Publicist Erin Cawley-Morse and restaurant owner Nat Stratton-Clarke have had a big few years: they bought their first house and are expecting identical twins next month! Their colorful Seattle space is a reflection of the couple’s fun-loving personalities and a gathering place for their community. “We wanted to create a safe space that feels welcoming for everyone,” says Nat, who is transgender. “We feel honored that our home can be just that.” Take a peek inside…
Chandelier: West Elm, similar. Handmade dog art: bought at a Greenpeace Fundraiser. Stove: Waterford bought on Craigslist. Sofa: West Elm. Coffee table: Retrofit Home. Rug: Homestead Seattle. Paint: Martha Stewart in Hosta.
How did you decide on this house?
Nat: I own a vegetarian restaurant, so we wanted to find a home close by. When we walked in, we could immediately see the potential. The house was built in 1908 but had been stripped of all its old charm. We were excited to add the character back in.
Erin: Many things look like they’ve been here forever but are actually new — for example, we added crown molding and picture rails. We also found a gas stove on Craigslist. Not only does it warm up the whole room, it has that beautiful fire glow.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Nat: We wanted a house that had playfulness but also history. For example, at a junk shop, we came across a shelf from the bookstore where Erin always went as a kid. We bought it and flipped it on its side in our living room. It’s an amazing memory for Erin, and now we’re using it in a different way..
Are you drawn to velvet furniture?
Erin: When we first started dating, I brought my cat over and she shredded Nat’s couch. It was the first adult piece of furniture he had ever bought, and she ruined it. When we moved into together, we figured out that velvet is the only material she won’t scratch. Cats can’t get their claws into velvet or velour because the weave is so tight, so yeah, we have a lot of it.
How did you meet?
Nat: I was hosting Thanksgiving in my old apartment, and Erin came with a friend. I still remember her walking up the stairs holding her famous pumpkin pie. I never really celebrated the holiday growing up — my parents moved to the Bay Area from England in the 1970s — but ever since college I’ve been doing a friends Thanksgiving. I always thought Thanksgiving was a cool holiday because it can be about being thankful for friends and community. To meet Erin on Thanksgiving was super special.
Where did find your art?
Erin: We’re lucky to have so many talented artist friends. Our dining room has white walls because we wanted to showcase their incredible pieces.
Nat: But we wanted a pop of fun, so we painted the ceiling gold. The chandelier adds color, too. Erin found it at a garage sale for like six bucks. It looked heinous when she brought it home, but she took off the hanging beads and jewels, changed the bulbs and spray painted it blue.
Erin: We’ve collected a bunch of chandeliers through the years. Our style has a little bit of palace in it — chandeliers give you that grand feeling.
That is such a beautiful dining table!
Erin: When we moved in, we were excited to get a dining table. It’s the heart of the home; I have memories of doing homework on mine as a child. When we found this one at Anthropologie, our friends all chipped in for it as a housewarming gift. They gave us a giant Ed McMahon-style check, on which our artist friend had drawn all of the faces of the people who contributed.
Do you entertain a lot?
Nat: We usually have folks over for dinner once a week. We also do a giant Easter extravaganza, where all the guests — kids and adults alike — wear pastel and do egg and spoon races down the street. Every winter, we host a cookies and cocktails party, and everyone brings two dozen homemade cookies to trade — it’s a tradition from Erin’s family. Erin and I are lucky that our families are incredibly supportive and love us for the people that we are. That’s the kind of home we want to create for our kids.
Nat: When I was born, a little pink hat got put on my head, yet I always felt closer to the other side of the spectrum. I came out as gay at 16 but didn’t know many other gay folks and had never heard the word transgender, so I just assumed that all the feelings about my gender were part of being gay. In college, when I heard what being trans was, I immediately identified. I came out as transgender when I was 21. Transitioning is something I’m really proud of; it has helped me become the person I am. I try to create a supportive environment at my restaurant, too. People often stereotype restaurants as harsh places to work, but Cafe Flora is open and accepting. We’re proud to have a female executive chef, and we have lots of trans and queer folks on our team. We want people to be who they are and not feel like they have to check themselves at the door.
What’s an average night like at home?
Erin: Our nightly routine has changed since I got pregnant. We used to have a weekly date night and go out with friends all the time. But lately, I’ve become a homebody. Nat is usually cooking something delicious in the kitchen, and I’m taking it easy on the couch — the babies are taking over.
What do you cook?
Nat: The first thing I learned how to make was a blackberry crisp. My brother and I would pick blackberries, and my mom would make it with us. It’s such an easy thing for kids to do — it’s just brown sugar, flour, butter and a little bit of salt. I still make crisps almost every week, whether strawberry rhubarb, quince, apple, pear. Now that Erin’s pregnant, they’re her go-to.
Wallpaper: Abigail Edwards.
Why did you decide to paint the window and door frames yellow?
Nat: We wanted to offset that gray and rainy vision of Seattle. If it’s gray outside, the yellow windows make it feel still sunny and bright.
Erin: We have the yellow, but then we have the black and white wallpaper. We fell in love with this wave print; it’s hand drawn and feels organic.
What were you going for with your bedroom?
Nat: The bedroom was the last room we got to — we knew we’d get to it someday, but then we found out the babies were coming, and we were like, someday is here. It’s like a little nest, and since we’re going from a family of two to a family of four, we traded our queen bed for a king.
You have so many books!
Nat: Both of us love to read, so our bedroom was covered in books. We were trying to figure out how to make it work, especially with kids coming, so we had the idea to make the bookshelf the grounding feature of the room. Our carpenter friend built white shelves, and we organized the books by color.
What are you reading now?
Nat: We’re neck deep in baby books. We’ve been reading every twin guide we can get our hands on, like What to Do When You’re Having Two and When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads.
Are you happy you’ve settled in Seattle?
Nat: When I moved, I thought, I have some friends there, maybe I’ll stay for a year. I arrived sight-unseen, all I knew was Nirvana and Frasier Crane. I’ve been here for 12 years now and can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Erin: It’s the perfect size, and it’s outdoorsy. The weather in Seattle is very much like the U.K., so we thought it would be fun to celebrate that with the bathroom wallpaper!
Were you surprised when you found out you were having twins?
Nat: Oh, yeah. You think you’ve been shocked before…
How did you choose green for the nursery?
Erin: We’re waiting to find out the sex of the twins, but it will be two boys or two girls, since they’re identical. Either way, we chose the green because we didn’t want anything to be super gendered. Our friend Mike Curato does the Little Elliot book series, and that’s his art on the wall.
What about the rug?
Nat: Our friends from Oaxaca had this traditional wedding rug made for us in pink and gold — our wedding colors. When we got married, we both stood on the rug. We wanted it to be in the twins’ room, between the two cribs. It’s like a representation of our coming together as a family, and now we’re adding two new babies into it.
Everyone must be excited for the babies!
Nat: Everyone is so pumped; it’s the sweetest thing ever. Our friends are excited; our family is excited. Our kids are going to have so many aunts and uncles. Their understanding of what family means is going to be unique and special.
Thank you so much, Erin and Nat!