Photos by Wing Ta
Patti and Brian Wagner’s kitchen, once an attached garage, is famous. The two bedrooms the couple remodeled together are nice, but the kitchen still takes the cake. In the polished photos Patti shares with her nearly 200,000 Instagram followers, she’ll style artful arrangements of greenery against immaculate marble counters and tile backsplashes. But in real life, her kitchen is more lived in: Baby utensils are set out to dry on a rack, and a bouncy red-and-blue baby jumper sits in the corner. There’s also a pitcher and a paper towel holder set out on the counter, but they go with the aesthetic. After all, her life is both what her audience sees and more.
This past June, Patti left her 13-year tenure as a product designer at Target to manage the rental properties she and Brian run, take on freelance design projects (she has an interior design degree), and stay at home with her three kids (Ava, 5; Livy, 3; Jack, 1). Unlike many Instagram influencers, she hasn’t turned her digital fame into a job; in fact, she hasn’t even pinned down her brand. As she says, when she started her account five years ago, it was authentically her. She wants to keep it that way—a mission that carries over to her design values.
“It’s so easy to style things with pretty stuff, but if it doesn’t drive a conversation or a story, it can fall flat for a house,” says Patti, gesturing to a stylized shelving unit in her living room that holds plenty of memorabilia. The black book is the senior flight log Brian filled out to become a pilot, and the glass box holds his wedding boutonniere. On the top shelf is the puzzle box his brother brought back from Afghanistan, where he was a Black Hawk pilot.
Their Linden Hills house, known online as #1927WagnerTudor, also has a certain air of history, featuring archways, lighting, hardware, and windows original to the home. Its age meant labors of love: Not including their DIY remodeling, the couple has reglazed windows, repaired plaster cracks, painted, and optimized Brian’s ever-growing list of handyman skills over the years.
When they bought the house in 2012, Patti’s initial thoughts were to redo some of the older parts, but Brian had fallen in love with the architecture and helped her see its beauty. Now, Patti’s mid-century modern style gravitates to old-world touches, charming details, and décor both inviting and functional for the whole family, including the living room’s white couch and chairs. Yes, accidents happen (including the occasional wine spill, she admits), but you deal with them and move on. “What good is a space that’s functional but you don’t love it? That doesn’t feel like home either,” Patti says.
The Wagners’ home is also filled with items across all price ranges, which is just the way she likes it. “When I looked through magazines as a little kid with not much money, it was like, ‘If you are rich, you can have a beautiful house,’” she says. “But I think good design can be for everyone.”
Influencer | Patti Wagner
What’s your ideal spring day?
Going on walks with our family. Maybe we’ll stop and Mom and Dad will get coffee at Penny’s or Dunn Bros., and maybe we’ll grab a little ice cream for the girls. We’ll lunch at Naviya’s or Tilia. Then when we’re done, we just walk back and look at all the different homes.
How do you take care of clutter?
For our kids’ stuff, we like to rotate out their toys. Every month we’ll kind of analyze: ‘Okay, are you guys still playing with this toy?’ If not, we’ll put it away for now, or if they’re done with it, we’ll donate it.
What are some little details of your house that you love but aren’t always noticed at first glance?
The hardware—all the cool knobs, hinges, and keyholes. We left all the hardware in their original finishes, and they’re all different types: bronze, silver, crystal, and brass.