For Brenda and Fritz Westphal, decorating and trend forecasting come easy. The owners of two adjacent International Market Square showrooms—Scherping Westphal and the new A.J. Maison, which sell to the trade—spend their days surrounded by good design. But when it came time to outfit their 1920 center-hall colonial in Tangletown, they asked for help—and got plenty of it.
“When we moved in four years ago, the house was covered head to toe in shag carpet and cabbage rose wallpaper,” Brenda says.
She immediately enlisted friend and designer Andrew Flesher to transform the house into a home filled with bright colors and happy patterns that is truly sweet. Flesher advised on paint color and encouraged the Westphals to do all the floors in dark hardwood before moving in, which they did along with enhancing the baseboards and crown molding.
“Getting a designer is so important—I can’t do it on my own,” Brenda says. “In the end you save so much money—they keep you from making big mistakes.”
Designer friends also helped the Westphals score some serious finds. They needed an eye-catching chandelier for the dining room, which the Westphals had adorned with orange wallpaper from Osborne & Little’s vintage collection. So when friend and designer Janet Gridley stumbled upon a Lucite drop chandelier while shopping at Swank, she swept it up for the couple for a mere $200.
“One of my mantras is a room is like a good outfit–not every room has to be all Gucci,” Brenda says. “You can have a nice, crisp Banana Republic shirt, but do add that Gucci bag. You won’t get that feel with just retail–it’s about good form.”
Mixing “good form” with affordable retail is evident throughout the house. In the kitchen, Saarinen tulip chairs are paired with an IKEA pedestal table; the master bedroom’s Schumacher headboard is sandwiched between simple white side tables from West Elm. No matter the designer or retailer, buying quality pieces is something the Westphals believe in, both to save money and to be green.
“For us it’s about investing in timeless pieces, and then it comes down to layering and editing,” Brenda says. In the living room they’ve had their neutral linen A. Rudin sofa for years, which they top with bright pillows and surround with key accent pieces, including a boldly patterned floral chair, an antique Chinese chest, and local artwork.
Hoping to get more affordable good design to the masses was a key reason for launching their newest showroom. A.J. Maison, named after their daughters Addison and Julia, which opened in August and offers products at about a 40 percent lower price point.
“It offers a sense of luxury and a sense of utility,” says Fritz. “It’s nice to have our showrooms next door to each other so people can mix and match.”
“We’re so fortunate to get to work with so many talented designers,” Brenda says. “Every day is a new project. One day we’re doing Hollywood Glam, the next a cabin on Lake Minnetonka.”
Fritz, who had a construction background before he joined the showroom and sales business with his wife, agrees that their business—and obvious passion for it—allows them joy and flexibility as they raise their daughters. He calls Brenda the true trend expert as she laughs and insists it’s a team effort.
With a smile he says, “It’s a mix–it works.”