Going the Final Mile

With the help of Yond Interiors, design-inclined homeowners rethink the interiors of their Golden Valley house

Photos by Amanda Marie Birnie

A moody, warm palette makes for a slightly masculine main living space within this Golden Valley abode. Vintage marble nesting tables anchor the room with both interest and age, while a soft taupe limewash finish surrounds the fireplace.

Ed Guzek describes the process of building a new house in Golden Valley as easy. He and his husband, Paul Bechard, had the plans done in two months and moved in a year later. “We have very similar tastes,” Guzek says. The couple were pleased with the final product—a soft, contemporary look with an open floor plan and room for guests, but there was a catch. After living in the house for a few years, they realized something was missing: character. Believe it or not, Guzek blames himself. “I had a can-do attitude and thought I could tackle the interior design alone, [but] it ended up feeling flat.”

Arguably, he had good reason to think he could do it. As the owner of Bokser Home, a home textile company with products found in many upscale hotels and sold at Macy’s and other retailers, Guzek has a strong design background. (Meanwhile, Bechard is an internal medicine doctor.) In retrospect, he thinks it was tactical versus strategic thinking that got him in trouble, he says. “It was more like, ‘We need a dining table,’ ‘We need a couch,’ as opposed to ‘What do we want the living room to feel like?’” Guzek says.

A custom-made Rovan Handcrafted dining room table features an ebony stain and brass leg caps.

He and Bechard decided to start fresh, bringing Julia Miller of Yond Interiors on board after establishing a strong connection in their very first meeting. “She asked a lot of questions, listened, and made Paul and I feel like she would create a space especially for us,” Guzek recalls.

Miller’s first impression of the home was that it lacked personality and warmth. “It was functional but didn’t feel homey, interesting, or fun like Ed and Paul,” Miller says. The couple gave her the green light to clear the decks and reimagine the interior, reusing only their bed and a few favorite pieces of artwork.

Because the fireplace wall in the living room is a focal point and sets the tone for the house, Miller refaced it, swapping the cold black tile surround and mantel with a soft taupe limewash finish. She also ditched the dull symmetry of matching shelving by installing a custom wood console on one side. She explains, “Asymmetry feels more organic and engaging here.”

A moody palette of creams, grays, and browns throughout the house sets a warm, slightly masculine tone that’s animated by a collection of vintage and modern furnishings in a variety of shapes and textures. And because the Guzek-Bechard family includes canine members—at the time, a furniture-dweller named Sappo (since passed) and now puppy Elbe—Miller stuck with durable performance fabrics on couches and chairs.

Another practical consideration was the couple’s love of entertaining. They wanted to make sure their dining table had plenty of legroom for their guests. Finding nothing quite right, Miller had one custom-made by Minneapolis furniture maker Rovan Handcrafted. With a dark ebony stain and brass leg caps, its slightly racy vibe is modulated by vintage Dutch oak chairs, silk jacquard drapes, and the warm glow of taper candles.

Miller also mellowed out the lighting throughout the house, dimming the temperature of recessed fixtures from 4,000-plus to a more soothing 2,500. “Bright light is great for a kitchen or bathroom, but it’s too harsh for bedrooms and living areas,” she says. “A lot of life is lived in softer light.” She added lamps in those areas, sourcing unique shapes and styles, including a vintage cocoon-style lantern in the living room and a mesmerizing spherical lamp by Tom Dixon in the dusky sage bedroom.

In most projects, there is at least one “just trust me” moment, and in this one, it was with the living and dining room drapery. Since Guzek and Bechard rarely drew the shades they had, they weren’t sure they wanted to spend part of their budget on custom drapes they would never close. “Julia had her work cut out convincing us,” Guzek says, playfully. Miller acknowledges that window treatments can be a challenging sell with clients, but she believes strongly in their power to complete a room. “They’re the easiest, although not the cheapest, way to add interest and make a space feel finished,” she explains.

Guzek agrees. “The house feels more like a home now. It feels like a lived-in space and one that we love.”

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