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Minneapolis interior designer Lucy Penfield is a force of nature. It’s clear from her signature blend of elegance, exuberance, cheekiness and design savvy.

Her work — and her life — is all about pursuing her passions: interior design, art history and design thinking. Formally educated in all three (she completed a master’s in design thinking at the University of Minnesota four years ago), she began her career with legendary Twin Cities interior designer Tom Gunkelman. And her own Lucy Interior Design, now a five-person firm celebrating its 15th anniversary, recently moved into larger digs at International Market Square.

As Penfield continues her love affair with her trio of muses, she submerges herself in new creative challenges, always trying novel ideas and dreaming up big projects. “We encourage everyone in our studio to be an eternal student and forever learning,” she says. “It’s lots of fun.”

Photography by Spacecrafting


Penfield grew up doing puzzles and loves them to this day. She finds the puzzle fascinating. “It’s like the design process,” she says. “You gather all the pieces that have different colors, forms and shapes. Then you patiently, thoughtfully curate them to put it together. Putting together a puzzle is like putting together a room or a house.” The Karim Rashid puzzle pieces on display in her kitchen represent sight, sound and touch — the three senses most pertinent to a designer who listens to create work that is visual and tactile.

Noodling and Doodling

It’s a favorite technique for brainstorming. Penfield often makes sketches, mind maps or design mazes in the early phases of projects.

Photography by Spacecrafting

The Hunt

She loves sourcing textiles and vintage furniture from flea markets and shops, in the Twin Cities and on the road. Some of her favorite haunts include the Long Beach and Rose Bowl flea markets and Hollywood at Home in Los Angeles. She creates rooms with a collected vibe by searching out vintage textiles like the Mexican drapery in her own Zen room.

Photography by Spacecrafting

Designing for Pets and Their People

As the owner of two dogs, Penfield understands our devotion to our pets. When clients say their dogs rule the roost, she knows they’re looking for performance fabrics, thinking about shedding, and seeking a handy spot for food and water bowls. A popular solution? The laundry/mud room, AKA the “pup room,” complete with canine wallpaper and custom storage for doggy paraphernalia.

Photography by Jeff Johnson

Curating Art

Whether clients already have a stunning art collection to be considered (and often relocated) with a new design or palette, or they need assistance curating a budding collection, Lucy Interior Design loves to help. “As an art history girl, that’s music to my ears,” says Penfield.

Photography provided by Whispering Cave

Having Time to Breathe

To regain the harmony and balance she needs to generate creative ideas, Penfield is a longtime practitioner of hatha yoga. She’s a huge fan of the Whispering Cave, a yoga studio and salt cave in Wayzata.

Photography by Amber Frederickson

Designing with Plants 

Once an afterthought, plants are now a design element in homes. “We’ve been designing a lot around where the sun comes in and where we can put live plants,” she explains. “They offer balance and harmony, whether a client wants a tropical vibe or lower-maintenance cactus.”

Photography provided by Farmgirl Flowers

Fresh Flowers

Of course, nothing completes a room like fresh flowers. Penfield’s go-to: Farmgirl Flowers, an online-only, woman-owned shop based in San Francisco. “I love them,” she says. “They’re so fun. We send them as a thank you to our clients to arrive on the day of an install.” 

Read this article as it appears in the magazine.

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