Amanda Lorenz, owner and principal designer of Henri interiors, bubbles with enthusiasm talking about her two-year-old firm and its growing team of designers. At 33, the young entrepreneur’s career has taken off, thanks to talent and serendipity. She progressed rapidly from design school in Chicago to a stint with a Denver designer to ultimately founding her own Twin Cities firm. “It was as if the universe had a plan for us,” she says. “All the stars aligned, and it has worked out.”
She began by deliberately building a culture of inclusion at her fledgling firm. Rather than the usual eponymous name, for instance, she opted for “Henri” because of its Old World charm — only to discover it translates to “home ruler.”
Lorenz and team took the time to develop a philosophy, adopting a mission and values that reflect their belief in cultivating strong relationships with employees, clients and the community. The firm makes a point to give credit where credit is due — to designers as well as those behind the scenes often not recognized for their contributions. “I want to grow, foster and develop staff in their own right in this design world,” Lorenz explains.
As a result, each Henri Interiors team member brings a distinct blend of talent, expertise and personality to the firm’s fresh, thoughtful work. Their favorites, in turn, cover a range of styles and fabulous finds.
The recently completed Riverfront Remodel, a 2001 home along the St. Croix River, is the consensus favorite among the team. Lorenz’s travels to Palm Springs, California, and a visit to Modernism Week informed the color palettes and textures for the home: “The greens and teals mixed with the desert oranges make this house soft, warm, earthy and approachable,” she notes.
Assistant Designer Bella Yaggie loves the grand black arched doors inspired by Spanish Colonial design. The vintage tribal rug, suede fringed stools, terra cotta pots, ceramic accents and reclaimed wood console table all speak to Southwestern design, evoking vacations in Malibu and a road trip to Albuquerque. “This room just goes to show that the best spaces are inspired by our travels,” she says.
Space to Design
Most of the designers agree that the kitchen is the heart of the home. “It’s the life force, the beating heart, the engine that keeps a family chugging,” Design Intern Letrice Johnson explains. Adds Lorenz: “It’s the space where form meets function, separating a good decorator from a thoughtful designer. As a team, we take a great deal of pride in our ability to spec out kitchens for our clients.”
Assistant Designer Jess Kallman casts a vote for first impressions: the foyer. “A statement can be made in a powerful way in such a small space,” she notes. “I love the natural beauty in doors, combined with a statement-making light fixture and a perfectly curated entry table to welcome guests into your home. A great foyer can make a lasting impact.”
During this time of cold and COVID, the appeal of hygge — the Danish concept encompassing all aspects of coziness — is undeniable. “Although it’s appealing to some people, the gray trend reads very monotone and cold to me,” says Associate Designer Amanda Heinecke. “As we start to blend gray with warm brown undertones, we embrace the comfort and coziness of natural elements and allow our homes to be our escape.”
Operations Manager Jamie Otte heartily embraces coziness: “I love being curled up in a soft blanket, candles lit, coffee in hand, with music playing in the background. I love neutral color palettes and rooms that feel soft and clean.” Her current obsession: this boucle chair from Golden Age Design that makes a comfy corner in the bedroom of Henri’s Not Your Typical Farmhouse project.
Associate Designer Tyna Wenisch points to collected chic as her favorite trend. Vintage treasures — found in antique shops, at thrift stores or among Grandma’s castoffs — make a house feel lived in and complete that transformation into “home.”
Lorenz most admires Kelly Wearstler for her understanding of space, scale, form and texture. “Her spaces take you to another place, somewhere the imagination lives and dreams are realized,” she explains, pointing to Wearstler’s design of Santa Monica Proper Hotel. “It’s full of all the elements I try to use in my designs: texture, sculptural vintage pieces, play on patterns, and the perfectly executed mix of wood tones.”
Kallman cites Amber Lewis, doyenne of the cool, laid-back California aesthetic: “She has an incredible ability to create spaces that exude warmth, are full of texture, and invite people to stay awhile. Her use of vintage pieces and textiles, combined with the clean lines of a modern space, really speak to me.”
Furnishings and Accessories
Yaggie is taken with a classic: a teak and woven cane chair designed by Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret in 1955. With its V-shaped wooden legs and simple lines, the Chandigarh chair adds a sculptural accent to any modern living space. Refurbished originals that come onto the market are quite dear, but unofficial reproductions are also available.
Wenisch endorses books as an affordable and versatile way to accessorize, shown off on a coffee table or stacked horizontally or vertically on a shelf to provide visual weight, texture and color. Johnson, meanwhile, points to another universal home accessory: houseplants. “I’m a biophiliac,” she says. “Coexisting with plant life indoors is an obsession and an art form of mine.”
Textures and Patterns
Heinecke favors texture over color or pattern, noting that strong textures can suit the tastes of many different clients. Her current favorite? Wire-brushed wood that brings out the grain pattern.
Lorenz votes for patterns by British textile designer William Morris, who reinforces that retreat-in-your-own-home vibe: “From rugs to fabrics to wallpapers, he’s back, and I’m happy about it!”
Yaggie loves the work of photographer Richard Misrach, which is timeless, approachable and widely appealing to many clients. His trademark shots of water ripples add a textural element to any room, she says.
Otte cites the work of local painter Cait Courneya perfectly perched over the bed in the Not Your Typical Farmhouse project. She’s also fond of portraitist Lisa Luck of Daughters and Suns, whose distinctive use of bold colors and brushstrokes is on full display on the Henri Interiors website.