Personal Space: Each month, writer and home-tour addict Teena Apeles gives us a peek into the spaces of AA+PI creatives around the country. She’ll explore what’s out in the open—from their unique collections and family heirlooms to quirky tchotchkes and vintage furniture finds—and delve into the stories behind them, to find out what makes each person’s house a home.
“Even with food, I really like simple things, but with texture,” shares Mi Kim, co-owner of beloved Seattle-based doughnuts and pastry shop Raised Doughnuts and Cakes, which recently celebrated five years in business. Her preferences for food carry over to her sense of design, carried out by La Union Studio, with its exposed ductwork ceiling, walls of wood-framed doors, and a black-tiled service counter with a large white countertop, atop which sits their daily assortment of doughnuts—sugar-coated mochi rings, tart raspberry holes, and many of Kim’s more creative flavors—on white trays. The Seattle-based part of JoySauce’s team are longtime fans of Raised and the location’s Instagram-worthy ambiance. We visited the entrepreneur and her husband, Matthew Lapsley, and their 13-year-old poodle, Noodle, in South Everett, to tour the family’s new home, where Kim’s sense of style and attention to detail shine through.
Built in 2006, their contemporary, two-story home is located in a quiet neighborhood about 25 miles north of Seattle, set against a forest backdrop. During winter, the surrounding landscape is especially stunning, notes Kim, but what won them over was what greeted them inside: “It was all redone, brand-new. I was like, this is a place that doesn’t require any work,” something the couple welcomed considering Kim had just gone through months of construction at Raised’s new location. Plus, the home was more than triple the size of the 700-square-foot condo they’d been living in. With dreams of growing their family—“I’m always thinking 20 years ahead!”—it provides the ideal space and setting for their future.
From the doorway, there’s a clear view of their living room and, through the far wall’s windows, the lush greenery bordering their property. Dark wood flooring runs throughout the bottom story and, like Raised, the overall vibe is welcoming, open, and modern. “I definitely am a minimalist,” Kim says, “but I think Matt appreciates how I decorate.” She chose a primarily neutral color palette, with midcentury-style black or metallic pieces (small and large) thoughtfully placed throughout, including a stocked entryway bar anyone would covet and armless wire-frame chairs in the living room.
In addition to turning to familiar furniture and department stores for pieces in their home, she was happy to find “really cool stuff…that you wouldn’t find in stores” on Facebook Marketplace. All their mirrors (“because they’re crazy expensive”) and many of the frames were purchased secondhand, versus buying new ones.
The couple were instant fans of the living room’s vertical wood-paneled wall when they first toured the home—Raised has a similar black feature wall—and the LED cove lighting, also installed by the previous owners, offers some unexpected drama for entertaining. “I just prefer white,” she says, “but when people are over, there are other fun color options to choose from.” A braided rug, colored and patterned pillows, and leafy plants bring more texture and color into the living space. There are actually numerous plants of all sizes throughout the home, as “they add life to the space,” but, she laughs, “90 percent of them are fake—I can’t keep things alive.”
“I think [going] full modern is just way too cold sometimes. So I feel like the wood and the textures in the midcentury furnishings make it a little warmer.”
In the adjoining dining room and kitchen, a white open shelving unit, kitchen cabinetry and tile backsplash, plus plenty of natural light from the French doors, keep the community areas bright and are consistent with her clean and modern aesthetic. “I think [going] full modern is just way too cold sometimes. So I feel like the wood and the textures in the midcentury furnishings make it a little warmer,” says Kim, referring to their wood dining table and black upholstered chairs. “I like the older look of things, but not too old.”
Down to their dinnerware, she is partial to white. “I think it’s the same as my parents. They have really simple stuff.” Instead of various colors, Kim prefers different mediums, evident in her open cabinet—ceramic, glass, wood, and metal, for a little shine. “They’re not super colorful people either, so I think I just stuck with that. And just went even further.”
The dining room shelves are the first areas she decorated when they moved in, with “trinkets that I’ve collected over the years that I never had a space to showcase,” says Kim. They include her favorite cookbooks, Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home by Eric Kim and First Generation: Recipes from My Taiwanese-American Home by Frankie Gaw, and items from a trip to Korea with her parents: a stone pot, rice bowls, and some handmade silverware from the villages.
As Kim walks through the home, she shares her journey from finishing the pastry program at a culinary institute in Portland in 2008 to launching Raised. “I wasn’t going to do any kind of self-employment whatsoever, because I saw my parents own their own restaurant, and it was just nonstop. They were always working, and they could never take days off or vacation.” When they learned their daughter was launching her own business, “They told me not to. They were like, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to do this?’”
“I wasn’t going to do any kind of self-employment whatsoever, because I saw my parents own their own restaurant, and it was just nonstop. They were always working, and they could never take days off or vacation.”
After nearly a decade of working in the industry, managing bakers at Seattle chain Macrina Bakery, as well as a childhood spent at her parents’ cafe, she felt ready. “I got this bug, and I chose doughnuts because I wasn’t seeing ones I liked in Seattle. I didn’t grow up with fancy doughnuts or anything,” Kim explains. “I grew up with grocery store doughnuts or gas station doughnuts, and it was just like a really nice moment. I feel like every morning we’d stop at the gas station, get a doughnut for the road, and I’d pass out on the drive up.” The goal with Raised was to be “a place where people can make memories, like the routine of how doughnuts were for me.”
In the kitchen, she opens a box of Raised mango doughnuts and sprinkles Tajín spice on them, testing out a new flavor. There’s also a small white cake that she delicately applies gold leaf to that may be offered as a kit at Raised for the traditional Korean 100-day birthday celebration or first birthdays, so parents would “not have to source all the little things needed for it.” Other Korean items on their menu are mochi doughnuts. “I am focusing on the Korean side for now, and hope to expand it to Vietnamese and Chinese traditions as well!”
Back toward the front door, Kim gives us a peek into a future playroom with a stylish plywood Murphy bed they found on Facebook Marketplace by Lori Bed for overnight guests. Next door, in the home office, there are craft supplies and a healthy stock of gift items ready for future occasions. Kim credits her parents for this habit: “They love getting a ton of stuff ahead of time, or if they see a good deal, they’ll buy it.”
But what really catches the eye is an impressive list board that is as visually pleasing as it is detailed—giving additional insight into how Kim’s brain works. At the top of the board is the category “Honey Do’s” that is awaiting new additions. “Matt’s dad always says it’s a Honey Do list of what your wife wants you to do,” she jokes, “So this is his list.” Below it are House Goals, organized by Now and Later. “I have to do a to-do list because Matt’s personality will wait to do something until the very last minute. But he’ll get it done as long as you give him a time limit.” The office’s photo ledges, just as with the shelves in the dining room, are highly curated and include a shelf dedicated to artwork and photos of Noodle.
One of Kim’s treasured areas of the home is their stairway gallery wall of family photos: ones of the couple as kids as well as their parents and siblings. Which ones are her favorites? “It’s hard to choose…” pointing out different photos of Lapsley in his hometown of Detroit, when he was “really chubby,” with his brother or parents, and one of him in a kitchen sink. Then on the second floor wall are their wedding photos. Kim relays the short version of their love story that started when they met in 2012 at a friend’s birthday party: “He was just looking for friendship. We started running together, and then slowly over time, we got close.” After a few starts and stops over some eight years, “our heads were finally in the right place, we got engaged and got married in 2021.”
The upstairs is carpeted in gray and has three rooms: a guest room, the master bedroom, and the one room of the home that isn’t painted all white—the Man Cave. Kim calls the blue feature wall in the room the Michigan Pride Wall with the university’s pennant, photo of the football field, and an illustration of the campus: “I wanted it to be very Michigan-focused because anyone from U of M is crazy spirited.”
Other meaningful artwork Kim selected decorates the neighboring walls: maps of where Lapsley's lived (Detroit, Chicago, and Seattle), “a world map of where he’s been in the world,” and an anniversary present print that Lapsley gave to her. From far away it looks like a series of colorful, triangular mountaintops; close up, each is a map of “places we’ve been since we were together initially or since we’ve known each other,” with such international destinations as Japan, Greece, Italy, and Macau.
“So this is where I start to look crazy,” says Kim as she takes us into what was originally the guest room. “We are trying to get pregnant. My sister gave us the crib, so I was like, ‘Well, let’s just put it in,’” as well as other baby items that were her niece and nephew’s, rather than storing them in the garage “because they get dirty.” Hanging over the side of the crib is one of the quilts Lapsley’s mom made him, which includes items from his Eagle Scout days. For the linens in the crib, Kim selected an unconventional nursery color, brown, “because whatever we get, I don’t care.” Then pointing to an empty photo frame on a side table: “This is where I think the ultrasound photo will probably go.”
“The biggest point of buying this house was that we just really love having people over, and we just couldn’t host them in our tiny space. And so this has been great.”
In their spacious and sparsely furnished master bedroom, nearly all the furniture in the room is white, with the exception of their black upholstered, gold-framed headboard, making it the focal point of the room. While on their dresser, the couple’s collection of glasses and jewelry show off their individual style.
Back downstairs, Kim takes a seat on her favorite spot of the sectional and reflects on what having the new home means to them: “The biggest point of buying this house was that we just really love having people over, and we just couldn’t host them in our tiny space. And so this has been great.” Here’s hoping the couple will welcome a new addition to the family in the future.
Published on July 27, 2023
Words by Teena Apeles
Teena Apeles writes about art, culture, design, activism, and history, and edits books on an even wider range of subjects. Her latest book, 52 Things to Do in Los Angeles, is now available from Moon Travel Guides. She is also the founder of the creative collective Narrated Objects, which produces books and experiences to showcase the diverse voices of Los Angeles.