Bria Hammel wanted to have it all.
She grew up in Edina where she attended Our Lady of Grace as a child. As an ambitious adult, she wanted a family and a career that would accommodate it, which is why she launched her own design firm after her son was born.
To put it mildly, the venture snowballed, and pretty soon Hammel had to find full-time childcare to accommodate her growing brand. Her firm quickly found a niche designing for young families who also wanted it all.
“They want beautiful homes but want to be able to live in their homes,” Hammel says. But even with so much design experience, she and her team often struggled to find beautiful, on-trend furnishings that were durable enough to stand up to the active, multigenerational—and, in Minnesota, multi-seasonal—lives of their clients. On the whole, Hammel was noticing a trend in the industry away from formal, aspirational spaces and toward more practical ones that fit how people actually live. “People don’t have untouchable rooms anymore. They’re approaching design much more open-mindedly now,” she says.
But many retail brands hadn’t gotten that memo yet, and options were limited for finishes and furnishings that were sturdy and functional, came in at a reasonable price point and were also elegant. So in August 2018, the company took matters into its own hands, launching a line of furniture and décor named for Hammel’s two kids, Brooke and Lou, and intentionally created the line to be “Life Friendly™.”
That’s one thing Mark and Taylor Gauger wanted when they called about the 2,900-square-foot, 1920s-era Tudor they’d owned for three years. It had good bones but wasn’t functional for the family they wanted to start someday, and it didn’t reflect their personality.
“We knew we needed to call in professionals,” Taylor says, admitting they had considered walking away from the home entirely. “But we knew that with some changes to the layout and an overall refresh … we could make this a home we had always dreamed of.” On their list? A coastal vibe to liven up the interior and exterior without losing the history. They had considered adding a second story, but didn’t want to put the resale price too far out of the range of nearby homes. So more storage and a more logical flow would be key to optimizing the limited space. And when Taylor found out she was pregnant just after starting the year-long renovation, a nursery and family-friendly spaces became urgent.
“It’s an old home with lots of charm and character,” says Hammel. “Those are always the most fun. We just needed to accentuate its best features and bring it to life again.” Her team coordinated a team of contractors who added built-in cabinets and shelves that were consistent with the period of the home. They changed the home’s layout, opting for open rooms that would be family-friendly and flexible. And they added fun touches, like a “Hello” spelled in the mudroom tiles. At every turn, the team chose durable fabrics and finishes, including many Brooke & Lou pieces.
“I think sometimes when you make an investment in quality furniture you always worry about whether your dog or child is going to come in and put a big stain on something,” Taylor says, pointing out the kitchen bar stools covered in a wipeable fabric. “We wanted to invest in furniture pieces that we knew we could have for years to come. They aesthetically look beautiful, but they’re realistic with a baby and growing family.”
The finished product is a space that’s fun and layered, with bright colors balanced with clean neutrals and timeless accents. While almost every inch of the home was updated in some way, it reads like the home and its contents were developed over time. “Every time we walk in the door I think we both just feel happy. From the color palette to the natural light that pours in … we just feel so lucky,” Taylor says. “It’s a ‘pinch me’ moment for sure.”
The home features several pieces from the Brooke & Lou line—all with their signature charm but family-friendly durability. Here’s a primer.
Gold Leaf Statue
Made of marble and brass, it’s a best seller. On the bookshelf, it adds a touch of glam that can easily be moved to other spaces or rooms as time goes on. $93
“They’re from London. I literally found them on the streets!” Hammel says of the art tucked in the bookshelf. Her team has sourced one-of-a-kind pieces for the site’s “Collected” series. Items are ever-changing, come in limited quantities and come from travels around the world.
Kailyn Coffee Table
Front and center in the living room, it’s a great anchor to the space—and because it’s neutral and timeless, the tabletop décor can be switched out with the seasons or future design trends. $1,365
Hazel Rattan Garden Stool
This piece adds a natural flare—and a stylish place to set a cup of a tea or a cocktail. $475
Taylor Dining Chairs
They were named after this client and come in a bevy of upholstery options. Choose from the side chair or arm chair version. $1,560–$1,595
These add a touch of romance to the master bedroom. Chic and layerable, they’re neutral, but their geometric shapes never fade into the background. $595
The Blue Ceramic Jar
Adds a charming touch to the bookshelf. Hammel and her team incorporated finishing touches like books and objects d’art—layered with the family’s own belongings—to make the home seem finished and welcoming. $42
The Emerson Side Table
Its symmetric, chess piece-like shape was named after Taylor and Mark’s daughter. It plays well with the feminine pink velvet chair. $699