Jenny McCarthy & Donnie Wahlberg’s Chicago Home: PHOTOS

Near the entrance to Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg’s newly renovated kitchen, there’s a large framed print on the wall that reads: Start each day with a grateful heart. “I stop here every morning and reflect on how thankful we are to have found each other and to live in this house with the people we love the most,” Wahlberg tells PEOPLE in the new issue, on stands today.

Gratitude is a theme that runs throughout the St. Charles, Ill., five-bedroom Tudor he and McCarthy, 46, have lived in and slowly renovated over the last four years. “It’s the first house we looked at together,” says Wahlberg, 50. “When we came in the door, I saw Jenny’s face and I said, ‘I have to get this house. I just have to, this is the house.’”

For McCarthy, who grew up on the South Side of Chicago, the connection was immediate: “It resonated like home,” she says. “Even though the decor wasn’t us, I felt an energy telling us this is where we’re supposed to be.”

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Through all the renovations and redesigns, the couple has remained focused on creating a place where they and their kids can retreat to escape the hectic world in which they often live.

“This isn’t an extravagant home, but there’s no greater symbol of our love for each other than this house and how much love has gone into it,” says Wahlberg.

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While the renovations have been slow but steady the couple say it’s a home they’ve hoped for from the beginning. “When we first met, we talked about how we both longed to have a small town life with our kids,” he says. “We made it a goal for ourselves and said it out loud because we wanted to make happen. And here we are, together with our kids, and we’re grateful for every bit of it.”

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