Interior designer Lisa Staton got her start on the East Coast, but now resides in one of our favorite areas – Seattle! Perusing her portfolio, you’ll find that the rooms she designs are refreshingly classic and thoughtfully edited. Most importantly, they’re livable – as proven in this Mercer Island ranch home. We love the details (those bleached floors!!) and wanted to know more:
Hi Lisa!! Thank you for showing us around this Mercer Island beauty. First though, we’d love to know more about you! How did you get started in interior design?
In college, I majored in Art History and Architectural Studies. I spent a summer working at Sotheby’s in New York. (Loved it!) Upon graduation I wanted to work in the art world, but quickly realized I couldn’t afford to live in NYC and pay the bills doing “art world” stuff at that age. I took a job at a NYC Public Relations agency. It was great training for a lot of what I do now: Client management/budgets/lots of deadlines/juggling lots of balls, etc. But the “craft” of PR is writing, not my natural skill, and I yearned to do interior design work. Three years after graduation I received a phone call from an auction gallery friend about a job opening at a prestigious interior design firm in Boston – my hometown! I took it and never looked back! I worked my way up apprenticing at that firm and then moved to a bigger firm. (Heather Wells ltd in Boston.) I went back to design school at RISD. Then in 2000, I moved to Seattle for my husband’s PhD program. It was then that I decided to open my own firm.
We love the Pacific Northwest. How has living in Seattle impacted your aesthetic?
Moving to Seattle has been fantastic. Aesthetically it has “relaxed” me. The rooms I now do are much more casual, laid back, less formal, and perfectly planned out than my East Coast rooms used to be. In the last five years, what I would term the “California” relaxed chic has really influenced my work. More and more I am layering natural jute rugs, and informal Kilim rugs, rather then formal orientals. We are using more rustic woods and casual linens for furniture. That said I still have my “East Coast” traditional roots that shine through at many moments.
What can you tell us about this project?
These clients have two small children. They have been slowly renovating this house over the past 7 years. We did an overarching architectural and design plan and they have slowly “bitten” off chunks of it in two year increments to make it do-able budget wise. (It’s a good reminder to take your time and save up to do it right! Even if it’s not all at once.) And of course each time we dove into the next stage we tweaked and honed the decisions and choices.
For this home, they really wanted a clean, relaxed and un-cluttered space. The wife in particular really values not having nicknacks, toys and things everywhere. We therefore carefully planned storage and spaces to accommodate a more minimal lifestyle.
What condition was the home in at the very beginning?
The house was a 1950s rambler with all of the classic hallmarks of that era: linoleum, formica, narrow kitchen with old pea green tiles, worn oak floors. The fireplace was raised with brick and oak shelving across the entire wall. And the ceilings were low and dark. The kitchen was very removed from the rest of the space.
We completely gutted the main floor and re-engineered the space flow so that we could accomplish a open flow kitchen/living room with a loft-like feel. The ceilings were raised with beams. And the floors bleached to make it feel as light and airy as possible.
Finally, what are your words to live by?
Beauty can be found at every price point. Can’t afford flowers, cut some tree branches from your yard. Scour craigslist and incorporate Ikea with your grandmother’s heirloom dining set. And take your time! It takes time to get rooms right.
Edit, edit, edit. And work to find balance: Not everything you love works in one room. I prefer rooms where 10 things do “10%” of the work each to balance a room. Rather then one or two loud things doing all the visual “talking”.
Space plan first!! I always do floor plans of a space, even if it seem obvious on how to renovate or set things up. There is much to be gained from looking at a space two dimensionally on paper.
To learn more about the project and see Lisa’s designs in action, start the slideshow!