Local Portland interior designer Kelly Atwood specializes in restaurants, churches, commercial properties, set and special event design. We got a special tour of her latest residential project featuring products from City Home and sat down for a Q&A with Kelly.
Product shown: Replica Rhinoceros Head Wall Decor
Product shown: Amiel Large Arch Mirror
Product shown: Vintage Wood Folding Camp Table
Product Shown: Sheepskin Fur Shag Rug
Product shown: Vintage Style Ferris Wheel Sculpture
Product shown: Cohanga Hanging Chair
Product shown: Hunter Leather & Iron Bench
Product shown: Replica Rhinoceros Head Wall Decor
All photography by Nicole Callaghan
Q&A WITH KELLY ATWOOD
Q: How do you describe your work to the world?
A: "Let Creativity Breathe." This has come up in my spirit over and over lately and I believe creativity is a missing link in all our lives. We are full of hustle and bustle, and so many times we fill our minds with social media and other people's great ideas and forget to take the time to let our own creativity breathe. I have been convinced of this recently and am making this my new motto. We all have creativity in one area or another…and it’s time to just sit with it. Let it simmer and pour out of you. Get up and dance it out, draw feverishly, just sing your brains out (who cares who can hear you), or rearrange your living room and throw the ‘rules’ out the window. You’ll feel better. You’ll breathe better. We were created to create. My goal has always been to creatively add value to people and spaces. I specialize in restaurants, churches, commercial properties, set and special event design.
Q: What’s your favorite project you worked on last year?
A: I was working with an amazing team Daniel Packman (@designbluepdx), Wyatt Pender (@wyattpender) and Heather Hippenstiel (@stielstructural) where we busted out 13 restaurants in less than a year. The restaurants were a part of a chain but were very unique individual spaces that thrived on being part of the neighborhood and nodding toward nostalgia whenever possible. They were also in different locations from Seattle, WA to Richardson, TX and everywhere in between. We were given creative freedom to let the space inspire us. One space was in Scottsdale, AZ, a very Mid Century Modern building, low ceilings and brick archways, so we added a huge custom logo succulent art piece, hairpin legs, geometric wallpaper, modular shelving unit and sputniks. One was in an old airport hangar where we were able to play off that very cool vintage, leather, and industrial steel vibe. Another was the first indoor Studebaker showroom in the West. We saw that it had some amazing original brick so we added a distressed mural, vintage eclectic chandeliers, gilded mirrors, and custom velvet tufted seat backs. And lastly we had a new building in Sloan's Lake area in Denver, CO, and as we did some research we found that this area was home to the first theme park West of the Mississippi. We saw that as our opportunity to have some fun. We pulled off bold colors, vintage suitcases, murals that incorporated vintage photos that we found and we even added a high striker and skeeball! These were some dream projects. I loved the fact that they were vastly different but unified by branding, mission and quality.
Q: What are your top tips for quick interior design updates to DIY?
A: When wanting to mix things up in your own house I would always recommend "shopping" your house. Pick a room that you want to change up, empty it, and start fresh. You might think I’m crazy but this helps you not fall into the same trap and create the same ol’ space. You need to see the space with new eyes. This gives you a moment to 'let creativity breathe.’ Start with the big pieces that need to stay like couches, beds, dining tables and position them in a new way. Give the room a new focal point, if possible. Once you are anchored with big pieces, go shop your house. Remember to change up the rug as well, layer with another one if you want. Pull throw pillows off your kids beds (or just run out to City Home or Home Goods and create a new color story), grab a throw while you’re at it. Now go on a hunt for different pieces that could be used different ways. Have an old dresser? See if it works as a buffet in your dining room. Try a stool as an end table, maybe a bench as a coffee table, the possibilities are endless. Lastly, I notice people struggle with wall art placement and scale. Since everything is off your walls still, remember a good rule of thumb is to hang the art so the midpoint of the piece is between 57”-60”, if your room has ceilings higher then 8’ you can hang a bit higher but not much. Also if you have a large wall you need to have art that is large as well, if you don’t have anything then group items together and throw a mirror in the mix.
Q: What is your favorite holiday to decorate for? Any holiday decorating tips or fun projects to share?
A: I would call myself a minimalist, I am a less is more girl. Throughout the year I may add new pillows or rearrange my spaces but I’m not seasonally motivated, I do it when I feel it’s time for a change if that makes sense. But all that to say, I do decorate for Christmas. As simple as I am, I love having a real Christmas tree, pine needles and all. I love wreaths, garlands, Christmas lights (if they are straight). I also love to bring in natural things to enjoy. Grab some holly branches from the neighbors (when they aren’t looking, of course), some boughs of greenery, some huckleberry branches (I find them every year at Trader Joes’s) and throw together a center piece and call it good. One more important detail is the smell. I love the aroma of Christmas time. I always have a simmer pot going, I add things like cinnamon sticks, cloves, apple juice, anise, vanilla, oranges and anything else that smells yummy along the way. To add to the Christmas tradition I need my Christmas music faintly on in the background, big wooly socks and my kids on either side of me cuddling up to watch ridiculously cheesy Christmas Hallmark movies. Instead of creating more work during what can be a crazy season, I slow down and take in each day.
Q: Who are your top 10 favorite accounts to follow on instagram?
Q: Wild card. Something you want to say? Inspiration? Current obsession?
A: Oh my goodness, I’m in love with dark interior and exterior paint colors, blacks/steel blue/dark green with bright white mixed with walnut and brass finishes. I also love the mix of modern and vintage, new and old. And of course, layers of textures. Textures on walls, wooly rugs, mixed metals, furs and wood, so good.