Timeless Traditions Abound in a Local Designer’s Home

Thoughtful design and decor decisions set the stage for a festive holiday season in this family abode

Photos by Chelsie Lopez

Dried fruit, modern holiday trees, and a trio of taper candles elevate the living room’s cast stone fireplace mantel.

Every day, Katie Kath helps homeowners invent spaces that prioritize timeless interiors, exceptional quality, and impeccable craftsmanship—but this build was different. “Now, we were the client,” says Kath, interior designer and partner at Jkath Design Build + Reinvent. “Not only did we have to manage the bill, but then we [also] had to play the role of the client and double down.”

A few years ago, Kath and her husband, Jesse, purchased a double-wide lot with a
small, one-bedroom house, but they both saw the spot along Minnehaha Creek as the perfect building opportunity—a place where Katie could craft her dream home with intention and thoughtfulness. Aesthetically, she wished to move away from the standard builder-grade feel and inch closer to a more timeless look with customized features specifically tailored to her family of five. Despite the clear vision, the 4,000-square-foot build was interrupted by the onset of the pandemic. “When our industry was deemed inessential, we put people to work,” Katie says.

Overlooking the snowy Minnehaha Creek property, the kitchen’s charming breakfast nook beckons the family of five to gather and savor delicious meals and meaningful moments.

But while the build was completed in record time—a mere eight months!—design decisions were far from spontaneous. Acting as both the manager and client required special attention to details, both big and small, to ensure the home would withstand the test of time.

Stand-out elements on the main floor, such as reclaimed wood beams from Minnesota-based Manomin Resawn Timbers and alder accents incorporated into the cabinetry, island, and built-in banquette, add texture and warmth to create a welcoming living and entertaining space—perfect for hosting guests and escaping the bitter cold in the winter months. During the holiday season, Katie carefully hangs stockings near the unfinished cast stone fireplace surround that also matches the kitchen cabinetry and serves as the room’s contemporary focal point. Intentionally skipping a tile inlay, Katie instead opted for white oak flooring all the way up to the base, providing a streamlined look year-round. “This was a show house for us,” Katie says. “This was an opportunity to show that we can think outside the box.”

Every impeccable detail and design decision was intentional. For instance, black-frame windows add to the home’s sleek, modern design—but the space itself is far from cold.
By strategically mixing in gold tones throughout, it feels comfortable and clean. The baseboards and millwork are taller than industry standard, tying in a more traditional style, while unlacquered brass cabinet hardware (sourced from Armac Martin out of London) incorporated throughout the kitchen provides the contrast Katie was looking for.

But she says there’s one detail within her home that cannot be bought: tradition. Between numerous events and dinner parties, it can be easy to lose sight of what matters most during the holidays, she says. Project timelines and building materials aside, Katie says this season is what makes her house a home. “It’s the traditions we have as a family toward the end of the year that bring us all together and make our home feel cozy, safe, warm, and inviting,” Katie says, echoing her original vision: a timeless, traditional abode that brings festive flair to the forefront.

Seasonal Spirit

Jkath Design Build + Reinvent’s Katie Kath knows exactly what she needs to get into the holiday spirit: decorating. While she finds joy in unpacking the bins of holiday decor every year, she says the task can feel daunting for some. Here are her top tips for adding seasonal spirit to your spaces.

The kitchen, with its sleek, modern, and industrial aesthetic, boasts plenty of places to wrap gifts and prepare holiday meals.

Avoid holidays, embrace seasons. Decorate for the season, not necessarily the specific holiday. Kath says this simple switch allows pieces to stay out longer and for spaces to become more versatile throughout the holidays.

Stay neutral. Kath sticks to earth tones around the holidays. Bright colors can come in the forms of accents, like throw pillows and rugs, but should not become the dominant color scheme, she says.

Be conscious of space. Instead of decorating your entire home, Kath suggests dialing in your efforts. For her, that means decorating the main floor for hosting but skipping the upstairs and smaller rooms.

Make it an event. Block off a day to decorate your space with family. Curating a new holiday playlist of favorites and playing the tunes in the background gets Kath’s family in the holiday spirit.

Invest wisely. High-quality garland is not cheap, but Kath says it is the gift that keeps on giving. Pay for the good stuff upfront, she says, so you can reuse decor year after year.

Watch end-of-season sales. Come January, look for end-of-season deals, buy what speaks to you, and pack it away until next year. Opening a box of decor to find a piece you completely forgot you bought is a gift in itself, Kath adds.

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