Andrea and Derek are a young couple living on Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill. Andrea called me one night in a semi-panic to inquire about interior design services for their 2-bedroom condo. “I was just away on a business trip, and when I got home I saw my husband had bought a Bowflex and it is sitting in the middle of the living room! Our condo needs help!” Within 10 minutes, she was ready to get the project rolling. That efficient attitude is an interior designer’s dream, and was a sign of great things to come.

Formerly a reporter for the newspaper-gone-only-online-newspaper, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Andrea had transitioned to an intense job as a stock analyst, and worked from home. Aside from the newly-acquired Bowflex, being inside her condo so often made her think seriously about doing some improvements.

The condo originally had low-quality laminate floors, cheap cabinets affixed to the walls, and the paint colors lacked sophistication. The furniture was mostly wicker, which Andrea had purchased in the south as a single lady, because it was easy to lift without help. It was time to upgrade.

The priorities for this project were not only to create a beautiful and functional space for Andrea and Derek, but also to make choices with the earth in mind. The floors are FSC-certified red maple, the paints are zero VOC Natura by Benjamin Moore, and we tried to incorporate as much of their existing furniture as possible. For the elements of the space that they didn’t previously own, we focused on finding some used items, and other quality pieces that would last to avoid a landfill destiny.

The couple also wanted to live around things that were meaningful. They had a lot of art that they had either hidden away, or presented haphazardly. So we framed some of the most significant pieces and hung them on the walls. Books and other objects were contained in bright red boxes and arranged nicely on shelves and surfaces.

During the course of the project, Derek transitioned to working from home as well (a couple who both work from home in a 2-bedroom condo! They must really love each other!) While Andrea has her office in the second bedroom, Derek also needed a place. We were able to find him a gorgeous office armoire with lots of storage so he didn’t need to spread out over the dining table.

With the living area sparsely furnished to leave room for the Bowflex, the entire project was an exercise (no pun intended) in making the most of a small space. The result is a sophisticated, yet fun home where the couple can live, work, and entertain.

  • Check out this blog post by Andrea to learn more about her decisiveness and how she decided on her flooring.
  • Seattle Pulp, KOMO News’ online lifestyle magazine, featured photos of this project, and an interview with me in this article on small space living.
Construction & Painting by Axiom; Photography by Tom Marks.