Heather Peterson calls herself a self-taught designer. True, her formal education didn’t lead directly to interior design. But her master’s degree in modern art and curatorial studies from Columbia University certainly cultivated her visual sensibilities and sense of story — both of which help her create memorable spaces for clients.
The Minnesota native spent more than a decade in New York City, collaborating with artists on projects and public installations. All along, her love of interior design was evident: “I designed my own home, and friends would joke that I was their designer,” she shares. “But I never really thought of it as a career.”
When her family returned to Minneapolis in 2010, she started blogging about her home. Readers liked what they saw and wanted to hire her. “I had this moment when I thought, ‘Do I want to write about design or do design?’” she remembers. Serendipity led her to the latter. Heather Peterson Design recently moved into roomier digs at International Market Square to accommodate her bustling business. Her favorite things demonstrate her artist’s eye.
“My grandmother’s taste had the biggest impact on me,” she says. “I don’t think I would be doing this job if not for her.” Peterson recalls her grandmother’s home (and wardrobe) as impeccable, with distinctive personality: “Her living room had acres of kelly green carpeting, gold-leaf tole sconces, and a suite of furniture all upholstered in a white quilted damask. A pair of the chairs and the sconces have followed me from home to home for two decades, and now they’re in my studio.”
Space to Design
Bedrooms. “I’m a textile gal, and bedrooms are a great opportunity to layer pattern and texture,” she notes. Since the layout is fairly straightforward and symmetry is natural with a bed as the focal point, “it’s an opportunity to really push the mix without things getting too crazy.”
“I was a kid in the late seventies, so those are my formative experiences with design,” she shares. She loves the mix: a play of proportions, low-slung pieces, wild psychedelic patterns, and materials like plastic and wood cladding. “I’m also a fan of seventies color palettes,” she admits, “though I may be alone in that!”
Peterson met Minneapolis photographer Shelly Mosman at Art-A-Whirl and considered purchasing a print from her Animal Child series. Instead, she and her husband commissioned portraits of their kids. “I love artwork with textiles and patterns,” she says, “so this highly stylized portraiture is perfect for me.”
Locally, she turns to Umei for specialty housewares and gifts. “Owner Susan Brouillette lived in Japan and imports the best ceramics and paper goods,” she gushes. Peterson also finds inspiration from Hollywood at Home in Los Angeles and South Loop Loft in Chicago.
Patchwork. She loves a collage aesthetic in any medium. “For a project in San Francisco, we designed our own color-blocked textile for a pair of antique slipper chairs,” she explains.
She had been stalking this midcentury piece at Retro Wanderlust (one of her favorite vintage spots). “My husband surprised me with it on my birthday,” she says. “I had no idea he was getting it. It’s five feet tall and lives in our dining room — it’s truly one of my favorite things.”
Decorating the fifth wall, AKA the ceiling. From paint to wallpaper, an unusual treatment can add drama, highlight architectural features like a tray ceiling or crown molding, or bring a high ceiling down.