A trained graphic designer turned blogger turned marketing coordinater turned designer for Target, Kate Arends of Wit & Delight is a woman who wears many hats. If you’ve ever read her blog, you know Kate is one seriously talented lady. After working as a designer at Cue in Minneapolis for six years Kate switched gears completely, becoming the marketing coordinator for North Corp. Soon she will be changing roles again, going freelance in March to focus on blogging and consulting, among other exciting ventures. First up is a product collaboration with Target that launches next September, and we can’t wait to get our hands on whatever items Kate has in store.
As if her career accomplishments weren’t impressive enough, Kate also has some serious interior design talents. Today we’re thrilled to show you around the beautiful Minneapolis apartment Kate shares with her husband, Joe. Minimalistic, eclectic and perfectly curated are just a few words we would use to describe it. We love Kate’s home for many reasons, but mostly because she thinks outside of the box, placing elements where no one would think to place them and mixing pieces no one else would think to mix. Case in point? Propping up a piece of wood with stacks of magazines and then using it as a decorative shelf. Using chairs as nightstands. Flipping a trunk on it’s side and placing a mirror and candles atop it. These elements are so perfectly blended you wouldn’t even notice they were out of the ordinary at first glance. Like all great designers, she also mixes highs and lows; Ikea furniture with beautiful Bertoia chairs from her grandmother and Etsy art with a one-of-a-kind tape drawing by Neal Perbix. And we love her all the more for it.
Read on to hear all about Kate’s career, her beautiful home, and what she loves most about living in Minneapolis.
Full Name: Kate Arends
Current Title/Company: Director of Marketing & Communications for North Corp
Educational Background: B.F.A. Graphic Design, Iowa State University
What was your first job out of college and how did you land it?
My first job out of college was with Cue, a brand and design firm in Minneapolis. My first day was a couple weeks after graduating, and I stayed with the team for the following 6 years. I learned a lot about applying strategic thinking to design solutions, and that style resonates far more deeply when there is meaning behind it. I really believe in the value of brand development and hope to work in this field in some way for the rest of my career.
You currently work as the Director of Communications for North Corp, the management company for Askov Finlayson, The Bachelor Farmer, and Marvel Bar. Tell us about your responsibilities in this position. What was it like transitioning from Graphic Designer at Cue to Director of Communications at North Corp?
The work I’m doing for North Corp is broad. In addition to helping them define how to use their social media platforms, I’ve developed websites and identities, designed and developed products for the Askov Finlayson brand, directed short videos, and worked with our in-house photographer to create a library of assets for media and marketing needs. In short, we’ve built a small in-house studio. There hasn’t been a dull moment since day one!
Ironically, learning how to improve my personal communication and writing skills was the biggest challenge of transitioning into this role. I went from a small company of 8 people where I was almost completely self-managed, to keeping up-to-date with 3 different businesses. I’ve grown immensely from the experience, and I’m so happy I took a leap of faith and explored a career path outside of the agency world.
In addition to working at North Corp, you write the blog Wit & Delight. When did you start your blog and how has it evolved over the years? Where do you find inspiration for your posts?
A few months into my first job I realized the things I sought out most in life had one of two qualities: humor and beauty. These traits complemented each other in the most interesting ways, and the concept didn’t exist in one magazine, product or experience. So, the blog Wit & Delight was born, and it’s been my little side hobby for the past 4 years. It’s a labor of love, and there have been times when I’ve all but given up on the blog. But I keep coming back with something to say or share, and at some point last year, I began to feel more compelled to invest more attention in what I had built.
You are going freelance in March. Congratulations! What type of work will you be doing? How did you come to the decision that you wanted to work freelance?
Thank you! I’m really excited to have more time and energy to put into Wit & Delight. Beyond blogging and consulting, I’m launching a limited-edition party and entertainment collection with Target, which will be in stores across the country and Canada this September! I’m also in the very early stages of working on a book proposal.
To be honest, I’m terrified to make this jump into a freelance career, but I know I’d regret not giving it a try. Above all, I want to spend my working hours making inspiring, quality content that adds value and joy to people’s lives. We’ll see what happens from there.
Let’s talk about your home! You currently live in a modern apartment in Minneapolis. Tell us about the process you went through while looking for your place. Do you rent or own? How long have you been there?
Joe and I live in the North Loop in a small energy-efficient apartment that boasts a lot of natural light and plenty of modern amenities. The space itself is clean and unassuming, so it doesn’t really compete with our décor choices. I love the open floor plan and our floor-to-ceiling windows are incredible, but I do miss the character that comes with an older building. We’re renting at the moment, but we’re in the process of deciding where to settle for the next couple of years.
How would you describe your personal decorating style?
I like pairing old things with new things. I like furniture with a story. I like to break one or two rules, to keep it a little imperfect. Fresh cut flowers are always a good idea.
You share your home with your husband, Joe. How did you combine your personal aesthetics and tastes to create a space you both love?
It’s an ongoing process, but our collaborative effort stems from respecting one another’s needs. When you live in a small home, that’s the only way to survive! Mostly, I’m careful to consider Joe’s comfort level…I want to make sure home feels like home. We try not to compromise comfort for aesthetics, though I’m not sure Joe agrees with this. I’m not one for feminine color palettes or florals, so the transition hasn’t been terribly hard. Joe is still learning the virtues of décor accents, and I am learning the virtues of an oversized sofa.
What was the decorating process like? Did you encounter any challenges in making your apartment feel like a home?
My previous apartment was the first place I had ever put much thought into, and I was the one who brought most of the furniture into our new home. Yet what looked great in my 1920s-style apartment looked sad and stark in our new space. Joe and I found that home meant living in a place that has some character and soul to it, so we invested in more traditional pieces like vintage Turkish rugs and raw wood shelving to warm up the modern space. I feel we’re building a good foundation for a home when the time comes.
Where did you shop for the items in your home? Do you prefer new items or antique and flea market finds?
I prefer a mix of high and low priced pieces as much as I like to mix old and new furniture. I try to be realistic about décor; we rent and these pieces will move around with us. Nothing is too precious, but we’ve collected a few pieces that will stay with us for years to come. I do believe that good taste will get you more bang for your buck…an Ikea bookshelf looks incredible when used the right way. Also, check out estate sales!
What items for your home would you say are most important to invest in? What items do you recommend saving on?
Invest in a larger piece of furniture that you can pass on to your children or grandchildren. My grandmother gave me our set of Bertoia chairs, and I have so many memories of them from my childhood. I wouldn’t invest in shelving. It’s so easy to make, and you can tailor it to your home and your needs.
What do you love most about living in Minneapolis? What are your favorite things to do in the city?
The best thing about Minneapolis is its size. You can get to a museum, a play, a concert, or a major sporting event in no less than 20 minutes. As a girl born and raised in the Chicago ‘burbs, I will never take that for granted.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Routine is sadly not a strength of mine! But I try to answer emails from 8-9am, and then work for North Corp from 9-4:30ish. There’s time for breakfast, lunch and dinner in there, somewhere. I try to Instagram and tinker around on Pinterest a few times a day. I make time to cook. Then, I spend time with Joe, or with girlfriends. I also believe in getting 8 hours of sleep…a new habit I’ve picked up only recently.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years?
With Joe, hopefully living in a cute house somewhere. Most of all, happy.
What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self?
Eventually, you’ll know what you’re doing…and all the hard stuff? It’ll be worth it.
Kate Arends is The Everygirl…
Morning or night?
Anywhere with Joe Peters.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
Time is on your side; growing older is a beautiful journey.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
Katharine Hepburn, BLT
Aidan or Big?
Sofa by CB2
Gold lamp from Euro Style Lighting
Floral print by Debbie Carlos
Bird print by Wayne Pate
Diamond chairs by Bertoia
Coffee table by CB2
Living room Rug by ESale Rugs
Large silver mirror from Ikea
White cupboard from Ikea
Wallace lamp from One Forty Three
Large tape drawing by Neal Perbix. For more information email: [email protected]