Interiorssneak peeks

In Portland, A Well Loved Home

by Shannon Grant

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo

For Leah Verwey and Rob Simonsen, the best kind of home is a lived-in home. Shoes by the front door, wrinkled couch cushions and a dog foot print or two — these are some of the things Leah and Rob embrace about a home. While they want their home to be comfortable, they also like to fill it with reminders of loved ones from far away, such as Leah’s sister’s ceramics, her grandfather’s art and Rob’s grandmother’s glass collection. Add to that pieces from local craftsman and the result is an eclectic and well-loved home. Leah is a photographer, working with many of the creative folks around Portland, while Rob is a project manager for A to Z Media, a company that specializes in making vinyl records and CDs for the music industry. Thank you Leah and Rob! –Shannon

Image above: That’s Tallulah pup giving me the sassy stink eye for waking her up. She obviously runs the show here. I picked up the portrait of a man behind her at an estate sale, and I liked it because it looks like he’s wearing purple eye shadow. I’ve named him Burt, and Rob would like to relocate him to a less prominent part of the house but I like him too much. Sorry Rob.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: The breakfast nook totally sold us on the house. It’s the sunniest spot in the house, and living in the Pacific Northwest teaches you to value that light more than anything. Those pillows and the basket of everyday napkins are from the always amazing non-perishable goods, whom I have the privilege of working with. The print is a photo of mine, and the terrarium is from Artemisia.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo

See more of this Portland home after the jump…

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: This room is absolutely where we spend the most time. The hanging photo above the fireplace is a slide of Rob’s mom when she was 5 or 6, and the rest of the artwork is from my grandfather, who worked as a fine artist and Mad Men-era illustrator. The watercolor gal in the center is one of his ad agency cast offs.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: I have a problem committing to couches. We found this one at a local vintage store, and it’s the first that has lasted longer than a year. Here’s hoping it fits the bill long term. The print over the couch is photo of mine from a lovely trip to Fossil, Oregon with some friends. The hairpin coffee table was a wedding present from our friend Joe Busch with Pecan Workshop.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: The amazing lamp is from Caravan Pacific.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: I’m a bit of a plant hoarder. I can’t pass up those lonely rescue plants at estate sales. They kind of take over our house sometimes, but I love it.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: Clockwise from left, I’m Not Mad, by Kotama Bouabane, a favorite polaroid by my dear friend, Anne McGarry, a Mike Monteiro print that’s a play on lyrics from The Mountain Goats, What Is Marriage? by Austin Kleon, a smattering of photobooth images from our wedding, an old thermos print of mine, and another one of my grandfather’s pieces.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: This string wrapped branch was one of the only wedding decorations I could muster, so it lives on our mantel. My sweet sister made that hanging planter for my birthday.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: Rob wants a pet pig, but he settles for that pig print by the amazing Sharon Montrose. I did that sketch of my grandfather when I was about 12 or so, and the colored glass is Rob’s grandmother’s. We’re better at drinking the booze than stocking it.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: The dining table is another friend Joe creation, and Rob’s records finally found a spot on the shelves we found on Craigslist. They are so hard to move.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: We so love the original cabinets in our kitchen. We could use a bit more storage, but we’ll deal because of their charm. Rob spends a lot of his time in that breakfast nook while I cook.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: Rob made this pot rack to give us some more space in the cabinets, and it’s been a lifesaver. I kind of love this little stove nook for some weird reason, even though it seems like an isolated little part of the kitchen.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: We painted the door to the basement and back yard with chalkboard paint so we could make easy lists and jot down quick recipes. I got real obsessed with the idea of collecting brown glass for a little while, and found a super eccentric man on Craigslist with quite a bit of it. He made me promise to make liquors or medicinals in them so they are put to use, and that’s why they live in an accessible place.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: Living in an old house is totally charming, but certain things are challenging. Our case- there is truly no good place to tuck a trash can that isn’t in the way. Enter this repurposed cart on wheels that we picked up at a thrift store and threw a scrap of ikea butcher top that we had already. It is sometimes an island, and sometimes tucked away to the side of the room, but at least we don’t kick the cans around and have a slice of more counter space.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: The farm sink and soapstone counters were a total selling point on the house. There is nothing like the luxury of having a big ole sink to fill big pots and do all the miscellaneous things you never realized were so annoying to do in a small sink. We totally lucked out in the window department, too.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: This room is technically a second bedroom in our house, but it’s so close to the living room and has big ole not-so-private french doors that it seemed strange to keep it a bedroom. Now it’s our record/plant/dining room. The wishbone-style chairs were a super cheap craigslist find that we are gradually refinishing. The Conant Ball chairs were another local thrift store steal. The papers on the wall are typewritten letters my quirky grandfather sent me when I was a kid that are completely ridiculous stories he made up about UFO’s and other facets of his life. They’re so sweet that they have to live on the walls so we remember to read them.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: Another old house charm is not having much closet space. I’m a horrible mess with clothes and Rob is pretty tidy, so we picked up this armoire to contain my mess a little. The chair was free on a sidewalk, and the necklaces are pretty much the only jewelry I’m good at wearing regularly, so they live in a handy spot.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: Our bedroom is a hodge podge of things thrown together. The Hudson Bay blanket was a wedding present, that amazing body pillow is from non-perishable goods, the lamp on the left is thrifted, the lamp on the right is another Caravan Pacific creation, and that awesome carafe and hanging planter are from the amazing Pigeon Toe Ceramics.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: I love this little space. We hope to eventually make this our bedroom, but right now the ladder is too steep for everyday use. For now, it’s a guest room/reading nook.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: The stool and blanket were more estate sale finds.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: Again, more estate sale finds, and some prints we’ve collected throughout the years. This area is sort of a dump of we-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-this-space things.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: Our bathroom is itty bitty, and you actually have to either sit sideways on the toilet or put your legs into the tub. Got to love that old house charm.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: I’m a fan of being honest about using your house, and we all need toilet paper so we keep it handy.The terrarium is another Artemisia creation. On a whim I mixed some black porch paint with some Portland Metro Paint and came up with that wall color, and I love it. I wish I could do it again.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: We got lucky in that the previous owners have kept a lot of the old built-ins and lighting fixtures. I love our little sink.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo
Image above: This is usually the messiest part of the house, and that’s just the way it is. I made that curtain to help eliminate some of the old door draft, and it’s been great. It’s made of little scraps of leather, linen and walnut dowels, and was super easy to put together. We can roll it up and tie it when we want more light in the living room, too.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo

Suggested For You


  • This home gets really beautiful natural light! I can see why the plants look so happy! What is the name of the tall spindly plant in the pot next to the bar cart?

  • Thank you for taking the time to describe details about each picture. Love posts like this!

  • I love that it looks like people actually live in this home! Gorgeous details, and I like that it is realistic and not perfect.. which makes it that much better. Maybe my favourite sneak peak yet!

  • Leah and Rob your home is such a great reflection of your charming personalities. What a relaxed and comfortable stamp you put on your living space. Love it.

  • This house has so many similarities to mine–I LOVE it that you didn’t try to tear out all the things that give it personality!

  • Thank you for this post! I am totally going to steal the design for the entry way curtain! I have been looking for modern window coverings, and everything I like is waaay over my budget. This is beautiful and dyi/wallet friendly. This house feels happy :)

  • Sweet, easy, quirky, lovely. I love the light throughout. The attic guestroom is so inviting!

  • Love your home, Leah and Rob, and of course, your great dog! Stands to reason you would have one who exudes personality!
    Your home is great, first time I’ve seen a bathroom the same size as mine, and I love how you’ve done it. Luckily my legs are short so I don’t have to hang them in my tub to sit on the toilet, but I cracked up at your description. Yep, old homes, no storage, but loads of charm!

  • Thanks a ton, all! Heather- I believe that is a type of umbrella plant coming back to life, though I could be wrong. Katie- we are in rainy old Oregon. Tina- That wall color is called Dolphin Fin by Behr.

  • Great house! Do you have a source for the paint color around the fireplace/built in? Thanks!

  • oh leah! your home is beyond charming and cozy! what a pleasure it is to be featured in your sweet sweet home and even more of a pleasure to work with you! more greatness in 2014. xoxo, shay of nag

  • I’m pretty sure that the sectional is the same model as my parents’ — theirs is rusty brown, and has lasted since 1977.

    p.s. my daughter’s name is Tallulah.

  • I couldn’t love this house more. All of the little details, the houseplants, that attic…what a beauty. Any chance you remember where the table in the breakfast nook came from? We’ve got a similar sized nook, and for years we’ve been searching for a table just like that one.

  • Really great house and overall feel, and what wonderful light which probably helps matters in cloudy Portland! But Rob- from a former record store clerk who cares – please go and put those records upright asap! That ‘lean’ you have right now is going to warp them if they stay that way!! They are best when directly upright, like books. You can even get simple bookends to allow more support to keep them from falling over like that.

  • Wow, I LOVE this home. So much sweet elegance and the art is fantastic. Great light too. Very inspired, Leah! Thanks for the tour.

  • I love the portrait! It DOES look like he is wearing eye shadow and it makes it so much greater! It’s the perfect touch. Rob, please don’t move it :) – the bar cart idea is brilliant! Thanks foe sharing!

  • this is actually my dream house. so beautiful! i hope you figure out a way to make that little attic space your bedroom one day – i have the same dream but our current attic entrance is through one of the existing bedrooms. alas!

  • Lovely, lovely home! This is what I would have if I had a house. Love everything about it – especially the “old house” charm!!

  • Darling! It reminds me of a few of my little old apartments but far and away better looking. Beautiful balance between old and new and you. Happy new year to you and yours!

  • Curious about that rope piece hanging above the bed. Is that something you made? Love your home!

  • Curious about that rope piece above the bed. Is that something you made? Love your home!

  • Curious about the rope piece hanging above your bed. Is that something you made? Beautiful home!

  • The print of your photograph in the living room (from Fossil, OR) is gorgeous. Do you sell prints?

  • Wow – what a beautiful home! I love the black and white striped rug in the living room. Where did you find it?

  • This looks SO MUCH like a house in N/NE Portland that was available for rent about three years ago that we viewed. Is it in that area?

  • Is your photography for sale? Website? I have a love for grasses & hay in paintings are photography. I love your grass print.

  • This house is beautiful. I have been obsessively searching for a bar cart/island for my new place. Their cart looks just like one available at Harbor Freight Tools for about $60, in case anyone wants one. If only I could find a scrap of Ikea butcher block, my search would be over!

  • Nice place! How much are the rents (or how much are comparable homes selling for) on cute places like this in Portland ? Well organized! Good going!

  • The table in the dining nook is that a custom build? We are thinking of doing something similar and are so curious.

  • I also have an attic space, and am looking to make it a little more finished. Is the window on the far wall the only daytime light source, or do you also enjoy skylights and other windows? It’s a cute space!