Move Over, ‘Bellevue Beige’

Adding style and color to high-end homes
Photo by Rodrigo DeMedeiros

Photo by Rodrigo DeMedeiros

Sally Julien’s interior design style is the antithesis of what she likes to call “Bellevue beige.” She’s a self-proclaimed refugee of the corporate tech world and the founder of her own design business, Modernous, based in Bellevue. She helps her clients achieve a modern look by stripping away excess clutter to make room for clean lines, pops of color, and loads of personality. About five years ago, she was happily living in Seattle when she and her partner, Peter Loforte, stumbled upon a 1963 glass-box home in Issaquah overlooking the rippling waters of Lake Sammamish. The property was marketed as a tear down, but Julien and Loforte couldn’t bear to see it shattered and rebuilt into another Northwest mansion lining the lake. Somewhat spontaneously, they bought it. For a year, Julien gutted it down to its bones and then rebuilt it honoring its original architecture. She took its retro black fireplace and powder-coated it a bright burnt orange — now the vibrant heart of her home. When she’s not helping someone else create a dream space, Julien does professional staging for modern homes on the market. She has a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in Bellevue where she keeps treasured furniture and decorations that breathe character into empty spaces.

Here, Julien shares some of her favorite projects with us. We talked to her about her career, what inspires her, and where to find vintage gems and tips on how you can make your home look amazing, too. First start — not so much beige …

High-End Meets Budget When designing or styling spaces, Julien simply gravitates toward items she likes. There is nothing wrong with mixing a high-end designer coffee table and an inexpensive guitar pick table find from a thrift shop. (And, yes, she did that!) Photo by Daniel J. Sullivan

Photo by Daniel J. Sullivan

High-End Meets Budget
When designing or styling spaces, Julien simply gravitates toward items she likes. There is nothing wrong with mixing a high-end designer coffee table and an inexpensive guitar pick table find from a thrift shop. (And, yes, she did that!)

Photo by Vista Estate Imaging

Photo by Vista Estate Imaging

Getting Started
If Julien is working a remodel, the first choice she and the client make is always the flooring. ìI wonít pick a single other thing until the flooring choice has been made. I like to know what the canvas is.î If itís not a remodel, she helps them pick out the largest furniture and starts designing from there.

DJS-Bell-2607

Photo by Daniel J. Sullivan

Color Me Pretty
Julien is fond of orange and uses it a lot in her home. In staging she uses a lot of turquoise and lime green. Identify your favorite colors, and start focusing on a color palette that inspires you.

TBD-Palm-springs-11

Photo by Kelly Peak, Peak Photography

Finding Your Design Style
Julien loves mid-century modern. To figure out what style you love, take time on a website like Houzz.com and save things you like to folders, and soon you will see a pattern (and style) emerge.

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Photo by Unique Lapin Photography

Making a Modern Space Feel Warm
Modern design is known for simple, clean lines. If it’s not done right, it could easily feel stark and cold. Julien’s tips are to mix the old and new. “I like to have some items in every room that already have patina.” She also likes to add color and comfortable pieces of furniture that feel lived in.  

DJS-Bell-2650

Photo by Daniel J. Sullivan

Where to Find Cool Pieces
No antiques shop or store is off limits. Julien is always on the hunt. Some of her fave sites are eBay, Etsy, and Chairish. She has relationships with several local furniture dealers who will call her up when something comes into the shop she might like.

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Photo by Vista Estate Imaging

Can You Have a Modern Design with Kids?
Julien says you can. One key to modern design is no clutter. With kids, that can be a challenge, but with creative solutions, like well-appointed closet storage and cubbies, not impossible.

Still Don’t Know Where to Begin?

Believe it or not, hiring a designer can actually help save you money by assisting you in making the decisions you’ll be happy with the first time. Also, designers can be resourceful. Julien says she can put together well-designed rooms on various budgets. Learn more online.

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is the managing editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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