Emily and Kai’s Thoughtful and Stunning Seattle Home

published Apr 20, 2014
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(Image credit: Cleary O’Farrell)

Name: Emily and Kai
Location: Seattle, Washington
Size: 1,700 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years; Owned

Recently I did a tour of Emily and Kai’s darling children’s bedrooms and playroom, Finley and Jackson’s Modern Shabby-Chic Bedrooms and Playrooms; this is the rest of their lovely home. Emily and Kai tend to gravitate to the rustic-vintage kind of style, although they designed each room to have a slightly different variation of this, depending on the unique character of each room. There’s a story behind every little thing that has been around for years, even centuries.

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(Image credit: Cleary O’Farrell)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Mixing new with the old. They love finding a brand new decorative item, like a fabulous rug or fluffy new bedding, but there is history in everything old. Their living room was already painted in a romantic shade of lavender and the ceiling is lined with a really beautiful white tile, framed by original crown molding.

The wood plank desk with iron detailing and the rustic TV console represent their rustic-vintage elements. However, the room felt more feminine to them the first time they walked into it, and they wanted to maintain that sense of character. They added a bench from Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn chandelier, lamps, couch cushions and floral accents from the rug and the artwork to give the room more of a shabby-chic edge. To learn more about Emily and Kai’s home, check out Emily’s style/design blog: www.raynebo.net.

(Image credit: Cleary O’Farrell)

Therapy Survey:

My Style: My “style” depends very much upon what kind of space I’m decorating. I like to get a good feel for the style of house before I start filling it with things. For example, I consider the location of the house, when the house was built (traditional or modern?), and the size of the home will determine what kind of furniture I’ll purchase and how I’ll arrange it. Basically, I consider the character of the home and try to design to accommodate its best features. Our home was built in 1903 so it has many unique characteristics. I would describe it as a traditional craftsman.

Inspiration: This beautiful house! We wanted to maintain the integrity of this home that already came with so much charm before we even moved in! I wanted to design and decorate in a way that did it justice. It deserves to be well-loved!

I find inspiration in my children when it comes to my design and creativity. For example, I have little mason jars that I display all over the house that are filled with random little Jackson and Finley-inspired things. I have a jar of ribbon that I’ve saved from the kids’ birthday gifts over the years, another filled with seashells that Jackson and I collected when we were in Mexico, and another “Memory Jar” I’ve created, filled with my personal handwritten notes about special moments I’ve had with the kids. I use all of these jars in a decorative way because I love what they represent and they are beautiful to me. I also have an entire wall in our playroom that is slowly being converted into the Jackson and Finley Art Gallery (anything they create is wall-worthy, in my opinion)!

Favorite Element: One of the first things I noticed about our home the first time I walked through the front doors, are the 10 foot ceilings. Our house is on the small side, approximately 1600 sq ft, but the high ceilings make it feel so much bigger and more open. The second thing I noticed were the huge 6 ft tall windows that came with our home — at least one in every room. And they’re framed with this very distinguished original crown molding. Our windows brighten our home up with the most beautiful natural light. I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be if I had to be indoors on a sunny day!

Biggest Challenge: One of the *challenges* we had when moving into this home, was the space limitation. The square footage is only about 1600-1700 square feet, so finding the right-sized (and shaped) furniture to maximize the space proved to be difficult. We ended up resolving this issue by having a few pieces throughout the house custom-made. This wasn’t the cheapest thing to do, but it was important for us to maximize the space we had, so we worked it into our budget. The first thing we had made was our living room couch (customized by a local company that specializes in chairs and sofas here in Seattle, ironically, called Couch). Originally, I wanted a traditional, tufted, Chesterfield-like sofa, to keep in line with the style of the room. However, my husband Kai wanted to maximize seating and liked the comfort that came with a sectional (which I have to admit, has been ideal for our kids). We finally came up with a design that Couch had never created before… A traditional type of sectional. We chose a herringbone pattern in a gray-blue shade and were obviously able to give them the exact measurements we needed for the perfect fit. To keep the piece looking more traditional, we added some curve to the seat backs, English roll arms (making it more feminine versus boxy) and nail-head detailing. It’s the perfect couch for us!

Our biggest challenge when we bought this house was the lack of storage space. Older homes don’t come with a lot of closets. Fortunately, the previous owners designed the kitchen and laundry room to include a lot of cabinet space, but there were virtually no closets on the bottom floor. The “closet” in the master bedroom was too small for what we needed, so we added a much bigger walk-in closet by moving a wall and making the adjacent room smaller. My husband and I love our shoes, so we made the smaller closet our shoe closet!

Another challenge we encountered was finding furniture that fit certain rooms exactly the way we wanted (as stated above). Our house didn’t come with much of a dining room (another challenge), so our very small “dining area” is basically an extension of the kitchen. We had a hard time finding a square-shaped expandable dining room table with the measurements we needed, so we decided to have one custom-made by a local carpenter. We also asked for a matching bench with a different finish (just to spruce things up) to use for larger dinner parties. I really liked the rustic look of a chunky table and we added some beautiful iron details. I love the combination of wood and iron on any piece of furniture!

What Friends Say: We’ve had friends gasp when they walk into our kitchen! It is definitely the most unique room in our home. It’s a small kitchen, but everyone says it looks like it came out of a magazine. We actually didn’t even have to do any remodeling ourselves (besides installing the granite counters); the previous home owners did an impeccable job with the design, adding the fabulous rotating ceiling fan! The red cabinets are originals. Another favorite feature I love about the kitchen is that the vibrant green door opens up to our large patio and backyard. That door is almost never closed in the summer, so I’m still able to feels the rays of sunshine and hear my kids playing outside in the yard from inside. Or I can watch the kids playing on the slide and on our swing-set through the double 6 ft tall windows in the kitchen, overlooking the side of the house.

Biggest Embarrassment: There is some “artwork” by the kids in some spots that I haven’t cleaned off because I’m almost sad to, even though it was frustrating when it happened. Trim work we never finished. Maybe Kai’s area of the walk-in closet. 😉

Proudest DIY: I am a DIY fanatic! I can’t think of one single DIY that stands out at the moment, but you’ll notice my DIY projects dispersed around the house. For example, I love displaying everything — clothes, bags, shoes, the kid’s artwork and their favorite toys. And I love to find creative ways to display them. I like to find old frames and transform them into display boards, either with chicken wire (using clothespins to clip things) or with upholstered cork (creating pin boards), to display special cards, pictures, artwork, and any other special mementos I’ve kept.

Biggest Indulgence: Custom-made furniture such as our table and bench made form wood from an old firehouse. And all of our Restoration Hardware furniture!

Best Advice: Buy second-hand. Upcycle. It forces you to think creatively. One of my favorite things to do is to walk around antique malls and consignment shops. I love antiquing and browsing through old things, thinking about what their purpose once was. It actually inspires me to create a new use for them. Some of my favorite glass jars, vases and other storage items are from Goodwill. An old vintage 7-Up crate now doubles as my son’s toy parking garage. I use an old baking dish to store/display perfume. A beautiful vintage ceramic bowl keeps my little girl’s hair ties all in one place. Find new uses for old things.

I also try to find inspiration in the simpler things. I have a small obsession with anything botanical. I love gardening, and in the spring and summer, my house is filled with fresh flowers from our garden at all times. I strongly believe that a very simple room can look extraordinary if it’s in the presence of a fabulous bouquet of flowers. A dirty old glass bottle can also take on a completely different character when it’s filled with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers.

Dream Sources: Antique stores and flea markets and second hand/places that restore old furniture. Anthropology and Restoration Hardware.

(Image credit: Cleary O’Farrell)

Resources of Note:


  • Couch: Custom designed by Couch Seattle
  • TV console: Crate and Barrel
  • Black cubby shelving: Handcrafted (Kai’s father)
  • Desk: Hautelook (unknown seller)
  • Small chair: Vintage
  • Bench/ottoman: Restoration Hardware
  • Chandy: Pottery Barn
  • Chair: Restoration Hardware


  • Craft desk: World Market
  • Chair: Restoration Hardware


  • Chairs: Restoration Hardware and Stokke high chairs
  • Table and Bench: Custom-designed by local carpenter (recycled wood from an old firehouse and ironwork detailing)


  • Bed: Gold Coast
  • Dresser: Handcrafted (Kai’s father)
  • Locker drawers: Hautelook (unknown seller)
  • Side table: Target
  • Side Table: Restoration Hardware
  • Chandy: Antique
(Image credit: Cleary O’Farrell)

Thanks, Emily and Kai!

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