News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Foraged Interiors opens in Sisters

Elise Payne can see through walls.

When she walks into a new space, she renovates it in her head. While most people "have a really hard time seeing through walls," she says, "I have this innate ability to see through walls. I'm constantly taking them down in my head and putting them back up."

Though some of us might be disoriented by this way of seeing the world, Payne puts her vision to good use as an interior designer. Last fall she brought her interior design practice, Foraged Interiors, to Sisters.

Foraged Interiors offers a wide variety of services, both in-person and virtual, from single-session consultations to full service, and from advice on furnishing a single room to comprehensive design for remodels and new construction. Though this business may be new, Payne is not new to the field.

Payne has cultivated her design sense since childhood. She comes from a line of artists, crediting her mother and grandmother for passing on their visual sense. Payne's earliest projects included rearranging the garage and repainting her room. By middle school she had identified interior design as her dream career. But when she arrived at college, her school had recently dropped its interior design program, leading Payne to an "accidental" career in another field: sales.

Over the next decade, Payne did design projects on the side to satisfy her need for creative work. Seeking more, she earned an MFA in Interior Architecture and Design. When they remodeled their home in Portland, both Payne and her husband, Adam, seized the opportunity for a career reset and embraced their creative sides. Adam got his contractor's license (and has also brought his company, Cascadia Design Build, here to Sisters). After completing their remodel, they began work as a team to help clients design and execute their own projects. Payne continues to work with Cascadia Design Build, but spun off Foraged Interiors last year in order to serve clients who are not necessarily interested in doing a remodel.

The name of Payne's business reflects her emphasis on reusing things, curating a mix of old and new objects for every space she designs. Her foraging habit "started from a really frugal place," when she and her husband (who she describes as a "mega thrifter") furnished their home as young adults on a budget. Even today, thrift-store finds comprise much of their home.

Payne sees thrifting as a craft, a hunt to find gems. She loves to collect things for others who don't have the time for the hunt, but want to enrich their homes. In addition to the environmental benefits of reusing things, these foraged elements contribute to the character of the place: "Space feels so much richer and more authentic and collected if it has these things that were used before, and have their own sort of past."

Through her philosophy of "function before fashion," Payne hopes to show that interior design is not just for the rich.

"You don't have to be a millionaire to hire an interior designer," she says. "Almost to a fault, I'm always thinking, 'I'm a mom of two young kids, would I buy a $20,000 sofa?' No! So I'm not going to push that on somebody. I'm just not going to be pushing these crazy things on people just for the sake of beauty."

Payne's focus on functionality resonates with clients, especially parents looking for a place of their own in a home otherwise overrun by kids and their energy.

"Since becoming a mom, I realized how important it is to eliminate chaos," she said. "It helps my anxiety as a woman, as a mother, to have a space that does not feel chaotic. And kids bring chaos! I want to work with families like ours that really just need help to make their house more suitable to their family."

Though Payne cannot give us x-ray vision, she can share some principles to help us see our homes like a designer. Her top recommendation is to declutter our homes by regularly donating excess items, as "visual chaos becomes internal chaos." Avoid overconsumption, or refilling the space with things we don't really need. Instead, be mindful of how our space affects us: "I would treat it like we do the food we put in our bodies."

Of course, Payne emphasizes, this doesn't mean we must live in spartan homes.

"Don't be afraid to have fun with it, too," she said.

Yes, we should fill our homes with things that are functional, but also that bring us joy and meaning. She reminds us that our homes are changeable and encourages us to experiment.

"Don't be afraid to paint a wall - if your family's favorite color is turquoise, go for it!" She said. "Don't be afraid to take some chances. Don't be afraid to do a little DIY. A lot of people are too timid to even hang artwork because they think, 'I don't know where it should go.'"

Even those of us without design-vision can just take it down and put it back up again.

To learn more about Foraged Interiors, visit or email Elise Payne at [email protected].


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 06/22/2024 22:36