René’s Contemporary, Kid-Friendly Bungalow

published Oct 10, 2015
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(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

Name: René Mitchell, daughters Adeline (7) and Ruby (6), and puppy Lola
Location: Bend, Oregon
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: 12 years; Owned

Bend is an idyllic town in Central Oregon, about a three-hour drive from Portland. The area is known for sunny weather, beautiful high desert scenery, active outdoor lifestyles, and craft brewing. René shares her house with her two young daughters and has made a point to create a home that is both beautiful and inviting for the whole family. She has said that no space is off-limits to her girls, and when you’re in her home, you can feel the love.

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The 94-year-old bungalow has an inviting front porch (Image credit: Heather Keeling)
(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

René is the visionary behind this month’s Bend Design Con, and also serves as Director of Client Services for tbd, a branding agency based in Bend. Her affinity for modern design is evident throughout her home, and she has skillfully fused her relaxed, contemporary style with her classic bungalow.

When she bought her home from friends 12 years ago, the house boasted the original dark wood trim, heavy Craftsman fixtures, and had been placed on the Historical Register. René knew that it wasn’t exactly her style, but wasn’t able to make it feel the way she wanted. Her husband’s tragic death inspired her to transform the home from a dark place to a light one—literally. Serene colors, family photos, favorite books, and original art are featured in every room, making the home feel grounded and very personal.

(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Combination of Modern, Classic, Neutral, and Cozy.

Inspiration: My family. I bought the house as a single woman and cobbled together some sense of style. Luckily, the owners before me completely renovated and modernized the home and placed it on the Historical Register. When my fiancé moved in, and when we had our babies, I changed the style or bought pieces for a temporary solution, but never could find my style or create the home I wanted. I always talked about moving and starting from scratch. The bones of the house were perfect, but I could not land on a style, and I was trying to make the Craftsman style work for me, but it wasn’t me.

Sadly, I learned through the tragic death of my husband that a lot of things were not for me. My husband died in November, a very dark time emotionally, and in our home. A big part of my grief and healing was to change our space, so I dove in changed every room in our house, starting with the living room where I painted the Craftsman colors a calming grey, and painted all the original wood trim a bright white color. (This did not go over well with some.) I was searching for a sliver of light in my life and I started in our home. I was advised not to move within the first year of my husband’s death, but knew I could not stay there the way it was. It was the only thing I could control at the time, and I wanted to create a warm yet sophisticated home where every room would be comfortable and welcoming for my girls. Nothing is off-limits for them. Our house has many happy and sad memories, yet welcomes us home each day.

Favorite Element: My books and my art. I think I have a stack of books in every room. And my art collection consists of paintings by my daughters, paintings brought home from Italy and Thailand, a painting of a little girl in bright yellow from local Bend artist Paula Bullwinkel, and paintings by Gregory Grenon and Bill Brewer. And, a new mural from Anthropologie in our TV room.

Biggest Challenge: Not really challenges, but the era of the house with smaller rooms and choppy layout versus newer homes with large master bedrooms with a bathroom, great rooms, and enough space so my girls can have their own rooms.

What Friends Say: That I overanalyze and cannot make a decision, but they love what I have done.

Biggest Embarrassment: That it took me over 10 years, lots of paint colors, and purchased and sold furniture to find what I like. I’ve always been indecisive, but my house took it to a new level.

Proudest DIY: Metal table in our kitchen nook. With Kirsti Wolf of Kirsti Wolf Designs holding my hand and providing guidance, we designed a metal table, found legs on wheels to access the storage, and asked our friend to assemble. It serves as our breakfast table, work table, art table, cookie-making table, feed 10-kids-at-a-time table, and the perfect place for Sunday breakfast.

Biggest Indulgence: Oh, I have three:

  1. Wolf stove: When I bought the house it came with an antique Wedgewood that looked great but never worked, so I finally replaced it with a six-burner Wolf stove.
  2. Coffee table made of petrified wood. It’s really an art piece. Purchased at Bedford Brown in Portland.
  3. Antique round dining room table. Purchased at Maison in Portland.

Best Advice: Do what you want. There are no rules.

Dream Sources: Kirsti Wolf, Lee Kidd, Paige Stefani, Domino, Dwell, Design Sponge, Cup of Jo, Apartment Therapy


(Image credit: Heather Keeling)


  • Living room (above): Benjamin Moore Sea Haze
  • Master bedroom: Benjamin Moore Fog Mist
(Image credit: Heather Keeling)


(Image credit: Heather Keeling)


(Image credit: Heather Keeling)


  • Stove: Wolf
  • Chairs: Ikea
  • Table: designed by René
  • I love you much artwork: Sugarboo Designs
(Image credit: Heather Keeling)


(Image credit: Heather Keeling)


  • Nightstands: Oly
  • Throw pillow: Sugarboo Designs
(Image credit: Heather Keeling)


  • Credenza: CB2
  • Sofa from CB2
  • Throw pillows: Jonathan Adler, Ikea, The Land of Nod
(Image credit: Heather Keeling)


  • Bedding: Hanna Anderson
  • Nightstand: The Land of Nod
  • Lamp: The Land of Nod
  • Ceiling fixture: Bedford Brown

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Thanks, René!