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A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest

by Lauren Chorpening

I am such a sucker for photography — or art of any kind, really — that uses significant amounts of negative space in the composition. It’s eye-catching and makes the focus of the piece that much more stunning when this technique is done right. While I love rooms with layers, textures and life, there’s something that draws me into minimal rooms and homes where empty space meets beautiful objects and furniture and really shows them off.

Mallory and Luke Leasure are professional photographers who work from their Portland, OR home. Creating a home with studio essentials for these two was challenging with 625 square feet of living space. They pared down their belongings to those that fit physically and aesthetically in the couple’s home to make the most out of the apartment. “We loved the challenge of making a studio apartment a functional living space and home office. As photographers, we spend most of our days working from home, so lots of natural light is key for us, especially in the Pacific Northwest,” Mallory says. “Our dream was to have a fully functional living and working space complete with a daylight photo studio. The space is smaller, so we had to be strategic about the kind of items and stylizing that we could incorporate into the overall aesthetic.” The custom desk in the bedroom and the white backdrop rigged over the doors in the living room have helped Mallory and Luke get the function they need from the space.

Their home mixes modern and vintage furniture with natural details. The Leasures value the pieces they have, but don’t want to overwhelm their small space with things they don’t need. “Less is more. We love the idea of living minimally. We both don’t like clutter or too many colors,” Mallory says. “I think our biggest goal is making the studio feel bigger than it is. Having a small space means small and functional items. There isn’t any unnecessary seating or bulky items, that way no one feels crowded in an already tight space.” Mallory and Luke’s small, beautiful apartment has a large amount of negative space without feeling sparse or cold. It is a home that works for the couple efficiently and reflects them artistically at the same time. —Lauren

Living Room
COUCH: Vintage
RUG: Nate Berkus – Target
COFFEE TABLE: handmade custom by Luke
CHAIRS: Baxton Studio
STRIPED BLANKET: IKEA
RECORD STAND: Vintage
FIBERGLASS CONCRET POT: Glasswing Shop
LAMP: Urban Outfitters
SIDE TABLE: concret blocks from Home Depot

Dining Room
DINING TABLE: Custom granite found in hardware store, Custom legs by Denali Furniture
DINNER PLATES: World Market
DINNER CUPS: MAZAMA
SILVERWARE: Crate & Barrel
VASE: thrift store
COPPER MUGS: Paykoc
MARBLE PLATE: thrift store
CERAMIC AIRPLANT VASE: Digs Inside and Out
CORNER SHELF: handmade custom by Luke

Bedroom
BED: IKEA
BOX NIGHT STANDS: handmade custom by Luke
EDISON LIGHT: Color Cord Company
DUVET COVER: Wamsutta
SLIPPERS: Urban Outfitters

Office
DESK: handmade custom by Luke
DESK CHAIRS: Cabin Dining Side Chairs
CALENDAR: Shendig
WHITE FILING CABNET: IKEA

Bathroom
BATHROOM TOWELS: IKEA
BATHROOM RUGS: IKEA
CLOTHING RACK: IKEA
OVER THE DOOR HOOK: IKEA
SHOWER CURTIN: Target

BIKES: Schwinn
HOOKS: IKEA

A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
1/19
Luke and Mallory have kept their styling minimal but significant. Iconic furniture pieces, like their chesterfield sofa and Eames replicas, matched with objects picked up from their travel, such as rocks and sticks, makes their space wonderfully personal.
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
2/19
"We built our coffee table low because our chesterfield couch was also low. We had another coffee table about the same height as the couch and when I'd step back to look at the room I just felt like it hid the couch in a weird way. So Luke and I went to a reclaimed wood store here in Portland (The Rebuilding Center) and found some scrap wood and built this one," says Mallory.
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
3/19
"We have been longtime best friends since our AZ days where we grew up as kids, and in 2009 we got married in Colorado. Our photo career led us to Portland, OR a couple of years ago and we absolutely love it here. We feel at home with lots of cacti around since we grew up in the desert," Mallory says.
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
4/19
Their dreamy apartment seems much bigger than it is. The multipurpose layout of both the living room and bedroom is absolutely ideal for their business and their time off work.
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
5/19
"We bought these cinder blocks for a little change in texture. I didn't want more wood in the room, so it was a pretty simple solution for the time being. We get lots of photography books as gifts, which is wonderful! I brought the stick all the way back from Iceland," Mallory says.
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
6/19
"The books are mostly a collection from Luke's college life. We love to have a small stock of yummy drinks to make," says Mallory. "These are a few essentials to have on hand."
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
7/19
The dining room table in the corner can seat up to four people when it's pulled out. The Eames-inspired living room chairs and Luke and Mallory's office chairs can be pulled up whenever they need to entertain. It's also a space that Luke or Mallory can work from if they need to spread out.
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
8/19
"These are our knick-knack shelves that Luke and I built. We travel a lot and if we find interesting things, we have it in our home to remind us of those places," says Mallory. "The top shelf has a rock from Aruba and the cactus skeleton is from Arizona. The bottom shelf has a rock from... well actually we can't remember... but it was definitely from an adventure."
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
9/19
The entry area is the perfect place for storage to help keep the rest of the space clutter-free. Mallory's clothes hang on black hangers and Luke's on white.
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
10/19
Their living room is instantly turned into a photo studio with the seamless sweep they attach above the pocket doors. At night, the sweep will sometimes come out with a projector for movies.
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
11/19
The natural light and white walls make this small work area feel energized and welcoming.
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
12/19
"This is where we sit for hours," Mallory says. "Thankfully, we don't have a lot of paperwork for our job, so we can keep it pretty clean and simple. This Stendig calendar is one of our favorite things. It's just as much practical as it is useful."
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
13/19
"The first thing we did when we moved in was paint our walls white. The walls were this dark tan color and we begged our landlord to let us paint them," says Mallory. "To our relief, he obliged and allowed us to go ahead."
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
14/19
"We wanted to keep a lot of white space when looking into our 'bedroom' area so it would feel bigger than it actually is. I love how framing of the walls when looking into the other room," says Mallory. Their bed frame houses several pull drawers for discreet storage, instead of taking up floor space with additional furniture.
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
15/19
"I love that we have a window in the kitchen to bring in that extra light. We have a lot of character in there as well," says Mallory. "The cabinets and drawers are all from when the apartment was built (1915). Which also means no dishwasher in this casa! As well as the tiniest stove/oven possible!"
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
16/19
"Our cats love the big windows and people always stop and just wave at our cats from the sidewalk," says Mallory.
A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest | Design*Sponge
17/19
"There are so many things we'd love to renovate - the bathroom and the kitchen. The studio was built in the early 1900s, so the walls aren't perfect and of course, lots of people have lived here so there is definitely wear and tear on most things. Trying to get things to feel actually clean is quite the challenge."
18/19
Luke and Mallory Leasure in their lovely, efficient home.
19/19

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