Sarai Mitnick left her tech job in Oakland, CA eight years ago with a heart for designing and publishing sewing patterns for women who wanted to make their own clothes. “It was something I felt deeply passionate about, but I couldn’t afford to start a business in the San Francisco area.” Sarai and her husband, Kenn Wilson, founded Colette Patterns in 2009, a publishing company that creates home sewing patterns, books and an online magazine called Seamwork for sewists of all experience levels. Since then, Colette has grown to an office of 11 enthusiastic and creative people with the goal to revive the art of sewing and home garment making. Their modern taste and variety give followers an open invitation and resources to curate a wardrobe with their own hands.
The couple has been a part of their current neighborhood since the move, and they feel fortunate to have found a house in the same area five years ago. “It’s really walkable and there are plenty of restaurants and bars around, but it’s still quiet and residential. I feel incredibly thankful that we get to own a home in such a wonderful neighborhood,” Sarai shares. Working with a small budget, Sarai and Kenn looked at a dozens of “run-down, creepy, smelly places” before walking into their 1923 colonial revival house. Sarai grew up in an old house and couldn’t imagine living in a space that lacked historic character and charm. They immediately refinished all the original floors, which had been covered with Pergo laminate, and coated the rooms with soft, cool colors to reflect as much natural light as possible and counteract dark Portland days. “One of the rooms was painted bright turquoise, including the ceiling, and the floor was painted shiny white. Because the floor reflected the turquoise, it gave the appearance of blue skin when you walked in!” After the initial renovations, they started taking care of little things like lighting and shelves, and tried not to overthink how the house should look, but focused on finding décor that captured their interests. “I tend to just collect things that feel like me or that I find particularly beautiful,” Sarai shares. “I like the way a house evolves over time and reflects the people who live there. That’s more important to me than whether or not it looks perfect.”
Sarai and Kenn work together all day, so their primary goal for the home was to create a space to recharge. Sarai believes that a home should, “inspire serenity and a certain amount of curiosity.” The space has a natural, homemade air with a penchant for vintage imagery, floral patterns and quiet, cozy vignettes that provide the perfect escape from an active lifestyle. Surrounding themselves with books, photographs, art and other personal items helps Sarai and Kenn unwind and activate the emotions they want to experience when they are home. “It’s like a good cup of coffee, relaxing and stimulating at the same time.” —Bethany Joy Foss
Photography by Sarai Mitnick