Style in the Treasure Valley

Marlee Drake transforms houses into homes

Article by Chelsea Chambers

Photography by Courtesy of the NEST

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.”     

– Georgia O’Keeffe

When you look at a four-year-old child, what thoughts do you think are running through their head? Maybe something about a snack or their new favorite toys. But when Marlee Drake was a child, her focus was already on design. At the time, drapes specifically.

“I have always been artistic and come from a very talented and creative family. When I was four years old, I walked into my new babysitter’s home and said ‘Oh! What lovely draperies!’ So, I think I’ve always had an eye for interior design,” Marlee says, with a smile.

Since the days of admiring draperies in her youth, Marlee has put her creative energy into all kinds of different art styles—painting, drawing, crochet, and of course, her passion—interior design. With a background in art history, Marlee finds herself drawn to shapes and flowing lines, colors, and textures, and often cultivates her visions from the great masters of design. “I find inspiration from a walk in the woods, antique doors in Oxford England, cobblestone sidewalks in Amsterdam, in so many places,” Marlee shares. “We travel and are always trying to experience new educational experiences.”

Beyond her lengthy background and academic experience with art and design, she also looks to nature as her muse and is captivated by nature’s biological design elements. “I believe nature in interior spaces is a beautiful design element. It's important for balance and well-being for our clients and the way they function in their personal spaces.” This natural mindset brought Marlee to floral design for a number of years, where she won numerous awards for her expertise in that field. 

Several years ago, Marlee and design colleague MK Houston traveled to the Netherlands. During their trip they explored the architecture of small Dutch villages. “We found that the village had created their own color of green for their windmills and small village homes. Some of these ancient windmills are still preserved today. The green was so beautiful, inspired by nature: happy, calming, and energizing. It is a color that has stood the test of time. We were so excited when we found the perfect project in Sun Valley: a beautiful home that evokes a vintage Sun Valley feeling. We used that green in the kitchen and on the ceilings of the bathrooms.”

Marlee has traveled all over the world, building her repertoire, and filling her cup with elegant and creative ideas to transform Treasure Valley houses into homes. 

And Marlee knows, for anyone who has ever moved into a new house, it’s not the walls or the floors that make a home, but rather it is what we bring into it: our love and energy, and of course, our furniture. The way we design our space is what elevates and transforms our house into our home. It becomes a space where family gathers and memories are made. A place to host, to connect, to celebrate, and to come together under one roof. 

This principle is the driving force behind the NEST, where Marlee serves as vice president alongside owner and founder MK Houston. Marlee and MK share an appreciation for the unique, one-of-a-kind inventory selection that allows them both to express their design creativity.

Perhaps the best part about her position as VP is that Marlee gets to use her talents as an added benefit to their customers. “As part of a service for our clients, I draw the floor plans and room renderings so the clients know exactly how the room will look when complete,” she continued. As a further testament to her work she says, “I have also designed a couple of houses, one of which has been built two different times by different builders.”

“Curating a beautiful experience for our clients is our number one objective,” Marlee says. “We had a client come into our store several years ago. She said she would come—not just to shop—but to escape from the daily pressure at work. I realized then that the atmosphere of our two locations was so important.”

To learn more, visit and stop by one of their stores. Ask for Marlee or MK, and they will be happy to assist you with your design and inspirational ideas.

“I find inspiration from a walk in the woods, antique doors in Oxford England, cobblestone sidewalks in Amsterdam, in so many places.”

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