Angela Chaffee, owner of Valentine Design, can walk into a room, chat with the homeowner and have a plan materialize in her mind even before she leaves.
“People say that I have a gift,” says Chaffee. “I get a lot of people who ask me, ‘How do you do that?’ It’s actually one of my favorite things, truly morphing into their style. I take into consideration the way they use their space. Is entertaining a big thing? Do they have dogs, pets, children? Do they travel? Can I design a piece around a family heirloom?”
Chaffee insists on taking the client’s style into account. “Many designers have an aesthetic that you hire them for, whereas my work reflects my clients' aesthetic. Each home is completely different from the next,” she says.
Chaffee fell into interior design by accident. Twenty years ago, she was working in the marketing department of a local company that manages senior living communities. She was part of a team that remodeled 800 units in different buildings. Over a period of four years, she met with residents and consulted on paint, flooring, furniture, moving and removing walls, adding bedrooms and other aspects of remodeling.
“It was trial by fire because they didn’t have anybody [else to do it] and it was a very small father and son business,” she says.
Then in the early 2000s, her family moved into an old Cape Cod home in St. Louis Park.
“There was 40-year-old wall paper on every single wall in the house. There were yellow Formica countertops in the kitchen, blue faded carpeting literally turning pink from bleach,” she says.
She knew if she could redesign 800 units, she could definitely tackle renovating her home.
“Once we remodeled, we hosted a lot of parties for our friends. People started asking me to help them,” she says. “That was 15 years ago. I made a business card and my maiden name is Valentine, so Valentine Design. I [formed a] LLC and [got a] tax ID and started.”
Erika Riley worked with Chaffee on her remodel. “After our first meeting, I knew that Angela understood what we were going for and how to get us there,” says Riley. She found Chaffee through her contractor whom she had hired to build a second floor onto their 1923 home near Lake Harriet.
“I wanted a look that suited our home and was also practical and impactful. Angela nailed it. Once we decided on the flooring and the shower tile, all of the details fell into place beautifully,” she says.
Chaffee says the key is always listening to the client. “My goal is to create rooms and atmospheres that make people happy and express what they really enjoy the most,” she says. “The most important quality of the home is that the owners see it as a true reflection of them, their ideas and their interests in the most beautiful and functional way possible.”