Spokane designer Erin Haskell Gourde talks about her favorite space

click to enlarge YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo

Erin Haskell Gourde isn't afraid to mix it up a little.

"Sticking to a particular popular style nowadays is easy: midcentury modern, traditional, art deco, farmhouse, rustic, etcetera," says Haskell, who grew up in Spokane, earned her graduate degree in interior design at WSU, and also interned for London-based designer Stella McCartney. "I think the real skill for a designer is mixing styles and making it feel so right."

Haskell has done just that inside her Comstock-area home, a sprawling '50s rancher with all the hallmarks of midcentury design. Just off the main entry, the vast living room with two walls of windows is one of her favorite places in the house she shares with her husband and dogs. It features two vintage couches Haskell reupholstered in blush pink velvet.

"I like little pops of color," says Haskell, whose color palette is otherwise neutral, emphasizing natural finishes, from wood and glass to stone and metal. A chrome-and-glass cube table. A marble end table shaped like an African drum. Small copper containers filled with succulents. On the white wall: a white ram's head with gold horns and artwork framed in black, including a black fan of fragile coral.

Haskell's wry humor shows through, too, like the metallic replica of the '80s cell phone nicknamed the "brick" next to her television. Nearby, there's a framed copy of the cheeky "Expose Yourself to Art" poster from the '70s — the image depicts a man (who went on to become mayor of Portland) supposedly wearing only a raincoat "flashing" a sculpture of a nude woman.

When it comes to furnishings, however, Haskell is all business.

"Being a history buff," says Haskell, who enjoys the research aspect of her company, Design for the PPL, "my opinion is that the '40s was the first time designers put a lot of 'thoughtfulness' into furniture based on the principle of 'less is more.'"

Thus provenance is important to her. The pink couches, family heirlooms, are also treasured because they're vintage Knoll, an early American modernist manufacturer that's still in business today, embodying the Bauhaus aesthetic of simplicity. Several furnishings are from another modernist powerhouse, Herman Miller, including a lounge chair and ottoman designed by Herman Miller's Charles and Ray Eames.

Though knock-offs of the iconic chair abound, having the original was important for Haskell, because, "I would know," she says.

Not everything in her home is high-end, however, including two of her favorite lamps.

"At the time, I had just moved back to Spokane for grad school, just signed a lease on a studio apartment and needed light," says Haskell. "I was broke and I went antique shopping (still one of my favorite activities) at the Vintage Rabbit about 12 years ago and they were about $8 each and made me smile. Still do."

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