This Minnesota Home Is a Maximalist Dream

A St. Paul, Minnesota home filled with vintage finds, art and an on-trend global collage is great inspiration for creating your own eclectic design at home. Take a tour of Gladys Tay's funky home.

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January 22, 2020

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Photo By: Ian Khoh

Walking the Line

Antique dealer Gladys Tay is a woman of many interests. The Singapore native and current resident of St. Paul, Minnesota explores a few of them in-depth through her eponymous website, which focuses on an eclectic combo of cooking, art and vintage furnishings. For the past two-and-a-half years, she’s shared a three-story, split-level house with her husband, Frank. After an intense period of renovation, Gladys' strong design sense and love of objects combined to turn the 1,800-square-foot space into a wonderful temple of maximalist design.

To the Max

A self-described “eclectic maximalist,” Gladys puts her design abilities on full display in her living room. The combination of modern furnishings, vintage accessories and quirky objects draw the eye in a dozen directions at once, promising new delights at every glance. Gladys is quick to name the space as one of her favorites in the home, largely because it houses some of her most treasured pieces. “It’s a collection of special objects and happy memories,” she says.

A Crash Update

When the couple first entered the space, it took their breath away. And not in a good way. “Everything looked like 1984,” Gladys recalls. “Wallpaper, kitchen, cabinetry — the basement was completely carpeted [and there were] dropped ceilings.” A desire to renovate all at once led to Gladys and Frank living and sleeping in the upstairs living room for several months as renovations took place everywhere else. Once the moment arrived to design a proper living room, however, Gladys made up for lost time.

A Stylish Work Environment

Like the kitchen, Gladys’ office is one of the home’s more toned-down spaces. The office may not house as many objects as the living room or family room, but what it does share with both of those rooms is a color palette of white and black with pops of red. Despite her bold choices in texture, pattern and size, Gladys admits that when it comes to color, she is “mostly drawn to neutral tones.” It’s the understated nature of this palette that keeps the visual effect of her eclectic style under control while making all of the rooms feel related.

A Challenging Size

The dining room is the one room in the house that Gladys confesses posed an ongoing challenge. Maximalist design requires space above all else, and at first the dining room just wasn't being accommodating. “It’s a small space, and for a while I was fighting to make it look bigger,” she says. “After months of shuffling furniture around the space, I surrendered to its size and embraced a more intimate feel.”

An Art Lover’s Dream

“I’m an art lover and an artist at heart,” Gladys says about her extensive use of art in her design aesthetic. Arguably, the family room houses an even more impressive collection than the living room. Abstract paintings of all sizes sit alongside Italian posters, hand-carved stools, larger-than-life statues and a variety of sculpture. At the center of it all: A beautifully designed console and striking side table blur the line between furniture and art.

Kitchen Remodel

The kitchen was one of the larger parts of the renovation project. Gladys recalls that, “We had to put in a whole new kitchen, new flooring and a couple of new windows.” But it wasn’t just about addition in this renovation. Before the new look could take hold, a significant amount of the old had to go. “There was an insane amount of removing wallpaper and painting too,” she remembers.

A Minimalist Moment

The black and white color palette of the dining room continues into the kitchen. A largely functional space, the kitchen is one of the more minimalist areas of the home with only a few design accessories compared to most of the other rooms. But the new, streamlined cabinetry, metallic fittings and floor tiles give the space a refined and timeless look.

A Helping Hand

Ultimately, the small space didn’t keep Gladys from making her dining room into something special. All she needed was the right statement pieces. The hand chairs were perfect, she says, because they added more than a funky look to the space. “Not only are they eccentric-looking, they add texture to the room, along with the functionality of extra seating for guests.” The chairs contribute to the classic black and white color palette of the space, with the nails provide a striking pop of red that accents the entire room.

Maximum Maximalism

From the kitchen, the family room is a return to form with an amazing array of pieces, accessories and art including a very abstract curved chair and a massive skull sculpture, wearing a sun hat. Asked about the secret of her skill for blending so many influences and so many pieces, Gladys points to her work. “Being a vintage dealer, my home is filled with 90 percent vintage pieces,” she reveals. “The layering of objects and art makes the home very visually stimulating.”

A Balance of Energies

The bedroom is at once a serene oasis and a beautiful juxtaposition of shapes, textures and patterns. From the C-shaped night table to the wonderfully geometric table lamp, and the improbably shaped pedestal that holds the room’s only plant, Gladys continues to make artistically inspired furniture choices. The unique look of her rooms is an important goal and she collects pieces with that in mind. “Between my large abstract artworks and all my vintage finds, it isn’t something anyone can just run to the store and buy off the shelf to recreate the exact look,” she explains.

Global Design in Every Room

Giant paintings, one-of-a-kind furnishings, a classic color palette and oversized statues. With so much to enjoy, it would be hard for anyone to pick the one thing they love the most about this home. For Gladys, though, the answer is clear: “I love that every piece and object in my home has a story to share,” she says. “Bringing all these finds together not only creates a unique design, but it helps tell a new story — my story.”

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