This Interior Designer Turned Her Cookie-Cutter Town House Into a Personal Art Gallery


“The biggest challenge was using what was already here but making it better,” says Tiffany (left). “This isn’t our forever home, so I had to be really smart about what I decided to spend money on and what just needed a small facelift. It’s way easier to bring your full vision to life without any restrictions, but the fun part is figuring it out with those limitations.”

“The biggest challenge was using what was already here but making it better,” says Tiffany (left). “This isn’t our forever home, so I had to be really smart about what I decided to spend money on and what just needed a small facelift. It’s way easier to bring your full vision to life without any restrictions, but the fun part is figuring it out with those limitations.”

When interior designer Tiffany Thompson bought this two-bedroom Portland, Oregon, town house in 2016, she was working at Nike and viewed its close proximity to the company’s headquarters as a major benefit. It also didn’t hurt that she had access to a community pool and tennis court, or that the drive toward her street was lined with towering trees. But the deciding factor, Tiffany remembers, is that it had a certain Pacific Northwest luxury. “What initially drew me to this place was the amount of natural light it received. It’s pretty bright all of the time,” Tiffany says. “Coming from Miami where it’s usually sunny, the thing that scared me most about purchasing a home in Portland was that it was going to be dark and rainy seven months out of the year.”

The challenge would be turning this cookie-cutter town house into a personalized haven. Tiffany was surrounded by a blank canvas. Luckily, her boyfriend, Julian Gaines, is a fine artist. “With all of the art, we want to evoke emotion and really let them be the highlight of our home,” she says. “Being with an artist is amazing because I have endless items to choose from.”

“For the dining room art, Julian imagined himself being next in line on his way to heaven and seeing the person in front of him receiving his halo,” she says. The table is from Lillian August, and the surrounding chairs are from Design Within Reach. The Studio Eero Aarnio Mini Pony Chair in the corner was found at Finnish Design Shop.
“For the dining room art, Julian imagined himself being next in line on his way to heaven and seeing the person in front of him receiving his halo,” she says. The table is from Lillian August, and the surrounding chairs are from Design Within Reach. The Studio Eero Aarnio Mini Pony Chair in the corner was found at Finnish Design Shop.

Tiffany couldn’t touch the exterior or overhaul its interior, thanks to a homeowners’ association and a limited budget, but she could reimagine its white walls. She pictured a theme of timeless and cozy beauty, punctuated by details that were functional yet exciting upon a closer glance. Tiffany considered her canvas for a year, figuring that it was best to take her time on “making this home feel like me.” And when she was ready, she landed primarily on a black-and-white palette. “It’s amazing how these two colors bring a sense of balance to a space,” Tiffany says. “There’s also so much greenery outside that the black-and-white palette grounded my home and makes the backdrop of the outdoors feel and look even more intense.”

“These types of homes have exteriors that all look alike, so it was important for me to have some features that were our own and fun,” Tiffany says. The accent wall is made of one-and-three-fourths inch oak slats that were nailed to the wall in one-inch gaps. The entire project was painted in Tricorn Black by Sherwin-Williams. The coffee table and floor lamp are from CB2, and the chrome Wassily side chairs were found on Chairish. The framed artwork was created by Julian and the masks are vintage.
“These types of homes have exteriors that all look alike, so it was important for me to have some features that were our own and fun,” Tiffany says. The accent wall is made of one-and-three-fourths inch oak slats that were nailed to the wall in one-inch gaps. The entire project was painted in Tricorn Black by Sherwin-Williams. The coffee table and floor lamp are from CB2, and the chrome Wassily side chairs were found on Chairish. The framed artwork was created by Julian and the masks are vintage.

She nailed oak slats to a wall in one-inch gaps and painted it all black as an accent in her living area, and then carried that shade into the dining room to complement a haloed subject Julian brought to life on an 80-by-80-inch canvas. It’s moody, an adjective Tiffany appreciates, and a distinct departure from the property’s more private areas. In the primary bedroom, for instance, a beige backdrop fosters relaxation while a framed jack-of-diamonds provides a rare glimmer of color along the floor. The second bedroom is awash in a shade of blue, with art that appears more lively than composed. “I have a hard time sleeping at night, as I think most creatives do, and just wanted it to be extremely calming,” she says. “Our guest room and office reminds me of the ocean. Its gallery wall is our rotating mood board—we get pieces in and move them around, either adding or taking things away.”

“There’s a 1992 Sports Illustrated cover of the USA Dream Team, and a Basquiat piece Gaines received,” Tiffany says. “We aren’t sure if it’s real or not—we tried to get it authenticated but the Basquiat Foundation isn’t authenticating any work currently, so who knows! There’s also a Nike swoosh, where my boyfriend and I worked. He created that piece, and it just reminds us of our journey amongst other art we’ve acquired through the years.” Tiffany got the couch and pillows at Hay, and interspersed them with her own wax-canvas cushions from Duett Interiors.
“There’s a 1992 Sports Illustrated cover of the USA Dream Team, and a Basquiat piece Gaines received,” Tiffany says. “We aren’t sure if it’s real or not—we tried to get it authenticated but the Basquiat Foundation isn’t authenticating any work currently, so who knows! There’s also a Nike swoosh, where my boyfriend and I worked. He created that piece, and it just reminds us of our journey amongst other art we’ve acquired through the years.” Tiffany got the couch and pillows at Hay, and interspersed them with her own wax-canvas cushions from Duett Interiors.
The bright collection of storage lockers are from Ikea.

In the two years that Tiffany has been curating the canvas of her home, she’s also pursued design full-time as the founder of Duett Interiors. Meanwhile, the white walls she’s surrounded by have shifted into an exhibition of her style, where she’s welcome to simply stand back and appreciate her work.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” she says. “It kept me quite busy over the years and now it feels perfect.”

Here in the primary bedroom, the Cello bed is by EQ3 and the sheets are by Brooklinen.
“Derrick Adams takes things we see on a daily basis and depicts them with black faces. It’s a reality that this thought of inclusion isn’t present in an everyday thing like playing cards,” Tiffany says. “The painting features 23.5 carat gold leaf, and it celebrates nobility and royalty. The ‘J’ reminded me of Julian, and I got it to celebrate him.”
“ Derrick Adams takes things we see on a daily basis and depicts them with black faces. It’s a reality that this thought of inclusion isn’t present in an everyday thing like playing cards,” Tiffany says. “The painting features 23.5 carat gold leaf, and it celebrates nobility and royalty. The ‘J’ reminded me of Julian, and I got it to celebrate him.”
“This is the bathroom on the main floor, and when we have game nights or dinners with friends, it’s the one they use,” Tiffany says. “Being that the house is so neutral downstairs, I wanted to have something unexpected and bold when they walked into that room. I found this wallpaper and instantly fell in love with it.”

“This is the bathroom on the main floor, and when we have game nights or dinners with friends, it’s the one they use,” Tiffany says. “Being that the house is so neutral downstairs, I wanted to have something unexpected and bold when they walked into that room. I found this wallpaper and instantly fell in love with it.”

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest

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