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Jesse + Carolina | Love Your Hood Stories

Jesse + Carolina

Englewood, Colorado

Long before Jesse and Carolina were thinking of owning a home, they were dear friends of Mark and Jen McClung. What started as a great friendship, led to Mark helping them find their first home, and has even led to Carolina recently joining the Love Your Hood team. We couldn’t feel more privileged to know and do life with this amazing couple. This is the story of the life behind Jesse and Carolina’s home in Englewood.

Jesse + Carolina | Love Your Hood Stories

What made you fall in love with this house?

We have so many favorites. Jesse would say that it is structurally-sound home. He says, “this just makes sense.” But of course, he is an engineer. My (Carolina’s) favorite part would be our windows and how much light we receive in our bedroom and family room. But, I think we could both agree that our absolute favorite part is our backyard. It is spacious and we have five beautiful pine trees that provide a lot of shade — it makes you feel like you are in the mountains.

What prompted you to move here?

We started our journey as a married couple living in a two-bedroom apartment near Wash Park. We lived close to city amenities, but knew that we wanted to start a family and own a house not far from where we were. One that had access to parks and the mountains.

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That’s when our friend Mark helped us find a new home! We fell in love with our 1950’s brick ranch. It is perfect for us! It’s only a 15 minute drive to downtown and not far from US-285, which is an easy way to get to the mountains. It’s also close to some great parks and local shops and restaurants, like South Pearl Street, which we visit most weekends.

Have any special life occasions happened while living here?

Last summer, we threw a big party with our family and friends to celebrate our son’s first birthday. We had a BBQ in the backyard and hung a Harley Davidson motorcycle piñata from one of our pine trees. The kids all had a blast with the piñata and we decided that it would become a family tradition!

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What do you love most about your neighborhood?

We love that it is a family-oriented neighborhood. Every morning we see our neighbors jogging along the sidewalks with their pets or moms taking their kids for a stroll around the neighborhood. It is a beautiful area with lots of parks, mature trees, and nice homes. We love that we have made great connections with our neighbors.

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Have you made any changes to your home since you bought it?

We like to say that this home is our second baby. It has been more of a life journey than just a project to us!

Our vision and end goal is to have a craftsman home with warm details such as copper fixtures and warm colors. The process has been long but rewarding. We have been building our home just the way we like it. We’re working from the inside out, one day at a time. It’s very rewarding to see what you can accomplish as a team.

Editor’s note: The changes to their home truly did start as a project (albeit a big one at that). Over dinner and margs at Benny’s Restaurant, Jesse and Carolina told us (Mark and Jen) they had decided to completely remodel their kitchen, which would be done “in a couple weeks.” <queue giggling> This kitchen renovation, quickly took on a life of it’s own and morphed into a complete gut of their home… down to studs. Needless to say, a few weeks turned into a few months, which has turned into a few years of beautifully piecing their home back together in a way they love.

Is there anything about your neighborhood that reminds you of your hometown?

Carolina: I am originally from Managua, Nicaragua so our current neighborhood is much different than where I grew up (and definitely less humid)! 

Jesse: I grew up in Denver, so this neighborhood reminds me a lot of my childhood. I can’t wait to take lil’ Jesse for bike rides to explore Harvard Gulch park. He already loves the parks, so we go pretty often. 

Who would you love to connect with in your neighborhood?

We have been getting to know young families in our neighborhood with similar interests. About a year ago, we joined a small bible study group through Denver United Church and have met other families with young kids. We are very happy and blessed that we have gotten to know them. 

What are some of your neighborhood favs?

One of the perks of where we live is that we’re only a few minutes away from Denver, which is where some of our favorite places are!

ParkHarvard Gulch Park, Bates-Logan Park, and Washington Park.

RestaurantWe love going out for brunch after church, and our usual places are Maddie’s or Lucile’s. We also went to the Copper Pot a lot during our kitchen remodel (thank you Jose for welcoming us and catering our moving-in party!). We are close to South Pearl Street and enjoy going there for date nights.

PizzaKaos Pizzeria! We’re patio people and this place is hard to beat.

Baked GoodsMaria Empanada! They have the best mushroom and spinach Argentinian empanadas around town.

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Mark + Jen McClung

Five Points, Denver

Before Mark and Jen even thought about getting into real estate, Jen’s mom Deb Albrandt had been in the field for years. When the couple started looking for their first house nearly seven years ago, Deb helped them find it. The three of them eventually started Starbuck Realty Group, which has blossomed into Love Your Hood today. This is the story of the life behind Mark and Jen’s home in Five Points.

Mark + Jen McClung's Story in San Rafael, Denver

What made you fall in love with this house?

Mark: We lived in a loft across from Union Station before moving here. We loved the tall ceilings, boxy nature of the architecture, and original elements that were still preserved. This Italianate felt the most like our loft of any of the houses we saw.

Jen: We didn’t have kids at the time, but I envisioned making waffles on Saturday mornings at the island and a fort underneath the odd deck jut-outs as well. We now have two kids and have had a lot of waffles at that island and the fort has conceptualized into a market/ice cream shop.

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What prompted you to move here?

Three things:

  1. Grass for our dog. Try finding grass for a dog in LoDo that won’t lift a leg to potty on a tree.
  2. Doors on our rooms. Studio living isn’t made for growing families… or couples that don’t want to hear everything the other half does.
  3. A little more space from our neighbors. Loft living is fun. You just have to be prepared for neighbors that also have very fun lives… which may or may not not coordinate well with your schedule. Think of people living above you coming home at 2 am wearing stilettos when you have to be up at 6 am for work. Or the joy of their toilet running endlessly and starting to drip through the ceiling onto your forehead in the middle of the night. But now we have a solid 11.25″ between our house and our neighbors. No joke.
Have any special life occasions happened while living here?

To say this is our forever home is an understatement. Less than a year after moving in, we got married in our backyard surrounded by our dearest friends and family. Our only “kid” at the time was our beloved dog Bentley, who was our ring bearer along with our nephew.

Mark + Jen McClung's Story in San Rafael, Denver

About a year after that we launched what has become Love Your Hood out of our home office. Our first two kids along with another two dogs have been brought home for the first time here. We sadly said goodbye to Bentley for the last time in our backyard and we’re now about to welcome our third child to this home.

What do you love most about your neighborhood?

San Rafael is a sweet spot between downtown and City Park. We’re still able to walk or bike to Rockies games, like we did while living in the loft. And we love the historical homes in this neighborhood and the diversity of people that live here. It’s great being a part of a community of people that truly loves where they live.

Is there anything about your neighborhood that reminds you of your hometown?

Jen: Our street on Halloween. I have some great memories of trick-or-treating as a kid. The few blocks around us knocks the socks off of that experience! Even the adults get into it here, everyone is outside on their porches, and it is a blast!

Have you made any changes to your home since you bought it?

When we bought our house, the only thing we thought we’d change was the paint colors and rip up the carpet on the 2nd floor to put down hardwood. Ha! We ended up doing a small renovation, including closing in the third bedroom right before our first was born. To continue the baby + renovation theme, when a chunk of the floor fell out from our bedroom, it turned into an gutting and renovating the entire second floor. We got to move back into our house five days before our daughter was born, even though the work continued. Since then, we’ve landscaped the front and back yards, including adding a front patio so we can sit outside and meet with neighbors. The next major project will be digging out our basement and adding an addition. So much for just changing the paint!

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Who would you love to connect with in your neighborhood?

Jen: I would love to connect more with other women business owners, moms, and homeschooling families.

Mark: I’d like to connect with families in the same stage of life. It’s nice to go through this crazy season with other people!

What are some of your neighborhood favs?

Coffee: Coffee at the Point! It’s very short walk from out house, open late, and has awesome coffee.

Park: Within Five Points, the new playground at Curtis Park is so much fun for our kids! We also love frequenting Benedict Fountain Park since it’s closer and has stellar views of the city.  But, overall you just can’t beat City Park. It’s only a mile from our house and we do so much life there as a family… The Zoo, The Nature & Science Museum, City Park Jazz, bike rides to the playground, runs with our dogs…

City Park, Denver | Love Your Hood

Restaurant: Oh, there are so many to choose from… one of our current favorites has been Los Chingones on Larimer.

Brewery: (Jen) We have way too many amazing options in Five Points. But my favorite is actually a winery. Celeste introduced me to Infinite Monkey Theorem and it’s phenomenal…. looking forward to enjoying some Moscato after baby #3 arrives.

Baked Goods: We’ve had a few dietary restrictions surface in our family, so to accommodate those, Beet Box is a treat! But if I (Jen) fall off the wagon, a bagel from Rosenberg’s or croissant from Rolling Pin is what I’m going for.

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