Visit a Craftsman Home in Minneapolis, It’s All About Style Mix and Match | Architectural Summary
In the historic East Isles district of Minneapolis, there’s one object that’s passed around more often than a casserole dish: a solid, solid wood upright piano unable to hold a beautiful melody. After being decommissioned from a restaurant in nearby Kenwood years ago, the antique piece – decorated with hand-carved designs, no less – has been carefully transferred from one household to another. “It’s a terrible piano, but I loved that it’s a neighborhood fixture,” says its current owner, interior designer Victoria Sass, who proudly displays the instrument in her home studio. “One day maybe I’ll move out and pass it on to another neighbor.”
Until then, the piece remains in a house that, like the piano itself, has lived many lives. Built at the turn of the century, the three-story Craftsman-style home remains rich in character and architectural charm. At some point over the past few decades, its owners renovated the sprawling property into a duplex, then later a triplex. In 2017, when Sass, the principal and design director of Minneapolis studio Prospect Refuge (and a AD New American Voice) and her young family moved in, the process of transforming the residence into a single-family home began.
“My house is such a dog,” Sass says. “Sometimes you think something was original, and the longer you live with it, you start to think maybe it was added later and vice versa. It keeps you guessing, which I like. To help Uncovering the house’s past, Sass sifted through historical records at the local library, a successful endeavor that revealed the property’s original layout.From there, she invited the house’s former owners to find out. more about the updates they had made.
Yet despite hours of historical research, Sass is not a purist. His design company built a business card around the concept of “old houses for young families”. Sass says, “I love recognizing those places that we can respect and honor, but it’s also about keeping people in those neighborhoods and making the homes work for us today.
It’s a goal she aptly exemplifies in her own home, where original woodwork, vintage textile and wallcovering patterns, and heirlooms (decommissioned piano included) merge with contemporary fixtures and floor plan. more intentional floor. The eclectic assemblage is an authentic reflection of the residents: a bit of Midwestern charm, nodding to Sass’ Minneapolis upbringing; a bit bohemian, drawing on quirky colors and a laid-back sensibility from the designer’s years in Santa Cruz, California; and a little Scandinavian, influenced by a year of study abroad and her husband, a native of Copenhagen.
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“I think it’s interesting to have heirlooms next to HR pieces next to things you’ve collected on a trip,” Sass says. “When you’re only living in the middle of antiques, even that starts to feel a bit expected. And so when you can have a bit of everything, it keeps people on their toes.
Step into the home’s arched entry, wrapped in original woodwork and complete with a fireplace. Every modern improvement in space has been made with the past in mind. Sass commissioned Minneapolis design duo SheShe to create a hand-painted mural rich in symbolic references, a common gesture found in heritage homes. (“I’m the flapping-winged bird; my husband is the quiet, stoic bird,” Sass says.) The pair of vintage swivel chairs in the room, upholstered in a contemporary beige fabric when purchased, have even been reinvented retro: “I had to laugh because some people were going to reupholster this House of Hackney striped print in a tasteful beige, but I thought it looked more original than what would have been on a swivel rocking chair , but with a new twist.
Wood paneling also extends into the formal dining room, where 12-foot-high first floor ceilings define the interior. To soften the grand tone, Sass added some texture to the walls using moss green plaster paint, a technique that also helped the room’s wall art feel more proportionate to scale. A set of contemporary dining chairs by Gubi, upholstered in a suede of the same hue, sits on a clean-lined table by RH.
Without this dialogue of varying aesthetics – reflecting nostalgia or travels well spent – Sass says an interior becomes “a little note, a little flat for me”. And that comes from the designer with a decommissioned piano in her studio.