Seeking Serenity in Twin Cities Entrepreneur Dana Thompson’s Primary Bathroom

Local icon Dana Thompson finds respite in her 1915 Minneapolis bungalow’s new primary bathroom

Photos by Wing Ho  

The peachy blush hue of Benjamin Moore’s First Crush douses the walls of this Minneapolis bungalow’s upper-floor bathroom.

If you’re a Minnesotan with a love of ’90s music or taste for Indigenous flavors,
the name Dana Thompson might strike a chord. A lineal descendant of the Sisseton-
Wahpeton and Mdewakanton Dakota tribes, Thompson is a mother, musician, co-founder of several nonprofits, and, perhaps most famously, the former co-owner of The Sioux Chef—a time during which she co-founded Owamni, the 2022 James Beard Award winner for Best New Restaurant.

There’s no other way to say it: She’s a big deal, taking names and making waves across the Twin Cities and beyond. And although the entrepreneur recently parted from her previous business endeavors to pursue other opportunities, namely, Heti, you’d be correct in assuming her laundry list of accolades and roles still makes for a busy life. “I had been flooring it working 60-, 70-, 80-hour weeks for the last decade and traveling for work so much,” says Thompson. “It’s fun, but it’s also really exhausting. I knew I was going to be separating from my businesses and going through a transition.”

That, along with a desire to age in place more gracefully, prompted a quest for
solace within her home. But the 1915 Minneapolis bungalow also underwent myriad “transitions” of its own over time—becoming a living, breathing antonym to the peaceful, cozy, and nurturing space for which she longed. Ill-planned renovations and additions left much to be desired on the cramped second level, which housed two bedrooms and a small, 125-square-foot conjoining room Thompson used as an office—but no primary bathroom.

She enlisted longtime friend, fellow musician, and interior designer Kristin Mooney of Mrs Moonwood to spearhead the project. “In the 1990s, Kristin and I were both pretty successful musicians in the Twin Cities. One day, I was playing a gig on Five Corners, and Kristin was also playing that day. I steeled myself, and I walked up to her and said, ‘Hey, I’m Dana. I’m a musician, too. We’re going to be friends now,’” Thompson recalls, laughing.

After nearly 30 years of friendship, one can imagine the conversation about a home renovation kicked off differently. Mooney, based both locally and in Los Angeles, first looked at the floor plan—a particularly challenging piece of the puzzle that included tackling typical historic remodel hiccups like doorframe realignment, radiator removal, window glass replacement, and tricky ceilings. “The highest point of the room is in the middle, and then the ceilings dropped way down,” Mooney explains. “In parts of the room, you can’t stand fully. … It was really challenging to figure out, ‘OK, the vanity will go here, and the toilet will go there.’ I also knew I wanted to give Dana a separate tub and shower.”

The vanity, a refurbished gray-green sideboard Mooney found on Craigslist, acted as the aesthetic springboard, and the designer knew each material choice and selection that followed needed to also lend itself to the serenity Thompson sought. For instance, strategically designed beadboard gracefully climbs the perimeter, matching window height for visual continuity. The wall color, Benjamin Moore’s First Crush, exudes a “hint of a peachy, blushy tone,” Mooney says, further embodying the dreamy, tranquil ambience. “The trim is all Simply White, which is a color I use all the time,” she adds. “It’s great because it doesn’t have too much gray, and it doesn’t have too much yellow.”

The tile journey, described as “epic” by Thompson, led to the discovery of a Calacatta porcelain hex floor tile. “We went to probably 10 different tile stores, and eventually we found this one from The Tile Shop,” she says. “We put [the sample] down with the paint chips on top of [the sideboard], and it was like the clouds opened and the lights kicked down from the heavens.”

Adjacent to the large freestanding tub is a generous shower that features a slanted glass door, classic white subway tile, an Oatey Designline linear drain in champagne bronze, and creamy bronze-rim penny tile from Rubble Tile. “The feel of penny tile on my feet is so luxurious, I don’t know what it is,” Thompson says, laughing.

Lighting ties everything together. “I am a stickler about lighting,” Mooney says. “My Instagram is @lightingiseverything, because it is. I use table lamps whenever I can in kitchens and bathrooms. People don’t realize these spaces can feel like the rest of the house. They don’t have to be clinical and brightly lit.”

These selections cast a warm glow onto the space, including a linen closet and built-in cabinet between the vanity and toilet. Among the finishing touches are Ferguson fixtures, Facebook finds, an Etsy Indian block print fabric, and a new Hudson Reed towel warmer that doubles as a radiator during the winter months. “It’s everything I need to heal and nurture myself after a long day of work. It feels like pure luxury,” says Thompson, who alongside Mooney, is already planning her next home project: a kitchen remodel.

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