Take one stroll through therese gibbons’s brick tudor in south minneapolis and you’ll find one room smells better than the next. Tucked in corners throughout the house are various diffusers of Alora Ambiance, the line of home fragrances she and her sister started in 2000 after falling in love with a similar product while living in Lake Como, Italy. Once it hit the market, Alora Ambiance inspired a swarm of competition but remains the top-selling diffuser at local and national retailers such as Barneys, giving us all a reason to stop and smell the “stinky stuff,” as Gibbons calls it, and give our homes a sensory shake-up.
At home, the mother of two (Marie, 5, and Oscar, 1) is constantly shaking things up and redecorating on her own, be it recovering chairs or rethinking the garden. “It’s just me and Elle Decor,” Gibbons laughs. “I’m kind of a junkie; I pour wine and start moving pillows.”
Fortunately her style and sense of humor match well with her husband, Ryan Peck, who is a copywriter for Fallon and who has a thing for eclectic design, art, books, and vintage cameras. When they moved into the 1931 home, everything was birch, so they gave it all a good coat of white paint. Now it’s all about the details and finding the right look and mood.
Having good neighbors has proved to be key in terms of design inspiration. Part of the week Gibbons works at the studio space in the Art & Architecture building in Northeast Minneapolis where her neighbors include Spinario Design, Willie Willette Works, and Claire Steyaert Antiques, offering plenty of convenient expertise. Wille Willette made several custom pieces for the home, including all the bedroom furniture and the living room coffee table.
“I happened to see this piece of walnut in his studio one day and I knew I had to have it, the grain and shape and color are just gorgeous,” Gibbons says.
The dining table is also made of walnut that was saved from Gibbonses’ family farm in southwestern Minnesota. It was on that farm that the sisters created their first 8,000 diffusers by hand. “My father said, ‘Eighty dollar diffusers, who the hell is going to buy those?’” Nevertheless he hung a sign out front that says, ‘Original home of Alora,’ and the girls hunkered down to work, dreaming of their long afternoons in Italy and good design until they finished.
Naturally those dreams stayed with them and Gibbons infused some of that relaxed Italian vibe in her Midwestern abode with the rustic wood, luxurious linens, and healthy doses of vintage. The dining room’s guilded mirror came from Claire’s shop, and she found the Venetian glass chandelier at H&B Gallery. The artwork in Marie’s room is mostly vintage, and all of the outdoor furniture was found at flea markets and garage sales, dressed up with pillows.
For textiles, Gibbons sources nearly all her upholstery from Scherping Westphal at International Market Square—the owners happen to be close neighbors—and nearly all of the linens are from John Robshaw in New York. “I ordered so much direct they thought I had my own showroom in Minneapolis,” she says. Funny enough they ended up partnering with Robshaw himself on the vetiver fragrance.
By taking chances—both in work and at home—Gibbons created an inviting look, both indoors and out. It’s no wonder her neighbors flock to her backyard for cocktails and pizza nearly every week. Fortunately we can expect even more surprises from this gal: A new personal fragrance line of oil-based perfumes called Terveer will debut this fall, completely in response to their clients’ request to wear Alora Ambiance. The pure, earthy aromas are purse-sized, designed to go anywhere. Sounds like amore to us.