A Cozy & Creative DIY Minneapolis Retreat

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Name: Thomas Wegner
Location: Longfellow — Minneapolis, MN
Size: 1,400 square feet
Years lived in: 20 months; Owned

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Longfellow, one of south Minneapolis’ tight-knit neighborhoods, is full of row after row of early 1900s gems. The exteriors of these houses—which are found throughout the Twin Cities—share many similarities, so walking into a unique interior like Thomas’ is a special treat.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

With his background in interior design, Thomas has a keen eye and strong design convictions. After purchasing his home, he was able to fully create the space he had always wanted: something simple and minimal, with a lot of thoughtful details and well-designed functions. There isn’t a room that doesn’t contain a one-of-a-kind feature handmade by Thomas.

Thomas’ home has a typical early-1900s Minneapolis floor plan. He has taken its long and narrow loft-like main living space and made it relevant and workable for today’s comfortable and casual style of living. He designed a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf at one end that serves as both a bookshelf and a rotating art gallery, keeping the room fresh and ever-changing while grounding the wall with purpose. At the other end of the space is more of his handiwork in the form of a custom-made ceiling light, a rehabbed buffet cabinet, and art pieces displayed against a wall covered in a large-patterned wallpaper.

A favorite space in Thomas’ home is the guest bedroom upstairs. The moment he saw it, Thomas knew its destiny. Immediately upon entering you, feel you’ve been transferred back in time as the overwhelming feelings of coziness and the charms of northern Minnesota hit you. With the sloped ceilings and a pair of twin beds, you can’t help but feel nostalgic. The room began as a bare cedar-wood closet space, but after a few coats of paint and the addition of well-chosen and carefully placed accessories, the room invokes a real summer camp, bunkhouse feel. Numerous guests have commented on the wonderful “lake house vibe.” (As an added bonus, he shares the room with others via Airbnb.)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I think of my style as a combination of warm minimalism and rustic modern with just a bit of DIY gentleman’s lounge thrown in for good measure.

Inspiration: I have always liked the design work of classic, Mid-century modernists with their clean lines and minimal material use. I am also drawn to weather-beaten objects with a bit of wabi-sabi, items that are genuine and display a perfect imperfection. When it comes to designers, I appreciate the work of the Eames and the philosophies of Frank Lloyd Wright and William Morris. I’d like to think my home is in some way a combination of all these elements

Favorite Element: I love how the custom-built, floor-to-ceiling bookcase turned out—it adds so much drama and depth to the main room.

Biggest Challenge: Finding the time (and the talent) to execute my design ideas.

What Friends Say: “This looks so great,” “I love your place,” “You seem like you’re always ready for a photo shoot,” “Love the color behind the bookcase,” and “It’s cozy, welcoming, and inviting.”

Biggest Embarrassment: The lack of space and flow in the kitchen can be a challenge at times.

Proudest DIY: I recently completed the light fixture above the dining room table and am very happy with how it turned out. I had the design of it in mind for over a year and after not finding it anywhere, I created it myself.

Biggest Indulgence: I have several classic pieces of Knoll furniture and really enjoy what they bring to the space.

Best Advice: Start with a big picture of how you want your space to look and feel, focus on the larger elements first and then build towards it slowly, don’t rush and don’t buy something unless you know where it’s going to go.

Dream Sources: E’s Emporium, thrift and vintage stores, Knoll, a well-stocked workshop.



  • Porch: Ralph Lauren Urban Haze
  • Entry: Glidden Navajo Sand
  • Living room: Ralph Lauren Lamp Room Gray
  • Paint behind bookshelf: Dutch Boy Tantalizing Teal
  • Dining room: Ralph Lauren Lamp Room Gray
  • Dining room wallpaper: Opera Retro Leaf from Arthouse Wallpaper in the UK
  • Kitchen: Glidden Navajo Sand
  • Guest bedroom: Dutch Boy Mount Rainier
  • Guest bedroom closet: Pittsburgh Paint Summer River
  • Bathroom: Glidden Frost Morning


  • Bench: made and upholstered by Thomas
  • Table: vintage, refinished by Thomas
  • Chairs: vintage, refinished by Thomas
  • Flooring: all-season carpet (color: Cezanne)


  • Coat rack and bench: custom-made by Prairie Woodworking
  • Rug: FLOR
  • Prints: made by Thomas, gifts from friends


  • Custom bookcase: designed by Thomas, installed by Twin City Handyman
  • Plant stands: made by Thomas
  • Rug: Crate & Barrel
  • Armchairs: Risom Side Chairs by Jens Risom for Knoll
  • End table: Saarinen for Knoll
  • Pillows: made by Thomas
  • Couch: Craigslist
  • Soap Factory commemorative print: Andy Ducett
  • Large black-and-white cloud art: by Heather Rae Tietz, on loan from the Minneapolis Art Lending Library


  • Buffet: flea market, refinished by Thomas
  • Dining table: Tulip Table by Saarinen for Knoll
  • Chairs: Straight Chairs by George Nakashima for Knoll
  • Mirror: St Vincent De Paul
  • Light fixture: designed and fabricated by Thomas
  • Vases: E’s Emporium
  • Candle holders: E’s Emporium
  • Wooden sculpture: made by Thomas
  • Gray art: Gray Can Be A Little Tricky by Thomas Wegner—I created the piece with the 11 shades of gray that I considered but did not choose for the room.


  • Center cabinet: Roadside Attraction
  • Stool: flea market
  • Spoon rest: made by Thomas
  • Painting: Thomas Wegner


  • Comforter: St Vincent De Paul
  • Chair: flea market


  • Bed linens: St Vincent De Paul
  • Bedside table: made by Thomas
  • Desk table: E’s Emporium
  • Radio: made in the USSR, found at a flea market
  • Shelves: made by Thomas
  • Arrow: St Vincent De Paul
  • Books: Minnehaha Mile
  • Knickknacks: Minnehaha Mile
  • Wall art: made by Thomas, taken from family photo albums


  • Doorstop: made by Thomas
  • Cabinets: Custom Martha Stewart Living Cabinets from Home Depot in Sharkey Gray


  • Lounge chair: Jehs and Laub for Knoll
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The bench was made and upholstered by Thomas. (Image credit: Emma Fiala)

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Thanks, Thomas!