Spotlight On: Alma Homes
We’re excited to share the story of another local partner of ours, Kirsten Erickson of Alma Homes. Alma Homes is a boutique custom home builder and remodeler that works with clients throughout the entire building process, from floor plans and construction to choosing furniture and accessories.
Kirsten grew up in Duluth, MN before she moved to Minneapolis for her undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities where she majored in architecture with minors in housing and construction management. Afterwards, she went west to the University of Colorado in Denver for graduate school and then returned to Minnesota where she worked for a builder before making her dream of starting Alma Homes a reality. Read our interview with her to learn more about her company and her inspiration (and who would play her in a movie!).
How did you end up in this field?
I’ve always loved math, and I’ve always loved art. When I was in 8th grade my dad was going to build a cabin, and he bought me a game where you design houses, and I fell in love with it. And that’s how I knew I wanted to be an architect.
How did you start Alma Homes?
The jobs I had prior made me realize I wanted to be on both the design and build sides instead of just focusing on architecture. So, I started Alma Homes at the end of 2017. We’re just coming up on our one-year anniversary. I thought it would just be the two of us for the longest time, but we got so busy so fast. I do all the plans, design and selections, and Ethan, our project manager, oversees all of our subcontractors, scheduling, and takes care of everything in the field.
Has starting your business been what you expected?
It took off a lot faster than I anticipated. That has been an adjustment, figuring out our capacity. We always wanted to stay smaller and not become this huge builder, so it’s just about making those hard decisions. When we were so new, I didn’t feel like we should be turning down clients, but we had to.
When you are starting a big project, what’s the first step in the design process?
First, I sit down with our clients and talk about their must-haves, their needs and their style. I also figure out everything about their project details, like how many bedrooms and baths their home has. I look at their Pinterest and Houzz accounts to see what their inspirations are. There are a lot of restrictions from the lots themselves which is good. I actually like having restrictions or else there can be too many options. After that, I pick one thing to be the inspiration, and that’s what inspires the whole house.
What’s an example of one piece of inspiration that influenced a whole home?
One homeowner I worked with loved the color blue. So, I weaved that in different ways throughout the whole house and used it to marry the two homeowners’ styles together.
Note: Kirsten was not the only one that loved Charlotte Moonstone. In fact, it was so popular that it sold out! Check again later to see if it’s back in stock. In the meantime, this is a very similar style.
Do you always use one common theme to tie a home together or do you ever design rooms separately?
I like it to feel cohesive for the most part. I don’t like when you walk into a house, and it feels like you’re in a different place in each room. But there is always room for fun splashes of color or interest, especially in kids’ bathrooms and bedrooms. But I do usually try to keep a consistent palette throughout a house.
Where do you find your inspiration?
A lot of it comes from products. The Tile Shop’s showroom, flooring shops, different wallpapers…I get a lot of inspiration from products because you can actually put them in a house. For example, there is one tile we used and it ended up inspiring an entire house. I also get a lot of inspiration from traveling and going to different trade shows.
“I love to travel, see different parts of the world, see how they design and incorporate pieces of what I find into my own designs.”
Which would you prefer: a client who knows exactly what he or she wants or a client that gives you total freedom?
I would prefer they have strong opinions, honestly. When they have no opinion, it’s kind of terrifying because everyone actually has an opinion—they’re just not saying it. Saying “I don’t like this” is helpful to eliminate choices.
Do you prefer designing from scratch or renovating better?
I like them both! And we do both for that reason.
“The thing I love about starting from scratch is that it’s whatever you dream up. It’s so fun to watch a space transform from nothing into someone’s home because of my vision.”
At the same time, I love walking into a place and fixing what doesn’t work. Whenever I go anywhere, I’m redoing the design in my head. It’s a bad habit! It’s hard to pay attention when I’m thinking about what is driving me nuts about a space.
What is your dream client or project?
We love building on the lake, so I think it’d be really fun to do a fun lake home—preferably with no budget! But my real dream project would be to do a house in Colorado in the mountains. I hope it happens someday.
What’s your favorite part of your own home?
Probably the kitchen just because that’s where I, and my guests, spend so much time.
How do you describe your personal style?
My style is a mix. It’s livable and elegant but not too fancy; it’s clean and bright but feels warm and nice. I love farmhouse style but not anything too rustic. I like modern touches. It’s a blend of so many different styles.
Where do you source home decor for your clients?
Some decor is from trade exclusive lines for furniture, some is from places like Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel and some is antique. I like to use a mix of resources. I don’t want it to feel too brand new, so I incorporate some older things that have character.
What’s your dream source of home decor?
Traveling would actually be my dream source. There was a flea market I went to in Paris and when I asked about shipping something back home, it was going to cost $50,000. Needless to say, that didn’t happen!
What’s your favorite Tile Shop tile?
What’s your favorite thing about designing with tile?
You have so many options, and that’s the most fun. I love the selection at The Tile Shop. You can do an exciting statement tile and then pair it with something basic.
What do you like about shopping at The Tile Shop?
The samples! Everything is there versus looking in a magazine where tiles always look so different.
The Fun Five
What’s your dream vacation?
I would love to go to Fiji and Italy.
What are you streaming right now?
Blindspot. And Grey’s Anatomy is one that never gets old.
What is your favorite hobby outside work?
Being on the lake in the summer and snowboarding in winter.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Kirsten Dunst because we have the same name.
If you weren’t in your current career, what would you be doing?
I would probably be in corporate America working in finance.
We think you made the right choice, Kirsten!