We know you two both have your own sense of style - how did you merge your stylistic preferences to design your home?
This has been tricky because while we’ve always shared some preferences, both of our styles have evolved over time. Padraic is drawn to rich textures, natural influence, and a darker atmosphere – a bit more maximalist – while I like to keep things light, modern, and colorful. I think we meet in the middle with a sort of Japanese / Californian base: maple and teak woods, clean lines, and warm neutrals as our foundation. I’m becoming more and more open to tasteful maximalism these days. I used to like things to always be “perfect,” but I’m starting to embrace a little bit of careful chaos which helps relax the space.
It’s also worth noting that our home still feels very much like a work in progress, and it takes time and money to get things where they need to be. We still have almost no art on the walls and would like to add more ceiling lights, put an entertainment center in the living room, and finish the guest bedroom, which is still just a blank slate. We try to embrace slow progress because it allows us to sit with the space before committing to one style.
How did you choose a color palette for your home?
Mostly by Photoshopping every room we design (including the exterior of the house when we were going to paint it). I think a lot of it overlaps with my photography color palette because those are just the colors I’m drawn to. It’s important to consider the colors in context with one another. I love this one view through our kitchen archway that shows red, purple, dark blue, and teal. It’s also good to remember that paint is one of the easiest (and most fun) things to change, so I don’t stress about it too much. We’re thinking of painting our dark blue living room wall yellow.
How do you agree on design purchases as a couple?
We’re both pretty impulsive about it. We love to go to thrift stores, yard sales, and the Alameda Point Antiques Faire when we can. If there’s something available online with a really high price tag, we often fantasize about it for a while; if finances allow and we’re still thinking about it, we might go for it. But I think it’s important to sit with ideas for a bit and see which ones still sound good after a month or a year. If there’s disagreement on design or color preferences, Photoshopping a mockup of the item in our space usually helps us make the right decision.
What is your secret weapon to instantly boost or change the Mood of your space?
It’s all about the light. Without good light, good design means nothing. (That’s true of photos, too!) We can’t stand overhead/fluorescent lighting so we make sure to have plenty of lamps that create a nice diffused glow. Having lots of windows helps, too, but that’s not possible in every home. I sort of have a lamp addiction – we don’t need any more table lamps, but I’m always more I love. This vintage toucan lamp has been the latest cause for self-restraint. Oh, and last tip: always get warm-toned LED bulbs – cool color temperatures ruin everything and can make your house feel like a hospital.
Let’s talk storage. As we all know, each household has a collection of necessary, albeit not-so-pretty tools, must-haves and supplies. What tips do you have for aesthetically-pleasing storage solutions?
This was one of the first things I realized about open shelving units. They sound nice, but in reality unless every single thing you own is beautiful (i.e., medications, food boxes, cleaning supplies, etc), it’s better to have a nice looking cabinet that stows them away out of sight. We have a large orange shelf in our kitchen that we love, but it’s hard to keep it looking uncluttered. We feel pressure for the things on it to be “displayed” rather than just “stored” – like you wouldn’t stack a bunch of pasta boxes on it the way you would in a drawer or cabinet. We also wish our bathroom built-in shelf had a door on it to hide day-to-day items. I’d say that colorful locker cabinets are one of my favorite affordable styles that meet both form and function. Nicely designed opaque bins are also helpful in minimizing clutter. Going forward, I’d always choose nicely designed cabinets rather than open shelves (unless they’re going somewhere decorative like a living room wall).
When we visited your place, we couldn’t help but notice that it looks just as beautiful as it does in your photography. Do you find it challenging to keep your home perfectly stylized and aesthetically pleasing while living in it?
I’m trying to let things be less perfect. (And believe me, it gets messy very quickly and very often!) Our ultimate goal with the house is to create a cozy, relaxed vibe that still honors our sense of design and color. Also, it’s definitely possible to go too far with everything being “set-like.” For example, as much as I love my desk that I designed and had built, sometimes it feels too cartoon-ish, like it belongs in a set rather than in my life. Lately I’m fantasizing about a simple modern desk that would give me more room to play with other decor elements in my office.
What are some of your best tips for balancing functionality with aesthetics? What pieces would you say have to be purely functional, and what pieces can afford to be completely aesthetic?
I’ve been wrestling with this internally for a while now, and I think it’s causing me to move more toward a “colorful industrial” aesthetic that leans into imperfection and realism a bit more. I don’t want to live in an Instagram-perfect world, but I also like things to look clean and stylish. I’d say I usually regret compromising on function for aesthetics – for example, we have these salt and pepper grinders in a different color, and though they started out attractive, they’re becoming grimy and hard to clean. Objects that get heavy daily use should prioritize function, while items that are used more sparingly can afford to be a little more delicate/impractical.
What are some home decor or furniture brands and designers that you're currently loving?
Coming Soon NY, Hay, Floor Story, Aelfie, Mattina Moderna, Toniton (sadly not available in US), Hem, Poltronova (could never afford!), Muller Van Severen – and oddly, the kids section of almost any major retailer (like Crate and Barrel!)
What's one bit of wisdom you'd share with budding interior designers and/or creatives?
Stick with a timeless couch and let other creative elements give your living space some personality. You may not love that hot pink velvet tufted sofa forever.
Photo credits to Diane Villadsen.