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City Spaces: Handmade furniture brings joy and history into Falcon Heights home

Lucy Hawthorne

Lucy Hawthorne

We don't always have the option to customize furniture to fit our spaces.

But for Elizabeth Penrod, a family interest in carpentry has filled her home with special pieces – some tailormade for function and some perfected and polished to hand down for generations to come. The result is a house that brims with history and shared memories.

Be sure to check out our photo slideshow for the full tour.

Lucy Hawthorne

Lucy Hawthorne

Who: Elizabeth and Josh Penrod
Where: Falcon Heights
How long you've lived here: 4.5 years

What a beautiful home. It all looks very tailored to you – what sort of shape was it in when you moved in?
It was in really good shape. The previous owners had done a few bigger projects – building the garage, new siding, new countertops in the kitchen. But their style was not our style. So I've painted every room in the house as well as all the trim in the house. And most of the rooms I've painted twice to be honest. When we first moved in the back entry and the kitchen were this green color and our kids were very young at the time and I really didn't want to look at any more of that shade of green...

Lucy Hawthorne

Lucy Hawthorne

Understandable!
So I painted those rooms immediately. We recently painted the dining room a light pink color, just to try it, and that lasted maybe two weeks. I'm not afraid to try anything, but once it goes up I can pretty quickly go, “Yeah, no I don't think that's going to work for us.”

Lucy Hawthorne

Lucy Hawthorne

Wow. Maybe this is sheer laziness, but the thought of putting up a paint color and changing my mind gives me so much anxiety. I commend you on your bravery.
For me, it's more like I can't look at it another minute, I have to change it. I actually painted our master bedroom navy blue and I had this whole mood board with how I wanted it to look. The first morning I woke up and it was navy blue, I was like, “Oh no I can't wake up in this room.” It was just so harsh with the white trim.

Lucy Hawthorne

Lucy Hawthorne

You take risks! That's very admirable. So what do you like most about your house?
Honestly, the thing I love most is the neighborhood. This wasn't our first choice house. We wrote up an offer for a house in St. Paul and I really wanted that one. This house felt okay. But my husband could really see the potential in the neighborhood and loved the tree-lined streets. Now I joke that he can move with his next wife because I'm so happy here.

Lucy Hawthorne

Lucy Hawthorne

What would you change about this space if you could?
We would change the back entry. As the kids are getting older – with their shoes and their backpacks and stuff – it's a little tricky. Everyone stops in that tiny little space. So we'd love to add something on to the entire back of the house that would connect to the kitchen and to the dining room here. We would add actually to the basement, first, and second floor. My parents come and stay with us about two weeks at a time, five or six times a year. So they come and stay in the basement where they can kind of take over that space. But we'd really love to give them a proper bedroom down there where they can close the door. And then upstairs we'd add another bathroom.

Lucy Hawthorne

Lucy Hawthorne

Where would you say you get your design inspiration?
I read a fair amount of home design blogs and DIY blogs. We've moved so much that we've had to adapt and I really try to do that on a budget. Most of our things come from Craigslist or Target or I make them. My dad builds furniture and my mom is really creative and they passed that down to me. So I actually rebuilt these bookcases in the living room and my dad and I made this window bench and that desktop. In every room there's something we built.

It really feels like everything is custom fit for your home.
And that's a thing that really takes time. Until you really live in a house and see how you use it and figure out what you need. But as far as my style choices, I've really figured out that I gravitate toward geometric prints, bold florals, and neutrals with accents.

Lucy Hawthorne

Lucy Hawthorne

What's one of your most prized possessions in your home?
We have a table upstairs that belonged to my grandparents and it was a gift for our wedding so I really cherish it. The bed and dresser in my daughter's room were also my grandmother's. And then anything my dad made. He made the solid cherry dresser in our bedroom and then he made a matching mirror for our wedding anniversary. He made one of the bookcases upstairs and a toy chest and a doll cradle for my daughter, and together we made my son's bed.

That's so incredible.
Yeah. We've been very fortunate to have so many family pieces and that my parents have been so generous.

And that they've held onto all those heirloom pieces! Now you and your dad are adding to the family's collection.
We're trying to! I really enjoy it. It's fun to think about what the kids might like and what they might keep.

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