Home & Design | Built to Last
It’s dinnertime in Katie and Jesse Kath’s Minneapolis home, and 12-year-old Charlie has taken over the kitchen, forming patties for his souped-up gourmet burgers and moving about with the ease of a seasoned chef. Jesse and teens Sienna and Lyla get comfy on the banquette and sofa in the open living room, while Katie stands at the ready near the island. “The joke is that I’m his sous-chef,” she says. “He does the cooking, and I do whatever he tells me to do, which basically means I clean it all up.”
Relinquishing some of the cooking duties is one of the perks of being in the “2.0 stage of life,” as Katie calls it—a stage where the kids are older (though still not interested in dealing with dishes) and empty-nesting isn’t too far off in the future. It’s also the stage that drove the decisions when Katie and Jesse—the couple behind Jkath Design Build + Reinvent and some notable award-winning Twin Cities renovations—built their modern Tudor in an old neighborhood set along Minnehaha Creek. “We knew this house could truly be a forever home in terms of the use of space and the aesthetic,” Katie says.
Building the 4,000-square-foot forever home wasn’t initially part of their plan. In fact, building new was at the bottom of their list. But when Jesse took their dog, Otis, on a walk in their neighborhood one night and saw someone pounding a For Sale sign into a yard with a tiny old house set back on a wide lot, he came home thinking they should pivot their sometimes frustrating three-year search. “We had put in a lot of offers on dream lot, dream property, dream street, dream neighborhood, but nothing was coming to fruition,” says Katie, who heads up the company’s interior design. “So we reset our expectations. It made us think outside the box and ask, ‘Could this be one of those opportunities we hadn’t considered?’ ”
When their offer was accepted from among 10 others, they “were shocked and unprepared, but also excited and confident,” Katie says. Tudor style, Katie’s favorite, was a given. Beyond that, it was a matter of thinking through their 2.0 stage—and 3.0 stage—to come up with a home that uses space smartly and seems a perfect fit for the blended family now and for the couple later.
The layout mixes traditional closed spaces, such as a formal dining room, with a casual and open kitchen/living room. The modestly sized living room is designed for conversation, not binge-watching on a big sectional. The square footage saved there went to the couple’s dream room: a moody-cool sunroom with stackable vinyl windows that essentially convert it to a screened porch. Upstairs, an office gives the couple a work-from-home option for the future, and most of the kids’ bedrooms have a bathroom. “That’s a luxury, but since we were thinking long-term, I think we’ll be glad we have those extra spaces when they visit.” Design-wise, Katie took a sophisticated approach, most notably with dark-stained furniture-like built-ins crafted by either Jesse or the crew in his company’s cabinet shop.
With the stress of a whirlwind building process now behind her, Katie is enjoying the payoff. “We kind of feel this house is a ‘best of’ Jkath Design Build + Reinvent because we pulled some of our favorite ideas from other projects into it,” she says. “It’s not excessive or overly abundant—it’s just good use of space. You feel comfortable.”
Design/renovation: Jesse Kath and Katie Kath, Jkath Design Build + Reinvent, 2052 St. Clair Ave., St. Paul, 612-730-3299, jkath.com // Landscape design: Exterior Design Studio, 5780 Lincoln Dr., Ste. 125, Edina, 952-922-4445, edsedina.com