Tour a Craftsman Home in Minneapolis That’s All About Mix-and-Match Style | Architectural Digest – Architectural Digest | Candle Made Easy

In the historic East Isles neighborhood of Minneapolis, there’s one item that gets passed around more often than a casserole dish: a stout, solid-wood piano that can’t hold a delicate tune. After being decommissioned from a restaurant in nearby Kenwood years ago, the antique piece – decorated with hand-carved motifs no less – was carefully moved from household to household. “It’s a terrible piano, but I loved the fact 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 and give it to another neighbor.”

Until then, the piece remains in a house that – much like the piano itself – has lived many lifetimes. Built at the turn of the century, the three-story Craftsman style residence is still rich in character and architectural charm. At some point in the past few decades, the owners converted the extensive property into a two-family house and later into a three-family house. In 2017, when Sass – the principal and design director of Minneapolis-based studio Prospect Refuge (and at ADVERTISEMENT New American Voice) – and her young family moved in, the conversion of the apartment into a single-family home began.

Designer Victoria Sass pictured at her home in Minneapolis with her daughter Irene.

“My house is such a mutt,” says Sass. “Sometimes you think something is original and the more you live with it you start to think it was added later and vice versa. It lets you guess what I like.” To uncover the home’s past, Sass searched through historical documents in the local library—a fruitful endeavor that revealed the property’s original layout. From there, she invited the previous owners of the home to learn more about the updates they’d made.

But despite hours of historical research, Sass is no purist. Her design company built a business card around the concept of ‘old houses for young families’. Sass says, “I love recognizing these places that we can respect and honor, but it’s also about keeping the people in those neighborhoods and making the homes work for us today.”

It’s a goal she wisely exemplifies in her own home, where original woodwork, period textile and wall covering patterns, and heirlooms (including a disused piano) meld with contemporary furnishings and a more conscious floor plan. The eclectic composition is an authentic reflection of the residents: a bit of Midwestern charm, a nod to Sass’ Minneapolis upbringing; a bit bohemian, with eccentric colors and a laid-back sensibility from the designer’s Santa Cruz, California years; and a bit Scandinavian, influenced by a year studying abroad and her husband, a native of Copenhagen.

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“I find it interesting to have family heirlooms alongside pieces from RH alongside things you’ve collected on a trip,” says Sass. “When you live among antiques, even that feels a little expected. So when you can have a little bit of everything, it keeps people going.”

Enter the home’s arched entryway, clad in original wood paneling and fitted with a fireplace. Any modern enhancement within the 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 historic homes. (“I’m the bird with the flapping wings; my husband is the quiet, stoic bird,” says Sass.) The room’s pair of vintage swivel chairs, upholstered in a contemporary beige fabric when purchased, even got a retro reinterpretation : “I had to chuckle because some people would reupholster this House of Hackney stripe print in a tasteful beige, but I thought this felt more original than what would have been on a swivel rocking chair, but with a fresh twist.”

The wood panels also continue into the formal dining room, where the 12-foot ceilings of the first floor define the interior space. To tone down the big tone, Sass added a bit of texture to the walls with a moss green plaster color, a technique that also helped the room’s wall art feel more proportionate. A row of contemporary dining chairs by Gubi, upholstered in a similarly colored suede, pulls towards a neatly lined table by RH.

Without this dialogue of different aesthetics – reflecting one’s nostalgia or well-planned trips – an interior becomes, according to Sass, “a little drab, a little flat for me”. And this comes from the designer with a discarded piano in her studio.

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