A Seattle Home Has DIYs, Plants, Cats, and DIYs to Keep the Cats Off Plants

published Dec 6, 2021

A Seattle Home Has DIYs, Plants, Cats, and DIYs to Keep the Cats Off Plants

published Dec 6, 2021
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Name: Zoë Withered, partner Mark Lee, friend/roommate Emma Anderson, with cats, Sebastian (Siamese) and Cleo (Calico/Tortie)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Size: 2000 square feet
Type of Home: 1950s Ranch House
Years lived in: Almost 2 years, owned

Zoë Withered and her partner Mark Lee decided to buy a house in January 2020. “We had been talking about owning a home for several years and had managed to save up some money, but we were also first-time home buyers and we had no idea what we were doing,” begins Zoë. “We spent months house hunting, and lost out on multiple places before finding our current home. We could only afford a 7 percent down payment, and in Seattle you’re competing with pre-inspections and all-cash offers. Thankfully, we had a great realtor who encouraged us not to give up.”

Zoë continues with her home buying story: “We saw this house the day before Seattle went into lockdown, and we were immediately in awe. It’s a boxy 1950s build, so it doesn’t have any of the gorgeous architectural elements you see in older (or more expensive) homes, but it has gigantic windows, ample outdoor space, and original hardwood floors. Also, coincidentally, when Mark and I first started dating, he lived in the house directly next door! The connection felt serendipitous and we both fell in love.”

“We put an offer down immediately and wrote the sellers a letter about how much we loved the house. The sellers were also first-time home buyers who had bought the house with a VA loan — they saw some of themselves in us and were sympathetic to our situation. Even though there was a competing offer that was better financially, the sellers ultimately chose ours. I am forever grateful that they took a chance on us, and I hope to do the same if we ever sell our home.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I would describe my style as eclectic, vintage, colorful, and just a little bit kitsch. I love mid-century modern, Art Deco, ’80s Memphis, and Hollywood Regency. In general, I strive for a home that feels vibrant, cozy, playful, and unique. I don’t want total chaos, but I also don’t want to take my home (or myself!) too seriously. The goal is for my space to be intentional and aesthetically pleasing, while still maintaining its charm and imagination.

Inspiration: Travel, art, fashion, and the natural world. But also, as someone who is not an interior designer, I am forever inspired by ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Of course, I am always in awe of the spectacular, professional designs I see in magazines like Architectural Digest. But for me, a lot of inspiration comes from regular people (with budgets and setbacks and time constraints!) designing homes that are unique and inventive and beautiful. I am the handyperson of the house, and I fully credit the badass folks of Apartment Therapy and DIY Instagram for making me want to learn how to refinish the floors and install plumbing and learn basic electrical.

Favorite Element: The natural light! When we first viewed our house, it had seven and a half foot ceilings, a teeny tiny ’50s kitchen, damaged wood floors, and outdated bathrooms. However, it also had stunning natural light! The living and dining rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and the daylight we get is phenomenal (even our basement bedroom has a large, south-facing, light-filled window). The light got me and I fell in love with this place as soon as we viewed it.

Biggest Challenge: One of my biggest challenges is decorating with both plants and cats in mind. My first loves were my houseplants, and I now have over 50 of them. Then, a few years ago, Mark and I adopted our cats (who are the best pets in the world!). However, our cats HATE the plants (or maybe they love them? I honestly can’t tell). I have to keep my plants out of reach of the cats or they will absolutely destroy them. When I design, I try to make sure my plants are 1) getting adequate sun 2) out of reach of claws and teeth and 3) aesthetically pleasing. It doesn’t sound that challenging, but it’s surprisingly complicated to find spots that fit the parameters. I use hanging pots, high tables (with tape and tin foil to discourage climbing), strategically-placed grow lights, and extra-tall homemade plant stands. It’s made me get really creative with my plant displays!

Proudest DIY: Everything I do is DIY! But my first project is still the one I am the most proud of. When Mark and I bought our house, the first projects we did were paint the walls and refinish the hardwood floors. Painting is pretty easy, but we had zero experience refinishing hardwood. Literally everyone — from our parents to the internet — told us not to do it ourselves.

Like the stubborn millennials that we are, we decided to ignore everyone and DIY the floors. Our entire upstairs is hardwood, so we had a lot of ground to cover. It took us three days to sand, two days to seal and finish, and two days to do the prep/cleanup. We rented an upright orbital sander, worked 10-12 hour days on the weekends, and got really sick of one another. After two weeks of hard work, we finished the floors and they turned out amazing. They’re not exactly “professional,” but everyone who comes to the house comments on how great they look!

Biggest Indulgence: A few years ago, we bought our antique wooden step shelving on OfferUp (to date, one of our most expensive purchases!). Prior to that, most of our furniture cost less than $50. I still buy much of our furniture secondhand, but I’m now more willing to spend money on quality vintage pieces. As we’ve experienced greater financial stability, we’ve been able to invest in pieces we love and care about, instead of just taking whatever someone is giving away for free. It’s a great feeling and a huge privilege to be able to curate our space so intentionally.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Almost all of the furniture and decor in our home is secondhand! I buy things like sheets and towels and curtains new, but most pieces of furniture are used. I get sucked in by flashy marketing campaigns as much as the next person, but I really do try to buy secondhand as much as possible. This began as financial necessity, but has now become a conscious, sustainability-focused choice. The environmental impacts of fast furniture (and fast fashion) are astronomical. One hundred percent ethical consumption is basically impossible within our current system but, by decorating my home with secondhand finds, I can at least lessen my impact. Plus, it makes our home hella unique!

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? Paint! Because you can completely change the look and feel of a space for under $100. My favorite brands are Clare Paint and Backdrop! Both paints are low/no VOC, so there is literally no paint smell — it’s amazing!

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: I’m pretty clean nowadays, but when I was a kid I was horribly messy. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to work with my brain instead of against it. For example, I always take my jewelry off at the bathroom sink before I wash my face or take a shower. I would never remember to put the jewelry away afterwards, so it would sit, littered on the counter, for days and days. Instead of guilting myself for the twelve pairs of earrings cluttering the sink (or pretending like I was going to somehow start becoming the type of person who puts their stuff away immediately), I started putting a little catch-all on the counter. It’s a colorful tea saucer that I found at Goodwill for $2, and it acts as my jewelry dish — it actually looks kind of cute when it’s filled with gold necklaces and hoop earrings! Then, when I finally remember, I put all the jewelry away. Don’t fight your instincts!

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Decorate for yourself, but push your creative boundaries. Use color, even just a little. Buy weird thrift shop finds and display them proudly. Experiment and know it’s okay if it fails. Fill your home with personality and fill it with love!



  • Living Room (walls) — Backdrop “Harajuku Morning”
  • Living room (entry arch color block) — Backdrop “Blue is the Coolest Color”
  • Living Room (pink color block) — Clare “Pop”
  • Living Room (fireplace) — Clare “Blackest”
  • Dining Room (walls) — Backdrop “Harajuku Morning”
  • Dining Room (color blocks) — Backdrop “Tanlines” and “Blue is the Coolest Color”
  • Hallway (dalmatian spots)- Backdrop “Harajuku Morning” and Clare “Blackest”
  • Stairwell — Backdrop “Harajuku Morning” and “Blue is the Coolest Color”
  • Bedroom (walls) — Farrow & Ball “Hague Blue”
  • Bedroom (closet doors) — Backdrop “Harajuku Morning” and “Tanlines”
  • Bathroom — Farrow & Ball “Hague Blue”
  • Den — Clare “Sublime”
  • All ceilings — Clare “Whipped”


  • Wood and rattan chair — Mark’s family
  • Shoe storage unit — Ikea
  • Tiger face wallpaper — Gucci
  • Brass pulls — CB2
  • Amber glass lamp — Vintage from OfferUp
  • Pink and yellow vases — Goodwill
  • Pink tiger print — Fy!
  • Ice cream catch-all — Free from a friend
  • Marble banana — Vintage from an estate sale
  • Small white plant pot — local nursery
  • Pink plant stand — Free (spray painted by Zoë)
  • Large white plant pot — Lowe’s (spray painted by Zoë)
  • Large gold plant pots — Nordstrom Rack
  • Woven basket/plant pot — Jungalow for Target


  • Yellow sofa — Vintage from secondhand furniture store
  • Black, lavender, and teal pillows — Leah Singh
  • Blue swivel chairs — Vintage from OfferUp
  • Black and white tassel pillows — Jungalow for Target
  • Coffee table — Vintage from OfferUp
  • Rug — West Elm
  • “Fuck Over-thinking” print — Fy!
  • Brass magazine holder — Vintage from Ballard Consignment
  • Floral vase — Goodwill
  • Brass candle holder- H&M Home
  • Glass candle votives — H&M Home
  • Wood side table — Goodwill
  • Black lamp — Yard sale
  • Skateboarding and surfing prints — Bon Femmes
  • Mirror — Fremont Vintage
  • Plant pots — Local plant shops and Goodwill
  • Blue shipyard postcard — Purchased while traveling in Spain (frame from Goodwill)
  • Amber tea glasses — Purchased while traveling in Morocco
  • Pink duck — Vintage from Ballard Consignment
  • Brass ship — Passed down from Mark’s family
  • Glass mannequin head — Vintage from a yard sale
  • Tea set — Purchased while traveling in Morocco
  • Seattle print — Fremont Vintage
  • Candle — Gift from a friend 
  • Small white vase — Ikea
  • Lip candles — Fy!
  • Ceramic piggy bank — Vintage from a yard sale
  • Plant wallpaper (on closet door) — Perigold
  • Wood step-shelving — Antique from OfferUp
  • Painting of a face — Purchased while traveling in Spain
  • “Vaginal Flowers” botanical print — Gifted from a friend
  • Silhouettes: From Zoë’s Grandma, given to Zoë after her Grandma passed
  • Brass engineering tool — From Mark’s Grandpa, given to Mark after his Grandpa passed
  • Pink collage postcard — Purchased while traveling in Germany
  • Octopus ornament — Gift to Zoë from Mark
  • Flower head print — Purchased while traveling in Spain
  • Embroidery — Gift from a friend
  • Boob print — Society 6 (frame from Goodwill)
  • Bubble chandelier — Chandelierias


  • MCM Light — Mitzi
  • Dining table — Vintage from OfferUp
  • Dining chairs — Vintage from OfferUp (reupholstered and refinished by Zoë)
  • Rug — Perigold
  • Oval tray — West Elm
  • Dog salt & pepper shakers — Gift from a friend
  • Green vase — Goodwill
  • Bar cart — OfferUp
  • Small white vase — Goodwill
  • Pink salt block — Goodwill
  • Napkin rings — CB2
  • Orange dish — Goodwill
  • Telluride tea towel — Part of Emma’s tea towel collection!
  • Art above bar cart — Goodwill
  • Plant pots — Local plant shops and Goodwill
  • Wood plant stand — Yard sale
  • White plant pot — Lowe’s
  • Brass lamp — Vintage from a yard sale
  • Black hanging planters — Umbra
  • Curtain rod — Target


  • Colorful throw rug — Free from a friend
  • Hallway light — Mitzi
  • Star Wars poster — Yard sale


  • Pink Rug — Anthropologie
  • Wooden bed frame — Dania Furniture
  • White sheets — West Elm
  • Embroidered duvet cover & shams — West Elm
  • White bird pillow — Jungalow for Target
  • Teal bird pillow — Jungalow for Target
  • Gold circle pillow — Urban Outfitters
  • Gold bankers lamps — Vintage from Goodwill
  • Wood and brass Drexel side table — Vintage from Ballard Consignment
  • Pink heart catch-all — Vintage from Ballard Consignment
  • Dragon screen print — Made by Zoë’s mom
  • Rattan side table — Vintage from Goodwill
  • Pink tears art print — Grace Cho
  • Tightrope art print — Etsy
  • Topographic map — Found for free
  • Plant pots — Local plant shops and Goodwill
  • Curtains — Urban Outfitters
  • Curtain rods — Target
  • Fluffy white rug — HomeGoods
  • Velvet  bucket chair — Vintage from Ballard Consignment 
  • Brass and amber glass lamp — Vintage from Offerup
  • MCM Star Wars Prints — Etsy
  • Marble and brass side table — Free on the side of the road
  • Gemini print — Gift from a friend
  • Cats embroidery — Gift from a friend
  • Dried flowers — Farmer’s market
  • Smoked glass vase — Ikea
  • Marble pear — Vintage from an estate sale
  • Brass full-length mirror — Vintage from OfferUp


  • Half-moon vinyl flooring — Wayfair
  • Brass faucets — Kingston Brass
  • Towel bars, towel hooks, towel ring, toilet paper holder — West Elm
  • Vanity sconces — West Elm
  • Mirror tiles — Salvage yard (original brand is Fireclay Tile)
  • Towels — West Elm
  • Vanity door/drawer knobs — CB2
  • Wood bathroom organizer — Target
  • Brass bathroom organizer — Target (actually a spice rack!)
  • Octopus embroidery — Gift from a friend
  • Toilet tray — Target
  • Pink vase — Goodwill
  • Colorful plant print — Fy!
  • Peaches print — Fy!
  • Bathmat — West Elm
  • Wood side table — Goodwill
  • Catch-all saucer — Goodwill
  • Bottle vase — Goodwill
  • Ring pop print — Fy! (Frame is vintage)
  • Records print — Fy! (Frame is vintage)
  • Marble peach — Vintage from an estate sale
  • Pink vase — Goodwill
  • Plant pots — Local plant shops and Goodwill


  • Teal couch — Ballard Consignment
  • Pink velvet pillows — Ikea
  • Cheetah pillows — CB2
  • Brass and glass swivel table — Vintage from OfferUp
  • Blue glass vase — Goodwill
  • Rug — Vintage from Fremont Vintage
  • Jungle print curtains — CB2
  • Curtain rod — Target
  • Wood & marble side table — Yard sale
  • Pink feather lamp — HomeGoods
  • Seattle Symphony poster — Goodwill
  • Vogue poster — Found for free
  • Orange high-back chairs — Vintage from OfferUp
  • Cards on string — From friends and family
  • Ceramic bunny — Goodwill
  • Credenza — Free from Buy Nothing
  • Stone and glass side table — OfferUp
  • Ceramic swan — Vintage from Ballard Consignment
  • Black leather chairs — Ballard Consignment
  • Black, lavender, and teal pillows — Leah Singh
  • Standing lamp — Yard sale
  • Rattan screen — Goodwill
  • Blue glass side table — Ballard Consignment
  • Cranberry glass lamp — Vintage from an estate sale
  • Bookcase — Free from Mark’s family
  • Teacups — Buy Nothing
  • Soccer print — Goodwill
  • Creative juice print — Gift from a friend
  • Vender de Poissons — Purchased while traveling in Morocco
  • Hand bottle opener — Purchased while traveling in Morocco
  • Pool ball head bookend — Gift from Zoë’s mom
  • Attack cat — Goodwill
  • Russian nesting dolls — Passed down from Mark’s grandparents
  • Clear vase — Gift from Mark’s aunt
  • Leopard and Lion prints — Etsy
  • Basket — Ikea
  • Desk — Vintage from Goodwill (refinished by Zoë)

Thanks Zoë, Mark, and Emma!

This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.