A Disco Ball Was the First Thing She Hung in Her Portland Place

A Disco Ball Was the First Thing She Hung in Her Portland Place

In her studio apartment, maker Hannah Hermes cultivates local art, abandoned plants, and a Pee-wee’s Playhouse vibe.

Hannah Hermes in her Portland studio apartment

1. Disco ball

On the verge of being priced out of Portland, artist and restaurant manager Hannah Hermes jumped at the chance to sublet this affordable West End studio from a friend in late 2021. The disco ball was the first thing she hung. “I love the look of mirrors, and I have an appreciation for disco itself,” she says, noting that one of the track lights — which she painted yellow in a recent apartment overhaul — is strategically aimed at the glittery orb.

2. Lamp

“I love pieces like the light-bulb lamp that bring a lot of humor to the space,” says Hermes, who calls her apartment “Hannah’s Funhouse.” She takes decorating inspiration from Pee-wee’s Playhouse and photos of actress/comedian Amy Sedaris’s quirky Greenwich Village apartment. “I love color and bold patterns, and that lamp is such a Pee-wee piece. I got it on Amazon, of all places.”

3. Bedding

Born in Venezuela, Hermes also lived in Chile, Peru, Poland, and Tanzania as a child, thanks to her mother’s teaching jobs at international schools. Her Marimekko quilt echoes the peel-and-stick tile she applied to the entry and kitchen floors and serves as a reminder of her time in Poland, where the Finnish brand was omnipresent. She thrifted the 1970s floral pillowcases and the T-shirts she cut up and stitched into a checkerboard cover for the large pillow that serves as a headboard.

4. Plants

Hermes has a soft spot for the “problem plants” she’s found languishing in workplaces or left behind in neighbors’ apartments. The Seussian papyrus is particularly beloved. Hermes inherited it from a friend whose cat persisted in eating, then regurgitating, the leaves. The cat owner got it from a friend who’d had it for 30 years. “It’s been around longer than I have,” Hermes says.

5. Art

Eschewing a planned grid, Hermes eyeballed this wall of thrifted frames, many of which showcase prints by local artists, including Martha Kearsley, Rachel Kobasa, Pilar Nadal, and Maya Skylark. A trained printmaker herself, Hermes used to create alongside them at Portland’s Pickwick Independent Press. Since she left the studio to focus on sewing and rug and collage making, “it’s been really nice to have a reminder of my friends nearby.”

6. Wine bottles

As manager of Portland’s James Beard Award-nominated Cong Tu Bot restaurant, Hermes frequently attends wine tastings. But not long ago, she was selecting wine at the city’s Rosemont Market and Bakery based largely on the label art. Now, those empty bottles serve as décor, alongside a red Dansk Dutch oven, given to her by the same friend who offered up the apartment. “Before I moved into this place, I felt really lost,” Hermes says. But afterward, “a lot of things in my life fell into place. The pot is a reminder of that.”