Slideshow

La Dolce Vita

How Therese Gibbons, owner of the Italian-inspired Alora Ambiance home fragrances, creates her own sweet-smelling abode.

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  • Photo By Craig Bares
    For aromatic flowers and perfect shrubs in her backyard, Therese Gibbons relies on Sage Landscape and Tangletown Gardens.
  • Photo By Craig Bares
    Setting up an impromptu garden party for the neighbors with her vintage outdoor furniture and plethora of throw pillows.
  • Photo By Craig Bares
    The exterior of the Gibbonses’ 1931 south Minneapolis home.
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    The sunroom, outfitted with a Charles P. Rogers daybed and John Robshaw pillows is Gibbons’s ideal place to lounge with a stack of design magazines.
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    In the kitchen, chalkboard paint allows for quick reminders and love notes.
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    The living room chair and ottoman are covered in Lulu DK Marlon, and the walnut slab coffee table is made by Willie Willette Works.
  • Photo By Craig Bares
    A black Eames lounge chair sits on a rug from The Rug Company.
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    “ryan found this painting years ago by artist Jacob Pfeiffer but was completely broke. The artist took pity and let him pay in $20 weekly installments.”
  • Photo By Craig Bares
    The walnut dining table is made of wood from the family farm by Mark Bouchard of Islero Fabrication.
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    In the hutch, Gibbons stores her Juliska glassware and china by Laura Zindel—found at ABC Carpet & Home in New York.
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    In the stairwell is a mirror from CW Smith and a light by Tucker Robbins.
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    Oscar, who is lovingly called “Batty” by the family, has a room full of happy orange accents and lots of windows.
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    Marie’s room showcases a collection of vintage art and photographs along with pink John Robshaw bedding; the “M” coaster is by John Derian—each member of the family has one in their room.
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    The pink chair came from Gibbons’s grandmother’s house.
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    The tent was inspired by something Gibbons saw at Pottery Barn and recreated with Raoul fabric from Scherping Westphal and was sewn together by Katie Thomey.
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    In the master bedroom a surfboard by Joe Quigg is a gift from Gibbons’s sister and her husband who live in Hawaii. The painting is by artist Yvonne Cheng. The bed and large dresser were made by Willie Willette, as Gibbons notes: “All these old Minneapolis homes have no storage!” Plus they need a good surface for that Emmy Peck won at Fallon.
  • Photo By Craig Bares
    In the master bathroom, the couple matched the green paint color at Hirshfields to go with the orginal Art Deco tile.
  • Photo By Craig Bares
    Stone pavers create a cool path to the garden shed where Gibbons stashes stuff for future and ongoing projects.
  • Photo By Craig Bares
    Stone pavers create a cool path to the garden shed where Gibbons stashes stuff for future and ongoing projects, such as this lovely terrarium.

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.

 

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