In January, an Edina family gave a team of Twin Cities interior designers a blank canvas — a spacious and totally empty 1950s rambler, ready to be transformed into a design showcase.
Jeanne and Dario Anselmo and their three children requested relaxed spaces mingling earthy rustic elements with touches of elegance. The interiors needed to reflect the family’s taste for European art and furnishings, as well as passion for downhill skiing.
The last wish for the top-to-bottom makeover? The main living areas could be awash only in “greige” — a combination of warm gray and beige, plus shades of tans, browns and creams.
“My vision for our home was no color,” explained Jeanne. “A neutral palette shows the silhouette of beautiful pieces from modern to heavy French antiques.”
No problem. The 23 designers from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) came up with a successful blueprint for a fresh and inspiring approach to traditional interiors.
You can tour the more than 10 embellished spaces at the Mpls.St.Paul Magazine ASID MN Showcase Home through June 12. And this year, the ticket price was reduced to $10 to attract more tourgoers, including millennials, said designer Angela Parker, co-chair of the event.
With the elimination of color, you can see how design pros ramped up the interplay of textures, patterns and finishes in carpet, floors, furniture and fabric for visually arresting spaces.
“When you’re working with a neutral palette, you want to introduce layers of texture for warmth and character,” said Karen Soojian of KSID Studio.
The team also integrated some of the homeowners’ existing pieces, from an antique Bombay chest in the foyer to a French Empire headboard in the master bedroom. “We took some of their old furnishings and antiques and made them feel fresh in a new setting,” said Soojian.
Finally, the designers created a cohesive “greige” aesthetic that works well with the Anselmos’ active daily life. “The home has a casual, comfortable elegance,” said Dario. “We can throw a cocktail party here, and still wrestle with the kids.”
Not another teardown
The Anselmos sold their previous home, a sprawling “French chateau”-style residence to make a change to simpler living and less upkeep for now and in the future when their children are grown and on their own.
With the rising number of teardowns in Edina, the couple were committed to finding an older rambler with “good bones” that they could reinvent for their 21st-century family. “We knew we could make a house into anything we wanted,” said Jeanne. “It was the neighborhood, big yard and the sun streaming in that was the draw.”
“This was a well-built house by Carl Hansen Sr., who helped develop the Parkwood Knolls Edina neighborhood,” added Dario.
After they closed on the house, BayCliff Homes reconfigured and expanded the main and lower levels, including building an 1,800-square-foot addition out the back. This created a spacious living room, mudroom behind the garage, a teenager hangout and home offices for Dario and Jeanne.
But when would the busy couple find time to furnish and decorate the 5,600-square-foot residence? Jeanne has her own interior and floral design business, JJ Designs, and Dario, who sold the Fine Line Music Cafe in 2013, is running for Minnesota House District 49A.
The partnership with ASID “was an opportunity to work with a creative team of designers to bounce off ideas,” said Jeanne. “And now I had deadlines to get it done.”
While Jeanne collaborated on fabrics and furniture, Dario had his own passion project — to install energy-generating photovoltaic solar panels on the south-facing roof.
“We really wanted to lower our carbon footprint,” he said. “And we can double the number of solar panels in the future.”
After the Showcase Home Tour is over, the Anselmo family will move in and infuse some bursts of color with their own artwork, said Jeanne. For Dario, it will feel like “going to Disneyland — I can’t wait to swim in the pool and play basketball with the kids,” he said.
Tradition with a twist
The floor-to-ceiling restyled spaces offer a plethora of design trends and decorating inspiration. Here are some highlights:
Rustic-meets-refined living room
• On the newly vaulted ceiling, reclaimed rough ceiling beams from a barn in Afton add an alpine ski lodge feel.
• Designer Angela Parker, Interior Places and Spaces, mixed metals such as oil-rubbed bronze, French gold and satin nickel in sconces, mirror, side table and other pieces. However, mixing metals can be challenging and “look garish or dull if not done eloquently,” she said.
• Chesterfield sofas next to a soft leather ottoman, instead of a coffee table, where you can put up your feet up in front of the fireplace and TV.
• The fireplace combines a recycled gray slate hearth with a classic “simply white” painted mantel and surround.
• Occasional chairs are covered in two different printed fabrics for an unexpected twist.
• Three oil-rubbed bronze chandeliers are a nod to the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colo.
• Don’t miss: The large silk handwoven area rug “that shimmers and changes color,” said Parker.
• Eye-catching octagon pattern in the ebony-stained wood floor greets visitors.
• The Anselmos’ antique bombay chest is paired with Parisian sketches for a romantic European motif.
• Don’t miss: Textural herringbone wallpaper on the tray ceiling and “wedding cake” vintage crystal chandelier.
Dramatic dining room
• Comfortable host and hostess wingback chairs at the end of the table give the room a grand feeling, said Jeanne.
• A collage of artwork from the couple’s travels is symmetrical, but composed of an amalgam of different styles of frames.
• Traditional trestle dining table is surrounded by bamboo-inspired mahogany chairs.
• Don’t miss: Framed replica of an Italian postage stamp to honor Dario’s Italian heritage.
‘Grand Central Station’ mudroom
• The workhorse of the home offers faux barnwood cabinets and closets to store backpacks, kids’ ski-racing gear, coats and boots.
• Cambria-topped center island to set groceries and other items.
• Vintage ski posters and an upholstered navy-striped bench add color.
• Durable herringbone-pattern porcelain tile
• Don’t miss: The cool two-toned industrial light fixture.
Jeanne’s multifunctional office
• “Salon” styling boasts damask pattern carpet and glam crystal finials in the window treatments.
• A settee is a comfy place to meet with clients.
• Charcoal bookcase for lots of storage.
• Don’t miss: “Antique chic” desk with a carved lattice motif, a “nod to Jeanne’s floral-design business,” said Parker.
Kitchen ‘hospitality hub’
• The kitchen island has two tiers — one for preparing meals and the other for casual dining and doing homework while seated at faux leather stools. “The design makes it easier to sit and have a conversation,” said Jeanne.
• Calcutta marble motif in the Cambria top and mosaic backsplash.
• Clean-lined contemporary white-painted cabinets and stainless-steel farmhouse sink.
• Sleek Miele appliances, including a steam oven and a wall wine cooler, add a European flavor.
• Don’t miss: Handblown Italian pendants mixing silver and gold finishes.
Little Italy powder room
• A hand-painted grisaille wall mural of the Italian countryside by Carolynne Darling was inspired by Dario’s Italian heritage and gives the small room visual depth. “You can take risks and be bold in a powder room,” said designer Karen Soojian.
• Iron base console sink with woven baskets for storage.
• Don’t miss: The ceiling was raised to accommodate a crystal chandelier from the Anselmos’ previous house.
• Ali Anselmo likes color and chose a palette of navy, gold and glam elements.
• Crisp white bedding with coral accent trim.
• Don’t miss: A hidden reading nook outfitted with a built-in bookcase and extra-deep seat cushion.