Interiorssneak peeks

A Warm and Cozy Nest In The Midwest

by Maxwell Tielman

A faux log fireplace stands on the living room's opposite wall. "I love the warmth it brings to our home by being a central place of rest or area for watercolor painting with Lue," Johnna says. "You can usually find us or the pets sprawled below here throughout the week, laying on a sheepskin. "
Minnesota’s long winters are known for their subzero temperatures and punishing snow, but they seem perfect for life at the beautifully cozy home of Johnna and Max Holmgren. The proprietors of Bear Fox Chalk, an illustration studio that uses chalk as its chosen medium, the pair are no strangers to thinking creatively or working with their hands, tasks that they took to with serious verve when they decided to renovate a long-abandoned nineteenth century home in the town of Stillwater. Over the course of two years, the couple transformed this once dilapidated and damaged home, opening up floor plans, exposing hardwood floors, and giving the interior a fresh coat of bright white paint.

The house’s purchase and renovation was a labor of love in numerous ways, and love, more than anything, is what seems to permeate this home. “We dated in high school and this city was our halfway point where we would meet often for dates and outings,” Johnna recalls. “We fell in love with the city, the St. Croix River, the accessibility to both the city and country. We loved the old homes and loved the idea of our daughter Luella growing up here with parks on every corner and forests only a jaunt away for exploring.” The home, now freshly renovated and overflowing with warmth and light, is exactly the sort of place that can grow and evolve along with this young family; a charming, yet unfussy space that is filled with memories and room to create new ones. —Max

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Johnna and Max kept their bed intentionally low to allow for easy cuddle time with their daughter, Luella Beane. A cowhide keeps them warm and snuggly during winter months.
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"I love the smell of the wreath hanging above our bed made of fresh bay leaf and baby fern," Johnna says.
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The opposite wall of the bedroom features felted antlers, a copper-framed mirror, and a moon phases print from The Foundry Home Goods in Minneapolis.
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The couple's cat Zoe and dog Badger cozy up in the living room.
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A faux log fireplace stands on the living room's opposite wall. "I love the warmth it brings to our home by being a central place of rest or area for watercolor painting with Lue," Johnna says. "You can usually find us or the pets sprawled below here throughout the week, laying on a sheepskin. "
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An assortment of beeswax candles in copper pipe fittings sits on the mantel.
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A pair of antlers is dressed up with copper-painted string lights.
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"Max designed this chalk piece early on when we moved into our home," Johnna says. "A constant reminder of optimism for us all. A whisper of 'It's all going to be okay.'"
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The dining room and kitchen. The chandelier hanging above the dining table originally hung in Johnna and Max's wedding tent. "[It] feels like a celebration of the beginning," Johnna says. "I add blooms to it seasonally and enjoy the drying out process."
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A built-in china cabinet now houses books and a tiny bar.
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A copper pipe hanging station collects shirts, bags, and drying plants.
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The kitchen. "The chalkboard refrigerator keeps Lue busy sometimes while I cook dinner," Johnna says. "The center island is a gatherer, and the sliding aluminum door closes off the bathroom and mudroom combined. My favorite aspect of the kitchen is the original ceiling!"
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Johnna and Max's daughter, Luella works on a chalk drawing at the fridge. "Do I want a string cheese? Or do I want to color? A common question she usually mulls over," Johnna says.
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The kitchen light fixture was a vintage find from an antique store in Downtown Stillwater.
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An assortment of copper pots and pans hangs on the kitchen wall.
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"Max's Dad makes incredible furniture and crafted this aluminum door," Johnna says. "We love its industrial elements. The shelf to the right holds flour, sugar, herbs, and chocolate. All a few of my favorite things."
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"We moved Luella's kitchen out in the dining room to promote togetherness and family play," Johnna says. "The kitchen is from Tree Haus and the copper items are a collection of old and new. I like her kitchen possibly more than my own!"
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"We painted the stairs black pretty early on and have loved this decision since," Johnna says.
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