Interiors

A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Home in Minnesota

by Sabrina Smelko

While attending graduate school, Kari Jensen and her then-fΓ­ance, Aaron, rented a space in her brother’s home in the heart of Saint Paul, MN (which we featured in last week’s city guide). While neck-deep in studies nearly 10 years ago, the couple decided to take a break and spend a day browsing the city when they happened upon this cute bungalow just down the street. To their surprise, they found themselves considering — and ultimately buying — it. “We grew to love the neighborhood and the location was perfect for work and school and where we found ourselves playing on the weekends,” Kari shares. “It was completely on a whim, but we toured the house, liked what we saw, and thought it would be a good starter home for us until we were ready to grow our family.”

Their 1,600-square-foot bungalow is bright, clean and borders on minimal, but it still boasts just the right amount of character and charm — thanks to the home’s many original features, such as its archways, wood-trimmed windows, the fireplace and doors. Built in 1932, this space that they once considered their temporary starter home has become the place where they’ve raised their three children, Kaia, Kendi, and Klo (an ongoing journey which Kari chronicles on the blog Living Life’s Moments). Despite the home beingΒ the ultimate family zone, completed with their dog, Jazzy, Kari didn’t always see it this way. “We never thought we’d be in our home as long as we have. Nine years and three little birdies later, we are still in our first home!”

Nearly a decade ago, when the couple first bought their home, it was in pretty good shape and only in need of cosmetic updates; projects which were completed with gusto and excitement over the years. But as Kari explains best, “despite the work we have done to improve our home over the years, it has always felt like home to us because of the people and the things we have in it.” Since day one, and exponentially with every addition they’ve made to their family over the years, the home has become more refined, functional and cozy. “We have found that less really is more,” Kari begins, “by reducing [unnecessary] decor or eliminating clutter, we have a space that feels cleaner, more functional, and overall feels bigger. We bring in what we need and try our hardest to leave out those ‘wanted things’.” With this in mind, many of the furnishings that do stand in their home tell some kind of tale, whether it’s the table Kari’s dad made for the family using her grandmother’s barn wood, or the coffee table Kari designed and had made, and even the dresser in the couple’s bedroom which was Aaron’s grandmother’s. “Everything has a story,” Kari says, “and that is what I love so much about the spaces we have created.”

Over the years, the Jensen family has put a lot of heart into their home, making it their own and allowing it to evolve and adapt to their needs. But more than where they live, and more than the decor and furniture they own, Kari’s most thankful for who lives under this roof, saying: “It isn’t our forever home, but we sure do love itΒ —Β especially the people in it.” –Sabrina

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A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Family Home in Saint Paul, MN
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Upon entering the Jensen Family's home through original doors, you land in the living room, which is separated from the dining room by this arched wall.
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The whole family together, just how they prefer it.
A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Family Home in Saint Paul, MN
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The wood shelves in the dining space, which house plenty of plants, were made from salvaged wood from Kari's grandmother's barn.
A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Family Home in Saint Paul, MN
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The heart of the Jensen home is their living room, painted in White Dove by Benjamin Moore.
A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Family Home in Saint Paul, MN
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"Our gallery wall is a mix of artwork and family photos," Kari explains, "all things that speak to us." Each art piece represents a member of the family -- and some were even made by their own hands, adding love and color to the space.
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As you pass through the entryway, you're greeted by the warmth of their wood-burning fireplace.
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The view from the living room into the dining room, which features a darling banquette underneath one of the home's original windows.
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This vignette of the dining room showcases the home's gorgeous, rich wood trim and moldings. The wallpaper is from Oh Joy's collection for Hygge and West.
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The kitchen was one of the first projects the couple tackled when they first moved in, with the goal of preserving the home's original look and feel.
A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Family Home in Saint Paul, MN
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The layout of the family's 1,600-square-foot "bungaloft."
A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Family Home in Saint Paul, MN
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Klo's nursery is located at the back of the home, and houses this adorable vintage rocking chair.
A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Family Home in Saint Paul, MN
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In keeping with the home's aesthetics, most of the furniture they chose reflected the same tones of wood. The alphabet letters are from India and Sweet Details.
A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Family Home in Saint Paul, MN
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With limited closet space, wardrobes and hooks are used throughout the home. The wall art is from Rifle Paper Co.
A Charming, Minimal and Character-Filled Family Home in Saint Paul, MN
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On a rattan chair sits an afghan made by Kari's grandmother. The little deer is from Hazel Village.
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More little treasures can be found on any given surface. The baby's crib nearly blends into the wall.
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"A big girl room," Kari explains, "our two older girls share this space." The floral pillowcases are from Anthropologie.
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The nightstand doubles as storage for books and the girls' favorite bedtime stories. The "I love you" art was made by Kari.
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The view from the girls' bed shows their shared dresser. Beautiful artwork from Kelli Murray hangs on the wall along with the girls' initials, which were found at Anthropologie.
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Beneath the stairs leading to Aaron and Kari's master bedroom was awkward, otherwise unusable space that they made into a reading nook for the kids as well as a place to house their toys.
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The people (and pets) who inhabit their home are what's most important to Kari.
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Up a small flight of stairs is the master bedroom which is equally as minimal, clean and uncluttered as the rest of the home. A skylight lets in tons of natural light to wake the couple in the morning -- if the baby doesn't!
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"We are in a season of raising young children," Kari explains,"[so often that] where a nightstand used to sit is now replaced by a bassinet for our little one."
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Because the home is one-and-a-half stories, Kari and Aaron's bedroom walls are angled to accommodate the roof. But rather than seeing this as a downfall, they saw it as the perfect home for this dresser.
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To the left of the dresser, in a cozy nook, are these custom-made shelves for books, photos and trinkets.

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