Alex & Carla’s Timeless Traditional, Revamped

published Dec 25, 2015
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(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Name: Alexander & Carla Zidarevich and their dogs, Sadie and Rocco
Location: Willard-Homewood; North Minneapolis, Minnesota
Size: 1600 square feet
Years lived in: 6.5 years; Owned

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After moving to Minneapolis from Michigan, Alex and Carla lived downtown in a modern space that they quickly outgrew. The couple discussed their home aspirations and agreed their ideal would be something historic with tons of personality. Not long after, they found it: a 1924 Dutch Colonial in need of some love. Over the past six years, Alex and Carla left the drab carpet and beige walls behind, popped open countless gallons of paint, and delved into numerous DIY adventures, successfully bringing the original charm back to their historic home.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Alex and Carla have meshed the historic aspects of their home, bold paint choices, and a collection of items from various time periods and locations across the globe into a comfortable and inviting space. Carla, who works on a product design team at Target, has extensively documented their house’s transformation online and is launching her new project, Quirk Madame, now that the home’s major projects are complete. Of course, Alex and Carla have discovered that once you’re a homeowner, the projects never truly end; from needed repairs to an entirely different vision for a half-bath, there is always a reason to roll up your sleeves and get messy!

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Modern Timeless Traditional

Inspiration: The era of our home and history of our neighborhood have been and still remain a key source of inspiration. This part of North Minneapolis has a rich history and it’s those stories that make us feel proud and responsible to keep that history/detail intact. Aside from that, I also have to say Pinterest (who doesn’t love getting lost in all of that inspiration?!).

Favorite Element: I’m a sentimental person, so I’d have to say that my favorite thing(s) are the various wall art pieces throughout our home because they each have their own story. Several of them are photos we’ve had printed and framed from trips we’ve taken, so they bring back the memories and beauty of those places into our home. Then we also have a few that tie back to the history of our home and neighborhood, like our home’s original building card from 1924 that we have by our staircase and the original street plat of our neighborhood that is framed in our living room. Each and every little thing has a special story to it and I think it adds to the character of our home.

Biggest Challenge: We’ve gone through several BIG challenges with our home (like the eight hours it took and three trips to Home Depot just to change the light fixture in our dining room), but overall the biggest challenge was bringing that 1924 character back into the home. It was a blank slate when we moved in—every room had the same beige paint, beige carpet, the same basic light fixtures, etc. It just seemed somewhat cold, bland, and confused. With the updates we’ve made, I think we brought back that traditional 1924 charm and character to our home. That’s not to say that we’re done or that it won’t evolve, but getting the house to a spot where it felt right was a real challenge.

What Friends Say: They love the floor plan; the walk-around layout on our main floor makes the house feel larger and more open. Even though our home is almost a hundred years old, it really has an open floor plan feel—we love it!

Biggest Embarrassment: (Sigh) Our lame chalkboard-painted bathroom. A few years ago when everyone was REALLY into chalkboards and chalkboard paint, I thought it was a great idea to paint the walls of our small bathroom on the main floor with chalkboard paint so guests could write on the walls. It was kind of fun for a few months and then it looked just plain stupid. We thankfully repainted and re-tiled the bathroom since. I also threw out any extra chalkboard paint I had on hand. 🙂 Never again!

Proudest DIY: Our proudest DIY is the fireplace mantel in our living room that Alex built. The living room was the first room project we tackled in the house. We painted the walls and then Alex ripped out carpet and redid the original wood floors; the last part was building the mantel. Back then, I had no idea Alex could build anything, so I was in awe as it began to come together step by step. After he got the last coat of paint on it we both marveled at how much it improved the look of the room. It really looked like it had always been there; most guests are surprised when they hear that it isn’t original to the home. That fireplace with the mantel he built truly is the heart of our home and our proudest DIY.

Biggest Indulgence: This one is split for Alex and me. For me, I’d have to say my shoe collection (or perhaps just my closet and all that’s in it in general?). Then for Alex, it’d be his 1979 Chevy C10, rebuilt all himself!

Best Advice: Don’t stress about pulling a room together all at once and making it matchy-matchy. I’ve found that our home started looking and feeling right once I started focusing more on including individual things just because I loved them and not because they matched what was already in the room. I think once you get comfortable with that, you’ll find that your home comes together and feels more like “you” a lot more easily than when you try to follow a formula.

Dream Sources: ABC Home & Carpet in NYC, One Kings Lane, Elle Décor, Kaufmann Mercantile, My Domaine, Refinery 29, Domino, Harper’s Bazaar, Kelly Wearstler, Nate Berkus (lots of his Target wall art and towels in our home!)



  • Entry: BEHR Bitter Chocolate
  • Living room: BEHR Anonymous
  • Dining room walls: BEHR Wheat Bread
  • Dining room wainscoting: BEHR Polar Bear
  • Kitchen, lighter color: BEHR Wheat Bread
  • Kitchen, darker color: Martha Stewart Francesca
  • Back entryway walls: BEHR Sandstone Cove
  • Back entryway wainscoting: BEHR Polar Bear
  • Basement door: BEHR Flirt Alert
  • Half-bath: BEHR Cypress Vine
  • Sunroom: Martha Stewart Francesca
  • Staircase: BEHR Sandstone Cove
  • Master bedroom: BEHR Bitter Chocolate
  • Closet/project room: BEHR Polar Bear
  • Guest bedroom: BEHR Cumberland Fog
  • Full bathroom walls: BEHR Raging Sea
  • Full bathroom wainscoting: BEHR Polar Bear
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Stool: IKEA
  • Animal horn: purchased on a summer road trip to Keystone, South Dakota
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Rug:
  • Couch: IKEA
  • Coffee table: IKEA, with DIY custom-cut mirror on the exterior
  • Accent chairs: estate sale, repainted and reupholstered
  • White trunk: estate sale
  • Brown trunk: Hunt & Gather
  • End tables: IKEA
  • Floor lamp: IKEA
  • Lampshade: Target
  • Turtle shell wall art: Nate Berkus from Target
  • Wall mirror: antique handed down from Alex’s mom
  • Bronze Stars: Target
  • Tree: Minneapolis Farmer’s Market
  • Ornaments: Hobby Lobby, Bachman’s
  • Garland: Home Depot
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Table: IKEA
  • Chairs: Bauer Brother Salvage, repainted
  • End chairs: IKEA Nils
  • End chair covers: IKEA Nils
  • Sideboard: IKEA
  • Pendant light and shade: IKEA
  • Stools: IKEA
  • Table runner: Target
  • Cowhides: SR Harris
  • Sheepskins: IKEA
  • Copper bowls on table: Goodwill
  • Rose gold and clear glass bottle: Bachman’s
  • Frames for artwork: IKEA, Target
  • Garland: Home Depot
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Countertops: IKEA
  • Sink: IKEA
  • Wall shelves: IKEA
  • Hutch: Salvation Army, refinished and repainted
  • Wall storage rails: IKEA
  • Chalkboard: made from original window frame that was found in our basement
  • Window shade: IKEA
  • Large “Z”: Junk Bonanza flea market
  • Small Tree: Home Depot
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Folding stool: Salvation Army
  • Rug:
  • Wall mirror: HomeGoods
  • Wall shelf and hooks: Target
  • Basket: Smith & Hawken from Target
  • Framed artwork: Tree of Life painting from Delhi Haat Market in New Delhi, India
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Wall-mounted sink: Porcher Elfe from Home Depot
  • Subway tile: IKEA
  • Towel: Nate Berkus from Target
  • Window shade: IKEA
  • Artwork: a friend
  • Frame: IKEA
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Armchair: IKEA
  • Rug: Nate Berkus from Target
  • Pendant light and shade: IKEA
  • Folding stool: Salvation Army
  • Storage basket: Target
  • Decorative pillows: Target
  • Curtains: IKEA
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Light fixture: Home Depot
  • Gold wall studs: Nate Berkus from Target
  • Vintage print: antique store in Prague
  • Photos: taken by Alex in Milan and Prague
  • Butt Fart illustration: local artist in Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Constellation print: Paper Source
  • Frames: mostly IKEA
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Headboard: DIY by Alex made from an old door
  • Duvet:
  • Sheets: Target
  • Bedside lights: IKEA
  • Nightstands: IKEA
  • Dresser: IKEA
  • Gold lion head: Salvation Army
  • Floor mirror: IKEA
  • Armchair and ottoman: Craigslist
  • Gold-trimmed wall mirror: antique store
  • Floor lamp: IKEA
  • Decorative pillows and throw: DIY made using fabric from SR Harris
  • Window panels: World Market
  • Rorschach paintings above headboard: Alex and Carla
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Wall shoe rack: DIY made using curtain rods from IKEA
  • Garment racks: Target
  • Armchair: Goodwill
  • Vintage rug: flea market
  • Storage bins: Target
  • Baskets: IKEA, painted black
  • Desk: IKEA
  • Storage basket unit under desk: IKEA
  • Desk chair: IKEA
  • Cork boards: Menards
  • Vintage hatboxes: flea market
  • Framed print: IKEA
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Bedspread: Goodwill, dyed with Rit Indigo dye
  • Sheets: Target
  • Reading light: Target
  • Decorative pillows: Nate Berkus from Target
  • Window panels: Target
  • Chair: IKEA
  • Mirror: IKEA
  • Storage cabinet under mirror: IKEA
  • Wall mirror: HomeGoods
  • Artwork above bed: Paper Source
  • Gold metal wall art: Nate Berkus from Target
  • Photos: taken by Alex in Milan and Prague
  • Elephant fabric in frame: Delhi Haat Market in New Delhi, India
  • Frames: IKEA
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)


  • Storage ladder: IKEA
  • Baskets: IKEA
  • Shower curtain and rod: Target
  • Towels: Nate Berkus from Target
  • Glass tile: Home Depot
  • Floor tile: Home Depot
  • Subway tile: IKEA
  • Light fixture: Lighting Outlet Center
  • Deep soak bathtub: Craigslist (found new!)
  • Bathroom fixtures: Home Depot
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Entryway with small vestibule on the left: the original building information for this almost-century-old home can be seen framed on the right. (Image credit: Emma Fiala)

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Thanks, Alex & Carla!