October 17, 2021Amy Vroom, founder of the Residency Bureau in Seattle, is known for using color to offset the region’s notorious lack of it. “If you’re living in a place like Seattle, where we have so many gray days and overcast skies,” she explains, “having an interesting mix of colors and styles and patterns and textures really brings a space to life.”
Taking a somewhat circuitous route to design, Vroom majored in business and minored in communications at Luther College, in Iowa, before embarking on an advertising career that took her all over the country. Despite success in that field, she began questioning her professional choices and returned to school. She earned a master’s in interior architecture and design from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and, in 2014, opened her firm. Always fascinated by the Pacific Northwest, she settled in Seattle, in part, she says, because she was “drawn to the beauty of the area, with water and mountains at every turn.”
A lover of well-designed furniture, Vroom cites classic makers like de Sede, Josef Hoffmann and Finn Juhl as influences. The Art Nouveau style is also a favorite, and not just for its swirly lines and intricate patterns. “I’ve always loved those beautiful colors,” she explains, “those muted greens and pinks and salmons and teals. Those all play really well with one another.”
Her affinity for such hues is on display in the joyful but serene library of a Seattle property she describes as “urban condo gets the Downton Abbey treatment.” Vroom painted the entire room — from built-ins to walls — in Sherwin Williams’s Pewter Green, adding a dash of whimsy and surprise with a kaleidoscopic floral wallcovering on the ceiling. On the floor, she lay a purple wool rug, which she says offers “a fun, unexpected color combination.” A brass wall sconce from Visual Comfort provides light over one of the few neutrals in the room: a wheat-colored velvet sleeper sofa from Lee Industries that harmonizes beautifully with the yellow in the ceiling. Objects the homeowners collected on their travels, like a matryoshka doll and a hand-painted jewelry box, hold court on the bookshelves as a leather rhino keeps watch on the ground.
Vroom deployed a similar color scheme, of sage green and purple tones, in the home’s breakfast nook, where she paired a classic Eero Saarinen Pedestal dining table with Hoffmann bentwood-and-cane side chairs. For the nook’s banquette, she says she “used faux leather with an interesting luggage stitch, as well as an oversize bolster inspired by a rolled-up Japanese shikifuton for back support.” To inject both humor and color, Vroom covered this statement pillow in a happy Christian Lacroix for Designers Guild fruit pattern. A sexy Brendan Ravenhill three-arm ceiling pendant supplements the sunlight streaming through the window.
Beyond the Northwest’s natural attractions, Vroom is entranced by its manmade aesthetic, as evidenced, for example, in the mid-century and contemporary homes that populate the region. Nothing, she says, excites her more than being asked to design a home with “giant vaulted ceilings that are wrapped in cedar and huge windows that bring the outside in. I really love it when I get that phone call!”