Between the intricately patterned rugs, inky swaths of paint, and organic bulbous vases, Ayesha Usman’s home is a lesson in exuding warmth. The senses are immediately soothed upon entering the designer’s six-bedroom Kirkland, Washington abode — an ethos embedded in the fabric of her being, as she grew up steeped in Pakistani values of community and care.
As her travels take her around the world, Usman brings pieces of each destination back with her. She expertly melds her personal heritage and local finds with global wanderlust. Persian rugs, Moroccan tiles, and South Asian artwork all don the same space, which she shares with her husband and two daughters. A walk through the home is like tracing her life story — from her childhood roots to her adventures abroad to her present-day life in the Pacific Northwest. Ahead, Usman delves deeper into her fascination with dark hues, her favorite rooms to hang out in, and an unexpected 100-year-old furniture find.
How did you first discover your home? What about it initially appealed to you?
It’s funny because I lived in this neighborhood for almost 12 years — my last home was just one house down on the same road. We saw this house under construction and we got in touch with the contractor right away, so we were able to get a lot of custom upgrades done. All the lighting, tiles, some of the vanities, and the kitchen layout was decided by me.
What appealed to us the most was that the house comes with an additional dwelling unit which we use for our extended guests and sometimes as an Airbnb. I have it fully furnished and it’s a great little escape for me, too.
Does your home fit in with your neighborhood's vibe or does it stand out?
This neighborhood is relatively old. So you see a good mix of old and new homes. My house definitely breaks the mold because it’s very industrial-modern. But we see more of that coming to the neighborhood recently with new constructions.
What was your approach to decorating your home?
My approach is quite simple: I tend to get what I love and I almost always find a place for it. I love a well-curated home that tells your story. I don’t believe in buying everything at once or from one store. I collect a lot of vintage and found pieces during my travels or by sourcing from antique, vintage, and thrift stores around the area and small close-by towns. I don’t mind mixing styles and feel you can balance high-end pieces with unique one-of-a-kind pieces.
Who or what are your biggest design inspirations?
I love layered, textured homes. I also love the use of patterns and darker hues. I absolutely adore the work of Heidi Caillier Design, Jake Arnold, Amber Interiors, and Disc Interiors to name a few.
How does your heritage inform your style? What elements from it do you incorporate in your home?
I think art and textiles bring so much of my heritage into my style. I am naturally attracted to deeper, more saturated hues and a dramatic background for my interiors. I have incorporated some art and decor in my house by artists from Pakistan and India.
I love using antique vintage Persian and Turkish rugs in my own home and also in client projects. I want my designs to feel cozy and warm because, in my culture, we focus a lot on hospitality and making people feel welcomed into our homes. I feel like our homes need to feel like a big warm hug for anyone walking in.
Any other cultures you take design notes from?
I think there are definitely some takeaways from all parts of the world and different cultures offer different objects of interest. I have used a lot of African artifacts in my projects and Indian textiles in the form of pillows and throws. The organic natural look of Italian marble and Moroccan zellige tiles is also unmatched.
What were the greatest finds in your home? Can you share a story behind any of them?
I love all my antique and one-of-a-kind decor pieces. What makes them special is how I found them over the years from different parts of the world in very unexpected places. I recently purchased an antique bench, which is about 100 years old, off of Facebook Marketplace. And I know it’s worth a lot more than what I paid for it. I feel very fortunate to own it.
Do you have a favorite design feature or room? If so, where is it in the house and what makes it unique?
I love the breakfast nook in my kitchen. It gets so much natural light and that’s where most of our life happens. Kids’ online classes, friends’ get-togethers, family meals, board games, and I mostly do my online research and new client consultations here, too.
Where in your home do you spend the most time and what are you usually doing there?
I think our living room. We sleep, pray, read, hang out with our friends and family, watch TV, and have endless discussions around the fireplace. I also love my bedroom; it’s where I unwind and relax at the end of a busy day.
Anything else we missed?
I think the center of any home is its kitchen. I feel so lucky to have an enormous-sized kitchen with a big enough island to cook, host, and spend quality time with my kids while baking cookies or brownies.