Mike’s Cabinet of Curiosities

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Mike Schneider)

Name: Michael James Schneider, author and creator of BLCKSMTH
Irvington Neighborhood; Portland, Oregon
Size: 950 square feet
Years lived in: 3 months; Rented

We met Mike back in August of 2012, when he was living in a stylish bachelor pad in Koreatown, Los Angeles. Fast forward a year and a half, and Mike has left sunny Los Angeles for the rainy Pacific Northwest, and now resides in Portland, Oregon.

(Image credit: Mike Schneider)

Nestled in the Northeast corner of Portland (Irvington), Mike has turned his den into a serene and neutral box of clever curiosities. With his own personal artwork scattered throughout the space, plus interesting tchotchkes, succulents and statement pieces peppered throughout.

The Pacific Northwest is certainly glad to have him, and he’s glad to have it! “After leaving my last job to take a year-long artistic sabbatical, I moved from Los Angeles to Portland in June of 2013, after living there for twelve years. Although I love Los Angeles and miss my friends there, I’m a much better fit for the Pacific Northwest — sitting in traffic in Los Angeles will convince anyone to move away! Portland has been the perfect place to focus on my art and finish the book I wrote, The Tropic of Never.”

(Image credit: Mike Schneider)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Crazy Cat Lady + Novelist + Scientist = “Spinster Chic.” So I’m at the New Seasons checkout line in my sweats one morning in December, a few months after relocating here from Los Angeles. I have an armful of canned cat food and a box of wine, and I’m secretly hoping, like I always do, that the checkout clerk doesn’t think I’m buying the cat food for myself to eat. I suddenly see on Facebook that friends I know are moving out of town to be closer to their vineyards (SO Portland), and they’re asking their friends if anyone wants their place. Mind you, all I know about Portland is that it’s hard to find nice places, that they’re scooped up quickly. Like, at this point I still think The Swifts are a band that comes to town every September and plays a really long set at some elementary school. So I dropped my box of wine on the ground and messaged my friends right away, one thing led to another, and I ended up with a great place. Wait I didn’t actually describe my style, did I?

Inspiration: Ms. Havisham from Great Expectations, People Who Say They Are Over Steampunk But Secretly Still Love It, my friend Ron Marvin. His taste level makes me angry. {insert gritted-teeth emoji here}

Favorite Element: The chalkboard-paint wall that was here when I moved in, with a charming map of the neighborhood left by my friends. I used it to make notes about the book I just finished, and now it’s a kind of chemistry-inspired “wallpaper.”

Biggest Challenge: It’s in progress. Since I nest for a while in places I rent, I like to make changes that are a bit bigger than a usual renter normally would. I’m currently subtly lobbying my landlord to let me paint one of the rooms a bright color, like the barn-red office I had in my Los Angeles place. But don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret.

What Friends Say: “Hey! How can I get my place to smell like cat urine too?”

Biggest Embarrassment: Ok, I’m not embarrassed of anything in my place (see below), but I have to recognize that having rusty, vintage dental tools and a taxidermy pufferfish in my bathroom MIGHT BE WHY I AM STILL SINGLE.

Proudest DIY: I’m an instant-nester. It kind of amazes my friends that I threw this place together so quickly, but honestly the thought of living out of boxes and unpacking for months makes my skin crawl. What are we, peasants?

Biggest Indulgence: Well, I didn’t technically indulge in them, but the dark floors were something I knew I was committing to when I got the place. The building is so old, and it has these amazing elements like the ice delivery cabinet, the in-wall ironing board, the ancient phone on the wall to buzz guests in, and the grain bins in the kitchen. These floors, almost a chocolate brown from decades and layers of stain, make all my furniture look totally different and amazing. But holy wow, they show every puff of rug fluff and piece of cat litter. Lots of sweeping here.

Best Advice: Don’t apologize. Don’t be embarrassed of a single thing in your home, unless you yourself don’t like it anymore. That quirky poster you got at the Saturday Market? That interesting chair that you rescued from a street corner that looks like a high heel pump that might possibly have bedbugs? That old surfbort? Own it. You brought it into your space because you love it. Your friends are just jealz they can’t be as awesome as you.

Dream Sources: I covet anything Ben Medansky makes. Empiric in Los Angeles. The guys at Cielo Home have amazing taste. Sometimes I’ll go to The Rebuilding Center on Mississippi and get lost for a couple of hours.

(Image credit: Mike Schneider)

Resources of Note:


Living Room, Office, Entry: Miller Paint Co., “Clay Pebble”


  • Console table from CB2
  • Painting, Mike’s own (available on Etsy)
  • Glass bottles: vintage


  • Sectional sofa from West Elm
  • Rugs (two, pushed together) from Ikea
  • Chairs (pair): vintage, from Cielo Home Furnishings
  • Wall hanging: reclaimed from dumpster and spray painted brass
  • Terrarium: vintage, eBay
  • All plants from Garden Fever
  • African textile wall hanging and red reclaimed “S”: vintage finds from mom


  • Chairs: vintage (I will literally give you a million dollars* if you find me a matching pair) (*or less)
  • Table from Ikea
  • Carrom board, creepy brass mice: vintage


  • Plates: new and vintage (flea markets, eBay, etc)
  • Lab Glass from Paxton Gate


  • Desk from West Elm
  • Chair: vintage
  • Paintings: Mike’s own (available on Etsy)
  • Framed Insects from Paxton Gate


  • Bed from Room and Board
  • Dresser, Bookshelf from Ikea
  • Chair from West Elm
  • Small stone-topped side table: vintage
  • Metal lunch tray, microscope: vintage


  • Lab Glass, pufferfish from Paxton Gate
  • Manzanita branch (repurposed into a towel rack) from LA Flower Market
(Image credit: Mike Schneider)

Thanks, Mike!

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