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Artful Lodging

Inside three inspiring spaces where home decorating is a visual art.
Photography by Alex Hayden for City Arts.

Not everyone needs an interior designer. Some decorating marvels come straight from the inhabitants themselves.

For inspiration, look no further than the world of visual arts; that’s what we did, discovering three aesthetes who opened their homes to our cameras and questions. Just like the people who inhabit them, these homes have a personality all their own. The collections inside suggest personal interests, the color palettes hint at mood, and artworks or books boast of intellectual endeavours. Each space reflects the innovation, artistry and personal style of the enviable people living within its walls. •

 

THE ARTIST
INSIDE ELLEN FORNEY AND JAKE FENNELL’S ART-LADEN APARTMENT.
After living on her own for fifteen years in a densely decorated one-bedroom apartment, cartoonist Ellen Forney decided to make the leap into cohabitation with her boyfriend, artist Jake Fennell, in a spacious Capitol Hill dwelling. The three-bedroom apartment allows each of them to have a studio, and art crops up in every room.

In the living room, light from west-facing windows brightens the apartment, and gatherings of Forney's collected objects populate her walls and surfaces.
A piece by Fennell, who has dabbled in both blacksmithing and glassblowing.
Bright splashes of color appear throughout the apartment, both in Forney’s personal art and in furniture.

 

 

THE BUILDER
LEO BERK AND CLAIRE COWIE’S TRANSFORMED 1960S SPLIT-LEVEL – A TRUE LABOR OF LOVE.
Visual artists Leo Berk and Claire Cowie had been dating for seven years when they purchased their first home in lower Beacon Hill, settling on a 1968 fixer-upper with popcorn ceilings, wall-to-wall carpet and a dark, enclosed kitchen. The couple planned to tear the interior down to the bone to create an open layout with a sleek, updated feel. Berk’s handiwork is present throughout the abode, where clean lines and warm-toned wood rule.

Berk crafted gorgeously layered cabinets out of hundred-year-old salvaged car decking, adding depth to the open kitchen.
The Berk-fashioned Douglas fir dining table was a pre-marriage gift to Cowie.
White subway tile, geometric lines and a jewel-toned floor brighten a downstairs bathroom.
Bright-red resin numerals proclaim the couple’s address on the visually stunning front door.
The Pennsylvania bluestone fireplace is a vintage throwback amidst predominantly modern styling.

 

 

THE COLLECTOR
THE STUFF THAT NEVER MAKES IT ONTO SARAH LITTLEFIELD’S JUNK LOVE BLOG FINDS A PLACE IN HER HOME.
Sarah Littlefield has always been interested in junk. What started as a serious post-college hobby turned into a lifetime passion, and now Littlefield sifts through garage sales and auctions all over the state to find unique items for her Seattle Junk Love blog. When she moved into her girlfriend’s Ballard home a year ago, her collection came too, filling the rooms with handpicked nostalgic and vintage items.

The living room is filled with local art and clusters of animal-themed objects.
Littlefield grew up in North Dakota attending horse camp every summer, an experience that echoes in her equine decor. Antique surveyor’s sticks find a place in the corner of the den.
Bright orange walls in the dining area serve as a cheery background for bucolic midcentury paint-by-number pieces. An ornate chandelier picks up the room’s white wood trim.

A leather couch and an ever-rotating set of records provide a popular Friday-night hangout for friends. •

 

 

CRIB SHEET
FIVE TIPS FOR YOUR SPACE INSPIRED BY OUR SUBJECTS.

Take a cue from Littlefield’s horse-themed collection. Choose items that reflect your own personal style such as a favorite color or pattern (or animal). Cluster items in one area, or, if a collection is large, spread it throughout your home for visual interest. Meissen Maestoso head, Far4, $527
Don’t let your chairs take a back seat! Choose something bright to punch up a minimally dressed dining room. If patterns are too bold for your style, choose seating in a vivid color à la Forney and Fennell. Bernhard dining chair, IKEA, $139; Kartell Mademoiselle Chair in Missoni fabrics, Velocity Art and Design, $950–$1,054
Although you won’t be able to say you crafted it yourself, a wooden table with clean lines such as this teak beauty fosters the uncluttered sophistication of Berk and Cowie’s modern design aesthetic. Kayu teak dining table, Design within Reach, $1,800
Follow Littlefield’s lead on lighting: lots of style and little fear. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Mix and match light-fixture styles. Love a classic glass chandelier and a vintage brass lighting piece? Hang them both! Latticework chandelier, Nieman Marcus, $895
Decorating doesn’t have to be super serious. Add some personality to your living room with eye-catching throw pillows, as Littlefield does in her den. Marabou boa pillow or Safari gazelle pillow, Anthropologie, $88 each
See more in the March 2011 issue   →