Modern living room with oval shaped couches, a fireplace set in a brick wall, and a grand piano in a corner with windows.

My husband and I would have celebrated our five-year anniversary in London this summer, but instead we created a new story to commemorate this special milestone: We turned our focus to our home to make it feel even more personal. James has transformed the workshop into a man cave full of tools, bikes, indoor rower and Purdue memorabilia. I’ve been working on renovation plans that will result in a complete transformation into the home we’ve always wanted … in time to celebrate our 10-year anniversary in our new digs, I hope.

Despite what you might think, even interior designers don’t always have perfect homes. There’s always room for improvement, things to do that can help our homes tell our stories. It’s our largest investment, the place where we spend most of our time, that holds our fondest possessions, that keeps our family safe. Isn’t it worthwhile to take steps, no matter how incremental, so it better reflects your story and your growth, both individually and as a family? Check out my first newsletter with some tips on how to incorporate your personality into your home.

I am grateful and honored to have helped so many families, couples, single professionals, and empty nesters over the past 15+ years to emotionally connect to their spaces—through their eyes and lives. I’d like to feature a couple of unique spaces that I found great joy in designing, developing, and bringing to life.

Irish Pub

Some people collect ornaments, shirts, jewelry, or hats when they go to new places. Not these fun clients! They collect beer taps, and have accumulated over 100 of them! They’ve envisioned an Irish pub for a long time—and who wouldn’t dream of having their own pub in their basement? A place to gather with friends and family in the comfort and safety of their own home? Here’s how prepared they were: The name was established and a sign had been made, well before I came along. That was my sign this was going to be a truly personal, connected, emotional project. I was excited to help make it come to life—and get their sign out of the closet and onto the wall!

Given the very strong theme of the space, I wanted to make sure we discussed the bigger picture of how it related to the house, the neighborhood, and what may come next for a new homeowner—the layout allowed for a potential ADU with minimal rework. The design aesthetic not only stayed true to the Irish pub theme, but we also incorporated elements from the rest of house into the millwork and doors. We added extra storage and separate laundry while still maintaining garage space. The result is a “pub” I’d certainly be happy to visit for a pint!

Pacific Northwest Style

When choosing a home to buy, it can be hard to envision how an existing home can tell your unique story. But the clients of this particular home went with their instincts—they loved the architecture and trusted they could add their story with the help of a professional. And I am happy they chose me to make it happen!

They lived in the home a few years to get the feeling of it and really think about what they wanted to change or add to convey their personality. They determined the abundant mix of wood felt disjointed, even though each type was beautiful on its own. They also noticed the brick wall with the fireplace felt overpowering and disconnected from the rest of the architecture. As these clients host family nearly every weekend, this space would be the most used room in the home with many conversations and gatherings around the fireplace and piano. The feline family members were also a big concern; they love to climb, and the open rafters were like a cat super-highway. However, they needed a better way to access the elevated racetrack.

I firmly believe that form follows function, and I proposed floating ledges on the large brick wall to provide both architectural enhancements as well as vertical movement for the cats. We took it a step further, mixing wood and metal and anchoring it all with a commissioned art piece by Corrie LaVelle to express their mood. The wood was hand-selected live-edge material that unified the other types of wood throughout the home. We further incorporated this live-edge look into a serving area, stair railing and headboard for the bedroom, providing alignment and consistency.

To make the space comfortable, and provide abundant seating, it was important to soften the linear lines and create some curves to complement the piano. We also wanted a color that inspired warmth and connection, so we enhanced the color of the brick with a deep orange and anchored the seating with a vibrant mix of red and orange in the rug.

I have a feeling that the gatherings here have always been warm and lively; now, the space serves to enhance that vibe.

How do you tell your story?

These projects were filled with so much emotion that they reminded me of other designers who share this same passion and focus. As James and I reflect on our journey together, we have great gratitude for Adrienne Krieger of Everling Jewelry; we chose her to design and craft our wedding bands not only because of her incredible skill, but also because she understands the importance and depth of story-based designs.

I look at my ring each day and remember the significance it has to our journey together. And I believe everyone deserves to have those kinds of reminders—whether it’s a piece of jewelry, your home, or something else. How do you commemorate your passion, your love, your family, and your life?

Live your best life in a way that is Modern. Authentic. Yours.

Stay well. Live well. Be well.

-Amy May