Crammed with interesting things, an Eastlake cottage enchants
A little cottage in Seattle's Eastlake neighborhood is made enchanting with an eclectic collection of antiques and interesting objects as well as splashes of color and texture multiplied by many mirrors. It all comes together under the sophisticated eye of interior designer Mary Hansen.
Check out more of Mary Hansen's work at maryhansendesign.com
MARY HANSEN makes magic.
If you call upon the interior designer to snap up your not-quite-right surroundings, you will most certainly not be set adrift in a sea of taupe.
You will be swathed and cloaked in color. Weathered and elegantly tattered accompaniments lending the sophisticated air of a foreign land; swept away on your own personal fantasy. Taking delight, perhaps, in a marigold Lacanche oven, as she does.
There is no better example of Hansen's vibrant sleight-of-hand than her own tiny Eastlake cottage. A place of not just big but grand ideas. A visit to the Land of Hansen begins at the sidewalk with a garden that can barely contain itself. Sunflowers, roses, hydrangea, geraniums all leaning and greeting. Chinese lanterns, rugs, pillows, gates, tables, rusty chairs, a big hand-painted shade umbrella and a homemade stone fireplace. Tumbling, spilling, tinkling, sparkling.
And we're not even in the door.
"The thing I love is enchantment," says Hansen, sitting at a small dining table that once belonged to Aunt Torchy. A seaplane skitters across Lake Union. "Life is too short not to live in enchantment.
"I don't want to walk into the kitchen and think, 'Oh. I'm in a kitchen."
While you might go to the bathroom, Hansen goes to the Moroccan Bathing Room. A metal-cut chandelier hangs over an old iron tub outfitted with brass fixtures as complicated as an Italian espresso maker. Walls of pumpkin paint and blue Pratt & Larsen Moroccan tiles. "We don't like things to match," she says.
Around here, there is no such thing as an old chair or an outdated color wheel for paint choices. "That's a bonus," Hansen says. "It's got history. It's got soul. It's got shape." As she says this we are looking at a couch that once belonged to Grandmother Eloise. Hansen eyes it fondly.
"Texture is so important to me. Fabric and fiber and ruching," she says.
But there is a knack to this organic feeling of sophisticated imperfection. One wrong move? Overstuffed antique shop. But Hansen is a trained professional who works with other trained professionals: Kathleen Mullaney for lampshades, pillows and sewing; Plum Studio for antique restoration and furniture repair. Hansen once ordered a client's chest cut in half (with permission), to fit a new space. The new center panels became a place to record important family dates.
"Contrast is everything: surfaces plain and busy; earthy and refined; Coco Chanel goes bohemian.
"I think it's comfortable and soulful and classic," she says.
Hansen's own home took a year to gut and remodel. To bring in the east-west light she removed walls upstairs in her stacked four-floor home of 1,100 square feet. And now a central closet is all that separates lake-view bedroom from street-side yoga room. All doors are mirrored. Mirrors add expansiveness and light for tight quarters.
"Your space should renew your soul," she says, "bring you to a place where your heart sings a little bit.
"As my friend Marilyn and I used to say, 'We are not brown wrens!' "
Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.
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