Family therapist Kari Jensen lives with her husband and her three daughters in St. Paul, Minnesota. The self-described homebody has made the space feel shabby chic, with homemade furniture and floral wallpaper. Here’s a peek inside…
On white walls: When we moved in nine years ago, the walls were beige. But about two years ago, after being inspired by all the amazing design on the internet, we decided to paint them white. I was surprised by how much it brightened up the space. The house felt so much bigger, like we had bumped out our walls a few feet.
On family pictures: We used to have family photos on our gallery wall. But then I decided to choose pieces of art that would represent our family members, rather than be of them. For example, the floral art is a picture that my five-year-old and I picked out together. She loves flowers; she’s always picking them. And my husband and I call our two-year-old our wild horse — she’s like the wild horse that can’t be broken! — so the horse painting represents her.
On movie nights: Every Friday, we have a family movie night to welcome the weekend. The girls really look forward to it. They get to pick the movie and the meal — usually tacos or nachos. We recently watched ET, and the new live Cinderella is really popular around here.
Pallet bench: handcrafted. Mudcloth pillows: Maewoven.
On their first baby: Our nine-year-old dog, Jazzy, take naps on the daybed. She used to be super spoiled, but now that we have three children, she doesn’t get quite so much attention. My parents, who live close by, sometimes take her so she can have some respite from little kids wanting to play all the time. She’s a trooper!
On traveling with children: We brought the blue blanket home from a family trip to Puerto Morelos, Mexico, a few years ago. It was the first time the girls had been on a plane. When traveling with kids you can’t have too high expectations. It can be a bit of a dance, but I try to be be patient and embrace the chaos with humor. Also, we always bring a bag of books and activities that are new to them.
Wallpaper: Hygge & West. Table: handcrafted. Chairs: family heirlooms.
On kids’ art: The girls love arts and crafts. If you bring out paints and give them any task, they’ll go to town. They’ll spend hours at our dining table — which is great during long Minnesota winters. I try to incorporate their art around the house. The watercolor piece at the bottom of the living room gallery wall is by our five-year-old. They get a kick out of it when we hang their stuff up — there’s a real pride and thrill in it.
On cooking at home: I need to follow recipes, but my husband can cook up the most delicious meal out of basically nothing. We met working at a restaurant — he was the manager and I was a server — and we worked every day except for Sunday. Sundays became our day; we would always grocery shop and make dinner together. Our favorite meal then was turkey meatballs and marinara. We always go back to that meal, it brings back memories.
On picky eaters: My daughters have recently become really picky, and we are learning as we go. What has worked lately is going to the grocery store and letting them choose something them themselves. Now that it’s farmer’s market season, they also pick out veggies and fruit there every weekend. Being a part of the process gets them more excited.
On making furniture: We always wanted a farmhouse table, so we made one for the dining room with wood from my grandmother’s barn. She is going to be 88 this summer, and she has lived on her farm for over 30 years, but we think it might be her last year living there. The barn is still standing, and we took pieces from the inside to use for the table as a keepsake.
On summer trips: We love to visit my grandmother’s farm, which is three hours west of us. As kids, we’d spend a couple weeks out there every summer. We would go swimming, ride the horses, play in the garden. Those are some of my best childhood memories. Now I love to take my own children.
On books: At night, once the kids are asleep, I like to curl up with a book. I love anything by Brené Brown. I am also re-reading, for probably the third time, Simplicity Parenting. Our two-year-old is going through some growing pains, so I am going back to an old favorite.
Dresser: family heirloom. Shelves: handcrafted.
On family projects: I made our bedroom pillow cases, along with everything at Bloom Handmade. My mom taught me how to sew, and we make clothes for my girls, too. I also love having family heirlooms in our home. The dresser was from my husband’s grandmother, and we’ll never part with it.
On essential oils: The whole family uses Young Living Essential Oils. It’s part of our nap and bedtime routine. I’ll spray their blankets and sometimes pajamas with a linen spray — usually lavender and sometimes orange. I’ll do the same for myself. They have a scent called Gentle Baby I love for our youngest. We’ve seen them sleep better since we started using them. It’s calming and relaxing and sets the the tone for bedtime.
Nightstand: handcrafted. Lamp: Target.
On sharing beds: Our older girls have shared a bed for over a year. It happened naturally. My husband’s work schedule was chaotic, so he was rarely home for bedtime. So, I’d read to the girls together until they both fell asleep. Then I would put my two-year-old in her crib, but she started waking up in the middle of the night asking where her sister was. So, one night, I just kept her snuggled in the bed, and it started a ritual. They love sharing a room and a bed — it’s really cute to watch them cuddle each other in their sleepy state.
On ‘K’ names: My mom’s name is Karen, and I’m Kari. So I started looking with K’s and we liked Kaia. When we found out we were having a second girl, we decided to keep with the Ks and named her Kendi. And when we had a third girl, we knew we had to go with K again or she might feel left out. So, she’s Klo.
Crib: Young America. Rocking chair: thrifted.
On finding out the sex of the baby: We found out the sex of our first two daughters, so for the third, we wanted it to be a surprise. I wanted to have the experience of finding out in the delivery room at least once. The first two pregnancies were identical, and my third was not — I wasn’t nearly as sick in the first trimester. So, I was actually surprised it was another girl.
Shower curtain: Target.
On being homebodies: We’re homebodies, and our girls are, too. We’ve spent the last nine years fixing up our house, and we’ve put our whole heart into it.
Thank you so much, Kari!