Artist in residence

Name: Ann Duffy

Occupation: Artist

Neighborhood: Capitol Hill

Why do you live here?

What we love about Capitol Hill is that it's so centrally located. We can walk to the movies, grocery stores, our favorite restaurants (notably El Greco)—we even walk to the symphony and the galleries in Pioneer Square. A few years back we got rid of our second car because we didn't need it.

Capitol Hill feels like a neighborhood rather than a place where people just happen to live side by side. We like our neighbors and socialize with many of them. Every year our neighborhood has a Christmas party and a summer picnic.

How long have you lived here?

My husband, Joe, and I moved to Seattle independently, Joe from New York in 1967 and I from Boston in 1982. We married in 1989 and have been in our house since then.

How did you find this place?

We've both lived in various neighborhoods but felt most at home on Capitol Hill. I've been on Capitol Hill since 1984. When we bought our house in 1989, the real estate market was at an all-time high, and many people paid more than the asking price for their homes, as did we (little did we know how much higher the market would go). We had a great realtor who understood what we were looking for. We almost settled on a few houses we weren't really crazy about, but we decided to stick it out, and voilࡍ

To what extent does this space reflect you, your personality, your tastes?

Although Joe defers to me on aesthetic matters, we usually confer before any large purchases as neither one of us wants to impose something distasteful on the other. Our home is decorated with lots of wonderful objets d'art discovered on our travels, such as temple paintings on linen from India, life-size figure carvings from Indonesia, and oil paintings from Florence, where we spent our 10th wedding anniversary.

What would you say your "style" is, as shown by how you put your place together?

Comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.

What do you value most about this space?

What I value most about our house is that we created a space that works so well to fit both of our needs—that we love being at home as much as we love to travel.

What are the benefits to living in this area/neighborhood? Disadvantages?

The only bad side about a couple working out of the house is it's hard to stop working. We finally had to designate Friday night as our date night when we drop everything and spend the evening out.

The bad side of the neighborhood? The street we live on is busy. A fence around the house affords us privacy, but at night sometimes we pretend we are listening to the ocean instead of traffic. Otherwise you won't hear us complaining!

What is your favorite feature inside your home?

Because Joe and I both work out of the house (Joe as a labor arbitrator), we obviously spend a lot of time at home. Before we converted the garage into a studio, I worked out of Pioneer Square. Originally, I thought separating work and home would be a good idea, but I found working at home suits me better. I love to cook and working at home allows me to spend lots of time in the studio and kitchen. In fact, we spend so much time in the kitchen, when Dolce, our favorite coffee cart in the neighborhood, went out of business we bought our own commercial espresso machine. Installing a commercial espresso machine is no small feat; in the end, the kitchen had a partial remodel.

Favorite object?

That's easy, the La Marzocco Espresso Machine. Serving a velvety espresso after a wonderful meal in your own home feels so decadent.

Where do you buy things for your home?

In 1992, we took six months to travel around the world and decide what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives. It was an extraordinary trip that helped me decide to go back to painting; I had finished art school years earlier but had abandoned the idea of making a living at it. I started painting pictures with my own walls in mind, which started the revitalization of my art career. At the time many galleries in town were full of very large, modern, what I call "corporate" art. What I wanted was the art that fit appropriately on the small wall spaces many old homes like ours have. I like to mix traditional furnishings with ethnic pieces so the house contains a pretty eclectic gathering of "stuff." If I can't find a certain thing for the house, I try to make it myself.

Do you ever worry that you'll have to move?

We have the flexibility in our careers to move anywhere in the country, and after every New Year's we discuss our criteria for the perfect place to live—and we're still here.

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