Upon entering our neighborhood for the first time, my friend asked me, “Liz, did we just enter the fashionable youth district?” and I laughed for ages. Capitol Hill is young, and filled with bars and restaurants, and has a hipster contingent, but it’s also a fun, progressive, and pretty central neighborhood, with many nice old buildings and tons of local businesses.
Our flavor of offbeat is thrifty, crafty, and playful. Everything here is second (possibly third) hand. If it isn’t from a thrift store, it’s from the side of the road. If it isn’t from the side of the road, we made it. I’d like to toot my own horn for a moment and say that I am the primary crafter. Derek is amazing in his willingness to be supportive with whatever I make, to be a sounding board for ideas, and for how he trustingly holds two pieces of wood together while I use a power tool very near his hands. And he usually checks in on my projects to tell me dinner is ready.
I feel like I see a lot of “and then I got my boyfriend/husband/dad to handle this construction project” in the interior design world, so I wanted to be very clear that I do the construction work, and ladies, you can too!
The infinite list of crafts includes making our bed frame (and making it in the closet no less, because there’s no way to get something that size in the closet once it’s been made), reupholstering the dining nook and office chairs (and making new tops for the office ones), the weird creepy lamp on top of the bookcase, sewing curtains and pillow cases, the bike wheel chandelier, hacking a vanity into my desk with a piece of glass and some books for structural support when Rosie sits on the desk, painting the mural, and painting a great many other things.
Our space is great. There aren’t really many challenges with the structure of it. We’re down to one closet, but we did that to ourselves, and are making do. Our biggest challenge actually comes from having no car and starting with no friends when we first moved to town. We have carried a lot of this furniture home ourselves, including some of the big pieces. It’s easy to keep to the mantra “Only buy what you love” when you might be carrying that big pink couch home.
I really like the formal, classic touches of our 1929 building. Our iceboxes, hardwood floors, plaster walls, and milk delivery door are a fun backdrop for our playful style. Nothing’s too strict, and anything that makes us laugh stays. Especially the tiny cat couch.
Nothing makes me laugh as hard as the tiny cat couch.
Lessons I’ve learned:
- You can use rooms for different things than their intended purpose!
- You can find anything at a thrift shop if you are patient, diligent, and measure before you leave the house.
- You can make anything with a sewing machine, a drill, and a power saw.
In the future, we’d like to get a big driftwood cat tree to put by the living room window, and probably some curtains for that window as well. Derek’s become really into the idea of getting black out curtains and turning our living room into a camera obscura. We also want to build a Theremin to round out our weird musical instrument collection (the musical saw, the harmonium, some strangely strung guitars, and some more standard things like a keyboard and recorder).
And eventually I’m going to have to learn how to reupholster the bigger things in our house.
When it comes to your home, my advice is this:
If an idea makes you laugh, it’s a good idea. Don’t be a stick in the mud about whether it’s tasteful. Don’t get discouraged on what you think you’re capable of; you can build basically anything and the internet is full of tutorials. Don’t pay a lot of money for something; you’ll see it in a thrift store the next day. Paint your walls.
And don’t bring lilies into your home if you have cats.
The stuff we have to recommend:
First and foremost, we have to recommend Animal Talk Rescue in Seattle for providing the two biggest sources of joy in our home. Animal Talk is an excellent no-kill rescue in the Roosevelt district that doesn’t shy away from older cats and hard cases (like our cats were). In particular, they did a great job of turning Gilda from an infectious ball of goo into a cat, and they went to a great deal of trouble to make sure she kept both eyes.
We’d also like to recommend Metrix, our local create space, an amazing resource for anyone looking to do some more tool, 3D printer, or laser cutter-related crafts for their home, and Twice Sold Tales (a used book store is a valid home decorating source in a home with as many books as ours).
Enough advice. Show me the decor porn!