Above: Alexis Walsko with Lily, amid a portion of her art collection, her grandmother’s hats, and a vintage crystal chandelier.
“If it sparkles, I need it,” proclaims Alexis Walsko, owner of Minneapolis firm Lola Red PR, as she gives a tour of the North Loop loft she shares with Lily, her Chihuahua. “Basically, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
It’s true—Walsko’s outsized personality is perfectly suited for all the vibrant color and paillettes, sequins, and metallics home décor designers create. She was the first buyer in her building, long before the Warehouse District became the distinctly upscale neighborhood it is today. “I loved the area, as it was downtown without being amongst the skyscrapers and glass buildings,” she says.
Above: Walsko displays her grandmother’s hats around the space.
She initially furnished the concrete-and-brick loft with a red couch and black-and-white rug—plus turquoise paint in the kitchen, a “muted lime” in the bathroom, and a fuchsia closet. But as a public relations pro, radio-show host, and general diva about town, that was a lot of “on” time for her. Eventually, she enlisted design friends—including design gurus Robb Whittlef and Billy Beson—to guide her space into calmer territory that still expressed her individuality. “They really taught me the beauty of creating a neutral canvas with the big things such as furniture, bedding, rugs, and walls. They encouraged me to tone it down and create a sanctuary for myself—a blank canvas to highlight my favorite items like my 8-foot Marlin, chandeliers, and artwork,” she says. “Today, my home feels like the place where I can decompress and all of my senses are put at ease.” Besides sparkle, she’s got another addiction. “I save up for the MCAD art sale all year,” she says. The brick wall became a showcase for her finds—from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design to India. “I started collecting and I just couldn’t stop,” she admits. Her collection is now so large pieces rotate between Lola Red’s offices and Walsko’s home.
Above: An 8-foot Marlin, quite the conversation starter, hangs above the bed.
“I think a home should be your sanctuary. It should feel comfortable and give you respite from the outside world,” she says. “I love it when it can serve as a gathering place. It is such an honor when people have you into their home, they are sharing their sacred space in the world where you can see and share in all of their adventures and experiences.”
Her loft is something that sparkles, yes, but even more than that, Walsko’s home positively shines.
Above: A neutral canvas allows her statement pieces—this crystal chandelier, for example—to pop.
What does a night out with Alexis look like?
When I head out to dinner or a night on the town I stay close to home. Freehouse, Bar La Grassa, The Bachelor Farmer, and The Monte Carlo are my standards. I also adore Cuzzy’s. Lighting is key; the right lighting makes everyone glow.
Where do you shop to find just the right thing?
I am just as likely to hit the Mall of America as Askov Finlayson. For gifts, I swear by MartinPatrick3—they always have that one special thing. Shinola is another one of my favorite spots.
Where do you head for home furnishings?
I usually pick up items for home on my travels. But I purchased many of my bigger pieces from Robb Whittlef of HISTORIC studio. If I am not able to do the traveling-shopping-and-shipping home, then I like knowing the person who did. Ciel Loft & Home is a pretty good bet, and I do have a few staples from Restoration Hardware.
By Katie Dohman
Photos by Wing Ta
Designers: Robb Whittlef and Billy Beson