When interior designer Anna-Jaël Hotzel and her husband, designer and engineer Evan Livingston, first toured the Portland bungalow that would be their next home, it was the garden that sold them. “We had been to about 60 open houses, and when we walked into the garden of this one, we knew right away we wanted to live here,” recalls Anna-Jaël, who worked in advertising and prop styling before establishing her own Portland-based interior design firm, Kollective. To be fair, it was the 10-foot-tall laurel hedge separating the property from the street beyond that did the trick. It made the garden feel secluded and hidden, and since husband and wife had both grown up in the country—he in Richmond, Indiana, and she in northern Germany and later in the Bay Area—it felt like a little bit of childhood had come to life.
Originally built in 1927 and refreshed only a handful of times since, the home was in dire need of an update—good news for Anna-Jaël and Evan, who already had a vision for the place. “When designing, I usually concentrate more on the overall atmosphere rather than individual pieces or styles,” the designer shares. “I focus on things like how the light is filtered or how comfortable a chair is. I also like to do this exercise where I try to perceive a space or color combination as if I were a child. I do this to get away from my rational ‘is this trendy, cool, current?’ brain and lean into the perception-based qualities of a space.”