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Julie Smith: What inspires your decorating style?
Alicia Paulson: I am very influenced by Scandinavian style. It reminds me of my Swedish-founded college, Augustana, when I was independent for the first time and able to decorate my dorm room and apartment. I didn't notice it then but I can see now that the Scandinavian style of the campus, as well as my two roommates (who were both Scandinavian and had lots of classic Scandinavian pieces) have a lot to do with how I decorate.
That part of the world shares many of the same issues we do here in Portland (like light and the lack of it) and they use lots of white and white wood, which I love. The painter Carl Larsson has been very influential to me over the years. I'm also inspired by Eastern European design.
Wool throw on chair: Pendleton Wool
Julie: What was your proudest homeowner moment?
Alicia: Not too long ago we replaced two huge plate-glass windows in the front of the house with a series of paned-glass casement windows. I love being able to open the windows now. It's so much nicer.
Andy: I like the moment after a dinner party, when it's gone well, and the lighting is right, around dusk, and we're all using the space. I also like when my friends come out to the Herring (the garage) and it hits midnight and we're looking for something to do and the place is already set up. I love that.
Sofa: Sofa Table Chair
Curtains: Country Curtains
Julie: When you first saw your house, was it love at first sight?
Alicia: Yes and no. I didn't enjoy house hunting as much as I thought I would. But relative to the other houses we were looking at, I really did like this one. I always wanted a built-in linen closet and the one in this house sealed the deal!
Entertainment center: Ikea
Coffee table: Sofa Table Chair
Julie: How did you pick your paint or color palette?
Alicia: I saw the Benjamin Moore Historical Colors at a local paint store and loved them. I've always been drawn to blues and grays (gray is my favorite color) and since all of my old paint colors had been mishmashed over the years, I decided to go with an actual collection. I also tested my paint colors for the first time and that made a huge difference.
Julie: What did you do to make it yours? When did it really feel like your house?
Alicia: The exterior was painted the color of a tennis ball (with purple and pink trim) and I certainly didn't love that. All the walls in the inside of the house were painted lemon yellow and it felt like you were in the inside of a Peeps marshmallow. I'll admit it was nice and bright in here, just not the kind of bright I was going for. So the first thing we did to make it ours was repaint the exterior the color of chocolate ice cream, and repaint the entire interior. But the house felt like ours the day we closed on it.
Andy: There was a moment after we had just bought the house but we were still living in our old apartment, and I went and sat on the stairs of the new empty house and played clarinet. I remember feeling like it was our house. I also remember looking at the big old-wood beams in the basement and thinking that this was a big responsibility, and that we needed to take care of this place.
Wall colors: Wythe Blue, Stonington Gray, and Wickham Gray from Benjamin Moore
Trim color: Floral White in high gloss from Miller Paint
Dining table: Monticello Antiques
Pendant lights: Rejuvenation
Julie: What is your biggest design dilemma?
Alicia: I know this is true of many houses around here but I hate that we don't have an actual entryway or a front hall closet. When you come in, the front door opens right into the middle of the living room. We've added some hooks for coats and a little shelving unit from Ikea to hold baskets for keys and dog leashes, but it's still an ongoing challenge.
Curtains: Country Curtains
Julie: Where are your favorite places to shop for your home? What is your ultimate dream home item?
Alicia: Ikea, Etsy (I buy a lot of stuff off Etsy), Pottery Barn, Stars Antiques in Sellwood and Monticello Antique Mall on Stark. I would love to splurge on a super awesome jetted hot tub for the backyard.
Andy: We're not getting a hot tub.
Alicia: Apparently we're not getting a hot tub.
Storage shelves, kitchen island, lamp: Ikea
Julie: Do you have any hidden talents that most people don't know about?
Alicia: No. If I have any talent, I tell everyone I know about it.
Curtains: Country Curtains
Julie: What do you love most about living in Portland?
Alicia: Oh my, so many things. I love that the whole city feels like one neighborhood, and that none of it feels exclusive. I also really like being close to downtown. When I was young growing up outside of Chicago, going downtown was so intimidating and such an ordeal. It's so easy to get around here. And I know it's cliché but it is pretty amazing that you can get one hour out of the city and be in the middle of the country.
Julie: How would you finish this sentence: My house is my...
Alicia: World. It sounds ridiculous but everything I do is here. Sometimes when I leave the house I feel like I'm on another planet.
Andy: Favorite place in the world.
Snowflake mobile: Pottery Barn Kids
Pillow shams: Restoration Hardware
Curtains: Retro Barn
A sweet little nook off the master bedroom.
Gingham chair and cabinets: Ikea
Dressers: local going-out-of-business furniture sale
Julie: Are there some things that you just can't get rid of? What's your solution to clutter?
Alicia: My solution to clutter is Goodwill. I get a lot of stuff from there as well, so I keep things in rotation. My philosophy: Don't look back. Let it go.
Andy: I always seem to have a big pile of things that I'm working on, like letters to people, stuff for videos I'm making, music — stuff I pick up that I'm interested in. I don't really have a good solution to clutter. I try to prioritize what I've collected, finish my projects and then get rid of everything. I try to purge regularly but I don't do a very good job with it.