Heather’s Comfortably Glamorous Family Home

published Jul 6, 2010
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Welcome to Brandon & Leah from Portland; a blogging duo trying out for a place on the Apartment Therapy editorial team as House Tour Contributors. Enjoy their work!


Name: Heather, Douglas, Gabrielle and Zoe
Location: Portland, Oregon
Size: 3500 square feet
Years lived in: 6
Heather’s cozy family ranch was custom built in 1960, in the historic Argay Terrace neighborhood of Portland. An interior designer by trade, Heather saw the potential in the historic homes of the area, which reflected California mid-century design with roman brick fronts, large yards, and even in-ground pools, a rarity for rainy Oregon. Says Heather of the swank pad she shares with her husband Douglas and two daughters, Gabriella and Zoe: “I know the original owner of this house was a musician and loved to entertain. The large living room with a view creates the perfect atmosphere for cocktails at 5:00 and the fireplace in the dining room is fabulous for a cozy dinner party.”

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Leah Harb)

One of the founders and principal designers at respected Portland-based high design mercantile Maison, Heather’s home reflects an aesthetic mix that is a dash of high-gloss Palm Springs posh, a pinch of mass-market modern and a sprinkle of DIY-ingenuity. While not grand, it is a comfortably glamorous family home—a look Heather is emphatic about helping other aspiring designer-moms pull off, at every income level.

“Good design does not have to be expensive,” she advises. “There is so much that can be done with vintage pieces that you can pick up at estate sales or consignment stores. Slap some white paint and cool Asian pulls on an old 70’s buffet and you have instant Hollywood chic. Take grandma’s settee and recover it in a bold graphic pattern. Also, utilize affordable furniture like IKEA and West Elm in small doses. IKEA has great nightstands that can be mixed with a custom upholstered headboard. Don’t give in to the myth that you have to be rich to live in a beautiful interior.”

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: My personal style consists of mainly contemporary mid-century design with eclectic Asian and French influences. I love everything about Palm Springs design in the 50’s and 60’s.

Inspiration: I am inspired by everything that is visual around me: fashion, architecture, art, movies, etc. My favorite publications are Elle Decor and Veranda. I am truly amazed at Vincent Wolf’s work, David Hicks, Thomas O’Brian and Celerie Kemble. I, of course, love a little Kelly Werstler– but a little goes a long way with her.

Favorite Element: My kids’ rooms were no doubt my favorite rooms to decorate. It was fairly easy for me because I know their personalities the best. They both are quite opinionated and have a good eye. The key to children’s rooms is to not make them to “kiddy-like”. There does not have to be a theme. They can be just as sophisticated as an adult room but with just the right amount of whimsy. Let your children pick their favorite color but use it sparingly. Let them choose between several wallpapers or fabrics that you have chosen. Also, if they have a collection (snow globes, shells, sports balls, etc) display them in an interesting way. Show the collection together rather than spread out around the room.

Biggest Challenge: Most people often make the mistake of buying small pieces for small rooms. It is just the opposite: buy larger ones and it will make the room look bigger rather than “fairy furniture.” One does not always have to follow the rules in a small room. For example, go ahead and place a headboard in front of a window. Place a desk where a nightstand would be, and most of all no matchy matchy!! Furniture sets are so boring.

What Friends Say: Photographer friend Leah says, “I think the house is a mix of fresh color and retro styling with an elegant edge that can be seen in the accessories. Heather’s style clearly leans towards a modern aesthetic, but one with a relaxed, comfortable padding made especially for a family to enjoy.”

Biggest Embarrassment: Nothing embarrassing but I do regret not being able to redo my backyard with a fabulous in ground pool.

Proudest DIY: The home was in mint condition when we bought it but a bit outdated. We redesigned with new lighting, paint, wall coverings, and carpet and renovated both the master and powder bathrooms.

Biggest Indulgence: My giant down-filled sectional in my media room. It was worth every penny: falling asleep on it with a great movie on is heaven.

Best advice: Good design should always reflect personal style but with some guidance from a good designer. Even expensive interiors can look too showy or like page 16 out of a catalogue. You want the perfect mix of old and new, personal style and classic pieces.

Dream source: I love to shop at the local trade locations but I also love antique stores, mid-century furniture stores and great local retail outlets such as Bedford Brown and Cielo.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


Wallpaper: Cole and Son (through Kravet Lee Jofa Showrooms)
Desk Chair: Design Within Reach
Bedding Fabric: F. Schumacher and Company
John Derian Custom Letter Plates: Sold only at Cielo Portland, Oregon
Headboard Fabric: China Seas
Bedding Fabric: F. Schumacher and Company Bedskirt
Living Room Drapery: China Seas
Custom Furniture: Mad Furniture
Lighting: Jamie Young
Art: Local Artists/Vintage
Dining Room Wallpaper: Cole and Son
Accessories/Plantings: Bedford Brown

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Heather!

Images: Leah Harb

Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form.

-Brandon & Leah