The colorful home of a Sundaes and Swear Words star in Seattle
Color (and puppies) abound in Lauren and Travis Essl’s home. Photograph courtesy of Michele Equitz / Lauren Essl
The tilted the roof line caught Lauren Essl’s attention, even from 2,000 miles away. Essl’s husband, Travis, was camping at an Inn Bothell residence for a new job while she ended her life in Fort Worth and roamed Seattle’s chilling real estate landscape from afar. The 1953 house, located on a street corner in Madrona, had only one gentle angle to its silhouette. This snippet of mid-century modern geometry stands out in an older neighborhood of bungalows and artisan homes, just as two newly arrived Texans with a yen for color might stand out in a sea of understated Gore-Tex. For Lauren, the particular architecture even looked like a bridge between their previous life and the one about to begin: “It’s not classically mid-mod; it’s a tour of the Pacific Northwest.
Still, dark, old-fashioned rooms needed love. In 2018, their contractor reduced the interior of the house to the studs. The Essls realigned a staircase, moved some doors and walls, inflated some windows, transformed the garage into a playroom. They wanted the result to be calm and white, a kind of gallery, says Lauren, “where we can bring color with our furniture and our art.”
Now white paint prevails inside and out, with the exception of the occasional splash of bathroom tile (like a master’s corner nicknamed “the pink pot corner” thanks to a bold injection of pink pattern. ). But the overall palette did not remain silent for long.
The Salon des Essls sparkles with color. An oversized wooden Dairy Queen sundae that Texan artist Camp Bosworth has hand-carved sits near the sparkling multimedia portrait of Ashley Longshore of Peggy Guggenheim, the prolific art collector and great personality (“my favorite woman in the world). ‘story,’ Lauren says). Over the years, the owner has made a sport of finding new arts or artists, sidestepping trends to find what speaks to him: “The crazier, the stranger, the better. The Essls made their first major painting purchase in 2015, a seemingly unremarkable landscape that artist Wayne White decorated with some luckily unexpected curse words. It hangs over their bed.
Their later finds brighten up the 1,500 square feet, from a personalized collage of the couple’s three dogs to a large golden moon-shaped encaustic by local artist Jennifer Ament waxing in the dining area. Other paintings are placed, neatly, in a cupboard, needing additional wall space. Essl even curates the contents of her shameless faux silver Christmas tree, scouring eBay, antique stores and Chairish for vintage ornaments, especially the Shiny Brite brand.
Outside, they swapped the stucco for wood siding. It’s white, like the interior, but the Essls decided early on to paint Benjamin Moore’s Sweet 16 Pink front door, a glimpse of the artistic rainbow inside. It’s also a topic of conversation with the neighbors, many of whom stop to express their gratitude that these new owners didn’t go the typical Seattle route of demolishing this house to build something bigger.
“I was so in awe of what this place could be,” says Lauren, who finds special joy in leading an old house into a cool new future. “Hope the next owner likes pink. “
Where to find art that moves you
The more visual of social media platforms is an obvious fit with art.
The online furniture marketplace also offers a mix of original art and prints.
The app’s dizzying array of styles, artists, and media can suck you in for hours.
The excellent Seattle Art Fair will return to the Lumen Field Event Center in July 2022.
Their mailing lists offer a wealth of discovery. Lauren Essl loves Zinc Gallery locally. “They match what’s in my head. “
“It doesn’t have to be a living artist,” Lauren emphasizes.