A Photographer's Chic, High-Contrast Home

A Photographer's Chic, High-Contrast Home

Emma Fiala
Oct 14, 2016

Name: Athena Pelton
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

After moving her family from an older home (often in need of repairs and attention as so many are) into their brand new digs, Athena began to decorate. Soon after the move, however, Athena and her husband realized that they didn't exactly account for furniture and decor in the budget for building their new home. So they did what so many of us often do: they piled into the car and headed straight for IKEA.

Since their move, Athena has made improvements to their basic IKEA finds and has added more thoughtful choices from thrift shops, antique stores, and local makers. Athena takes pride in the local Minnesota-made features found in her home such as the kitchen counter tops, shelving, and art that covers the walls. As a photographer, Athena has a great eye for design and appreciates great lighting, lending to this creative and cohesively styled home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: I think the best way to describe my style is clean. I like things that are simple and well-tailored paired with old items that are rich with sentiment and history. I like white and black and gold and green and my space is very reflective of my simple color palette.

Inspiration: IKEA? Haha. (But no, seriously. Sort of.) I love the look of modern European design, the way it visually lends itself to classic American mid-century while still looking contemporary and, when we built our home we didn't leave much room in the budget for furnishings (oops). Which meant that like any young (ish), broke (ish) couple, we went to IKEA. Once we moved into the house and got a feel for it — its bones, as well as what else it needed — we took our time going to garage sales and thrift stores and small, local shops to fill in the gaps.

Favorite Element: My Cambria quartz countertops. The Brittanicca™ design is a stunner, and they're low maintenance and stain resistant, which is essential with the wombfruits. Plus, Cambria is a family-owned Minnesota company and, as a local creative and small business owner myself, it was really important for me that our home reflected our love and support for local (and sustainably-made) products.

Biggest Challenge: Not fully decorating the entire house as soon as we moved in. I think it's important to take your time to let your design taste ruminate around in a new space, and I'm glad we waited to make some big(ger) decisions (adding the Cambria, choosing the backsplash, painting walls, etc).

What Friends Say: The biggest compliment I get about our home is that it feels inviting. It feels lived in and comfortable. While I love having a home that looks beautiful, I never want it to feel sterile or untouchable.


Get the look! Shopping resources for this tour → Clean, High-Contrast & Colorful Minneapolis Style


Biggest Embarrassment: That my white walls and baseboards and cabinets are actually...um...sort of...basically they're cream. Ugh.

Proudest DIY: I'm really proud of the lath wall in my sewing studio as well as the unicorn mural on my eldest wombfruit's bedroom wall. They both add exactly the right amount of US to our home and I love them both for that reason. Plus, they're each absolutely beautiful.

Biggest Indulgence: Although adding Cambria to our kitchen was a splurge, supporting a local business with a high-quality American-made product was a no-brainer. These natural quartz countertops will stay this beautiful forever and are hands down my favorite investment.

Best Advice: Take your time. Get inspired by trends but lend your own flavor and aesthetic to your space. And don't be afraid to change it if you don't like it!

Dream Sources: West Elm. I'd decorate my entire home with West Elm if I had the budget. Schoolhouse Electric. Their accessories and light fixtures are to die for. Forage Modern Workshop here in Minnesota. Mike, the owner, is an incredible human and has exquisite taste. Everything in his store is impeccable.

Thanks, Athena!


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