When we first saw the dreamy, artistic abode of Kim Chin we knew it was worth sharing. With a mostly minimalist palette, but appreciation for showcasing independent artists, Chin's aesthetic is absolutely how she describes it herself: "thoughtful eclecticism".
And it's not just the physical space we admire, it's also her philosophy of creating a home and a life. We know her wise words will resonate for anyone amidst transition and upheaval. She embraces growth and change with courage and creativity: "The autonomy of decision making, creative freedom and extending an expression of yourself is not easily reflected in the day-to-day. From an emotional approach, when you transition into a city, it's important to build a safe and grounding space so you know who you are and where you come from."
Read on for more from this inspiring creative about how she has navigated moving across the country, how she has honed her interior design eye, and her journey in finding spaces that "invite curiosity." Also be sure to explore her extensive art and ceramics collection — all available sources are noted throughout the tour.
Tell us about your space: How long have you lived here and what about it confirmed it was "home" for you?
I have lived here just over three years. I had looked at maybe a minimum of 15 apartments, but despite the difference of the previous tenant's set up, immediately fell in love with the levels and corners of this space, and applied for it on the spot. It properly felt like "home" after a year in when I decided to stay in Seattle. I rearranged and shed some furniture that had come with me from my move from Vancouver (it was a 16ft loft apartment, and the furniture didn't quite compliment this space in the same way). I started to put some art up on the walls, and acquiring ceramic pieces from Seattle based artists, so it felt reflective of where I was.
How would you describe your interior aesthetic?
Thoughtful eclecticism — a collage of odd pieces collected over time. I love curating objects and art that have a conversation with each other. It's all very personal. Whether I had chanced or scouted an artist I liked, or through introductions from friends and digital platforms. I am tactile and visual, so I respond to fabrics, texture and organic pattern mixing and lines. White walls are necessary to help the space breathe, but more of a blank canvas ready to build upon, versus the main focus of the space. Sound also enhances my creativity, so how music resonated in each room was important to me.
You are an artist and your home is filled with beautiful pieces from fellow makers and artists. Why is this important to you to? How does it contribute to your space?
Honestly, this was the biggest role I had moved for in terms of people management, and found less time to create for myself. I wanted to return to a home I could find peace, that represented a holistic version of me. What better way to share the stability of a nine-to-five to support those who have the courage to create and represent themselves, with art that I respond to? These voices warm my home with stories of where I've traveled to, who I have shared time with, and how far I have come on my journey. It's a great reminder of impermanence, gratitude, and solidarity, and I find it rewarding being generous whenever you can, by extending your fortune to hard work you admire.
You have lived in Europe and various places in the US. How has your personal and interior style evolved over time?
Maybe from my working class upbringing in London, I love cities that have a good social grounding, that value culture, make art accessible, and nurture the soul of historical architecture. I am also conscious about inflated rental prices, so even if I could afford a space that seemed more convenient, if it's too polished, or lack luster in character and intent, I often pass it by. Aesthetically my personal style has become less industrial and overtly global to a more considered, quieter color palette of textiles and more curves.
My approach has been pretty consistent, but my income and what that has been able to afford with time has changed. Up until recently, I approached living as temporary so I leaned towards scouting decor pieces that were not too precious — ones I could let go of or move with minimal worry. I also believe in the circular economy, so the idea of finding unique second life pieces were a significant part of the thrill. I started investing in mid-century furniture when I was in Vancouver, and in Seattle, my craving for calm meant I was buying furniture with softer lines, and neutral tones as I spent more time at home.
If you had to choose, which location has been your favorite and why?
Although I have love for all the places I have lived, I think both my Philadelphia and Seattle homes have made the most impact at different stages in my life. Typically what I'm drawn to are unassuming structures from the outside, but are a magical gem of possibilities once you walk inside — this has landed me in varying degrees of the loft experience. I guess a space that invites curiosity, either through varying structural levels, play of space and light to add depth and dimension. Can I get messy and work in the space? Can I create a space for social gatherings? Maybe one day I'll even have a garden to extend this into the outside.
My Philadelphia apartment was my first move into the US, first experience on Craigslist (which was positive), and I felt immediately connected to my landlord's energy. It was an old popcorn factory converted into loft apartments, and the person who had designed and lived in this space was a female architect who respected the origins of the building whilst modernizing in a functional way. The landlords were a family from POC, spiritual and artistic, and made the transatlantic transition less scary — I wanted to move in as soon as I opened the apartment door.
From a structural aspect it was smart, simple and clean; I loved that the bedroom was elevated, and I could look down onto the kitchen and front room. The windows were large, with tall ceilings supported by old wood beams which still had some numbers painted onto it — I could never find this type of place in London for that price rent. I didn't have as much furniture at the time, but I carved out a corner wall with art and display cabinets that housed curios that I collected along the way to add a nod to the surrealists. Due to the high ceilings and industrial space, I held parties with video projections to add to work/live installation vibe. Philadelphia was a social and creative city, and community was strong — my home was an extension of that culture.
I really appreciated the location of my Seattle home — its in a great part of Capitol Hill. I believe it was a converted garage space, so it is quirky, scrappy, and has plenty of character. The ceilings were unusually high, so the bathroom and galley kitchen was elevated with an industrial feel (with wood beams, cork walls and concrete floors), making it interesting and less sterile. The washer and dryer were housed in random frosted glass room, with a neat shelf cut out, which was so unique I can't even really relate it to anything traditionally seen in a home, and allowed light to come through. The fireplace sealed the deal, the warm neighbors, and open landlord confirmed I made the right choice, even if I had my fare share of household mishaps — it was a labor of love. Ten years on I wanted more comfort as I was spending more time in my own space.
What do you enjoy most about creating a space of your own, on your own?
The autonomy of decision making, creative freedom and extending an expression of yourself not easily reflected in the day-to-day. I am a professional nomad, and have been single for most of my time through it. From an emotional approach, when you transition into a city, it's important to build a safe and grounding space so you know who you are and where you have come from. Navigating new roles aren't defined by how people see you and what they project onto you. On a practical level, hands down the sense of achievement when engaging in DIY and bringing my landlord on this journey with me. I wish I had before photos of the Seattle apartment before I moved in to show the changes that had been made to increase function and, inevitably, aesthetics.
Have design decisions always come naturally to you? Do you think decorating your space in a new city helps hone those skills?
Yes! And yes! My mom is very spatially aware, from finding her way around a new city, efficiently packing a suitcase, or the way she styled herself, so I think that has made a subconscious impression from a young age. My dad’s side of the family is creative too. I have many ideas and thoughts so creating vignettes helps get these ideas out. Having a textile design background, my mind naturally wants to fit things together, like motifs in a print design so I approach my interior styling in the same way.
t.Such as, how can your eye be drawn across the room as part of a unified design? Maturing taste levels, exposure on social media, accessibility on digital platforms, and income have developed these skills to a new level. Also traveling to artist's homes and architectural homes of generations before made me feel less alone or guilty in finding importance in objects, and owning a very personal style. It's something I have been conscious of, knowing how frugal my parents had to be when growing up, and the damaging effects of over consumption. Moving helps you let go of things and accept change in a positive light.
What is your favorite space in your Seattle apartment and why?
This is a tough one — the love seat nook in by the fireplace as it overlooks the dining table surrounded by art. It feels spacious, but cozy. The light is bright, and the views are of tall grass edging the house reminds me of a British coast line, remote from city life. The way the curved sofa snakes around, complemented by the surrounding ceramics and light fixtures, I feel grateful for a space that I had never imagined could be my own.
You are currently packing up and heading back to London. What will you miss most about this space? What elements will you incorporate into your next home?
This house was built into a slope, so it was a basement apartment from the bedroom to mid fireplace, but then bright street-level garden apartment by the time you reached the front. This reflected how I would rise and decompress through the day; the bedroom felt secluded, then walking through apartment, the tall grass lining windows that made you feel submerged within the earth, and finally bright and open as you were close to the front room where productivity could be expected. I will miss quirkiness and varying dimensions of this space that opened and closed corners with mini vignettes at each turn.
I will incorporate the element of humorous surprise — a sense of private discovery, and any favorite furniture difficult to source in London that I can ship back. I would want to live in a place that marries different worlds in geography and time in an organic way. What made it even more special was the authenticity and charm of the neighborhood community, so would want to invite a similar mindset as I return to my hometown.