Jaime Schmidt is a firm believer in the power of change. It also helps that she's not totally risk averse.
"I experienced a major life shift when I sold my company Schmidt’s to Unilever in December of 2017," the Portland-based entrepreneur begins. "Having spent the previous seven years in the hustle, leading a fast-growing business, I now found myself in a position where I could actually slow down a little."
It was in the midst of this gear change that Schmidt stumbled across what is now her family home. Measuring in at upwards of 6,800-square-feet, the five-bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom mid-century marvel is nothing short of staggering. Velvet-clad, custom furniture mirrors Schmidt's own personal ethos when it comes to good design — keep it local, wherever possible, and try to make sure that no two pieces are the same.
This is a home that celebrates a sense of place. There's an indoor basketball court, a games room, a custom theater, and plenty of green space. In other words, no reason to ever leave. There are pieces by local makers, throughout the kitchen and dining spaces, casually colliding with vintage Italian furniture plucked from buying trips to Europe or sourced via collectors from across the country. Each piece prompts "oohs" and "ahhs" from wide-eyed visitors. Schmidt is quick to credit her design team and project lead — Andee Hess of Portland-based firm, Osmose — for helping to create a home that sits firmly in-line with her personality. Yet, it's the uniqueness of it all — the textured wallpaper, the custom tiling, and the unusual ceiling fixtures — that is also testament to Schmidt. Brave, a little bit brazen, and groovy as hell.
"Everything we do is an expression of self. To this end, I’m very intentional with style across all aspects of life, including how I choose to outfit myself and decorate my home," Schmidt pragmatically explains. "Sometimes, it takes patience and exploration to find the best fit. In the latest season of Stranger Things, you know that scene, when Max is helping Eleven choose an outfit at the mall? I could relate when she turned to her and said, "you just have to try things on until you find something that feels like you.""
It's this notion of finding the right "fit" that prompted Schmidt to have fun with her interiors. There is no one-size-fits-all mentality in this house, every last piece of furniture, square-foot of plush apricot carpet, or Jetson-esque light fixture has been carefully considered with fit in mind. There's no catalogue or template to follow — Schmidt's made sure of that.
"Though our house was relatively new at the time of purchase — it was only nine years old — we recognized that there were renovations we’d want to make, and we saw exciting potential in working with an interior designer to make the home uniquely ours," Schmidt adds. "We were more interested in finding a home that we could reimagine than in finding one that conformed to traditional design preferences."
After shelving the traditional rulebook, Schmidt, her husband Chris Cantino, and the Osmose design team set to work. The couple demolished and redesigned the original fireplace, adhering to a Carlo Scarpa inspired style brief. They brought the great outdoors in, installing wall-spanning French doors in the previously stuffy great room. They renovated the master bedroom ceiling cove, adding built-in headboards and a custom bed frame, and personalized otherwise redundant spaces — like the stairway — with custom architectural detailing. The result, explains Schmidt, is an utterly unique home that now echoes her lifestyle, mirrors her family, and hums at a desired frequency.
"It was important to us that our space feel inspiring and unpredictable," the entrepreneur surmises. "We accomplished this with wallpaper, in the office — it's hand-painted Japanese paper. By transforming the abundance of built-in wooden cabinets with a brighter shade (Benjamin Moore's Prescott Green, to be exact) that complements the walls, there's a harmonious and soothing energy to the room now. If I have an important call, a podcast, or something similar, I’ll work downstairs, where I can close the door and block out any distractions. I’m not able to sit at the computer for long periods of time, and I like to break up my day with a walk around the neighborhood or by running an errand. I prefer my laptop over my desktop computer, as I can move to the back porch or sit in the lounge while I work."
Creating a functional, design-forward office space was paramount for Schmidt, who works primarily from home. In 2010, the entrepreneur veered into unchartered territory, creating a plant-based deodorant that not only smelt good, but did the job, devoid of any nasty irritants and compromising chemicals. What began as an unlikely project soon evolved into a natural products empire, with Schmidt's expansive range of deodorant and wellness products now available around the world. In 2017, Schmidt sold the company to beauty juggernaut Unilever.
"I am an entrepreneur at heart," she says. "I think by putting a modern spin on naturals and bringing them into the mainstream, Schmidt’s was my first big success story. Thanks to those experiences, I’ve since been inspired to give birth to a number of different businesses that will allow me to continue to make my mark and have greater impact. My husband Chris and I have created an investment fund called Color., which enables us to invest in underrepresented entrepreneurs — notably women and people of color — who are building brands that we believe in. We also launched a media company this summer called Supermaker, which celebrates diverse independent brands and modern workplace thinking. In addition, we are the proud owners of the entrepreneurial collective Portland Made, which enables us to have direct impact right here, on the ground."
With a stable of brands and different ventures on the go, it's safe to assume that Schmidt is pretty busy. She refuses to settle and applies the same tenacity to decorating her space. It's clear that this is not your average suburban home, akin to what you might find in surrounding Portland, Oregon. Instead, swaths of terra cotta linen drape dramatically from the ceiling, built-in seating is clad top-to-toe in peach velvet, neighboring a piano. Warm woods and custom nesting tables by Osmose and Blu Dot adhere to Schmidt's layered, Italian aesthetic, visually balanced by peaked ceilings and textured wallpaper. Each and every room boasts its own unique look and feel, as if each were bestowed its own dedicated theme or backstory. The master bedroom — decorated in a mossy green velvet — plays with color, scale and depth.
A hand-blown chandelier — designed by Jan Plecháč and Henry Wielgus for Lasvit — hovers overhead like a stylized chrysalis.
"Our bed ensemble was designed with a motif headboard, in a layered Carlo Scarpa inspired style," Schmidt explains. "The integrated nightstands and bench at the foot of the bed, incorporate a dazzling green fusion quartzite slab, and the built-in nightstand lamps were created to match by local glass artists in Portland," she adds. "I’m also in love with our stairwell ceiling, which shares a similar layered Scarpa motif in a rich plum, complete with a castle light pendant."
Schmidt makes a point of noting that hers is a home not intended for resale. There's no play-it-safe beige carpet to be found, or trend-of-the-minute splashed throughout. This entrepreneur built a home for the here and now, a place that speaks to her personal style and transcends the status quo.
"In personalizing their spaces, many people think about ease of resale and catering to the masses in the event they choose to someday put their house up for sale," she notes. "I am more concerned with living comfortably and happily in the moment, in a space that feels right for me and my family at this point in time."
"Trust your intuition — it’s the same mantra I’ve used in business," Schmidt continues. "If it feels right, then go for it. Don’t let perceived norms get in your way — and be open to collaboration. Our designer Andee Hess once called us “the world’s most trusting clients” — I wouldn’t have it any other way."