Text by Bethany Adams
When it came time for ceramic artist Susan Gordon and her husband to trade their bungalow for a house more suitable to their growing family, Susan knew that, rather than buy a finished home, she wanted something she could put her unique mark on. “We were trying to find basically the ugliest house on a good lot on a good street so we could redo it, because I knew I would want to buy a house and make it mine,” she says.
Once they found it, Susan, with the help of Willow Homes, worked her magic. The addition of an extra bedroom and bathroom provided needed space, and a rework of the layout created an openness between the living room and kitchen, which was relocated to the front corner of the home. “I knew I wanted the kitchen in a light-filled space,” Susan says, explaining that, since the home is located on a cul-de-sac, they wanted to have the main living areas placed where they could watch the neighborhood children playing.
When it came to color, Susan’s passion for art influenced her decision to encase the design in a neutral palette warmed by layered textures. “I wanted it to feel like a blank canvas but with an element of feeling homey and cozy as well,” she says. The choice showcases a collection of original artwork—a big priority for the design—as well as pieces by her own company, Susan Gordon Pottery, LLC. Throughout the space, a smattering of colorful accents reflects the style she injects into her own work, painting the space with broad strokes of cheerfulness.
The subdued but spring-ready color palette allows the items Susan had on her checklist for the renovation, like the shiplap ceiling detail over the dining room table, to truly shine. “I had some ideas for the house I definitely wanted, but I’m not a homebuilder or an interior designer, so I definitely needed the help to execute them,” she says.
Katherine Bailey of Willow Homes, as well as the designers at Hartman Neely Interiors, assisted Susan in creating the look she wanted, which involved a mixture of classic and contemporary pieces to create something fresh but timeless—as in the small den where the family spend most of their time. “I definitely didn’t want [the design] to feel like a snapshot of one moment in time, in terms of what was the most stylish thing in that moment,” she says. “I wanted it to be something that I would enjoy for decades.”
As in the rest of the home, the den spills over with timeless touches, like the built-in bookshelves and tufted sofa that make it the perfect place for movie and game nights. Hung against walls painted a moody blue-black, a piece by artist Holly Addi is an eye-catching representation of the underlying passion that informed parts of the design process.
“When you buy a piece of art, you buy a piece of that artist. . . . You really fall in love with them and who they are and what they’re doing,” Susan says. “And so, first and foremost, I like to buy art from people I admire.” And while there are still plenty of names Susan would love to add to her collection, the pieces are the perfect finishing touch on a home built around a love of creative expression.