A Multi-Disciplinary Designer’s Portland House Is a Maximalist, Pastel Ode to ’70s and ’80s Interiors
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Name: Courn Ahn, Raymond Cruz, Adobe + Ochako (dogs)
Location: Portland, Oregon
Type of Home: House
Size: 2,068 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year 6 months, owned
“My partner and I embarked on the homebuying process in late 2020. And as you would expect, it was quite a strenuous few months of searching, spending every weekend touring dozens of homes, having multiple declined offers, and incredibly brutal competition at every turn. By the time we found our current home, we were trying so hard not to get our hopes up like we had over previous ‘dream homes.’ But to our surprise, the offer was accepted! It genuinely felt unreal!” explains multi-disciplinary designer Courn Ahn, the owner and founder of Courtney Ahn Design, a creative studio that “prioritizes work with BIPOC, queer, and woman-owned businesses.”
The house needed some work when they purchased it. The first few months were spent redecorating, but the past year has seen Courn doing some more involved renovating, like making over the fireplace, refreshing the paint on windows and doors, and also creating some fun large-scale murals. But beyond just lovely to look at, the house boasts a lot of cool bonuses, including a large basement turned creative studio, spare bedroom turned walk-in closet, and one unusual outdoor addition.
“Probably one of my most favorite and *completely unnecessary* things about my home is the retracting deck cover the previous homeowner custom built — I have never seen anything like it and it is hands down so convenient,” Courn writes. “We spend nearly every day lounging around on the deck, opening it up in the afternoon for my dogs to sunbathe and closing it up on rainy days to sit and relax.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Pastel maximalism.
Inspiration: ’70s + ’80s interiors, contemporary art, Memphis style.
Favorite Element: My home office! Funnily enough, it was probably my least favorite space when we moved in because it was a typical old renovated basement — dingy carpet, gray walls, a dated built-in shelving system to top it off. But after finally renovating and decorating it over the past few months, it’s finally become the home office of my dreams. It’s super colorful and bright and has all the storage needed for my never-ending list of crafts.
Biggest Challenge: I’d say the biggest challenge is probably just the undertaking of completely changing the original style of your home. Like where do you start when there’s everything to do? I got so overwhelmed the first six months that I really didn’t do much at all besides redecorate. It wasn’t until the past year that I started to dip my toes in and start significantly renovating — redoing the fireplace, repainting windows and doors, painting large murals, you name it. And I still find it incredibly challenging as planning is not my strong suit in the slightest, but taking each room one by one has made it a little more manageable.
Proudest DIY: The bedroom headboard! I had seen a tutorial online a while back of something similar and showed it to my partner who insisted it would be easy to do ourselves. So I drew out the design on some wood, he cut it on the jigsaw, and I upholstered it in this bright pink fabric. It was seriously so easy and I’m always getting so many compliments on it!
Biggest Indulgence: The sectional! First off, it is the couch of my *literal* dreams and the perfect functional piece for our living room; I spend pretty much everyday sitting on it looking out the window with my morning coffee. Both my partner and I unnecessarily spread out fully on either side as a reward for sharing a small loveseat for years. But to be honest, it was so expensive!! For reference, most of my furniture is hand-me-down, thrifted, or cheap IKEA pieces. This couch was really the first big “adult” furniture purchase for me, so it’s hard for me to judge if it was worth it, but I certainly love it!
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? I know this may sound extra, but we turned a spare room into a walk-in closet! I’ve always had a dream of a walk-in closet, and while it was impossible to find in our home search, it worked great for us to repurpose the spare room we weren’t using. There’s something about walking in there every morning that makes my previous 10 year-old self who obsessed over the “Clueless” and “Hannah Montana” closets so giddy!
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? All the thrifted decor! While I am definitely a self-proclaimed maximalist, I’ve always felt immense guilt towards overconsumption and mass-produced products. If I can find something already out there instead of buying something new, I’m all for it. Plus, it’s usually cheaper and way more unique!
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I’m a firm believer in organizing things in your space by how you use them! That also means not necessarily organizing them if that overcomplicates your space. The thing is, I’ve seen millions of organizing videos talking about how to optimize your space for your belongings with the intention of hiding what you use as if it doesn’t exist, but how can you optimize your space for you as someone who lives there?
There’s no point to tuck away all your belongings in neatly packed containers if you are constantly getting them out everyday. All the things I use on a daily basis are never more than an arm-length away. You should never have to give up on a functional space to create a decorative one.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Don’t forget all the details of your space you can customize too! I know we all are focused on painting walls and adding furniture, but what about doors, trim, hardware, and window frames? Those little details can have such a major impact on the space and give you creative ways to add color and whimsy into your space. I’m also a huge proponent of repurposing old furniture and decor. Don’t like that desk anymore because it’s a bit beat up and doesn’t match? Sand it down and repaint it something fun! You wouldn’t believe how much furniture and decor in my home has been repurposed throughout my different styles over the years.
PAINT & COLORS
- Living Room — Sherwin-Williams “Jaipur Pink” + “Celestial”
- Stairwell — Sherwin-Williams “Hopeful”
- Closet — Sherwin-Williams “Lime Granita”
- Bedroom — Sherwin-Williams “Oleander”
- Office — Sherwin-Williams “Rhapsody Lilac”
- Pink Shoe Rack — Inside Spaces
- Mirror — Target
- Blue Dining Chairs — Urban Outfitters
- Table — Thrifted
- Pink Console Table — Thrifted
- Pax Closet System — IKEA
- Couch — Wayfair
This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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