In the beginning, Helgerson remembers, the house was empty but for “a sofa, two chairs, and a lot of boxes,” all set against a backdrop of dark mustard and green walls. Helgerson—who favors cool grays and an understated palette—found Spies’s “feminine, fancy aesthetic” startling, with its warm whites punctuated by vivid splashes of color. But the personalities clicked, and the designers slipped into roles of facilitators to their client’s overall vision.
Spies’s love of color pops up throughout the house. A pale goldenrod fills the living room walls and shines one shade lighter in the dining room, and a range of hues emerge as pillows in the family room, softening the hard lines of the black leather couch. In the living room, oversize pink pillows rimmed with black rest on the slipcovered Brenda Antin couch and chairs. After seeing a Chinese Khotan rug in Madison Millinger’s showroom that they liked but for its muted shades, Spies and Sommer opted to custom-order a version in which the browns became cream-colored. They had lampshades made from intricate, 60-year old Turkistani fabrics from the Portland store Cargo. Upstairs in the master bedroom, side tables made by local designer Kai Fuhrmann are lacquered in Tiffany blue, echoed in the delicate geometric light blue and brown print of the chairs nearby.
Lest the spaces seem disjointed, the frills and flounces of the living room and bedroom and the muted masculinity of the family room are tied together with Middle Eastern flourishes, from the textiles and lampshades to the tribal rugs and Moroccan poufs. Mirrors refract light throughout the house, providing additional continuity: a six-foot-tall mirror in the living room, elegantly appointed with a Katayama handcrafted frame, reflects a view to the trees outside, while a ginkgo-blossom mirror expands the upstairs bathroom. The trim, initially a dark cherry color in the family room but now painted white, completes the bridge between the family room, living room, and dining room.
The result is a home that’s both striking and livable, evidenced in the dog-eared kids’ books scattered on tabletops, pillows thrown on the floor for lounging and impromptu napping, and the whole family sprawling on the sectional couch to watch movies.
“I grew up with a living room we couldn’t sit in, play in, or eat in, and it never got used,” says Spies, stepping around a Playmobil truck in the middle of the floor. “Here, everything has a function and we enjoy the spaces, yet it’s all beautiful. I look forward to coming home.”