The Parade of Homes is a rite of spring for Twin Citians who like to check out the latest in house features and fixtures. But feverishly trying to get a house finished in time for the annual public home tour has been a new experience for Katie and Jesse Kath, married partners in Jkath Design Build + Reinvent.
"This is our first time on the Parade," said Katie, who manages design for their firm, while her husband manages production and their cabinet shop. The couple had planned to show one of their homes during last spring's Remodelers Showcase, but that event was canceled because of COVID-19.
Even now, the pandemic continues to complicate homebuilding, with work backups, delays and back-ordered supplies. "The industry is so pinched," said Katie. "A lot of homes had to pull out of the Parade. It's no small feat we're here."
Adding to the crunch for the couple is that the house they're trying to finish is their own.
The Kaths worked on clients' projects by day, then often pulled second shifts at their new modern Tudor overlooking Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis. After the Parade ends in late March, the couple will move in with their three children.
Building their home has been a hands-on labor of love for the Kaths. Jesse, for example, built their backyard cedar privacy fence himself rather than delegating it to a crew. "With COVID, cedar is hard to find and expensive," he said. "The cost has gone way up. I tinker around. It's my therapy."
The Kaths had been looking for a place to build a home for about three years.
"Our search criteria was tight," said Katie. "We wanted to stay near the river. A lot of our client work is in the area. Our kids go to Minnehaha Academy."
Jesse was walking their dog when he spotted a "For Sale" sign being posted in front of a very small house on a generous lot. "It's 60 feet wide — 40 is common in the city," said Jesse.
"We knew it was enough for what we needed," said Katie.
Within hours they made an offer on the one-bedroom, single-story 1940s house, beating out 11 other offers.
For their new "forever home," Katie envisioned a modern take on a classic Tudor house.
"I'm drawn to the style, the character of it," she said. "It fits nicely in the city. I've always loved a Tudor home."
Working with architectural designer Jeff Lindgren, of Jalin Design, the Kaths designed a 4,350-square-foot house, including a lower level built for entertaining.
The house combines contemporary amenities (a mudroom and the currently on-trend black-framed windows) with Old World details (arched doorways and niches, and angled nooks).
"We wanted to balance with some traditional character," said Katie. "We don't have any square box rooms."
Originally, Katie wanted a detached garage. "I love city living," she said. "I'm a big proponent of detached garages and enhancing curb appeal."
But that would have required removal of 100-year-old trees, and a smaller footprint for the house. "Since this will be our forever home, it was better to keep the garage attached, and have one bedroom and bathroom above the garage."
Inside the home, the Kaths incorporated many distinctive design features, including reclaimed elm ceilings and beams, using wood sourced by Hugo-based Manomin Resawn Timbers. "The house is very custom, with unique high-end craftsmanship," said Katie. "We designed every nook and cranny. We were very thoughtful about where we need storage and how we use space."
The custom bathroom vanities were crafted by their cabinet shop using alder wood. "Alder is not as common," said Katie. "Everybody wants oak."
The kitchen combines white painted and limewashed wood cabinets. There's a hutch with reeded glass doors. "It's like pleated glass, not extremely transparent — like in an old classroom or attorney's office," said Katie. The countertops are HanStone quartz with a matte leathered finish. There's also a baking station and culinary-grade appliances. "I love to cook," said Katie. "The kids like to cook, too."
At one end of the kitchen is a breakfast nook with a built-in banquette; at the other is a pass-through pantry leading to the formal dining room.
During the project, the couple tried to support local and female-owned businesses, including Rabbit Creek lighting showroom at IMS, where they selected their Visual Comfort fixtures, including massive glass pendants above the kitchen island.
The couple's three kids got to weigh in on their own spaces.
"We had everyone start with a Pinterest board," said Katie. Their son, age 12, for example, who got the suite above the garage, wanted a dark bathroom, so she finished it with two-tone charcoal wallpaper.
"My favorite feature is the screen porch," said Jesse, of the three-season room with gas fireplace just off the living room.
"We cut the living room in half so we could extend the porch," said Katie.
She's most excited about their cabinet hardware, Cotswold-inspired pieces crafted in England by Armac Martin.
The $1.255 million house, one of five Dream Homes on the Parade, is a dream realized for the Kaths.
"Every time I come in, it's 'Gosh — pinch me!' " said Katie. "It's quite an upgrade from where we were before."
PARADE OF HOMES
What: Self-guided tour of 358 new homes throughout the Twin Cities metro area, ranging in price from a $259,900 townhouse in Cambridge to a $3.275 million lake home in Minnetrista.
When: Homes will be open noon-6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, Feb. 27-March 28.
Where: Addresses and maps are available at ParadeofHomes.org; tour guidebooks available at Holiday Stationstores.
Cost: Free; $5 to tour each of five Dream Homes, including this featured home (#8). Admission supports housing for Minnesotans in need.