Designer Marnie Hansen's favorite space reveals both memories and future dreams

Marnie Hansen makes sure to include family heirlooms and plenty of color in the design of her new home. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Marnie Hansen makes sure to include family heirlooms and plenty of color in the design of her new home.


arnie Hansen strives to make sure everything in her North Spokane home is meaningful, beautiful or functional. In the entryway, Hansen, who started her own design firm six years ago, specializing in home staging and interior styling, has an old wooden dresser. On top of the dresser sits a concrete pelican surrounded by funky framed artwork, including one of her daughter's black-and-white drawings of the family. The dresser is more than just a tabletop or storage area, however; it belonged to her older brother, who died when Hansen was just a teenager.

Three vintage ship lights above her kitchen island have a similar sentimental story. She first saw similar lights while attending her son's graduation from Army basic training. She tracked the lights down and had Spokane's Revival Lighting help install them.

"When I look at them I see a story of [my son's] perseverance and how radically life can change," she says. "I'm reminded that where we are today can be so different tomorrow, and that we have the power to change it."

Young Kwak photo

Hansen's personality is evident throughout the home, including the kitchen, dining and living room areas that comprise the great room running the full length of the home. In the living area, for example, a vintage trunk on a furniture dolly doubles as a coffee table. It also holds another treasured item: a lemon-yellow ceramic pot that once belonged to her grandfather.

Nearby, a bird print reminds her of her father's foray into raising racing pigeons. Close to the woodstove in the living room is a large wall map like you'd find in a schoolroom, featuring South America, where there are islands she wants to visit.

"It's a reminder of why we're working so hard," says Hansen, who recently teamed with a real estate agent to create a staging company called The Suite Life.

Another favorite part of her home is the window from the great room toward Five Mile and Airway Heights. She and her husband had initially wanted to find an old farmhouse to renovate but didn't have the time or energy, says Hansen, who also works for a local school district.

"There are fewer and fewer pieces of acreage available with a view, so we scrapped the old house idea and decided to build," she says. "We fell in love with the property before the build ever started," she says, recalling how they'd visit the land, packing a picnic and letting the kids scramble over piles of dirt as the city lights came alive. Those same views, and memories, she now enjoys from the comfort of her living room.

Getting Personal 

If you're looking for ways to incorporate more of you in your home design, Marnie Hansen offers some tips. 

"My No. 1 guiding principle is to not be boring," says Hansen, who suggests pairing opposites: vintage with modern, or sleek with something well-worn, even rustic. 

click to enlarge YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo

It's OK to incorporate humor, maybe even something a little off-beat. Hansen's home includes a print of a pigeon with donuts on its head, in honor of her father who raced racing pigeons.

Neutral spaces are nice, but color can be powerful, even in small doses like pillows or the bright yellow ceramic pot Hansen has kept from her childhood.

Create a gallery wall in your home and don't be afraid to change out the work. Thrift store finds, kids' drawings, original or reproduction art, maps, signage — let it be your personal showcase for what's important to you. 

Don't feel like you have to spend a lot of money, says Hansen. "Find art that speaks your language."

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