Interiorssneak peeks

A Floral Designer’s Peaceful Abode in Portland, OR

by Rebekah Carey

Sarah Blasi, owner of SELVA Floral Design, lives in an old 1920s farmhouse-turned-apartment in the small southeast Portland, OR neighborhood of Sellwood, with her cat, Ellie. Sarah has the upstairs 500 square feet of the bisected house, which includes a bedroom and living room. She has been in her apartment for the past three years, the last two of which included taking a leap of faith and quitting her full-time job to fully pursue her boutique floral design company — after she had been doing floral design for over 10 years! Sarah describes her beautiful wedding and event design work as, “unstructured, abundant and organic in nature and inspired by the ever-changing seasons.” She is passionate about using sustainably grown flowers and foliage, of which she gathers from the small flower farm she runs with her mom, in addition to other local farms.

To say that Sarah’s leap of faith has paid off would be an understatement. Not only is she happy to be able to do what she loves every day (and what she doesn’t love — “managing the books”), but it has afforded her the time to pursue her other favorite pastimes: making her own lotions and scrubs, creating essential oil blends for herself and friends, dancing, yoga, Barre3, and “eating a lot of Mexican food!”

Three years ago Sarah was just moving back to Portland, and her boyfriend at the time tipped her off to this great apartment on Craigslist. As soon as she saw it, she fell in love. If the incredible natural light that streams through the original windows wasn’t enough, the adorable neighborhood cinched the deal. Sellwood is close enough to downtown to be convenient, but far enough that her neighborhood is still quiet and peaceful. The waterfront, walking paths, and shopping are all within walking distance. Sarah says that she really feels like she could stay there forever.

While Sarah shares that there are some things she would change in her apartment if she wasn’t renting — like the kitchen countertops and appliances, and the kitchen and bathroom flooring — she still loves her home and says that it’s, “very comfortable, inviting, and energetically clear.” Self-described as not being very organized, and also a collector, Sarah fills her petite home with treasures from flea markets, or her travels (which is where much of her pottery and textiles came from), dried flowers she designed from events that were too beautiful to throw away, and books. Most of Sarah’s decorating is inspired from her being born raised in New Mexico as well as traveling to Mexico and South America.

Sarah has found that being very intentional with what she brings into her small space works the best for her; she has family heirlooms in her bedroom, items from local makers hanging on her walls, and as you might imagine, flowers are always in her home. When she works from home, her living room becomes her studio, the bathroom her cooler, and occasionally Ellie jumps onto the table on which she’s working and knocks over an arrangement. Despite the occasional chaos, the lack of ample shelving, or space, it’s unapologetically Sarah’s. The home is hers to create in, decorate, and share with her family and friends (and their dogs). —Rebekah

Photography by Benjamin Holtrop

SOURCE LIST

Living Room
– Large Macrame wall hanging by Holly Mueller
– Large Navajo area rug was Sarah’s parents’ first year anniversary present to each other
– Large green pouf/ coffee table is vintage from Vintage Pink. Tray on table is vintage from Monticello Antiques
– Black and white SELVA print photographed by The Weaver House
– Side table is vintage from Sarah’s mom
– Straw Chair is vintage from Monticello Antiques, sheepskin pillow from Appetite
– Bookshelves were made from lumber and cinderblocks from Home Depot
– Dresser is antique, gift from Sarah’s parents
– Plant stand is antique from Appetite
– Couch is from city liquidators and All Roads Design pillow is from Anthropologie

Bedroom
– Bed frame, side table and dresser were Sarah’s grandma’s
– Blanket is Pendleton, large pillows are Heather Taylor Home from Seven Sisters in Portland. Small Coral and Tusk pillow
– Light is antique
– Cow skull was found in New Mexico desert
– Macramé Plant Hanger is vintage
– Wall hanging by Jennifer Fisher from Haunt Portland

Bathroom
– Towels from Anthropologie
– Hand soap and body lotion from Barr Co.

Kitchen
– Dishes: plates are Martina Thornhill, orange bowl by Heath ceramics, others are vintage
– Chair is vintage from Appetite; mirrored shelf is vintage from Maven Collective

Floral Designer Sarah Blasai Shares Her Portland Apartment On Design*Sponge
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Sarah Blasi and cat Ellie on the front steps of their Portland home. Sarah shares, "I love living alone, though I wouldn’t ever want to do it without the love and company of my cat Ellie."
Upstairs Portland Apartment Living Room Of SELVA Floral Designer Sarah Blasai On Design*Sponge
2/20
Sarah's apartment doesn't have a big dining room table, instead friends and family gather in her lovely living room. She shares, "We sit on the floor in the living room around the big green 'coffee table' and share dinner or tea. It’s cozy and warm and wonderful." She continues, "All about the plants in this room. Showstopper of a piece is the wall hanging by local Portland artist Holly Mueller."
Sarah Blasai's Cat, Ellie, Helps Makes Her House A Home On Design*Sponge
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"Ellie posing for the camera in her favorite spot in the living room."
Collected Vintage Pieces And Local Finds Fill Sarah's Home On Design*Sponge
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"Living room where the giant Navajo rug and locally made wall hanging complement each other. Ellie basking in the sun. This room is my favorite room in the house because of the large south-facing windows; when the sun is out, it is filled with the prettiest light." The rug is not only beautiful, but also sentimental: it was the first anniversary gift her parents gave each other.
A Vintage Tray Serves As The Perfect Resting Spot For Some Of Sarah's Beautiful Creations On Design*Sponge
5/20
Carefully chosen pieces can be found throughout Sarah's apartment and are a perfect resting spot for one of her beautiful SELVA creations, "Simple floral arrangement of local Japanese anemones sits on the coffee table. I love this tray that I found at a Portland vintage shop," Sarah shares.
Sarah Blasai's Floral Design From Her Company SELVA Sometimes Shares Sarah's Living Room On Design*Sponge
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In Sarah's home, fresh flowers, naturally, abound, "My handmade bookshelf sits perfectly below the windows in the living room providing the perfect place for a dramatic floral arrangement."
Sarah's Blasai's Living Room Features One Of Her SELVA Floral Design Prints On Her Home Tour On Design*Sponge
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Sarah explains, "an antique side table holds current books I’m reading and candles and incense. I also love how this SELVA print complements the white stark walls in this room."
Without A Lot Of Storage Built-In Sarah Adds It With A Vintage Dresser In The Living Room On Design*Sponge
8/20
Sarah says that in addition to extra storage, her living room dresser is, "mostly a place to house more plants." Clearly Sarah's green thumb extends past her floral arrangements -- we can only imagine what the flower farm she shares with her mother must look like!
Sarah's Living Room Dresser Serves As A Place For Her Most Treasured Possessions On Design*Sponge
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Sarah explains, "This has become the place that collects my current intentions and precious items, crystals, bones, sage, dried flowers from past events."
A Skull Found In The New Mexico Desert Holds Jewelry In Sarah's Bedroom On Design*Sponge
10/20
"This is probably my favorite plant in the house and a cow skull that I found in the desert of New Mexico," Sarah shares. Now her find also acts as jewelry storage in her petite home.
Sarah's Bedroom Features Found, Vintage, and Items That Are Family Heirlooms, On Design*Sponge
11/20
"I sleep on a tiny double bed because I was gifted this beautiful bed frame and dresser from my grandma when she passed. It works well for this room too because it is so small! The bed fits perfectly with the dresser on one side and a little night table on the other. I love the deep tones of all the furniture and how it complements the Pendleton blanket and the Heather Taylor Home pillows."
A Wrap-Around Shower Rod Serves As The Perfect Spot For A Hanging Plant On Design*Sponge
12/20
Never wanting to be far from nature, Sarah shares one of her favorite parts of her bathroom: "I love how when you are sitting in the bathtub, the short window is perfectly aligned to see the treetops outside."
Sarah's Portland Apartment Stays Tidy By Housing Only The Essentials On Design*Sponge
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Sarah's homemade essential oil blends are always close at hand.
The Perfect Ingredients To A Relaxing Bath In Sarah's Portland Apartment On Design*Sponge
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"Homemade Epsom salt and dried flowers and sage. I take baths often and always throw Epsom salt and some sort of floral and essential oil concoction into it," Sarah shares.
A Hanging Drying Rack Drips Into The Sink In Sarah's Portland Apartment On Design*Sponge
15/20
A lovely dish collection has its fringe benefits as Sarah explains, "I often leave dishes drying on the rack because I love having all my pretty dishes displayed, that and the fact that the kitchen cupboards are stacked to the brim!"
Sarah's Small But Functional Portland Kitchen On Design*Sponge
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One of the things Sarah loves most about her home are the original details, "It’s hard to tell from this picture but all the cupboards are original! I love the little detailing of the old knobs and hinges."
Sarah's Dining Nook Is A Great Place For Work Or Comfort On Design*Sponge
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"The kitchen is so tiny that putting two people at the table is tight. I usually sit here in the morning and enjoy a cup of tea, it’s rarely used for eating at. I prefer to eat on the floor in my living room," Sarah explains.
Dried Flowers Are Tucked All Over Sarah's Portland Home On Design*Sponge
18/20
Some additional original features in Sarah's kitchen and more of her former floral creations hanging to dry.
A Kitchen Table Perfect For One In Sarah's Portland Home On Design*Sponge
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Sarah using her itty bitty kitchen table for her favorite purpose -- enjoying a cup of tea.
Sarah Can't Get Enough Of The Natural Light In Her Portland Apartment On Design*Sponge
20/20
"What I love most about my home is the way the light dances in," --Sarah Blasi

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Comments

  • I’m jealous that your kitty allows you to have all those beautiful plants. My cat has gone so far as to get atop the fridge to chew on and ultimatley push off a potted fern. That was after he had nibbled it to almost nothing in other spots around the house. I can only have succulents because he ignores those… all other plants have to be kept outside.

  • I love it! I wish more landlords would leave the original (usually white and cute) kitchen cabinets. You have no idea how many lovely pre-war apartments there are around here (Chicago) with brown wood kitchen cabinets from Home Depot. It’s heartbreaking.

  • Portland seems to have the best bungalows. The original bathroom and kitchen are wonderful.Very lovely home!

  • This home looks so cozy and beautiful! I am also very curious about any tips on keeping cats from munching on plants. The amount of plant life your cat appears to not destroy is truly impressive!

    • Hi Nicole! Thank you for your comment! As far as being able to keep my kitty from eating all my plants- she does eat some! The palm in my living room is pretty chewed on, she also occasionally will chew on one of my ferns. I keep a potted plant of “kitty grass” aka wheatgrass next to her bowl of food and water which helps reduce her desire to chew on the plants. I also have a lot of pathos plants in my house- which are poisonous to cats, but she seems to know they are bad for her cause she has never tried to chew on one. You could also try hanging your plants! In areas where your cat can’t climb to get to. Hope this helps! xo

      • Thanks so much! I will add kitty grass and hanging planters to my strategies… I am a new cat owner and determined that Harriet (the munching furball o’ joy) and my plant habit WILL co-exist peacefully… So whenever I see homes like yours inhabited by cats I have hope! Thanks again for the tips and the beautiful inspiration. :)

  • She did an amazing job decorating. When living in an apartment it can be so hard to find pieces that make the space feel like home. Greenery is a great form of home decor for this, especially when they have a story behind them like the plant from New Mexico. I love how the greenery pops out against the all white backdrop.

  • This home is so lovely! I wish there was a better shot of the bed, I was gifted a double bed that looks identical by my boyfriends grandma!

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