An Artist’s Soulful, Lived In and Loved Seattle Home
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Name: Judith Bigham and her daughter Idabelle, 18
Location: Madrona — Seattle, Washington
Size: 1,650 square feet
Years lived in: Rented, 2 years
Judith Bigham‘s home in Seattle is layered with furniture, art, and treasures that she has spent decades lovingly collecting and creating. Judy is a painter, an interior designer, and a fun, fascinating person to talk with. Her life story includes travel, adventure, good fortune, and tragic loss, and all of this is honestly (and beautifully) on display in the house that she shares with her youngest daughter, Idabelle.
So much about Judy’s life is reflected in her layered home. Prior to her husband’s accidental death in 2007, the couple and their three girls split their time between two homes in Oregon — one in Portland’s West Hills and a second home in Hood River. Most of Judy’s large scale pieces of art and furniture were selected for the homes that she lived in at the time, but she loves that they also work in her modest rental home. She treasures the collections she created with her husband, and the fact that “so many things are from our early life together, and from his family, and they are so meaningful to my girls and myself.”
Spending time with Judy in her home was a treat. Her space is one-part museum and one-part artist’s den, and each and every piece in the house has a story that she relays with zeal. Her own art takes over the main room of the home in the most pleasing of ways, and the rest of her home tells her story through her artfully arranged objects.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Soulful, comfy elegance with a touch of the flawed. The signs of a life lived. I love a scratch, a chip or a dent in things. I like my homes like I like my friends…with a bit of a tattered past.
Inspiration: The Met Museum NYC, Sir John Soane’s museum and home in London, and Marina Rendle’s shop called “The End” 20 Castle St. Hay on Wye Wales. Marina is a visual genius with an unsurpassed eye for hidden beauty and treasures.
Favorite Element: My studio! I get to be messy and creative in my comfy happy home.
Biggest Challenge: No fireplace! So I installed an electric one. I thought that they were a bit tacky and ugly and simply “not done!” but…I found a simple elegant electric fireplace and voila!
What Friends Say: “I love your electric fireplace!!”
At this point in my life I try not to be embarrassed by anything (I try) but, if there is an issue, I simply throw a rug, a painting or a pillow over it.
Biggest Embarrassment: At this point in my life I try not to be embarrassed by anything (I try) but, if there is an issue, I simply throw a rug, a painting or a pillow over it. Good advice for life as well!
Proudest DIY: The slipcover on my sofa is made out of drop cloths from the hardware store. Gorgeous natural fabric, functional and sturdy.
Biggest Indulgence: Art supplies, Buddhas, and books. I have lots of each, and for some strange reason, more art supplies, Buddhas and books seem to follow me home.
Best Advice: Beauty is beauty. Mix it up, be brave, be honest, get an electric fireplace. Function and beauty can and should exist.
Dream Sources: Years ago when I was traveling in Europe with my dear friend Jill Rosenwald, we would go into churches, museums, castles and grand homes and pretend that we were Isabella Stewart Gardner of the museum fame. Madame Gardner had endless resources to buy up European paintings, sculpture, furnishings and architectural fragments and she did! As Jill and I marched about the historic and artistic haunts of Europe we would point to a painting or sculpture or architectural piece and say “ship it!!” So my dream source would be to have the resources of Isabelle Stewart Gardner.
• Chevron sofa — Refurbished sofa found in a basement and rebuilt by Rediscovered Design, Hood River, Oregon. This company is run by the talented John Wishart and David Bender, partners in life and in business. They have made my slipcovers, pillows and draperies for years.
• Drop cloth sofa — This is an older Restoration Hardware sofa that was reworked. The slipcover is made of canvas drop cloths from the hardware store. It is strong and comfy and the fabric is natural and beautiful.
• Throw pillows — Shearling pillows by West Elm. All other pillows custom made by Rediscovered Design, Hood River, OR
• Pouf coffee table — Soukaina Leather Pouff by Bungalow Rose from Allmodern.com
• Orange tray — Barclay Butera Equestrian Faux Leather Serving Tray.
•Candle holders — Glassbaby
• Electric Fireplace —Wall mount electric fireplace by Touchstone from Allmodern.com
• Chair with sheepskin — Campaign chair in canvas called Roorkhee Chair by Lewis Drake Co. (I love this company)
• Pillow on chair — from an old Bigham family rug. We had them made into pillows years ago.
• Large Buddha and boxes — from Cargo inc. Portland OR. I’ve been shopping here and finding treasures since it opened in 1996 by the amazing Patty Merrill, who is now joined by her equally amazing business partner Bridgid Blackburn.
• Dictionary — Bigham family 1913
• Bible — Jake’s grandfather 1892 with handwritten notations of marriages, births and deaths.
• Oversized mirror — Restoration Hardware.
• Rug — James Opie Portland OR. All rugs are either James Opie or Jake’s family. James is no longer in business but he’s given his clients to Kush rugs in Portland OR and they are fabulous. I’ve worked with them making a very large custom designed rug for a client in London. They have an impeccable aesthetic sense and a vast knowledge and love of rugs and carpets.
• Artwork — Above fireplace the Madonna is from Jake’s family and the abstracts are from Rana Rochat, one of my two BFFs.
• Miniature paintings over boxes next to Buddha — acquired in Jaipur, India in the summer of 2012. My daughter Lulu and I went on a spiritual journey to Nepal and India. She was 16. We visited holy Buddhist and Hindu sites. We had a ceremony for Jake by a Hindu priest at Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu on the banks of the Bagmati river which flows into the Ganges. We had a temple of young student monks 6 years – 16 years perform a two hour long ceremony and chant for Jake at a Buddhist Monastery in Kathmandu. The trip was life changing for both of us.
• Bronze bust — Jake discovered at an antique shop in Rome off of the Piazza Navona. We lived there for a summer in 1995. He was studying architecture.
• Asian side board — Cargo inc Portland OR
• Large painting — We found that in 1988 in an antique shop housed in a barn in Maine. The subject is the story of Susanna and the Elders (from the book of Daniel from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches) it’s a story of virtue. We’ve taken to calling her “Susie and the Elders!”
• Botanical book — Jake’s family. 1817 British publication.
• Box of treasures — We are always adding and changing this box. Every piece is thought out and important. Cast iron fish sculpture from Jake’s family. Stones and coral from all of our time as a family that we spent in the small village of Cabo Pulmo Baja Mexico. Prayer beads from Nepal and India. A stone and bronze sculpture by my late friend from the RI school of Design Jeffery Weiss…I have always loved this elegant piece. Small voodoo doll from somewhere in Africa given to us on our wedding day in 1992 to protect our home. I’ve had it displayed and protecting my family since.
• All of the paintings in my studio are my own. They are sample pieces that I use in my business for larger commissioned pieces that are placed in homes and businesses all over the US and with clients in London and Wales as well…I’m crazy about Wales!
• Table is a faux Saarinen table — Overstock.com called the Eero Saarinen Tulip Style Marble Table.
• Chairs — faux Eames called Eiffel Chairs from Allmodern.com
• Buddha and Chinese opera crown — Cargo inc. in Portland, Oregon. At a certain point Jake said ” no more Buddhas” … I think I ran out and bought one or two more large Buddhas…fearing the worst! I have a few Buddhas in storage. You never know when you are going to need a large Buddha.
• Treasures, hanging prayer flags and saris from Cargo and from all of our trips here and there.
• I have two best friends. One is Jill Rosenwald. She is a genius designer of ceramics, rugs, linens, pillows and much more. The bed linens are by Jill Rosenwald.
•My other best friend is Rana Rochat, painter extraordinaire. The painting to the right of my closet is by Rana. I grabbed it out of her studio in 1985. It was a sketch painted on a scrap piece of canvas. I’m surrounded in my bedroom by my dearest friends…in my sheets I’m actually shrouded in Jill’s designs!!
• All art, sculpture, mirrors, paintings, and furniture — combination of things from Jake’s family and treasures that have been collected from various antique shops on the east and west coasts.
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