This Living With Kids feature was the tour that almost never happened. The photos were prepped, the interview was sent…and then a family sadness took over Paige’s process. Sadness has a way of doing that, doesn’t it?
So I’d check in every so often. July, then September, and then once more in November, but it wasn’t until this month that she was ready to take us on a tour. Better late than never, I say, because Paige – her words and her home – were worth the wait. You’ll see.
LIVING WITH KIDS: PAIGE WHITMORE
Welcome, Paige! We’ve been waiting for you.
Hello! My name is Paige. I live in this home with my husband Carter, our daughter Marlow, and boxer pup, Louie. We live in Kansas City.
My husband, Carter, is a 10/10. He is the best person I have ever known. He is consistent, even-keeled, and is the same person in every situation. He’s one of those people who is good at everything he does, but he doesn’t know it – or doesn’t care. I love that about him.
He is loved by everyone. I get stopped in the supermarket by women who tell me they wished their daughters would have dated or married him, and how lucky I am to have scooped him up. It’s really sweet. And, of course, very true.
We met in college when we were 19. I asked him to a Regina Spektor concert at the Greek Theatre. After our first date, there wasn’t really a question in my mind about him, about us. He was it.
I am Paige. I’m a KC transplant. I grew up in California and moved here four years ago. It took a few years to understand how to do winter. My mother-in-law had to remind me to wear socks when it was snowing outside. It’s safe to say I’ve built up my winter coat collection. I also wear socks now.
I love to read and create. I committed to reading a book a week last year, and I loved it all. Before starting our current home project, I ran a small letterpress business out of my garage. The press is still in my garage since it isn’t easy to move; it weighs 2500 pounds. I still love it.
Marlow Mae is 18 months old. We are convinced she is the best human to ever live. She has a very chill, laid back demeanor, and is so curious about everything around her. She has taught me so much about going with the flow and exploring the world around me. She would spend all day outside if she could.
She certainly has characteristics and features that came from Carter and me, but she is very much her own person already. I love when she shows us something new about herself. She just started blowing kisses, which shatters our hearts into a million pieces every time.
Louie, our boxer, is very much a member of our family. Marlow and Louie are inseparable; they eat together, sit together, play together…they are quite the pair. No one can make Marlow laugh like Louie can, and no one can get Louie to be as attentive and tender as he is with Marlow. I was hesitant at first to get a dog since we move so often, but now I can’t imagine our family without him.
We live in the Kansas City metro area. Kansas City is unique because it’s one city in two states (Kansas and Missouri), split right down the middle by State Line. In some ways, it’s one large city, but each side has distinct differences that set them apart.
For instance, the Kansas side of the metro area is full of suburbs, great schools, and family-friendly activities, with more basic architecture and newer builds. The Missouri side has older homes loaded with charm and the best food in town, but less-than-stellar schools.
It’s always interesting to see where people choose to live because there are clear pros and cons to both. Learning where someone chooses to live in town can tell you a lot about them. The first time I visited Kansas City, I was struck by how much pride the locals had for their town. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. Kansas Citians are so proud of their city, and it’s really neat to see how everyone rallies around local businesses. Locals truly love where they live and want to make their city better.
Right now we live in a neighborhood called Old Leawood, which is on the Kansas side. We have lived all over town and on both sides of State Line, and every neighborhood has its own culture and experience. Old Leawood is a neighborhood with large lots and ranch style homes. The homes were built in the 50’s, so many still belong to the original owners. We are only the second owners of our home and we just purchased it eight months ago.
KC’s real estate market is booming, but it is still a very affordable place to live. On average, a single family home costs $200,000-300,000. It allows young families to buy, upgrade, or renovate. I grew up in California, and I am still shocked by the affordability of the Kansas market. It seems like such a luxury to me to own a home in my twenties, but here it’s very common.
We bought this home eight months ago as an investment property. We committed to the flip in January, which is kind of nuts to think about since Marlow was only three months old at the time. She spent a lot of time in the Ergo for the first six months of her life, while we peeled wallpaper and picked up supplies.
We were living in a loft downtown but we ended up moving in for the renovation so I could work on the house during naps. Everyone thought we were crazy for moving into a house just for the renovation, and then plan to move again once we sell it.
Moving in wasn’t hard for us, though. We loved working on this home and it worked for us in this season of life. We get to spend time together doing something that matters, and we work really well together. Moving in seemed like the only option at the time anyway, since we wouldn’t have been able to carry rent and a mortgage.
Our current home belonged to Carter’s grandfather, who was the original owner. When we heard it may get torn down or renovated in a way that wouldn’t be true to the history of the home, we gave that a big NOPE and swooped in.
There is so much history here. Carter’s grandfather was a TWA pilot, and many of the pieces we have in our home are souvenirs he collected during his travels. The architect for this house lived right next door. We wrote a letter to the future owners, sharing with them the history of the home and the people that lived here. We won’t be able to do that with every project in the future, but I think it is really special when we can. Every home has a story; we just want to bring it back to life.
This home was well-cared for, but it was all original. Lots of dark paneling, little natural light. Ranches typically have small rooms with lots of wall dividers, so we took those all down and opened up the space.
We converted the sun-room into a dining room, and now it adds so much light to the home. We opened up the kitchen and made it white and bright. The formal dining room became a mudroom, and the dark den became a bright family room, open to the kitchen.
Our goal with this house was to make it functional for the modern family while respecting the original style of the home.
It is a mid-century ranch built by East-Coasters, so I tried to tie that into my own design style, which is more traditional-meets-Lake-Tahoe-cabin. We found shiplap in one room, so we exposed it and added it to the rest of the room. Shiplap is having a major moment right now – thanks, JoJo – so it was fun to try.
Six weeks into the renovations, we got an offer above our asking price. We were excited, obviously, but also shocked at how quickly it happened; and how aggressive the market was. I mean, we didn’t even have all the drywall up!
That’s an accurate picture of the Kansas City market right now: people want in and things fly. If a property is on the market for more than a week, you can assume something is majorly wrong with it. One week!
We didn’t accept that offer for a number of reasons, but largely because of Capital Gains Tax. We formed an LLC for future projects, which will allow us to buy and sell properties quickly without giving a huge chunk of the profits to taxes.
We recently had the home appraised, and during the six-month renovation process, the value of the home increased by a hundred grand. It was the first time I’ve done something I have loved and thought, “Whoa, I can actually make money doing this.” Once we learned that, we decided to sit on the equity for a bit while we look into flipping other properties.
This home also has sentimental value, so we are happy to stay here for a while. We just purchased another flip so we’ll get to pour our creative juices into that for a while.
Working on the home was a family effort. Our family business, a home service company, helped with all the behind the scenes (behind the walls) stuff. My Dad did the landscaping and is our resident trouble shooter. Carter’s parents and my mom spent time with Marlow so I could work for a few hours here and there. Our good friend, Connor, answered one million questions and helped with a bunch of projects.
Carter and I did work on a lot of projects together. Carter pokes fun at me because I legit fell in love with the nail gun and miter saw. Using power tools is so satisfying. There is inherently nothing masculine about power tools. I had no idea how easy it was to learn.
If there is a building project you want to try, go for it! If you can lift a baby and can do basic math, you can use power tools.
I’m a chronic re-arranger and project-doer. I’ve lost track of the number of times my husband has found me painting a wall at 2:00 am. He has stopped asking why and goes back to bed. We’ve lived here for eight months and our living room has already been four colors. I can’t help it! I nest the heck out of everything.
I thought I needed to figure everything out before I had a family. I had to lock in my career path, load up our savings account, and essentially get it out of my system. I thought becoming a parent would stifle my creativity and motivation. Literally, the opposite happened. Having a daughter ignited a passion and creativity in me I hadn’t accessed before. She gave me the confidence in myself to take risks.
We recently bought a new flip, and the excitement of a new project collided with the heartbreak of our recent miscarriage. It hit me so hard. It is a brutal experience. I had already pictured Marlow with a sibling, exactly two years apart. The loss of the child and the loss of those dreams struck us deep. Pain and loss and hurt all lead, if we let it, to something much more beautiful than we could have planned.
Have you ever heard of kintsugi? It’s a Japanese art form that melds broken ceramics back together with gold. That’s what I think a mother’s hurting heart looks like. A piece of art, more beautiful than it was in the beginning when it was untethered.
Anyway, miscarriage sucks. It sucks. Really. But if you have gone through it, you aren’t alone. And you have a beautiful soul melded back together with gold.
I hope Marlow remembers how much fun Carter and I have working on projects together. I hope she remembers how much Carter believed in me, and how he pushed me to take on projects I thought were too difficult to handle.
I hope she remembers that we took risks, took a nontraditional path, and worked really hard. I hope she remembers that life is full of beauty and hurt and you usually have to experience them at the same time.
Mostly, I want her to remember that we take great pride in who she is and who she is becoming.
Well, I just about melted when Paige described her husband. May we all have someone in our lives to describe as a 10/10. Also? That mudroom. May we all have a mudroom like that in our lives, as well. Hah!
P.S. – Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me know! We love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! I should also mention, I have a goal to bring more diverse points of view to Design Mom this year. So if you don’t see yourself or your community reflected here, let’s make it happen — send in your details, or recommend a friend! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.