A little minimal + a little Scandinavian = home in Minnesota

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: The nook”: This is our wee little guest room (well, I may have taken a few naps in there as well.) The back wall is Krylon chalkboard paint with rubbed chalk. The lights are from Target and the bed is Ikea.
Collage artist and graphic designer Ashley Barlow, her husband Tim and their little morkie, Mutton Chops, moved into this home in St. Louis Park, Minnesota two and a half years ago. Ashley defines her decorating style as a mix of rustic, vintage-modern with a hint of “I wish I was more minimal” and a dash of “wanna-be-Scandinavian.”  She loves old treasures and the hunt of finding them. And since she prides herself on a thrifty deal,  a lot of the house is stocked with vintage goodies bought on the cheap. Ashley describes her collage art as “of the quirky, whimsical and graphic nature.” She is drawn to playful, light imagery with vintage ephemera and focuses on composition, layering pieces with paper, acrylics and accenting them with hand-stitching and illustration. That penchant for layering and for whimsy is definitely apparent in her decorating style (she has a vintage Pepsi sign!). Outside studio art, Ashley also works as a graphic designer with a focus on illustration and hand-lettering. Thanks, Ashley and Tim! And Thank you, Ashely, for the lovely photographs! -Amy

Image above: “The nook”: This is our wee little guest room (I may have taken a few naps in there as well.) The back wall is Krylon chalkboard paint with rubbed chalk. The lights are from Target and the bed is Ikea.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: Our upstairs den: This little collection is one of my favorites. The poster with the little whale is a print from artist, Jessica Lamotte, which we picked up at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design Art Sale - an annual 3 day sale bringing in thousands of pieces, all under $1000,from students and alumni. It’s billed as the largest art sale in the nation, and we never miss a year.
Image above: Our upstairs den: This little collection is one of my favorites. The poster with the little whale is a print from artist, Jessica Lamotte, which we picked up at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design Art Sale – an annual 3-day sale bringing in thousands of pieces, all under $1000, from students and alumni. It’s billed as the largest art sale in the nation, and we never miss a year. The Talking Heads poster, a longtime favorite band for Tim, was one of my Christmas presents to him this year. The flower print is by Audrey Hedrick. The lamp is mid-century modern and from a local antique shop, purchased in the middle of our most recent blizzard. I had to drive home in a blustering winter wonderland, but clearly worth it. Chair is Room and Board. Bench is Target.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek


See more of this Minnesota home after the jump!

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: The entry table + bar is one of my favorite pieces in the house. I wanted something minimal and rustic, that used a dark metal and natural wood, but no one made anything that was just what I wanted (slash, that we could afford). I decided to design one, so we found a guy off Craigslist who sold salvaged wood from his garage.
Image above: The entry table + bar is one of my favorite pieces in the house. I wanted something minimal and rustic that used a dark metal and natural wood, but no one made anything that was just what I wanted (slash, that we could afford). I decided to design one, so we found a guy on Craigslist who sold salvaged wood from his garage. I scrubbed some piping with black spray paint and Tim put it together. Total cost: under $125. The gold glasses are from a local antique store. The plaid blanket is a vintage Faribault which I also scored at an antique store in Buffalo,  Minnesota. (Paint: Behr Ultra Pure White)

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek The main floor fireplace. My grandma, who’s parents are from Italy, are pictured in my little frame, it’s a newspaper clipping for a party they were throwing.
Image above: The main floor fireplace. My grandma’s parents are from Italy, and they are pictured in my little frame of a newspaper clipping for a party they were throwing. This same grandma has a pear collection, hers are mostly from Italy. She inspired me to start my own pear collection a  few years ago. The framed postcard is vintage, a picture of one of our most popular lakes in Minneapolis: Lake Calhoun. The card also has a sweet note scribbled on the back. Most of the frames in our house are filled with old black and white photos of our extended family.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: This is our sofa on the main floor. I went on a trip to Jordan a few years ago (to visit with the organization Questscope) and slept a night in the Wadi Rum desert. This blanket was wrapped around the table we sat at to eat breakfast and drink tea.
Image above: This is our sofa on the main floor. I went on a trip to Jordan a few years ago (to visit with the organization Questscope) and slept a night in the Wadi Rum desert. This blanket was wrapped around the table we sat at to eat breakfast and drink tea. I couldn’t stop gushing over the pattern and the bold red color and our sweet guide, Salem, took it right off the table and gave it to me at an absurdly low price. It’s one of my most treasured possessions. The couch is from Macy’s furniture store. The wood I found at a garage sale awhile back. I loved the shape and grain. Tim sanded and coated it in many layers of Polyurethane. We almost made it into a coffee table but I’m so glad we didn’t. The little pillow was a tote I accidentally shrunk in the wash. Thankfully I was able to salvage it as a pillow.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: A cabinet on the main floor. There’s this amazing, huge, dirty warehouse in Minneapolis called Bauer Brothers, that is full of salvaged building scraps: piles of sinks, heaps of doors, etc. I found a huge stack of these old, crusty, emergency medical shelves when we were hunting for wood scraps one winter
Image above: A cabinet on the main floor. There’s this amazing, huge, dirty warehouse in Minneapolis called Bauer Brothers, that is full of salvaged building scraps: piles of sinks, heaps of doors, etc. I found a huge stack of these old, crusty, emergency medical shelves when we were hunting for wood scraps one winter. The mint stopped me in my tracks! We made a second trip back because I couldn’t stop thinking (i.e. nagging) about it. I just knew it was destined to be stocked with booze and magazines, in true emergency supplies fashion.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: In case there was any doubt, let me now formally state that I’m a complete sucker for graphic posters, and I found this great black poster at a biked themed, annual print sale, called Art Crank, which tours nationally.
Image above: In case there was any doubt, let me now formally state that I’m a complete sucker for graphic posters, and I found this great black poster at a biked themed, annual print sale, called Art Crank, which tours nationally. The hooks are from Anthropologie, and the stool is from a local vintage shop. (Paint: Behr Ultra Pure White)

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek:  Kitchen shelf. Our kitchen is pretty small so last summer we decided to do a partial knock out into our dining room and also took out the cupboards and made these open shelves. It worked out better than we could have hoped: It invited in more space and light.
Image above: Kitchen shelf. Our kitchen is pretty small so last summer we decided to do a partial knock-out into our dining room and also took out the cupboards and made these open shelves. It worked out better than we could have hoped: It invited in more space and light. It forced me to get rid of so much stuff we never used, and has led us to be more intentional about what we kept, since most is on display. This is a detailed shot of some of my favorite vintage little pieces.  The vintage tumblers are what’s left of a collection that once consisted of many more (thankfully the shelves have helped me pare down). The vintage shakers and antique measuring cup were gifts.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: This was where the kitchen wall used to be, but now we get to enjoy the lovely view of our bright dining room that gets great afternoon light. I found that big metal light fixture at an antique shop in St.Paul before we even owned the home. It was just sitting on a shelf, but I knew the minute I saw it that I wanted it to be above our dining room table whenever we had a home.
Image above: This was where the kitchen wall used to be, but now we get to enjoy the lovely view of our bright dining room that gets great afternoon light. I found that big metal light fixture at an antique shop in St.Paul before we even owned the home. It was just sitting on a shelf, but I knew the minute I saw it that I wanted it to be above our dining room table whenever we had a home. I had a friend help me design the socket, I intentionally mixed metals and tones to give it a more eclectic, industrial feel. The posters from left to right: Minneapolis neighborhoods I picked up at a local restaurant called the Low Brow, the second is a relative’s family crest gifted to us by Tim’s grandmother, the third  poster is a piece I designed for a collaborative show where artists were paired with writers (this is the piece I created inspired by a poem) and the fourth is another screen print by Aesthetic Apparatus, also purchased at Low Brow. (Paint: Behr Ultra Pure White)

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek:  Office. This desk used to be in an old office building, which I picked up for the criminally low cost of $60 from an occasional shop in South Minneapolis.
Image above: Office. This desk used to be in an old office building, which I picked up for the criminally low cost of $60 from an occasional shop in South Minneapolis. All the drawers lock when the top one is shut tight. The poster is by Edu Barb, a Spanish graphic artist I found on Etsy. The vintage lamp is from an art crawl I went to at Northrup King Building in Northeast Minneapolis. (Paint: Clark + Kensington Designer White)

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: The art studio work table: I store my collection of vintage magazines under this work table, which I picked up off Craigslist. All the magazines are from the 30s-50s, I use the images in my collage art. The crate is stuffed to the brim with lettra sets.
Image above: The art studio work table: I store my collection of vintage magazines under this work table, which I picked up on Craigslist. All the magazines are from the 30s-50s, I use the images in my collage art. The crate is stuffed to the brim with lettra sets.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: Office shelf detail. I am a bit of a hand-lettering nerd at the moment, and have a daily lettering project in progress on Instagram for 2014. Here is a section of some of the books I have on the topic.
Image above: Office shelf detail. I am a bit of a hand-lettering nerd at the moment, and have a daily lettering project in progress on Instagram for 2014. Here is a section of some of the books I have on the topic. It’s also my little station for prepping print orders to be shipped, hence the washi-tape explosion. I also collect old scissors, and here is one of my cutest pairs. (Cart from World Market)

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: A vignette of some of my vintage treasures hanging above the bed: an old article on whale oil, horns, a picture of a lady exercising, a spelling card, old yellow ruler, and a 1942 class portrait from Hamlin Universit (in St.Paul). Lamps are from flea market and antique store.
Image above: A vignette of some of my vintage treasures hanging above the bed: an old article on whale oil, horns, a picture of a lady exercising, a spelling card, old yellow ruler, and a 1942 class portrait from Hamlin University (in St.Paul). Lamps are from flea market and antique store. And I stacked some old white crates I found on the side of the road for my end table. (Paint: Benjamin Moore Silver Mist)

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek:  Main living room plants: When my succulents out-grow my kitchen window pane, they graduate to here. So this is the Class of 2012.
Image above: Main living room plants: When my succulents outgrow my kitchen window pane, they graduate to here. So this is the Class of 2012.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: This is on our coat closet, a souvenir I picked up the handle when I studied in India in college. This is our first home we were able to finally put it up in.
Image above: This is on our coat closet, I picked up the handle when I studied in India in college. This is our first home we were able to finally put it up in.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: Art studio. I wanted to leave a little moment of what our old floor used to look like so I shaped a heart last minute. We snagged the poster from the MCAD art sale (another score), created for a Spring Flower Show. Vintage locker from a local antique shop.
Image above: Art studio. I wanted to leave a little moment of what our old floor used to look like so I shaped a heart last minute. We snagged the poster from the MCAD art sale (another score), created for a Spring Flower Show. Vintage locker from a local antique shop.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: This is definitely where we spend most of our time. When we purchased this house, the upstairs was all carpeted, with beige walls and wood frames. And despite Tim’s initial concerns that it would look like an asylum, we performed a total white out on the space.
Image above: This is definitely where we spend most of our time. When we purchased this house, the upstairs was all carpeted, with beige walls and wood frames. And despite Tim’s initial concerns that it would look like an asylum, we performed a total white-out on the space. We had originally planned to use white pergo to replace the carpet but once we tore up the carpet, we found these old wooden floors, just begging to be painted. It was the best decision we made. I got into an “A” mood the last few years and found this giant rusted one sitting outside a shop last summer. The bookshelf, purchased on Craigslist, was was made using wood salvaged from an old Iowa barn. This bookshelf also holds the distinction as our first furniture purchase as a couple and it’s been with us the longest (note: This is pretty remarkable, because I have a teensy problem when it comes to changing up our furniture, i.e., we’ve had at least 7 different couches in 6 and a half years). White couch and media console are Ikea. Turquoise couch is Room and Board. (Paint: Behr Ultra Pure White).

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek:  Sewing Nook. Tim’s the seamstress in the family and the '60s era machine originally belonged to the mother of a close friend. The desk was my great grandpa’s. We made the thin hair-pin leg table (that the frames are resting on), originally as a coffee table using old wood we bought at Bauer Brothers, with legs off ebay.
Image above: Sewing nook. Tim’s the seamstress in the family and the ’60s era machine originally belonged to the mother of a close friend. The desk was my great grandpa’s. We made the thin, hairpin leg table (that the frames are resting on), originally as a coffee table using old wood we bought at Bauer Brothers, with legs from eBay. I found the pennant at a flea market for $3, it’s from 1969 and says “Americans Astronauts First Landing on the Moon, One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap For Mankind.” Doesn’t get much better.

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Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: : Upstairs Den shelf, book collection. We are both big readers and here’s a portion of our collection. As I mentioned before, I collect old scissors, hence the sign.
Image above: Upstairs den shelf book collection. We are both big readers and here’s a portion of our collection. As I mentioned before, I collect old scissors, hence the sign. The typewriter and trophy are from sweet friends who know my love of old treasures, and I’ve actually used the typewriter a few times for various design and art projects.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: The upstairs den.
Image above: The upstairs den.

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: This old Pepsi sign was such a score; it came with a big box of letters. I lose patience picking through the box of letters, so Tim is the undisputed czar of the  board, and a couple times a year, he’ll change it up. This quote is from “The Corrections”.
Image above: This old Pepsi sign was such a score; it came with a big box of letters. I lose patience picking through the box of letters, so Tim is the undisputed czar of the board, and a couple times a year, he’ll change it up. This quote is from “The Corrections.”

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: Upstairs Den.
Image above: Upstairs den. I love a good molded plastic chair. Mutton Chops, our little morkie.

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Cuero&Mør

Lovely house!! The scandinavian design is for us very inspiring, is always present in our daily designs :)
Today we have an special post about how to renovate the living room in our blog! You should check out our new geometric colorful chair!!

Elizabeth Crust

So. Good!!! Besides the fact that we are style twinsies, we live in the same place too!! We’re in the middle of a renovation…so I am totally seeing the bright white light at the end of the tunnel! (Seriously…we even have a tiny sleeping space in our attic that we call “the nook!”)

Whitney

I love everything about your space! I live in Hopkins, MN, and I’m excited to check out some of the sources you listed. Thanks!

kelsey @ pinegate road

Ashley, I’ll be channeling you when I purchase my own home in the next year. I think we are decorating soul sisters :) Lovely abode, and even better stories — those are always the fun part.

Melanie

This is crazy. I was looking at the pics posted on pinterest of the upstairs and thought ‘gee that looks alot like our new attic/upstairs’ and came on here and see that you’re also in St. Louis Park? Crazy. love all the white, and the graphic art. and the vintage touches. Thanks for the local shopping tips too :)

cindy feher

I am so glad to know that I am not the only one who likes to change things (furniture) frequently ;) Thank you for sharing your lovely home. Cindy

sally

Love! This well edited home is filled with passion, soul, and great design.

phil ford

Great listing of some divers Mpls resources! Love the look!

Debbie

Can I just say I LOVE this house! I will be pinning almost every photo as inspiration for our row house in the Netherlands. Walls have just been painted white…heaven for a climate with so many gray sky days. Congratulations on a job well done.

naveen

oh your house is soo neat! looks pure! must be refreshing to live in it!

Shahid

wonderful idea, its amazing looking very well. white color, cloth and lighting is so nice. its great tips

C Bruder

Inviting surroundings!, can you share the source for the leather bag hanging in photo 5?

Fay

Soulful, real, completely unpretentious. LOVE the heart on the studio floor.

Karen

I love the simplicity and spareness of your aesthetic and the wonderful mix of great flea market / eBay finds!

PhillyLass

Love all of it. I could move into this house today and not change anything. Everything is so charming. And, is that an iPod doc with a radio? What brand, etc.?

jenny

STUNNING! Thank you. I loooove your bar table you built. I am a builder too… Fantastic. Thank you for the inspiration!

Amber

Ashley, I love your house, it’s gorgeous! I also live in St. Louis Park, MN. :)

Elizabeth W

Great home, I love the sense of humor in your writing, outlook and environment.
And for Gosh sakes, even your dog is white!!!

Meredith

We also live in a house in SLP that we are slowly brightening and updating — such inspiration! Thanks for sharing, Ashley.

claire

Beautiful home! I like that most of the accents have a story — truly makes this house a home!

Ashley

Thanks all!! You’re the sweetest bunch! To answer your questions: the leather bag is from Madewell and the radio is Stereoluxe AM/FM Radio and MP3 Dock, purchased from Urban Outfitters.

Terry Ruttger

I live “in the Park” and love what you have done. These are wonderful homes that need to be loved by future generations and are sustainable in size. There is no need for McMansions when smaller is better. Keep the pictures coming. The more people who share the vision of simplicity, the better for us all. Thank you.
Ps – Bauer Brothers is the best!

Amy

Absolutely lovely! That guest room/nook is so cute and cozy. Like a grown-up pillow fort! One small note—it’s “pennant”, not “pendant”.

Jamie

^Yes, what Fay said! Thank you for the most inspiring “What I love to do in my home” quote yet.

Nelda Johnson

I love everything about this post, especially your writing style! Thanks

Dalit Vic

I liked the house and loved Ashley’s work, wanted to jump right into her studio, help her cut some magazines (:

Terry lord

I love your blog. We have so much in common. I love creating things! Sewing, painting, jewelry making, rehabbing furniture, houses, gardens the list goes on! You are inspiring!

Claire

I can’t even begin to describe how much I love what I’m seeing here… *sigh* That heart on the bathroom floor?! *sigh* (again…)

Marietta

Oh, I love your house and am so happy to see that you are just across the river from me. It is so inspiring because I have a similar house to yours… I love everything all the way to the bathroom mirror. Your work area is amazing! Thanks for sharing, so refreshing!!! <3

Marietta

I love what you did with your house! So inspiring! And this beautiful house is just across the river from where we are! Beautiful blog post! :)

Kara

Awesome – I teach in The Park, and it is so fun to see such great design living there! Thanks for sharing the local resource. I’ve been to many, but now have a couple new ones to check out.

Yolanda V.

A beautiful home that is cozy and livable. Congratulations on what you and your husband had built, making this all white home a welcoming place with all its family mementos and splashes of color throughout.

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