House Call: Jill Bliss

House Call: Jill Bliss

Oct 10, 2007

She's a Jill-of-all-trades. Her stationery is carried at boutiques and big-name retailers nationwide. You've probably seen the mural she painted outside of Doe in the Lower Haight. She's the driving force behind online shop blissen. And just last week, she had a show opening at Relish at Home in Berkeley.

Once a San Francisco loft-dweller, Jill recently moved into a house in Portland. Given some of her bold paint choices and her penchant for bright accent pieces, we thought Color Month would be the perfect time to take a peek inside her home.

How would you describe your decorating style?
Found or made items and modern design pieces are slowly replacing the ubiquitous Ikea items. We like simple shapes and designs, and natural materials (especially wood), plus hints of color.

Favorite spot in your home and why?
Hm, that's a tough one. We just moved in a few months ago and I'm still deciding. Right now it's either the back garden deck, or our attic bedroom. Both are minimally-decorated spaces where I'm not distracted and can think clearly.

Favorite childhood memento that's in your home?
I have a few small items my mom and her family brought with them when they immigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands — my uncle's small suitcase with travel stickers and my mom's art and writing journals from grade school are special favorites.

Favorite travel keepsake?
Our comforter cover, from a department store in Tokyo. We tend to buy useful daily-used items for ourselves when we travel rather than knick-knacks, that way everyday at home reminds us of our get-aways!

What's on your nightstand?
We don't have one! The nook in the attic is just wide enough for a bed, no nightstands. We balance the alarm clock on the headboard for now until I get a chance to build a narow shelf behind the headboard.

Favorite home/design magazines or websites?
My partner and I have a growing stack of British Living, Etc. magazines! And we're constantly trolling the usual modern design websites: Conran Shop, DWR, Design Public, etc. etc...

Best bargain in your home and where did you get it?
Well, that used to be the coffee table I'd made a few years ago from scraps of wood in the woodshop at school, but the movers broke it! I'm going to make a new improved one as soon as I've saved up money to buy a good table saw.

Biggest splurge?
Our couch. It was made in L.A. and came from Zinc Details in S.F. It was crazy expensive and took us a long time to save up for, but it's more comfortable than our bed. Just about everyone who comes over to watch TV falls asleep within half an hour. Maybe it's *too* comfortable!

What's at the top of your list of things to buy next for your home?
Wood to make a few built-in cabinets, tables and shelves around the house. We've been visiting the local home reuse place and piling up supplies in the basement.

Favorite local resources for furniture and accessories?
In San Francisco we'd always poke into Zinc Details and thrift shops. The dumpster diving in our old apartment complex was also a great source for furniture and small items.

Here in Portland we're discovering the thrift stores and a few vintage stores in our neighborhood such as Hawthorne House for vintage, Lounge Lizard, and Village Merchants. There's also the rebuilding center on Mississippi that has lots of excellent salvaged and cast-off pieces from area houses.

Current inspiration(s) for your work?
My new surroundings and plants in the Pacific Northwest. Some things are the same as Northern California where I've lived all my life, but some things are very different. It's fun to investigate!

What do you miss most about S.F.? What are you enjoying most about Portland?
Actually I don't miss anything in S.F. apart from a few friends! Northern California has changed so much during my lifetime with the constant influx of new residents and high prices, it was time to relocate to a place that still retained the relative affordability, friendly people and sense and support of local community I grew up with. And it doesn't hurt that I love gloomy weather too!

Thanks for sharing, Jill! And don't forget: From now through December 29, you can catch her "Tides and Trees" show at Relish at Home.

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