How an Ice Cream Outreach Maven Sweetened Her Seattle Loft

A light-filled space in Pioneer Square came together piece by piece.

By Karin Vandraiss July 23, 2019 Published in the August 2019 issue of Seattle Met

You could say Emily Kim's Pioneer Square apartment has a pop of color or two—or three.

After eyeing a certain Pioneer Square building for years (ardently enough to attract the owner’s attention), Emily Kim, Molly Moon’s director of social impact and community relations, finally had her shot. Since this small unit lacked plumbing for a washer and dryer, the owner had tentative plans to turn it into an Airbnb, but offered it to Kim as a rental first.

With plenty of natural light and a kitchen large enough for proper cooking, the space offered a tempting departure from the far smaller studio where Kim lived just a few blocks away. Sun spills through floor-to-ceiling windows and bathes the white brick walls in a soft glow, while soaring ceilings lend the 650-square-foot loft a decidedly airy feel.

“The space was so bright and beautiful, it made me instantly happy,” she says. “I loved it even with nothing in it.”

Rather than heading to West Elm to fill the open space in one fell swoop, she spent a year handpicking pieces that evoked that initial rush of delight—a rose-hued velvet couch here, an ice cream cone figurine there—to create curated vignettes. Pops of pastel and expansive white spaces may recall her employer’s signature style (the bar cart filled with sprinkles only furthers the case) but Kim sees the aesthetic similarities as more of a happy accident.

Local design maven Moorea Seal encouraged Kim to add a few houseplants. “Her thinking is that if you’re living on your own, you need plants to infuse life into the space,” says Kim, officially a botanical convert. The loft also provides its new occupant with an unexpected source of joy: entertaining. “I never had space to invite people over in the past,” says Kim, “and have realized how much it means to be able to host friends in my home.”

How to Get the Curated Look

1. Make a Statement: A geometric pendant fixture serves as a focal point and avoids obstructing natural light.

2. Go Forth and Bargain Hunt: Pair investment pieces with screamin’ deals (we couldn’t believe this rattan chair was from Target, either).

3. Renter’s Best Friend: Peel-and-stick accent wallpaper is doable even if you struggle with DIY.

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