Doug and Sandra Mangel have lived in this 1911 Cape Cod
Doug and Sandra Mangel have lived in this
1911 Cape Cod-style home for more than
20 years. In an effort to better balance her
tastes with his, Sandra, an interior designer,
recently tweaked the home’s look, starting
with the sitting area, opposite, where she
replaced pastel floral chintz upholstery with
a richer, more masculine print.
A Minneapolis designer
refines her all-frills cottage
style into a more tailored
look that pleases both
her and her husband.
Written by becky mollenkamp Photographed by kim cornelison Produced by Kirsten Hollister
To ease the feminine edge in the
living room, Sandra deepened
the walls from light pink to
rich raspberry and carried the
saturated tones onto the
fabrics. Sage chenille covers the
antique sofa, which Sandra has
reupholstered three times.
Decorating can be a
battle of the sexes and
when she is the interior
designer, he is likely to
lose the war.
Such was the case for Sandra and Doug Mangel, whose
home has been pretty in pink and floral chintz for 20 years.
Last year, however, a desire for compromise struck Sandra,
so she redecorated to meet her husband in the middle.
“What I tried to do is mix the feminine with the
masculine,” Sandra says. “For example, pillows with a soft
pattern get paired with a more angular plaid and stripe.”
Starting from scratch wasn’t an option because Sandra
loved everything in her home. To add masculinity without
losing her personal style, she opted for small changes that
made a big impact. The walls in the living and dining rooms
deepened from pastel pink to rich raspberry.
Instead of buying new furniture, Sandra reupholstered
A custom glass-top dining
table occupies little visual
space in a narrow dining
room, above. Sandra placed
an antique armoire in
an empty corner to add
storage for stemware.
A white-painted brick
fireplace didn’t fit Sandra’s
redesign, so she covered
the brick with marble
tiles and designed a hefty
wood mantel, left. “It’s the
first thing you see when
you come in the house
so it needed to make a
statement and serve as a
focal point,” she says.
almost everything she owned. That floral chintz was replaced
with simple geometrics or solid colors with lots of texture.
“Instead of remodeling, I re-covered,” Sandra jokes. “I’m
still in love with the pieces I’ve had for 30 years. So rather
than buy something new, I just reupholster what I have.
Redoing an entire room is a major expense, but you can
tweak a chair for very little money.”
Although she saved most of her favorite furnishings,
Sandra did let go of accessories. After buying antiques for
more than 35 years, Sandra had amassed quite a collection
of odds and ends that covered most of the surfaces in her
home. To achieve a more tailored look, she decluttered and
created simplified vignettes.
When Sandra fell in love with a
sunroom she designed for a charity
showcase house, she re-created the
look in her own home. She left the
original windows and textured plaster
walls mostly bare to capitalize on
To save money,
Sandra let the
existing Art Deco
floor tiles guide
“Years ago I’d fill a table with all kinds of collectibles, now
it’s a lamp and a personal photo,” Sandra says.
While most of the makeover was as simple as updating
paint or fabric, there was one big-ticket redo: The Mangels
treated themselves to a master bathroom by converting
their grown daughter’s bedroom. After adding plumbing,
Sandra decorated the new space with a simple vanity and
neutral tones to please him, a leopard-print chair for her.
The adjoining master bedroom is small, so Sandra made
the most of it by replacing fussy flowers and lace with a
monochromatic color palette largely devoid of pattern. She
A three-tier shelf loaded
with a collection of
Japanware, left, adds a
pop of bold color to the
sunroom’s white walls.
To make the custom
hardware, Sandra painted
wood knobs to match
the shelves and then
covered them in crafts
glue and rolled them over
glass beads. Below, Sandra
relaxes with her grandsons
(left to right) Benjamin, 5;
Jacob, 7; and Jackson, 10.
also bought new furniture for the revamped room, choosing
a few large-scale pieces.
“Scale in a room is extremely important because that’s
what gives balance and harmony,” Sandra says.
Despite all the changes, one room was left untouched.
Sandra kept her sunroom as is—an over-the-top girly
getaway. The pastel-drenched space is a reminder that
compromise may be admirable, but sometimes it’s nice to
have a space of your own.
“My style has remained the same, but within that I can
make changes just as I do with my wardrobe,” Sandra says.
“But I still love pink because it just makes me happy.”
the sandra file
Q.You’ve been an interior
designer for more than 30 years.
What changes have you seen?
a.Years ago the woman made all
the design decisions in the house, but
now couples are working together.
It’s more challenging because no two
people have the same ideas and I
have to find the middle road.
Q.How does your style differ
from your clients’?
a.Generally my clients want
simplified looks. My personal style
is more collected. I use more color,
more print, and I love to mix styles.
Q.What’s the most important
decorating advice you can share?
a.If you’re just starting out, work
with a designer. It really doesn’t cost
any more to work with a designer
and you’ll learn so much. Also, always
pick things that you love!
Q.What are your secrets for
a.If you don’t have any antiques
stores near you, head to your
computer—eBay, Craig’s List, and First
Dibs are wonderful online resources.
Trust yourself and don’t overanalyze
things. If you like it, get it. That’s why
I’ve kept my pieces for so long—they
were all from the heart.
Q.What’s your next project?
a.I’m adding a tiny chandelier to
the sunroom. It’s a black bamboo
iron chandelier in the shape of a
lantern and I’ve strung different
colors of glass beads on it.
“Scale in a room is
because that’s what gives
balance and harmony.”
–Interior designer Sandra Mangel
For a flawless
finish on furniture,
use oil-base paint.
It adheres and
wears better than
latex but takes
longer to dry.
Lighting is a critical element of
Sandra’s designs. She prefers several
low-light fixtures rather than a few
bright ones (she never uses brighter
than a 60-watt bulb). In the kitchen
she painted a wood sconce, left, to
match the room’s color scheme and
added a toile-covered shade and
several crystals. She also remade an
iron chandelier, right, found at an
antiques shop, with paint and prisms.
“I like lighting at a lot of different
levels,” Sandra says. “It creates
different moods in the room.”
To visually expand her kitchen’s
cramped quarters, Mangel chose a
simple palette of green and white,
inspired by the toile used on the
chairs and valance. Replacing a wall
with antique railings, opposite, helped
open the kitchen and, coupled with
the original maple floors, retain its
small space, big style
Good design comes in all shapes and sizes. Interior designer Sandra
Mangel knows how to live large in a small house—her Cape Cod-style
home is just 1,200 square feet. Here are her tips for maximizing every
square inch in a small room.
W Flooding a room with light will make it feel larger. In many
of Sandra’s smallest rooms, the windows are unfettered to allow
in natural light, which bounces off white walls. Rooms without lots of
windows are loaded with artificial light.
W White walls aren’t the only way to expand space. Soft, subdued
color schemes, like in Sandra’s green-and-white kitchen, evoke a
W Older homes often have small, awkward spaces that require deft
furniture placement. The sunroom in Sandra’s 1911 home is long and
narrow. To make the most of it, she divided the room into two smaller
areas, with a dining space at one end and a sitting area at the other.
W Crowding many little things into a small room will only make it feel
smaller. Instead, Sandra always chooses just a few large-scale pieces of
furniture for her small rooms.
Scale is one of the
design. A dresser
and chair make
this small corner
Bold patterns, cozy textures, and
simplified displays replace floral-andlace draperies, a paisley button-tufted
slipper chair, and piles of antique
tchotchkes in the master bedroom,
formerly the most feminine room in
the Mangels’ house.
While most of Sandra’s furnishings
are vintage pieces from flea markets,
she did outfit the master bedroom
with a few new items, including a
custom-made dresser, above. An old
étagère, right, is the only remaining
element from the master bedroom’s
previous design. Its blue paint
determined the wall color, but Sandra
updated the look by introducing
raspberry accents in the bedding.
Converting an unused third bedroom
into a master bathroom, above right,
was the only big-ticket part of the
home’s remake. Sandra kept the
original hardwood floor, which her
contractor had to remove and then
replace after plumbing was added.
take it home
GET INSPIRED BY WHAT YOU LOVE.
As an interior designer with access to
unlimited textiles, Sandra Mangel let
favorite fabrics guide most of her color
choices. For others, she suggests using a
blouse or scarf to start the design process.
make a mismatched statement.
The surest route to a cookie-cutter look
is buying matching furniture and fabrics.
Instead, personalize your space by mixing
styles, periods, and patterns. “If you see
something you love, buy it,” Sandra says.
“You’ll fit it in somewhere.”
add touchable texture.
Layers of texture make a room cozy. To
soften the hard edges of her master bath,
Sandra added a flowy window treatment,
a leopard-print chair, and fresh flowers.