A 106-Year-Old Minneapolis House with Chill Scandinavian Vibes

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

Name: Alison and Jeff Allen (and sons Finn & Gus)
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Size: 2,200 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years; Owned

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I stumbled upon Alison’s home via Instagram and knew right away that I found a gem. A bold teal living room is always a good sign! As I got to know Alison through her blog (Deuce Cities Henhouse), which features her home improvement projects, my excitement grew to see it in person. Alison welcomed me into her home filled with plants, patterned wallpaper and the perfect mix of Scandinavian and mid-century style.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Alison and her family have lived in this south Minneapolis home for six years and have certainly left their personal mark on it during that time. Not only has Alison added her style to every nook and corner of the living spaces and backyard, she has added an entire new area. After dealing with wobbly basement stairs and the typical aging basement, Alison jumped into to a giant project feet first. She repaired the entire stairway herself, learning as she went, and, after having a contractor gut and rebuild the basement walls, Alison customized the entire space with built-in cabinets, shelves, light fixtures and more.

Alison has successfully personalized her more-than-a-century old home while respecting its history and its own personality. There isn’t a corner that she has left untouched.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: 106 year-old house meets Chill Scandinavian, Midwestern Cabin, and a bit of Mid-Century.

Inspiration: Although I love scouring blogs and catalogs, my biggest inspiration comes from watching shows like This Old House and reading magazines like The Family Handyman. I can’t get enough of learning how to fix, repair, maintain and do new stuff to my house.

Favorite Element: Our front porch and backyard are where it’s at in the spring and summertime. We basically do everything except sleep in those spaces. The porch is super relaxed and we spend weekends hanging out and watching the world go by. The gardens make me happy and I’ve really gotten a chance to hone my green thumb – though I’m still always learning. There wasn’t a plant in the yard when we moved in six years ago, so I feel pretty proud of how far it’s come.

Biggest Challenge: The major limitation to living in a very old house is the same thing as one of its major benefits – its long and storied history. You want to be considerate of the vision of the people who built it over a century ago, while simultaneously still bringing your aesthetic and style into the picture. I’ve always been cautious to knock down walls or paint trim for example. Instead, I’ve tried to embrace the space and make the most of it. I like the challenge and love being a steward of our house and its history.

What Friends Say: They would probably say that our house has seen its fair share of killer parties.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our basement bathroom, or lack thereof. The basement was finished with drywall six months ago and has sat with nothing but a toilet ever since. It’s like a prison cell or interrogation room right now. Tiling the entire space, adding a sink, installing lighting, and trimming out the shower with hardware are all high on my to-do list.

Proudest DIY: Our basement stairs were basically falling apart; they were in a pretty dangerous state. I repaired the problem, then retreaded, re-risered, and added trim to the staircase and newel post. I had no idea what I was doing, but it felt pretty damn good to figure it all out.

Biggest Indulgence: The basement! This summer we had our dated basement taken down to the studs and then built back up. We had our contractor leave it at the dry wall stage and I finished it with paint, built-in cabinets, wallpaper, shelving, stairs and upholstery.

Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to do it yourself! There is so much to learn, and every project gives you a little more knowledge and confidence to tackle the next.

Dream Sources: The Hardware Store, Grand Brass, West Elm, Ferm Living, Target (I am a Minnesota girl).

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)



  • Living Room – Dragonfly (Benjamin Moore)
  • Dining Room – Anonymous (Behr)
  • White in Basement, Boys’ Room, Kitchen – Linen (Clark and Kensington)
  • Bedroom – Wimborne White (Farrow & Ball)
  • Kitchen Cabinets – All White (Farrow & Ball)
  • All Trim – All White (Farrow & Ball)


  • Wallpaper – Orla Kiely
  • Light fixture – George Nelson Bubble Lamp


  • Sofa – ‘Andre Sofa’ from Room and Board
  • Wire Chair – Vintage Bertoia Chair
  • Coffee Table – Ikea Stockholm Collection
  • Arm chair – ‘Cole’ from Room and Board
  • Rug – Ikea


  • Drexel Projection Table & Chairs
  • Pendant Lamp – CB2


  • Table, Bench and Chairs – Ikea
  • Cheese Boards – West Elm
  • Plant hanger – DIY


  • Record Shelves – Ikea
  • Wallpaper – Ferm Living


  • Bed and Side Tables – West Elm
  • Sideboard – Ikea
  • Dresser – Vintage
  • Wallpaper – Hygge & West ‘Peonies’


  • Rug – West Elm
  • Turntable – Urban Outfitters


  • Bunk bed – Oeuf
  • Rug – Rugs USA


  • Sofa – Ikea
  • Table – Ikea
  • Rug – Rugs USA
  • Wallpaper – Cole & Sons ‘Woods’
  • Swing Arm Lamp – DIY
  • Pendant – Lindsey Adelman DIY
(Image credit: Emma Fiala)
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The large-patterned wallpaper from Orla Kiely is a perfect addition to the small entryway. A bench next to the front door is one of the many wonderful built-in features of this home. (Image credit: Emma Fiala)

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Thanks, Alison!