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Five Facts About Your Home That Affect Your Happiness

5 Little-Known Facts About Your Home that Affect Your Happiness

Erin Vaughan – guest writer on SBaird Design

Our happiness is influenced by all kinds of things. You’re probably already working on your diet and sleep, as well as trying to forge healthy relationships and keeping yourself from getting overworked. But did you know that even your surroundings can shape your emotional health?

Here at Modernize, we’re all about home designs that allow you to live your best, most joyful life. Here are some tips to keep in mind to create a space that brings you beauty and peace.


Your Furniture’s Shape Can Influence Your Emotions

Our minds are hard-wired to avoid sharp angles. A primitive part of our brains called the amygdala, which helps with regulating emotions, is triggered by the geometry of the spaces around us. When that space is too angular, it can cause undue stress.

Soft, gentle spaces, such as this rounded, inviting kitchen table below, help our minds relax into comfort. Of course, things would get pretty bland without a few angles to play off of, so it’s a good idea to have a good balance of both soft and hard lines.


Clutter is Chaos to Your Mind

We tend to collect items that clutter up our homes. That toy from the office gift exchange you didn’t really want, a few free samples, a keychain from a charity function—it all adds up.

Clutter significantly reduces our ease at home because it causes something called decision-fatigue. If you have to look at a hundred items before you find the thing you need, your brain gets tired, and therefore less happy than if you know exactly where to go.

That’s where a new movement, called “domestic purging,” comes in. The idea is to only keep the items in your home that “spark joy,” and throw away everything else. So maybe you can’t throw away everything that doesn’t make you happy, but it’s a good idea to start evaluating the items you bring back into the house and decide whether they’re worth keeping.

If the idea of throwing things away makes your skin crawl, my friend has a great solution: she puts these little trinkets in extra gift bags that she keeps around the house. Then she has a nice little gift to give a friend the next time she sees one.


You Should Separate Where You Work and Where You Sleep

We all know that the boundaries between work and home have gotten a lot blurrier. Some of us work at home full-time and some of us just bring work home. And with our phones putting us on information overload, sometimes even play feels like work!

If you’re not careful, your home can go from being a sanctuary of rest and rejuvenation to another stress-churned work factory in no time, which means less sleep and lower overall quality of life.

And when it comes to sleep, our brains need training to know when it’s time to rest. Keeping work out of the places where you eat and especially, where you sleep, will help signal to your mind that when you lie in your bed, you’re there to get some much needed shut-eye.

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You Should Have a Special, Private Place To Go

We’re a lot happier in our homes when we have a “room of our own”—a peaceful place where we can go for some alone time. One popular idea for this is to build a “shrine,” a little area in the home where you keep photographs and other special items.

But if the spiritual aspect of that isn’t for you, just think of it as a special location where you can go to be alone from time to time. For some people, this may even be as simple as taking special pains with your bathroom’s decor so that it becomes a peaceful retreat.

There’s No One, Perfect Design

One of the exciting (and frustrating) things about our minds is that even the most comforting of places gets boring over time. If you get the urge to shuffle things around, don’t fight it.

Making tweaks to your existing design every so often can really shake off those cobwebs and make sure that your mind is staying active and happy.

Once you start paying attention to how your home makes you feel, you’ll find that you are able to make adjustments that make you feel more comfortable and at peace. Awareness key to a building happy home!

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Summertime Seating – Shannon talks with the Wall Street Journal

A fun little piece from last Friday’s Wall Street Journal in the real estate and design section. Shannon was happy to give their writer a few insights for the article.

She also had the pleasure of sitting down to read the article in one of her very own deck chairs.


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Press love testimonial from Gallant and Jones website

see it here, read it here

We recommend Gallant and Jones chairs and accessories for many client’s homes and patios. They can be used indoors in the fall and winter months, outside in the summer. Easily transported to the beach and parks for outdoor concerts as well, they serve many purposes and are oh so comfortable to lounge in.

Some of the accessories that we covet are the teak tray to lay across the foot stool for drinks and snacks. We also love their towels!

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A few weeks ago we received an email from a client from last year. We had done some design work for her, a space planning challenge of a media and music room that needed plenty of storage.

We had presented her with 3 options and suggested our favorite- a wall to wall built-in that would accommodate almost all her requirements. She was happy with the designs and agreed with us about the built-in. That was

Imagine our delight when almost 5 months later she sent us the kindsest note and snaps of the completed room.

Our room is mostly finished, and we are slowly trying to get moved back in.
With a few modifications, it is very much like the original design…
Many thanks, we love it.
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Update : SE 52nd Bungalow

Its been a productive and fast paced spring at the bungalow on Mt. Tabor.

Siding is on, drywall is up and getting finished, wiring is temped in. Now, it is all gearing up for the finishing touches! Paint, fixtures, cabinetry, tile and more.

We took a quick stop-in to check out the job site yesterday. During the walk through, we kept marveling at the beauty and change that we saw throughout. Here are a couple of before and after snaps. Transformation abounds.

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Another ADU feature! How to get perfect interior Photos – by our talented photographer + friend, Mark Toal.

Knowing how to represent your work accurately and well is paramount in our business. Your portfolio is how you get clients.

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A good photograph lets your style, expertise and ability to create and environment be captured into a 2d format. It has the ability to transport someone to an entirely different place and experience the atmosphere.

It is important to have a strong team of talented individuals around you. To know who has what skills and can excel at a specific task. Thankfully, Shannon has a long standing friendship + working relationship with the talented photographer, Mark Toal.

He has shot several of our interiors and we are always thrilled with his techniques + ability to accurately capture our spaces.

He received a lot of questions about his shoot at the ADU after his images were featured in Dwell Magazine online.

He explained his technique in this latest blog post where he is a contributing editor for the website Mirrorless Photo Tips.



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Dwell Magazine featured our ADU project

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A dear friend’s new business venture

We love supporting our friends. We believe that interactions with successful small businesses and their passionate owners are some of the most refreshing, and grounding experiences we have in the workplace.

Lately, we have been bombarded with all types of creative and intelligent friends who have been seeking advice on running their own business. Shannon is a wonderful resource and wealth of knowledge; having been successfully self-employed for the past 30+ years, and the owner of 2 businesses (with services expanding constantly; including Consulting Services for small business in the creative field).

One such friend, Joan LeMay, consulted with Shannon for guidance and assistance in the revival of her past business, Fifth House Interiors. A once successful, boutique service, she dissolved the company when she left Portland and was wanting to revive it across the country in New York.

Imagine how thrilled and proud we were then, this week we received this email from the new Fifth House Interiors:


Dear Friends and Family,

Hi. As many of you may know, I have always really, really been drawn to all things interior design and decor-oriented. When I was a little kid, I would confuse my pals and their parents during sleepovers when, instead of wanting to play a game, I’d ask to reorganize and reconfigure the bedroom I was sleeping over in. I remember endlessly rearranging my own bedroom, and have always reveled in the opportunity to change up spaces I’ve lived in. I love the thrill of the shopping hunt, and I love a good before-and-after.

Five years ago, I launched an initial version of Fifth House Interiors, my one-woman interior decor and design venture, in Portland. I went into the homes and apartments of friends and acquaintances and re-tooled their spaces using things they already had on hand, and I loved the work of it immensely. I also had the opportunity to study and work under my mindblowingly amazing dear friend and mentor, Shannon Baird, at her firm SBaird Design. Her guidance then, as now, is invaluable to me.

The initial incarnation of Fifth House Interiors was something I let die on the vine, as it were–after all, my professional life was and is very full with Riot Act Media–I love the music publicity work I do and the incredible people I get to work with more than I can adequately express. Plus, there’s painting on the side! And, y’know, life! I always wanted to pick Fifth House Interiors back up again and mix the interiors work I love back into my life, but for a variety of reasons, the timing never seemed right.

You know what they say, though–you can wait for “the timing to be right” forever, and that’s how things never get done. That’s how five years passes. Thusly, I am very excited to be relaunching Fifth House Interiors today.

Please have a look around my site, check out the blog (hey, two posts so far!), and peruse theservices I’m offering. If you have anyone in your life who might be looking for help with their space and would be so kind as to pass along my name, I would be very thankful. This is, like anything, going to start out slowly and grow organically through word of mouth and as time and energy allows (I’m going to remain concurrently committed to Riot Act and my painting work).

If you’re getting this, it is because you are near and dear to me. Thank you so, so much for being in my life. I mean it.

Here’s to doing more of what you love!

All the best,


Fifth House Interiors is on Twitter and Pinterest. Follow me there!

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Thank you 2014


Thankful for everyday that we are privileged to do what we love: design, build trusting relationships and help envision and transform spaces. thank you to everyone that we had the pleasure of working with in 2014. It was a beautiful year!401549605 (1)

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Commercial: Completion of NE Prescott

Last June we wrote about a commercial project born of love and labor.

It was a major remodel on a 1924 grocery-turned-upholstery shop that was being transformed for use as a studio for vintage poster restoration studio called The Affiche Studios. SBaird Design was hired as consultants by the owner/client, Jason Leonard, who knew the general design direction of the project but needed a bit of professional guidance and collaborative input.

Well, Jason is all moved and settled in. The space has also taken on the role of gallery and event space, Archipelago Portland, its grand opening set for next weekend, Jan 25th. We are so proud of this project, all the hard work that Jason put into it and to watch the design contributions we had the pleasure to make become realized.

It is always amazing to see a project through from start to completion. This project has spanned all of 2014 and we are so thrilled that its one of the first milestones to see reached for 2015.

Well done team, well done.


It is incredibly rare as designers that we have had such a talented client document the renovations for us. With Jason’s permission, we have featured some of his gorgeous Instagram photos from this project, but we highly recommend you check out more photos by searching #archipelagopdx.


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