Alyse Cullen and her family live in an amazing mid-century modern home that was designed and built to take advantage of all the beautiful trees that surround it. It must be amazing to wake up each morning and see the changing leaves outside every window. The house is positively lovely, and Alyse has a fun personality and sense of humor that I really think you’ll enjoy. Oh, and Alyse’s husband played professional hockey which brought some fun opportunities for the family — including a chance to live in Italy, where he was playing. Welcome, Alyse!
The Cullen family lives here! I’m Alyse, married to Joe. We met at Colorado College. We were both athletes at a small school so we ran in the same group but didn’t start dating until our senior year. Joe’s that down-to-earth, loyal guy that I prayed for. He’s level-headed and thinks before he speaks. He’s a fab compliment to my more reactive (read: creative ;-)) personality.
I own Teags & Ry with my sister-in-law. We make graphically fun prints with a hockey theme. It’s a dream combo for my artsy/sporty self. Joe’s the hockey director at a really amazing new school in Minneapolis where the students can focus on mastering a skill of their choice for a specialized portion of the day (with hockey being an option!). He LOVES it.
We have Teagan (9) and Westy (8). They’re such amazing friends to each other. Teagan loves life and has the happiest face. She’s our reader and would definitely live in the tree house if we let her. Westy is our super competitive kid. He has been known to get emotional if Teagan’s team is down a goal — but don’t disrespect him for that, or you’re done. He has always been in a “good stage.” Every sport, every lego set, every walk is a game. He makes our life more fun.
We live in Plymouth, Minnesota, a suburb just West of Minneapolis. We moved here less than a year ago and ADORE our spot. We’re 12 minutes from The North Loop of Minneapolis (best food, breweries and the Twins games!) and we’re 12 minutes from Wayzata beach (a swanky suburb on the famed Lake Minnetonka, yes please)!
The housing market in our neighborhood is pretty hot — mostly based on location. We’re in a really wooded area and so close to the city which is desired. Houses go fast in the spring and summer. We happened to buy in February — so we lucked out. No one in Minnesota wants to look at a house in the winter. We are surrounded by QUITE the variety of properties, a few houses need to be torn down, a few are newly-built, but most of the houses were built in the 60’s. Our house was one of the first to be built in the neighborhood.
We sort of despised the whole selling/buying process. Why does it have to become so personal? We built our first house (in Northern Minnesota) so buying was a major thing for us. I sent Joe down ahead of the kids and I. He started his job and we attempted to sell our house (in the winter, up North — mhmmm, that was fun). We try really hard to not over-extend ourselves financially so we wanted to wait to sell first before buying. It was the worst. But I’m so thankful we never had to carry 2 mortgages.
We knew we loved the style of this mid-century modern home, but soon after moving, we fell in love with the “story” of the house even more than the clean lines and amazing view. It was built by a man named Urban Abendroth (hello, what a name!). We hear he had 5 kids and loved the outdoors. He built the house for his family and placed it perfectly on this 1/2 acre lot overlooking a pond. The sun comes warmly through the bare trees in winter and then in summer, the leaves keep us under full shade. Perfectly planned! Mr Abendroth served in WWII and went on to help build over 200 public schools in the state of MN. Seriously, what a guy. (Assuming he was the down-to-earth, loyal guy that his wife prayed for.) We’re so thankful he built this house.
Joe played professional hockey for 11 years. He played for a LOT of teams. We moved a LOT of times (all over the US, Canada, and Europe to be exact). We were in Italy for 5 of those seasons. I still can’t believe it. His God-given talent gave us such an unbelievable opportunity to see the world.
In Italy, family meals are so important. Meanwhile in Minnesota we’re trying to “take back the table.” Let’s be more like the Italians and cook food together on a Sunday and sit around enjoying it all afternoon. And then let’s go for a walk all together. And maybe wear a fur coat. And if it means missing practice, so be it. Sorry not sorry.
In the photos, I set the table with the “good china.” And nope, we do NOT eat from our fancy plates NEARLY enough. Let’s start doing that more often! All of us…okay?‽! The colorful flower pattern China are Ginori Granduca from Italy. We registered at this amazing shop in Manhattan called the Elegant Egg Cup. I don’t believe it’s open any longer, but here’s a fun NY Times article where the former owner is quoted on mixing patterns on your table and making an every-day meal more special. We mix our new patterns with my Great-Grandma’s white and gold China (it’s Rosenthal from Bavaria — brought back from her travels to Austria and Germany).
So many things in Italy were dreamy but on the flip side, having a baby in rural Italy was really hard on me. I won’t go into detail there, but we do love America most and are so thankful for our freedoms and privileges and family here. We’re happy to be done traveling, and now growing as a family in one place — in this house on a hill.
Our kids were 3 and 5 when we moved back from Europe so unfortunately they don’t think they remember much. But we feel pretty strongly that the foundation we started there has really played a role in how things are now. We were free of so many distractions that we really focused more on each other than anything — and on experiences as a family. We walked everywhere. We were outside every single day. We chose to live on a farm instead of in the city center. We took trains and buses whenever we could. We find that sometimes it’s harder to be as adventurous and creative in our American comfort zone, but we’re trying to do our best to bridge our favorite things about each place.
After becoming moms, my sister-in-law and I realized (quickly) that we needed something more graphically appealing to ‘celebrate our sport’ at the rink and beyond. The hockey accessories and fabric on the market were just not going to work for us. Both of Joe’s brothers played hockey professionally — it’s a family thing — so we got into it even deeper.
Our fabric is made in the USA, the patterns are simple, yet fun and easy to wear and carry. We don’t have team colors as much as we have a gender-neutral style. We feel so strongly about empowering our daughters to find confidence in themselves through sports — on and off the field. Our company Teags & Ry is named after our girls (Teagan Kathryn & Ryane Dawn). They love sports and art and teaching their brothers about life.
As a parent, one of my strengths, or something I think I’m pretty good at, is encouraging creative play. (At least my mother-in-law says so — and she did an amazing job with her kids — so that’s an honor.) That “super power” probably came from being hunkered down on a farm in Europe without a Target or access to Kraft mac n cheese.
I hope my kids remember this house for it’s wild natural setting (woods, pond, random flocks of roaming wild turkeys, their friends’ autographs on their tree house). and for it’s creative interior setting (mom’s artwork on the walls, grandma’s china on the table, dad’s USA jersey in the closet.)
I hope they remember that even when I got their practice times wrong or I forgot to pack them a snack, that I always tried my best.
I wish someone had told me (and I had listened!) to spend more time at home as a kid. My dad died when he was 48 and I didn’t get enough time at home with him. Life together — right now — is too precious not to sit around the table every chance you can, and eat all afternoon on a Sunday, and take walks together after.
But even in the weeks and months when things get too busy and we don’t have sufficient meals at the table or long enough hugs in the morning, we will continue to remember that our foundation is in Jesus and with Him everything will always be enough.
Thank you, Alyse! What a lovely home.
I think Alyse is right, you really can tell that the architect thoughtfully built that home for people that he loves. And I love that Alyse’s photos come from all different seasons.The bright light from the big windows is perfect to showcase all of the unique and beautiful art that is having on the walls. There were so many little pieces that caught my eye.
Alyse’s description of an Italian Sunday afternoon really caught my attention too. It’s almost cliché to say, buy sometimes we are so focused on giving our kids opportunities that we end up scheduling them and ourselves to death. The idea of a slow cooked meal on a Sunday afternoon, eating it off the good china, sitting around and having great conversations, and then perhaps taking a nap or going on a walk outside, sounds so dreamy. This time of year especially can get so busy — let’s all try and make the time to indulge in our family time a bit more.
What do you do to slow stuff down and create quality family time? How do you keep from getting over-scheduled? Do you think your kids are busier or more relaxed than you were as a kid?
Many of the art pieces done by Alyse’s Mom
Architectural renderings created by Alyse’s uncle
Would you like to share your home in our Living With Kids series? It’s lots of fun, I promise! (And we are always looking for more diversity in the families we feature here. Single parents, non-traditional parents, families of color, LGBT parents, multi-generational families. Reach out! We’d love to hear your stories!!) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org