If you visit Noun (3300 SE Belmont St., 235-0078), the little quirky-chic design and decor shop in Southeast Portland, you'll think three things: (1) DANG, this place is cute; (2) DANG, let's buy everything in here; and (3) hey, wait—is that the Consumer Whore hiding out in the corner? There's something unique about the way owner Stephanie Sheldon pulls off the modern-meets-traditional design aesthetic in the store, filled with new local goods and cool vintage finds. Which made me wonder: What's her apartment like? And how, pray tell, can I make mine like hers?
Give yourself boundaries: Stephanie and husband Thomas Nevarez live an upstairs rental apartment with red doors and a red stairway. "That dictated our color scheme: blue and red," explains Stephanie. "Which in turn, made it easy to shop for furniture and pick out paint colors."
If it's pretty, show it off: Like your wedding china. "When we found this china pattern, I nearly pooped my pants!" says Stephanie. "It's not something we use a lot, so we said, 'Let's leave it out so we can look at it.'"
History inspires: Family memorabilia doesn't belong in an attic, gathering dust. That creepy drawing of eyes? It's actually pulled from a series of drawings Stephanie's grandfather did during a college art class. "Use what you cherish; it makes the home that more cozy, comfortable and connected."
Be patient: " Take your time, and buy what you love." Par example: Stephanie's vintage Northwest Airlines poster. She fell in love with it at an antique store but wasn't about to pay the spendy price. Six month later, Thomas found the exact same poster amid a pile of crap at an estate sale for pennies. Graceland was not decorated in a day, people. Or was it? Um…you get the picture.
Mix the new and the old: " If your home is all vintage, you run the risk of seeming like a museum or grandma-y. If it's all new, it's too perfect and unlived in, like a Pottery Barn catalog." Pottery Barn? Bring them together, like this shelf sporting original art and a tray from John Derian's line at Target.
Reinvent the wheel: Sort of. Stephanie and Thomas have this habit of taking old things and using them differently. Bread boxes turn into drawers for office crap. Broken vintage clocks are set to significant dates. An old mailbox turns into a coat rack-slash-love letter vessel, which leads me to the sixth and final tip:
Art is love, and love is art: Stephanie has the kind of husband Glenn Close would boil a bunny for: One day, Stephanie came home to find a wire installation on her wall reading "I love Cakes" (her nickname). Also, fortunes from a set of cookies that Stephanie made for Thomas were eventually recycled into little paintings.