Perched on a hill in a leafy neighbourhood near downtown Minneapolis is Maison Bodega. Conceived by Liz Gardner – Co-Founder of local multidisciplinary creative studio Bodega Ltd. and also the home’s proud owner – and housed with a century-old building, it is a place where life and work coexist, and sociability and amenability are firmly front of mind.
As Liz explains, this heritage building has always held great appeal. “Minneapolis has a lot of very handsome, heritage arts and crafts buildings, but this is very different; it’s square, stucco, has archways and it’s a little softer, so I was immediately interested when it came on the market.” Since purchasing the home in 2017, she and partner Josef Harris have gradually worked on restoring and renovating the historic building with the help of architect Tony Rapson. The first year involved “listening to the lady of the home and uncovering the fingerprints of time,” Liz says, and the years since have been devoted to sourcing original antiques, working with local artisans and craftspeople to create custom fixtures and finishes – the DF Bodega Light, which hangs in the stairwell is now available as a limited-edition piece – and imbuing the home with a series of renewed yet sympathetic gestures.
“Minneapolis has a lot of very handsome, heritage Arts and Crafts buildings, but this is very different; it’s square, stucco, has archways and it’s a little softer, so I was immediately interested when it came on the market,” says Liz Gardner, Co-Founder of Bodega Ltd. and the home’s proud owner.
Importantly, whilst the project is technically complete, Liz prefers to think of Maison Bodega as being in a constant state of flux. Some details remain intentionally unfinished, such as visible flecks of original seafoam-coloured paint, the faded imprint from a previously installed drop ceiling in the kitchen, or the exposed brickwork where a fireplace once stood. As she says, “for now we’re keeping it that way. It plays into the idea that the house is a sketchbook – it’s living and breathing.”
There is beauty in taking this approach as it allows for experiences marked by specific moments in time. Liz recalls the first of many dinner parties hosted in Maison Bodega’s large communal space – named “the ballroom”, as marked on the home’s original plans – when the kitchen was barely finished. “The stove was delivered just three hours before the dinner began,” she reflects, adding, “it was raw and fun and magical, and we realised its counterintuitive to not share those things because that was a moment in time that cannot be recreated.”
This sense of conviviality is reflective of Liz and Josef’s personalities, and of the underlying philosophy of this project. As a hybrid live-work space (the couple resides in the private quarters upstairs, which they refer to as “the apartment”), Maison Bodega’s calling as a place for people and ideas to collide was somewhat pre-determined and this is enhanced by a series of renewed intentions. For example, whilst the ballroom hosts dinner parties, workshops and plays, it also functions as Bodega Ltd.’s workspace, and the front entry foyer at the base of the stairs – which has been fondly nicknamed Bar Agnes after the couple’s Siberian Husky – doubles as a space for entertaining; its terrazzo floors and zinc-topped 1930s-era bar sourced from Paris are the perfect backdrop to late-night soirees.
A house fit for such hosting demands a kitchen just as capable, and, unlike the original kitchen – a modest workhorse hidden from sight – the new Maison Bodega space is a veritable gravitational point in soft and buttery hues. Relocated within the plan to overlook the back garden whilst maintaining its proximity to the ballroom, this is a space that brims with creativity, generosity and joy. Defined by a blend of aesthetics both old and new, the tapestry of materials and textures is layered and rich, and original masonry and decorative trims sit comfortably alongside natural stone benchtops, contemporary light fittings and patinated brass cabinetry.
It is undoubtedly a social kitchen and Liz’s experience working creatively on hospitality projects is evident in this domestic setting. As Liz offers, “we wanted the island bench to not only be where we make coffee for ourselves in the morning but also to be able to facilitate mise en place and plating for a 30-person dinner party.” Selecting appliances to support this was crucial, and Liz looked to Fisher & Paykel for several reasons. Liz cites the Double DishDrawer as essential in “keeping the pace with the coursing of dinners”, describing it as “petite and powerful”. She also speaks to a sustained set of values between Maison Bodega and Fisher & Paykel, saying, “their ethos of the social kitchen resonated with us, not only due to the layout with the ballroom being so close but, when we’re hosting, we often have lots of people in the kitchen so that felt very aligned and supported by the space.”
Informed by Bodega Ltd.’s rationale for a lighter architectural touch that minimises impact on the 100-year-old building, the kitchen cabinetry sits gently within the room’s shell and all the plumbing and electrical services are cleverly concealed by a newly framed out wall with shelves across its front. These open shelves house Liz’s collection of ceramics, utensils and books and disguise the wall’s inherent function as a receptacle for services. As Liz says, “from a material standpoint, the kitchen is very unique – it’s clay tile and stone – so there were some creative constraints and we had to be really thoughtful around services and cabinets.”
Further, Liz says the limitations of the building’s materials required “a more innovative approach to installing appliances” and they were enthused by Fisher & Paykel’s functional and highly detailed solutions. The eight-burner gas stove is aesthetically aligned with the home’s heritage nature and can service large dinner parties with ease, and quieter additions such as the DishDrawer and CoolDrawer, are integrated behind Liz’s material of choice. “We’ve been able to use the lacquered brass as a container for their products, the dishwasher looks like a beautiful, brass drawer, and being able to do that was compelling to us,” Liz says.
Beside the kitchen is a narrow room – “we call it the larder,” Liz says – which leads to the ballroom. A Fisher & Paykel French Door Refrigerator Freezer is concealed behind brass doors, likening it to a piece of antique furniture or, fittingly, a pantry, and an ornate sink stands beside it. These two seemingly simple pieces transform what was previously a thoroughfare into a space with purpose. “These two pieces have proven to be so useful when we’re entertaining and the sink acts like a counter; you can prepare flowers there or fill it with ice for food or wine – it’s a multi-purpose piece,” Liz shares. Aside from its functionality, it is also holds meaning; the contemporary brass base was fabricated by a friend and the stone basin was sourced from an Italian villa built in the same year as Maison Bodega. As Liz offers, “there’s an idea of trying to keep a thread in the materials and the pieces we source.”
This is a sentiment that dials into Liz’s wish to “make time visible” through design, and to the many creative minds who had a hand in the Maison Bodega of today. Whilst the new additions are of a different time than the building itself, there is the sense that this space will age harmoniously from this point on, especially with Liz as its thoughtful custodian.