Travis & Nicole's Verdant St. Johns Oasis

Travis & Nicole's Verdant St. Johns Oasis

Brandon Roberts
Sep 7, 2010

Name:Travis and Nicole and their cat, Freya
Location: St. Johns — Portland, Oregon
Size: 1,400 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years — owned

The 1,400 square foot traditional craftsman home that husband and wife Travis Blanchette and Nicole Walker share with their cat Freya is full of unique finds collected from local flea markets and art created by talented friends and family members. But what makes their soothing oasis in the Portland borough of St. Johns extraordinary is the connection to the natural world that their collections conjure: abandoned bird nests, tree fungi used as little wall shelves, the array of beautifully-tended plants on the hearth, loosely arranged wildflowers cut from their garden. Their home is resplendent with a lovely verdancy that is an homage to life in the Pacific Northwest--green and serene, with touches of genuine romance.

Travis and Nicole, who own and run local favorite neighborhood pub Leisure Public House, have created a space for themselves that is tranquil and comfortably sophisticated. Portland is known for its fantastic flea markets and vintage furniture shops, and Nicole combs through them with delightful regularity. Not finding "the perfect couch," the couple decided to have a vintage Chesterfield style sofa in the living room refurbished with chic eco-friendly fabric, updating the look of the sofa and turning it into a keeper.

The couple put a great deal of time and energy into maintaining their lush gardens, stopping occasionally to enjoy a brief nap or read a book in the garden-adjacent sun room. Nicole's green thumb is felt throughout their home, but especially on their living room mantle, where an assortment of gorgeous house plants decorate (and oxygenate) the space.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic Traditional ("I made that up," jokes Nicole).

Inspiration: I love design books, magazines and blogs. I'm always prowling around for new ideas for our home. Yet, I'm not one to jump over to the store and buy the latest thing...partly because I'm cheap but mostly because I believe in only owning things that have meaning. I want to find the perfect chandelier forgotten in my parents basement or at someone's garage sale, not at Restoration Hardware. Serendipity is often my biggest inspiration...and yes, sometimes I find it at Ikea.

Favorite Element: My favorite element is always the latest room, space, or piece of furniture that I have been working on. Most recently it has been the bedroom. I was feeling blue the other day and I came across one of my vintage purses that I have placed all of Travis' love notes. It made me so happy thinking back on when I'd received each one and how lucky I am to have this love in my life. I hung the purse by my side of the bed and then put together a collection of valentines we have given each other (and framed them). I was worried Travis would think it was super cheesy...because it is...but he likes it too. It is really nice to wake up with a positive affirmation of love on your walls.

Biggest Challenge: When we first moved in we were coming from a tiny bungalow that had a totally different feel. Nothing from the old house worked in the new one. We slowly had to replace a lot of items. We had a dining room with nothing to put in it. Yet, it was so fun! I have no reason to scour craigslist anymore.

What Friends Say: I think people are a little surprised when they see how curated it is. But if people know me very well, they know I'm a nester and this is how I roll.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our bathroom needs some serious updating. Oh and we have a very creepy toilet and shower in our unfinished basement.

Proudest DIY: We do a lot of DIY, so again it is usually whatever is the most recent. We finally hung up some shelf mushrooms that I had collected over a year ago. I also turned a random piece of metal that Travis dug up from the back of the bar, into a little table that I keep one of my terrariums on.

Biggest Indulgence: The couch! We wanted the chesterfield style so I found one for $100 on craigslist and had it recovered by an amazing eco-friendly shop ( with some commercial grade fabric. We will have it forever.

Best Advice: Try not take on more than one house project at a time!

Dream Sources: Our amazing friends and family. There is so much in our house that we have from them. Our friend Justin Parker from Esque Studio has given us so many beautiful blown pieces. My girlfriend Felice Koenig's art fills our walls, my brother and sister have made us amazing items, furniture and pictures that belonged to my grandparents, old roommates... I also love me a rummage sale!

Resources of Note:


    • bedroom, Ralph Lauren: Raw Silk


    • faux bois rug, Williams Sonoma
    • couch, craigslist
    • shelving unit, IKEA


    • furniture, Twilight Rummage Sale (at the Eagle's Lodge)
    • curtains, IKEA fabric


    • cabinetry, IKEA


    • bed and pillows, Pottery Barn


    • blanket, Ink and Peat

Thanks, Travis and Nicole (and Freya)!

Images: Leah Harb

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