When NBA star D’Angelo Russell decided to renovate his rustic home outside of Minneapolis, he insisted on using a very limited color palette. “He wanted everything to be black and white,” says interior designer Tiffany Thompson, founder and principal designer of Duett Interiors in Portland. She oversaw the redesign of the star’s two-level, 6,300-square-foot residence. “He was really into the contrasts that those two colors invite, so we found a way to make it work.”

Thompson installed a black Italian leather sectional sofa in the living room next to a cream-colored Flag Halyard chair with Icelandic sheepskin designed by Hans Wegner. A dark Belvedere leather quartzite countertop in the kitchen is surrounded by black leather and brass chairs. Cherry wood flooring runs throughout the home.

The goal was to combine the property’s rustic Midwestern roots with a calm and seductive atmosphere, says Thompson. She found inspiration for the color palette during a visit to Yakushima, a deeply forested and dense island in Japan. “A Japanese inspiration and a philosophy of openness and exploration,” she says. The result is an aesthetic that deftly balances a variety of textures, including the injection of custom Shou Sugi Ban treatments inspired by Japanese wabi-sabi principles that typically employ elements of asymmetry, roughness, and simplicity. The “mood board,” as Thompson describes the interior scheme, is meant to accentuate the very nature of fall, generating a distinctive emotional response to seasonal change.

“I loved working with Tiffany on this project,” says Russell, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, who joined the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2020. “This is our second project together, so we have a really good dynamic. understands my tastes and what I wanted and takes risks with design choices,” he says.

Although he started his career in 2015 when he was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, Russell played for short spells with the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors before being traded to Minnesota. This traveling whirlwind helped him appreciate Thompson’s home and home interior philosophy, he says. “We managed to make Minnesota feel like home in a short time,” he says. “On my days off I’m usually not up so it’s nice to relax and let the dogs run around.” The athlete adds: “She brought peace to my home and I love that.”

Of course, designing a home for an NBA star inevitably brings distinct touches that reflect the work of the client. In this case, it was about setting up an authentic NBA-sized half-court basketball gymnasium. “The lot is accessible on the main level of the house, making it very close to everyday life,” says Bill Costello (AIA), COO of Streeter Custom Builder in Minnesota. The company took care of the interior construction and eventually engaged in all aspects of the house, including sanding down all the texture of the original, hand-scraped cherry wood flooring that covered the entire house down to the bare wood.

For the basketball court, Streeter installed NBA-grade solid maple flooring and added dark stained oak paneling to all walls. Russell’s favorite game jerseys, encased in wooden frames and safety glass, hang above the pitch. A living room surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass overlooks the entire gym.

As a testament to the facility’s role as a workspace, Russell had a television monitor installed to allow gameplay footage to be studied while practicing. Low-level mirrors have also been added so he can work on his footing and dribbling skills during practices. “Tiffany understood the work-life balance that athletes often rely on at home,” Costello says. “The half-court details underline that perfectly.”

Thompson is no stranger to collaborations with professional athletes. Before moving into interiors, she spent nearly a decade at Nike executing creative projects that often involved input from some of the company’s top sponsored athletes. His experience at Nike also informs his approach to communicating with customers in the sports world.

Because professional athletes are typically transient—traded to a new team in a new city at any time—Thompson implores his clients to view their home not just as a retirement, but also as an investment. “I’m here to remind them that interior design should also be seen as a way to add value to their home,” she says. “For many athletes, especially younger ones, this is the first home they own.”

D’Angelo Russell agrees. “She brought peace to my house,” he says. “And I love that.”