By Jennifer Blaise Kramer

Published on March 4, 2016

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Photography by EMMA FIALA

text by JENNIFER BLAISE KRAMER
photography by EMMA FIALA

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In places where temps regularly plunge below zero, layering is key for both wardrobes and interiors. Minneapolis designer Brooke Voss turned up the heat in her own loft, which she shares with her husband Jerrid and their two black labs, by using piles of patterned textiles and some seriously hot pink paint. Playful touches—think hopscotch floors, neon signs, and framed bikinis—are just a few creative ideas Voss shares on how to infuse extra heart and warmth into the home.

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YOU MOVED FROM A SUBURBAN HOUSE TO AN URBAN LOFT—HOW WAS THAT TRANSITION?

Liberating.  Absolutely, liberating.  We were a young couple without kids in suburban home with spaces we never set foot in other than to vacuum.  Our weekends and evenings were filled with mowing, trimming, planting, fixing, painting and replacing.

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A mentor once told me “for everything you own, it owns a piece of you” and suburban home ownership definitely owned us. Moving from the ‘burbs to the North Loop of Minneapolis completely changed not only the way we lived (bikes vs. cars) but it was an opportunity to reinvent design-wise.  Instead of having 2,500 sf of cute (but average) we bought 1,100 sf of exactly what we wanted.

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DID YOUR DESIGN AESTHETIC DO A 180 OR DID YOU KEEP A COMMON THREAD AFTER THE MOVE?

We moved exactly ONE common thread from point A to point B. My husband’s grey leather and walnut wood Eames lounger and ottoman were the only sticks of furniture to make the 16-mile move.  For once our friends and family breathed a collective sigh of relief, no moving help needed.

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WAS IT TOUGH CONVINCING YOUR HUSBAND TO EMBRACE ALL THE PINK?

Jerrid is the quintessential Midwest man. His closet is filled with Filson, Redwing, and Patagonia.  If it’s not navy, grey, plaid, or leather he’s generally not interested.  So, to say he’s a great sport is the understatement of a lifetime.

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When I contracted the painter to slather the powder room walls in Benjamin Moore Peony, I reminded him when you marry a designer you relinquish all of your design rights. However, I tapped a nerve in the dining room with all the Designers Guild pink upholstery and got the “Enough Pink” so those have has since been replaced with ebony stained wood Donghia Anziano chairs—a design swap to keep the peace at home.

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WHAT WERE HIS MUST-HAVES?

When we scored two European mounts on a trip to Minnesota’s North Shore he nearly did a backflip when I said we could hang them.  The blackened, hot rolled steel bar cabinet is a victory for both sides—nothing better than a perfectly curated bar cart or liqueur cabinet and Jerrid loves collecting great whisky, scotch, and cigars. We have whispers floating around about a lake cabin and I’ve promised wool plaid and reclaimed wood as far as the eye can see.

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HOW DID YOU BRING IN WARMTH AND LIFE TO A LOFT SURROUNDED BY CEMENT—AND LET’S FACE IT, EXTREMELY COLD TEMPS?

My answer to any design question is leopard print.  I love mixing in the strong, sassy pattern and the warm tones.  Loading up the upholstery with pillows and being liberal with nail holes (lots of art!) not only help to soften the space but to personalize it.

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Warm temperature light bulbs (2700-2800 degrees Kelvin) and layers of fabrics (sheepskin and coarsely woven textiles) and an eternal stock of my favorite candles aglow instantly take the harsh edge off of concrete walls and ceilings. And for the long hallway floors, I decided on a whim to give them a colorful, hopscotch pattern.

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YOU MIX LEOPARD, FLORAL, AND NEON WITHOUT BLINKING. ANY RULES ON HOW TO PLAY WITH PATTERN WITHOUT HAVING A DESIGN IDENTITY CRISIS?

Design Rule No. 1: If you invest in things you really, truly love they will never go out of style.

Design Rule No. 2: There are no rules! Serious is just boring.  As the neon sign on my living room wall says: solo se vivé una vez—you only live once! Whatever colors or patterns tug at your heart strings deserve a spot in your dwelling.  The art is in what dosage and in what scale to add them. Two patterns of the same scale compete.  But a large scale floral and an itty-bitty small-scale leopard, BINGO!

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YOU’VE BECOME A GENIUS AT CREATING A MEANINGFUL gallery wall WHAT’S YOUR SECRET?

Hang it salon style.  Floor to ceiling, wall to wall, just load it up. For simplicity sake, and because I do very nominal math in my head, I space pieces 2” apart.  Two inches doesn’t require me to put on my glasses to read the tape measure and it allows pieces to breathe, yet create one unified composition vs. a whole bunch of “littles.” White framing, with the same white mat just varying the depth and thickness to accommodate the actual work—be it fine art, photos, clothing (I framed my first bikini!)—is a simple way to unify a collection.

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WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SPACES OR DETAILS THAT REALLY MADE THIS FEEL LIKE HOME?

The surefire way to make a space feel like home is to think about furnishing the way you do about collecting.  It’s not a one-stop shop to a big glossy retailer or catalogue.  It’s the wool blanket from a trip to Ireland, the Saarinen chair from an impromptu stop at a rehab store, the chandelier from a favorite antique store, the dining table base made by a local metal craftsman with a walnut top from downed a Minneapolis tree. Making a space feel like home is a conscious and thoughtful curation process of old/new balanced with steals/splurges.

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WAS THERE A MOMENT DURING THIS PROCESS THAT YOU REALLY PUSHED YOUR OWN DESIGN LIMITS?

The moment I decided to stage my personal space exactly how I wanted it, without consideration of photo shoots or press releases and without worry someone else might not like it is the moment there were no design limits to break.

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ANYTHING YOU’D REDO, OR MAYBE YOU ALREADY HAVE?!

I’m continuously tooling and refining the space with new finds.  Sunday morning coffee and jammies is my favorite time to tinker with things.  Next up a new sofa with more room for cuddling and a fresh coat of paint throughout benjamin moore super white and in the powder room—still pink, just a new shade!

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Photography by EMMA FIALA