Proximity to performing arts venues played a big role in luring Jeffrey Bores and Michael Hawkins to live in downtown Minneapolis’s Mill District eight years ago. “It’s a theater district without people really acknowledging it’s a theater district,” Bores says. “Besides the Guthrie, there’s the Open Book space, where Ten Thousand Things performs, plus there’s the Southern Theater, Mixed Blood Theatre, and Theatre in the Round, all within walking distance.” The options hold great appeal for the theatergoers. “In a good year, we’ll see 80-plus pieces of theater,” Bores says.
But the interiors of the two condos where the couple has lived since moving to the neighborhood—first at Stonebridge Lofts and now on the 16th floor of the just-finished Eleven building—are all about the visual arts, including contemporary paintings (many by local friends who are artists), an exquisite collection of Kosta Boda glass, and rugs gathered from travels to countries including Morocco, Turkey, and Nepal.
To ensure the art would shine, the couple knew they had to get their rooms’ backdrops right. First, they chose an interior finishes package named RAMSA—the acronym for New York–based Robert A.M. Stern Architects, which partnered with local firms PKA Architecture and Martha Dayton Design on Eleven—the most transitional of three options, and one reminiscent of prewar New York apartment interiors. “We loved [this option’s] racetrack ceilings, where you have two levels of Sheetrock that outline the perimeter of the room,” Hawkins says.
From there, the couple worked with interior designers Martha Dayton and Kelly Perry of Martha Dayton Design. Dayton and PKA Architecture designed all finishes “attached to the unit other than lighting,” as she describes them, from cabinetry, countertops, and hardware in the kitchen to tile combinations in the baths. “Within each of the three styles, there were 36 decisions to make about the unit,” she says. White oak flooring was one of the couple’s picks. And although having walls painted Sherwin-Williams Simple White wasn’t one of the choices (it’s the hue used in units and common areas throughout the building), it would provide the perfect foundation for art.
That’s where Perry came in, helping Bores and Hawkins customize interior furnishings—including closet systems and lighting (like the Arteriors fixture in the dining area, purchased locally through Filament)—and place their art.
A longtime favorite piece, a large abstract by local artist Teo Nguyen, was the first one they figured out where to hang. “That piece really resonated with us color-wise and from an abstract perspective,” Bores says. “We had to know exactly where it would go.” It ended up in the living room, front and center, next to the fireplace. Perry and the couple continued until the interior reflected Bores, Hawkins, and their love of art.
The couple couldn’t be happier with the result. “Living in a world that often has a lot of ugliness to it, it’s certainly nice to have ways to find beauty, and part of that is through the art we live with,” Bores says. “But it’s also the art that surrounds us in the neighborhood and in the city.”