Photos by Spacecrafting
For Kelli Fontana Vogelgesang, creating beautiful homes is more than just her day job—it’s a lifelong passion. “I always say I’m an artist at heart, and homes are my medium,” says Kelli, a Florida native and interior designer who, along with her husband, Rick Vogelgesang, owns and operates West Bay Homes. As the local real estate development company specializes in large-scale remodels as well as custom new construction homes, it should come as no surprise that the design-build duo’s own house—a stately two-story in Eden Prairie—is one of their finest showpieces.
“I was already renovating in my mind during our 20-minute showing,” admits Kelli, whose love for design has led the home’s evolution over the years. “I don’t think we had owned the house for 24 hours before I was taking down the blinds in the four-season porch and removing all the heavy window treatments.”
While she was eager to refresh and refine the home (originally built in 1987), Kelli knew she wasn’t about to start knocking down walls to create a more open floor plan.
“I always say you have to let old homes be what they are—you can polish them up, make some tweaks here and there, but you have to honor the original architecture,” says Kelli, who particularly enjoyed the compartmentalized layout of her new home. “I’ve always loved how wealthy families’ old homes had different spaces for different purposes—a grand salon for gathering, a dining room, a room for art, music, and so on,” she continues. “For example, I loved the tiny little door that closed the kitchen off from the dining room. I think it’s so chic. I wasn’t about to rip all that character out.”
Instead, Kelli focused on improving what already existed. She set about replacing old wallpaper with crisp white paint, adding wood paneling and flooring, installing new cabinetry and natural stone countertops in the kitchen, and adding designer light fixtures throughout the home. A custom curved velvet sofa creates a stylish focal point in the circular parlor, while a marble subway tile backsplash and oversized brass and Lucite door pulls add luxe touches to the kitchen. Add in a layer of several statement-making rugs, and the result? An elegant retreat that evokes a timeless sense of sophistication and lends itself perfectly to redecorating—one of Kelli’s favorite hobbies, as evident in her home’s exquisite holiday décor.
“I really love rotating around my furniture and changing up my color story year round, and the holidays are no different,” says Kelli, who enjoys coming up with new looks and styles to try each year. The most important thing, she says, is to avoid trying to copy someone else’s holiday décor. “You can use a magazine page or photo as inspiration, but you have to design for your own home,” she explains. “Consider the architecture, finishes, colors, and materials that already exist in your house and what kind of look would work best with them, and then think about the kind of mood you want to create.”
For example, the high-contrast black-and-white motifs of her own home created the perfect canvas to showcase a festive style she refers to as “black-tie Bohemian” —a classy, modern look featuring monochromatic tones softened by natural materials and finished with elegant touches of luxury. In the entry, delicate snowflakes dangle from the crystal chandelier, while pale greenery twines around the curved staircase banister, affixed with black satin bows and asymmetrical clusters of metallic faux botanicals. Pampas grass adds an unexpected organic touch atop a pair of flocked Christmas trees covered in glimmering golden lights, while artful arrangements of greenery and dried grasses (courtesy of local floral artist Studio C Floral) decorate two trees, the staircase, and the lighting fixtures in the dining room.
“Curating your holiday décor to complement your home’s everyday style will create a more harmonious look,” says Kelli, “and mixing luxury items with more affordable ones like antiques or secondhand pieces helps create a space that feels glamorous, yet timeless.”
Her best piece of advice? Less is more. “Editing is so important,” says Kelli. “I always recommend taking away as many items as you can to let a room breathe, and then to be as thoughtful as possible with your choices. There will always be things you’ll want to put on display, and less clutter can really enhance them.” For the designer herself, those special items include a glass nativity set handed down from her mother, as well as a smaller, more traditional Christmas tree decked with her children’s handmade ornaments.
This year, whether she’ll be spending the holidays up north in snowy Minnesota or down south in sunny Florida, Kelli is already anticipating a new look for the holidays. “Sometimes I want my Christmas to be a little softer and more romantic, and sometimes I want it to be really bright, festive, colorful, and jolly—either way, I always seem to want to change everything up,” she says. “I think it’s my artistic side!”