INTERIOR DESIGN A splash of color brightens homes

For a vibrant, modern decor, no hue is too bold.
On the decorating spectrum, there are those who favor neutrals and others who crave color. And then there's Lena LoPesio.
"I'm definitely a purple person," she says. And, as the walls in her home vividly demonstrate, she's also a red person, an orange person and a cobalt blue person. Fortunately, for the sake of domestic harmony, so is her husband, Gino. "Color always has been a big pull for both of us," he says.
No hue is too bold for the LoPesios' Minnetonka, Minn., home, which they completely remodeled as a showcase for the vibrant, modern decor they both love.
In their home, as in their store, Vogue Furniture in Bloomington, Minn., it's all contemporary, all the time. And for the LoPesios, it's not just a style, it's a passion and a calling.
"We have three things in common: We love contemporary houses, contemporary furniture and cats," Lena says. "That's our lives."
When they opened their store, people encouraged them to broaden their style, carrying traditional furniture as well as contemporary, Gino says. "But this is what we do, this is what we want to do. If it's not us, we don't want to sell it."
When they married, they bought a house in Edina, Minn., and began looking for furniture. But the playful, adventurous and colorful pieces they wanted were hard to find locally in the mid-1990s. "We went everywhere in Minneapolis and found next to nothing cool at all," Gino recalled. They ended up traveling coast to coast, finally locating what they wanted from several stores, spread across the country.
Friends and family members, impressed with their decor and their enthusiasm, began urging them to go into the furniture business. "They says, 'All you want to do is shop for it, talk about it -- why don't you open a store,'" he recalled. So they did, eight years ago.
Their current home, purchased in 1997, has become, in some ways, an extension of their store's showroom. "I take a lot of clients over here," Lena says. "It's good to see the furniture in a real, livable environment."
All their own
The house was only a few years old when they bought it, but they knew they wanted to make major changes.
"We wanted a clean canvas," Lena says.
"We tore it apart," Gino says. First they removed the brick exterior, "which made the neighbors cry," and replaced it with stucco. They tore out the sliding doors, installed new windows, redid the kitchen and the lower-level bar area and turned a second-story bedroom into a loft overlooking the main living area.
Furnished with jewel-toned velvet chairs and decorated with large diamonds painted on the walls in a harlequin pattern, the loft has become a favored spot for guests to congregate, they say.
Gino oversaw the remodeling project and did much of the work. "I own every tool known to man," he says.
Lena concentrated on the home's interior design. She had always wanted a blue room, she says, so they created one on their lower level, a game room with brilliant azure walls.
And when they couldn't find exactly what they wanted, they got furniture companies to make it for them. The bed in the guest room, for example, a whimsical creation enhanced by loops of metal rope, was the result of Lena's request for a piece that was metal but with a feminine, canopy effect. The bed's one-of-a-kind look was completed with a hand-painted bedspread.
Now that they've gotten the house the way they want it, they're starting to plan their next house. Finding furniture won't be a problem this time. "Contemporary is absolutely easier to find now" than it was when they furnished their first house, Lena says. "Contemporary as a trend is growing every year."

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