This Photographer Has a Knack for Spotting Roadside Decor Gems

published Jun 25, 2019

This Photographer Has a Knack for Spotting Roadside Decor Gems

published Jun 25, 2019
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Name: Jessica and Justin
Location: Tacoma, Washington
Size: 1940 square feet
Years lived in: 14 years, owned

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While there are many things to be impressed by in Jessica and Justin’s 100-year-old Tacoma home—the yellow front door that catches your attention first, the brand new entry with just a patch of old wallpaper left exposed, and basically everything that makes up their dining room—it’s actually the sheer number of roadside finds dotting their home that is a decorating feat.

The vintage orange-flowered couch in Jessica’s office—she is a family and commercial storytelling photographer—was ditched on a sidewalk somewhere by someone who clearly did not have this couple’s vision. And as we walked through the home that also houses four children, Jessica pointed out other roadside gems that cost only the energy it took to scoop them up and haul them home: the headboard in their master bedroom, the yellow chair in the upstairs hallway seating nook, and even that gorgeous painted sideboard dresser in the dining room. And that wasn’t even half of them. As it turns out, some of the best things in life are free—and super fab.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Hmm… definitely layered. Maybe I’d call it flea market fab with a touch of mid-century glam and a sprinkle of bohemian.

Inspiration: I can find inspiration almost anywhere, even on the side of the road! I love mixing old and new, high and low. I’ve wanted to create a home that is comfortable and inviting, but still well-designed and pleasing to the eye. I love color, texture, and pattern, and have to remember to leave some white space.

Favorite Element: There’s a story behind almost everything in our home. And nothing is too precious or expensive. It’s very much a working home for six people and a full family schedule. I love that we’ve been able to make it more fully ours over the last 14 years, and to adapt its function through all the different stages of our family’s life.

Biggest Challenge: In our 100+ year-old house, there’s no family room-type space, so our living room serves a lot of purposes. It’s where we rest, play, host friends, store toys, watch movies, and fold laundry. It’s a long, narrow space and it’s been tricky to use well. Finding a sectional I liked in my budget and that fit the space was a game changer; breaking the space up into a few smaller areas has helped, too.

Also, as a visual artist, I tend to want to display all the things I love—the photographs and collections, the books (we are both bibliophiles). I have to remind myself to edit and pare down, to leave some negative space to be filled up with life and the living of it. It’s hard to take things in when the eye can’t rest.

What Friends Say: Jessica: That our house is always clean (not true, but my kids have had chores since they were little and they do a lot to help maintain order around here). It’s not a ton of space for such a big family, so we try to keep things picked up and clean. Plus it helps keep me sane.

Justin: How vibrant and full of life our home feels. Jess possesses this amazing eye for making seemingly disparate elements work together into a cohesive whole.  Our home is beautiful, but functional, comfortable, and inviting.

Biggest Embarrassment: Ummm, that we just took our Christmas lights down yesterday!

Proudest DIY: Our kitchen. After years of hoping and dreaming and planning, we remodeled a very outdated, completely dysfunctional kitchen. It was our first major design project and it was a huge challenge, but we learned a ton. We did most of the actual work ourselves (and with some wonderful friends who spent hours scraping old linoleum adhesive off the fir floors and consulting us on how to engineer a support beam).

I was the general contractor, managing the time table, sub-contractors like the electricians and plumber, and sourcing everything. I painted all the lower cabinets myself, which in retrospect, would have been worth it to outsource. It was stressful but so worth it, and the only way we could do it within our budget. I think what makes me extra proud of it is how we managed to work in a small existing footprint to create a very functional and beautiful kitchen. Though we kept the original footprint, the kitchen actually feels much bigger. Originally, we thought the only option was to blow out the back wall and expand. Creative problem-solving won the day.

Biggest Indulgence: Our custom built-in in the entryway. We just finished this project and it has such an impact on how it feels to walk into our home and how the entryway functions. There used to be a huge, outdated closet imposing on the entry. The ’80s style really didn’t fit with the house, and the giant sliding doors and cavernous space wasn’t used well. Not to mention that nobody put their shoes in it! I designed a custom bench with shoe shelves and a small closet and had an excellent finish carpenter build it. We are thrilled with how it looks and functions.

Best Advice: Fill your home with things you love and things that make you feel good. Perfection is overrated—your home is not a showroom. Try to think about function (substance) and not just aesthetics (style). Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box (or to drag that couch home). The most interesting homes are designed over time, don’t require huge budgets (just creativity) and the unexpected elements are what makes your personal style stand out. Every room needs plants and something unexpected. And always invite friends over, no matter what your house looks like.

Dream Sources: A Parisian flea market. West Elm. The sidewalk down the street. Vessel Vintage, a gorgeously-curated vintage store in downtown Tacoma.




  • Fish basket — Vintage
  • Sectional — Emerald Home
  • Mudcloth pillows — Vintage (D+K Renewal)
  • Black chair — Target
  • Glass art atop cabinet — Handmade by my son!
  • Leaded glass cabinet — Salvaged from a historical home remodel via a friend


  • Table — Vintage Duncan Phyfe
  • White bentwood chairs — Target
  • Sideboard dresser — Roadside find
  • Paint by number panels — Vintage



  • Nightstands and sconces — Target
  • Headboard — Roadside find
  • Vintage wool rug — Roadside find!
  • Writing desk — Roadside find
  • White leather bench —
  • Mid-century dresser — Thrift store



  • Most photographs on the stairway — Me!


  • Desk — World Market
  • Light Fixture — Vintage (from a garage sale down the street)
  • Mid-Century floral couch — Vintage (my favorite roadside find!)
  • Table — Home Goods
  • Pink cabinet — Vintage (salvaged from the building where my kids went to preschool)
  • Rug — Target
  • Morrocan Pouf — Flea Market Fab

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