Seattle Culture

Inside a Local Design Star’s Southwest-Inspired Mountlake Terrace Home

When it comes to the rooms we live in, mindful design choices can reveal a lot about us, says Moorea Seal, whose home decor book recently debuted.

By Nia Martin September 29, 2017


This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Seattle magazine.

It was no accident that once Moorea Seal designed her Mountlake Terrace home, she filled the space with items that tell a lot about who she is. Best known for the rustic-chic curated collection of women’s clothing items, accessories and home decor found in her shop, which is relocating this month from Belltown to downtown (1012 First Ave.; 206.728.2523;, she is also the author of the popular inspirational 52 Lists series. In her latest book, Make Yourself at Home (Sasquatch Books, 2017, $24.95), she applies her eye for design to the whole home.

Seal kicks off her book with an exploration of her living room. “The living room is the first space where people get to know you,” she says. “It’s very revealing and intimate while still being a very inviting space.” Seal’s design choices for that room represent this point of view. She incorporates global, ethically sourced handmade items: a round ottoman, a modern leather chair and a colorful mix of pillows all fit the bill. Then, there are the skulls. A nod to nature and her family’s Southwest roots, animal skulls are prevalent in her living room and throughout other rooms in the home. 

Seal also pulls nature into her home by incorporating plants. “Plants are the easiest way to bring life into your space,” she says. There are many affordable options, says Seal, such as air plants and succulents (she includes varieties of cactus in the living room), and notes that plants are vibrant but neutral, therefore making them easier to decorate around. 

Photographs by Marissa Maharaj. Left to right: Seal carefully chose how to use her limited wall space in a meaningful way. The Andrew Bird poster by Frida Clements incorporates a special memory; making decor items, such as this essential oil diffuser, is one way to help personalize a space.

Her choice of art is another way that Seal reveals herself. Because of limited wall space, she carefully selected pieces that reflect the history she and her husband share, such as the 1970s illustrated map of their hometown, Nevada City, California. Other meaningful housewares include a chest given to Seal by an elderly woman she used to care for, which she’s repurposed as a coffee table, and an Oriental rug bestowed to Seal by her family; her father buys and sells them on eBay. 

What you won’t find in Seal’s living room are screens (of the television, computer, and tablet variety). “I’m very stimulated by technology, but I also burn out on it,” she says, referencing the role technology has in running her business and maintaining her social media presence. In her book, she lists suggestions for alternatives to electronic devices, such as keeping a stack of board games on hand, or investing in a record player and listening to music while crafting. 

DIY housewares also personalize her space. One such piece is a ladder she crafted from copper pipe, which holds a collection of beautiful textiles. “There’s such a different value to buying something versus spending time investing in [home decor],” says Seal, who wants readers to find ways to invest in their homes through their own personal history and experiences. 

“I don’t want this to just be a book of pretty,” she adds. “I want it to be a space where people can see the truth within a space; the struggles and triumphs within your home.”  

Design Tips by Moorea Seal

1. If you’re stuck on how to start decorating a space, such as a living room, begin with large “clean bases” that you can build upon, such as Seal’s sofa and cabinet (both from West Elm).

2. With limited room, prioritize. If space is tight, make deliberate selections of pieces whose aesthetics speak to your history or interests. 

3. Use what you already have, such as a book collection. Seal displays books that reflect her current state of mind; green and blue covers to reference nature with titles that contain more contemplative stories.

4. Put a part of yourself in your space with DIY projects; Seal suggests projects by room.

5. Not sure if you’re more bauhaus or art deco? Check out the chapter “At Home with Vintage Eras,” which matches different period trends with moods (example: Art Nouveau = “formal, poised, complex”).

Follow Us

Small-Scale Sensitivity

Small-Scale Sensitivity

Whole-house renovation respects the aesthetics of its Capitol Hill neighborhood

Miriam Larson founded Story Architecture in the belief that, if she dug deep enough, each house and the family that lives in it would have a story to tell. In time, she would also conclude that some books are perfectly happy to be judged by their covers.

Water World Wonder

Water World Wonder

Unique artistic collaboration invites water into stunning Lake Washington home

Swivel Interiors founder Kathleen Glossa lured five innovative local artists to a newly purchased vacation property perched on the northern edge of Lake Washington. Photo by Andrew Giammarco

Minecraft Motivation

Minecraft Motivation

Couple uses video game for renovation inspiration

They had a hard time visualizing what their new home might look like, so they turned to Minecraft, a hugely popular video game Microsoft markets as a tool for creative types to “battle mobs, construct shelter, and explore the landscape.” They had been playing the game for years, and didn’t need to consult the box

Trees, Whales, Wine

Trees, Whales, Wine

Browne Family Vineyards takes on climate change

Since late last year, Walla Walla’s Browne Family Vineyards has planted more than 120,000 trees in a reforestation effort to mitigate climate change on vineyards and grapes.