For seasoned designers like David Heide, a sense of aesthetic balance is key. Blending period details with new practicality was the guiding tenet when David Heide Design Studio recently set out to remodel a Minneapolis condo, infusing it with an art deco elegance. “Early on, the client came up with the term ‘steamship moderne,’” he says, “and it all developed from there.”
The client, John Ollmann, is a passionate collector of objets d’art from the 1920s and 1930s, a time when glamour, luxury and fine craftsmanship were de rigueur. With glorious views of the Mississippi River and the Stone Arch Bridge, the home needed plenty of storage with an effortless sense of vintage elegance. “I have always loved the golden age of ocean liners, with their sleek lines and rich materials,” Ollmann muses.
Indeed, it was all about the materials in the primary bathroom, which feels like a sumptuous suite. Heide designed a nautical-inspired linen cabinet fashioned out of flame mahogany with nickel inlay. Accented with a circular mirror, the hutch mimics the look of a ship’s porthole. That same mahogany encases the bathtub, which takes pride of place in the center of the room. Just behind, a custom medicine cabinet features sliding mirrored doors that reveal an impressive collection of antique ship models. “Most of the ships depict the SS Normandie, which is considered the most beautiful ocean liner of all time,” explains Ollmann.
That same high style comes alive in the powder room, where the walls are lacquered in rich emerald green. Silver leaf adorns the ceiling, and a Taj Mahal quartzite sink adds a touch of refinement. “At night when the lights come on, the quartzite has a luminescence,” Heide notes.
The kitchen, meanwhile, boasts an artful mix of polish and practicality. Playing up Ollmann’s favorite color, Essex Green cabinetry sets the stage and features a pass-through bar lined with shimmering white glass. Styled with vintage 1930s barware, the open space brings light into the home’s dining room and foyer. For a more utilitarian vibe, the lower cabinetry is clad in simple yet durable stainless steel, inspired by the kitchens on vintage ocean liners. “I wanted to embody the sense of being in a ship’s galley amidst the context of John’s amazing collection of decorative arts,” says Heide.
But it’s the dining room where a discipline of design reigns. Because Ollmann has so many collectibles, the challenge was finding a way to showcase them in a curated, orderly fashion. So Heide designed a striking floor-to-ceiling vitrine to hold the coveted objects, from Tiffany desk accessories to 19th century ceramic Wally Birds. There’s truly a place for everything and everything in its place. “David knew how to tone it down so it doesn’t look like a movie set,” Ollmann summarizes. “It’s just the right mix of vintage and modern side by side.”