Esther Lee‘s minimal and airy bungalow in East Pasadena, CA serves as the perfect spot for her and her husband to relax and recharge. The photographer travels often, so she keeps it as calm and natural as possible. The result is a light-filled paradise that is as inviting and comfortable as it is clean and minimal. Find out where she loves to find home goods and learn some tips on how to take good photos even in a house without a lot of natural light. It’s all here in the post below. Get ready to take notes!
Tell us about your home! How long have you been living there?
I’ve always wanted to live in an area with a charming historical feel while being modern and Pasadena has been the place to live. My husband and I have been living in this house for about a year and a half and we love the simplicity and character it brings. It feels light and airy and makes us feel cool during the summer because of the colors inside our home. This home was built in the 1940’s but we somehow managed to make it look more modern. We love how everything is pretty close from us so it’s very convenient! Pasadena just knows how to bring its charm.
You get to visit a lot of fun places for work, how did you design your home to be a reprieve from all the travel?
I love traveling, but when I have to leave home multiple times consecutively, it can get really exhausting. In order to recharge when I come home, I try to keep things inside the house calm and natural to battle all the chaos I experience outside.
Your living room has just the right mix of minimalism and unique finds. Do you have any spots you love to shop online for those kind of décor items?
I like to shop online on Urban Outfitters’s home section. I used to go on the site just to shop for clothes in the past, but I noticed that the home section is fairly affordable during sales. Sometimes home décor can get overwhelmingly pricey, so I try to look for deals before making a purchase. Target’s clearance and IKEA’s as-is sections are also great ways to get the look you want without paying full price.
How about any boutique or smaller shops around town? Any hidden gems?
Goodwill and Salvation Army thrift stores are my guilty pleasures when I’m shopping. One woman’s trash can always be another woman’s treasure. Each store always carries at least one unique item that can’t be found anywhere else.
How would you describe the overall style and aesthetic of your home?
Minimal and airy. It keeps my house looking bigger and wider. I get claustrophobic in tight spaces so I need to be in a more open environment. I feel the most refreshed when I see the natural light shine through in the morning. I also try to keep large furniture to a minimum to keep it open. Sometimes less is more.
Tell us about your photography work! What are some past projects you’re the proudest of?
One of my proudest shoots was a fashion passion project I completed with a team last year. It’s always refreshing to shoot with no creative restrictions, especially after shooting project after project for clients who have strict guidelines. Releasing my natural artistic side this way really rejuvenates me when I feel like I’m stuck in a creative block.
Any dream brands you’d love to work with?
I would love to work with Céline, COS and Blu Dot. I love how their branding emphasizes timelessness and cleanliness.
Your home has great light for taking photos. Any tips for readers who might not have as light and bright of a space but want good photos?
Depending on your home layout, certain times of the day will be better for photos than other times. Find the largest window in your home and take note of where it’s oriented. If your window faces east, mornings are best. If it faces west, then late afternoons will work better. South-facing windows give you the most flexibility (if you live in the Northern Hemisphere; opposite for Southerners). For extreme cases, it helps to use a continuous video light that has an adjustable Kelvin color control to mimic daylight. In the worst-case scenario, you can always bump up the light in Photoshop!
What beauty brands are you currently obsessed with?
I am currently obsessed with Hourglass’s primer and highlighter, and Skinesque’s 3-in-1 mask (best for traveling).
“The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda
Photography by Esther Lee – @Eslee
Shop Her Home:
IKEA rug (similar to LOHALS)
Urban Outfitters Winky Embroidered Pillow
Target Terra Cotta Vase
Le Labo Spray (ANOTHER 13)
‘Hey You’ Art by Louise Henning
Urban Outfitters Ikebana Vase
IKEA (similar to STOCKHOLM)
Cutting Boards by Selah
Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow