Known for her beautiful, timeless interiors, Talla Skogmo and her eponymous design firm work throughout the Twin Cities and beyond. Southwest Florida, with its many Minnesota transplants, is also Skogmo territory. All seek her impeccable taste, well-honed skills and steady hand.
“This is the best time of my life,” she exclaims. “You get to the point where you’re comfortable handling any hiccup that comes up. That’s the sort of confidence you get after 46 years.”
Skogmo majored in interior design at the University of Minnesota, but her real education began in 1976, when she went to work for legendary Minneapolis designer Tom Gunkelman. “I worked by his side for 27 years,” she says, learning the business of design from one of the best.
In 2004, she established her own firm, where she built her impressive portfolio by emphasizing teamwork and, most importantly, listening to clients. Her expertise has earned industry accolades, including the ASID Designer of Distinction Award in 2009 and the Tom Gunkelman Legacy Award in 2011, in addition to many ASID project awards.
Rather than designers idolized from afar, she points to local greats Tom Gunkelman, who mentored her early on, and Robert Lenox, who greatly influenced her. In addition to their design chops, both excelled at forming the relationships that were the bedrock of their businesses.
Gathering spaces. “I love living rooms and cozy dens,” she notes. She often reserves a special nook or alcove to showcase a favorite artwork.
When a former client brought her to an Edina Rolling Green home she was considering, Skogmo urged her to buy it. “It was nothing spectacular on the outside, but the property was fabulous,” she recalls. By the time the dream team — Skogmo, builder Erotas and Paul Hannan of SALA Architects — had transformed the house to meet the owner’s vision, it was fabulous both inside and out.
She collaborated on custom touches with some of the best artisans in town, like Steven Cabinets, who made the butterflied antique oak veneer panels for the study. But Skogmo was particularly gratified that every piece of furniture she’d selected for the client’s previous home, a modest Georgian Colonial in Eden Prairie, fit into this house in a new way: “It really is a testament to good furniture; it lasts.”
That same client introduced Skogmo to artist Steve Smulka at Gallery Henoch in New York City. His still-life paintings are shimmering, hyper-realistic visions. “You feel like you need to touch the painting to make sure it’s not glass,” she says.
Fresh flowers and antiques with a special meaning. “It could be a box or a little sculpture,” she explains. “I have a cheese box on my coffee table that belonged to a friend who passed away that I just love.”
It was once Venice, Italy, but now it’s closer to home: Southwest Florida. A condo in Pelican Bay (which thankfully survived Ian) is her family’s second home. She also works with numerous clients in the Gulf Coast and West Palm areas.
Rule to Break
Contrary to the design rule that dictates to never display family photos in a public room, “I can’t think of anything I love more than photographs — those are your people,” says Skogmo. “Really, there’s not a right or a wrong in our industry. Mostly there are lots of right decisions for a given space; there isn’t just one that’s perfect. It’s more about, What do you want? What do you like?”