When you work at West Elm, how do you keep your home from looking too much like a catalog? “People ask us this in the store all the time,” says Rubie Baker, the visual manager at the West Elm Salt Lake City store who has worked with the brand for the last four years. “I say, well, it’s not going to feel like a catalog because you live in your home. Someone can have all my same furniture pieces and have a completely different-feeling room. It’s all about what you bring to it.”
For her, that means a mix of new and vintage finds, special family heirlooms — and a couple of chickens named Doris and Selena.
When Rubie and her husband, Andy, moved into a 1952 post-war cottage just outside of Salt Lake City earlier this year, they knew they wanted to take the blank-slate home and turn it into something fun. They created a home sweet home with a beautiful garden, vintage and West Elm furniture pieces and special personal items that tie the whole space together.
“I’m really not a minimalist. I can’t Marie Kondo anything,” Rubie says. “Give me all the stuff! Having our most-loved items around us might make us seem like hoarders or something, but I think it really just changes the room. People walk in and they can feel who you are.”
Read on to see the full tour!
Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt
Rubie is constantly inspired by the new products coming in at West Elm Salt Lake City. “West Elm has a lot of different styles and I like so many of them – you can go industrial, you can go mid-century, you can go modern, and they’re all done so well.” But since she spends so much time with them in the store, she gets to take time to decide what will really work well in her home. “I see everything before it comes in, and I’m with it for a long time, so it helps me tone down the impulse buys,” she jokes. “I take a while with products, until I’m like, yes, I really need this in my house.” One thing she absolutely loves is the Austin Leather Swivel Chair, which tends to be the go-to spot for their 12-year-old corgi mix, Wanda. “It’s kind of Wanda’s chair because she’s not allowed on the velvet couch. She’ll jump up into that chair and it’ll spin around as she’s settling, and it’s big enough for us to both be on it.” It can face the sofa for easy conversation, but it can also spin around so she and Wanda can watch Andy play the piano behind it.
The first thing you notice when you walk in is the fun pink ceiling, which is painted with Sherwin-Williams Certain Peach (SW 6625). When they first moved in, the home had an ugly popcorn ceiling that needed a fix. “Originally I had really wanted to wallpaper the ceiling, but budget-wise we couldn’t make it work, so Andy was like, why don’t we paint it?” Rubie says they absolutely love the color. “Sometimes it can feel more pink, sometimes it’s kind of terracotta in different lights. It totally changed the room, and it’s a really flattering color. It makes everyone look really nice in the room and it feels super warm and cozy.”
Over in the corner, you’ll see a gallery wall above the Modern Buffet made up of art by Rubie and Andy (including things they made in high school!), artists they’ve found online, and their family members. Above the green Valencia Chaise, an older West Elm piece she loves for the ease of lying right beneath the window, Rubie displays a piece of fabric that her grandmother had screen-printed from her old childhood drawings of a church and a dog. “She gave it to me at age 25, and I was like, Grandma, where has this been all my life?” she says. “She was always really artistic and amazing and kind of inspired me to go into interior design, because she also did that.”
The bookcase is another great way to showcase items that make the place feel like home. “We have lots of books and records and we both love to read and have a lot of tchotchkes we wanted to display,” she says. They created a little nook in the bookcase with Candlewick Pillows to serve as extra seating for parties.
The mismatched dining chairs around the Anderson Dining Table are kind of a funny story, Rubie says. She decided to participate in the One Room Challenge, in which you give yourself six weeks to redo one whole room – in this case, the dining room – and document it on Instagram. “I knew I’d never get anything done without a deadline, so we did it because we knew I could go back and forth forever.” Instead of buying lots of matching chairs at once (which can get pricey) she went to flea markets, thrift stores and Facebook Marketplace to find a hodgepodge of chairs with character that all look good together. “I like the different wood tones because it gives it this lived-in vibe,” she says, noting that they’ll probably get some upholstered chairs down the line to break up all the wood.
The Overarching Mid-Century Sconce was also a happy accident. “I fell in love with it at the store, and it was on sale one day so I bought it for my bedroom,” Rubie says. “But it didn’t really work there, so it sat in our house for a year and eventually we figured it out.” The dining room – which was already wired for a wall plug-in instead of a chandelier – was the perfect place for it. The front door color is actually a mix of blues and greens that Andy mixed himself when they couldn’t settle on a color they both loved that would tie in with the rug. “We only have a little bit left in a jar for touchups, so I hope nothing bad happens to it!” she jokes.
Rubie and Andy always knew they wanted a little homestead, but they’ve only lived in small apartments until they moved here. “We inherited this beautiful backyard that was kind of a wild jungle mess, so we cleaned the whole thing up and put all the gravel in ourselves,” she says. They’ve taken local classes about how to be water-wise with your yard, and the chickens are a step towards the couple’s goal of living a more sustainable life. “We were a little nervous because we’ve never had chickens before, but they’re so much fun,” she says. “They’re pets, honestly – like pets that randomly give us eggs. We’d eat eggs and tomatoes like every day all the time, and now that it’s fall we’re onto cabbage and rhubarb and herbs.” The West Elm planters help keep things modern and fresh with a pop of color. “They also hide the lame part of the chicken coop – the weedy, grassy stuff that’s around it,” Rubie says, “so it’s kind of a good break for your eyes.”
Photography by Landon Vonderschmidt
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