired. They have had trouble getting this space to work perfectly for the couple in terms of design and function, but it is getting there.
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This poster of Johnny Cash is Aaron's favorite piece of art in the house. He is inspired by the rough edges of Cash and his transition to gospel music at the end of his life.
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"The master bathroom was by far the most intentional part of our home through the design process. I knew that I wouldn't want to replace tile when it came time to renovate, so we bit the bullet and got the shower exactly the way we wanted! It features wide subway tile with dark grout and a river rock shower pan. I look forward to taking a shower every night," Jen says.
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The upstairs landing is a large, open loft that Jen and Aaron have turned into their shared office space. It was the first priority to get done when they moved into their home since they both require designated, well-equipped spaces to work from.
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Jen and Aaron found this solid wood couch on Craigslist for $50. After the painfully heavy trip getting it upstairs, they've decided it is going to stay in the loft indefinitely.
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Jen teaches calligraphy online along with running an Etsy shop with her designs. "I believe creating is a massive part of everyone's life, whether they define themselves as a creative or not, and I want my home, art and life to reflect that innate quality," Jen says.
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Kingsley enjoys working in the office space as well.
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The memo boards in the loft space are used to brainstorm ideas with collaborators and friends.
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Jen, Kingsley and Aaron in their office space.
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What I love most about our home is...
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Jen and Aaron's floor plan.

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