We first were introduced to Casey Keasler when we saw her impeccable Instagram account. (Seriously! You can read about it here.) Casey, an interior designer based in Portland, OR, is the founder of Casework – “a multidisciplinary creative studio focused on environments and how people experience them.” Casey has a brilliant approach to design and an inherent ability to integrate old with new, telling stories through the spaces she designs. Much to our delight – Casey welcomed us into her bright Portland home, which is just as picturesque in real life as it looks on social media. Though the space is fairly small, it is packed with thoughtful design and conveys a true feeling of home. Needless to say, we’re taking notes on Casey’s approach:
First of all… we love Portland! What neighborhood are you in?
I’m on the cusp of Chinatown and the Pearl. I love it because it’s urban and I can walk just about everywhere. I’m surrounded by history and the buildings in this area are some of the best in town. The neighborhood is gritty and as close to living in a city as you can get in Portland. It also makes me thankful I have a roof over my head because there are so many in this neighborhood who don’t.
Do you rent or own?
I rent. The apartment is 365 SF and when I moved here two years ago, I had so much stuff. It took a lot for me to let go and get rid of things. But now, when I do buy something for my home, I buy out of a true need or because I absolutely love it not because it’s on sale or I might need it at some point in the future.
We have to say, it worked! The end result is beautiful. Do you have a favorite spot in the home?
The living room/kitchen/office/dining room. It’s all one room and located on the corner of the second floor with these giant windows that overlook a busy street. I love the birds eye view and spend most of my time here.
For other design projects, where do you tend to start first?
I always start by walking through the space with the client. Then questions. Lots and lots of questions.
Aside from bringing the client’s personality front and center, how would you describe your signature approach?
I do something completely custom in every single project no matter the budget. I have a reason for everything I bring into someone’s space! To me, that tells a more powerful story than, I bought it because it’s cute. Most of my clients don’t have big budgets so mixing vintage with big box store stuff adds more character to a home than all new pieces.
We’ve heard you refer to this as “Visual Stories.” Could you explain what that means to you?
I love the idea of helping people translate their lives to their home, office, retail store or whatever the project happens to be.
What’s your favorite quality in a room?
Lighting. If the lighting is right then I’m completely drawn in.
We’ve noticed a trend that many designers have favorite paint colors they’ll use again and again. Any chance you’ll share yours?
I use mostly neutrals. Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray and Amazing Gray are my go-tos for perfectly light wall color, Snowbound for a bright white. And lately, I am obsessed with the richness from Dark Night, it’s part blue, black with hints of teal.
Who do you admire most in the design industry?
There are a few. Jessica Helgerson Interior Design because of their fresh take on historical designs and PNW inspired interiors. Emily Henderson because she has so much charisma and that shows through in her projects. Barbara Bestor is an architect but her use of color inspires this color-phobic designer to take more color risks.
Your talent is obviously innate. When did you first realize you were meant to be a designer?
My parents built a home when I was 10. I saw the home go from paper to foundation to studs to moving in furniture and was hooked. Space changes so much from paper to reality and I love seeing that process.
Okay. Time for a loaded question! Why is design important to you?
This is a hard question! Design is important because it allows me to appreciate something that has been considered, even if it’s a pen or the handle on a front door. If things or spaces were never designed, then they wouldn’t feel special or function at their best. Imagine never having a bad day, then the good days wouldn’t be as good because you would have nothing to compare the bad ones to!
Running your own firm is sure to come with a lot of challenges. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Ask lots of questions.
We’re starting to see a pattern here! What’s the accomplishment you’re most proud of?
Right now, it’s taking the leap and starting this business.
You’ve gained quite a fan base in the process. What do you attribute your success to?
Working hard and building solid, honest relationships.
Something many creatives deal with is losing inspiration. When that happens to you, how do you get it back?
Ideally, I travel, but it’s not always possible to get out of town. Creativity is a weird animal and channeling it can be difficult when you’re a small business owner. To get inspired, I’ll often take a break and walk away from a project then come back the next day. I also know I need a good chunk of time to hash through ideas uninterrupted so I find myself working after-hours because there is less distraction than during the day.
If you could tell our readers one thing to avoid when decorating their homes, what would it be?
Buying stuff just to fill a home.
And finally, your top advice for turning a house into a home?
Make sure everything you do has a reason, then it will never feel trite
Thank you so much for welcoming us into your home, Casey! For more details on Casey’s beautiful Portland space, click through the slideshow!