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Name: Marita (mama), Farah (kiddo), Nara and Honeybee (dogs), and Luna, Tuna, and Oona (cats)
Location: Greater Seattle area
Size: 1,000 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned
Marita says she encountered more than a few raised eyebrows when she started wielding a paintbrush in “unusual” ways after she moved into her newly-purchased historic cottage near Seattle. But as a self-described recovering minimalist, she was clear-headed about her vision. From day one, she was going for happy, fun, and colorful, drawing inspiration from her four-year-old daughter Farah, as well as the colors she loved as a child. To that end, Marita has been painting (and re-painting!) walls, appliances, and furniture in her home (aka The Rainbow House) for the better part of a year.
“The Rainbow House is a historic cottage built in 1900 and is one of the oldest standing structures in our neighborhood,” Marita describes. “This house has been our safe space after some serious life changes that left me as a single mom with an uncertain future. I’ve done a lot of soul searching in the past two years and I think all of that work and self-discovery has manifested in this colorful, historic home!”
Marita wanted a home that made her happy, and you feel that when you walk in. The bright, bold pinks in the living room are balanced beautifully with the deep green of the open kitchen right next to it. And she has such a great mix of solids and patterns — an entire wall of pink, patterned wallpaper in the living room is grounded by furniture in solid pale pink and mustard yellow. The Janet Hill Studio vintage portraits hung by the front door add a nice touch of maturity, while still being playful. Since Apartment Therapy house tour photoshoot, Marita has repainted the bathroom blue, painted the refrigerator hot pink, spray painted the washer and dryer orange, is currently making some tile decisions, and more — it doesn’t take long to realize the best thing about The Rainbow House is that it’s always changing, but will never be done.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I would describe my style as the embodiment of childhood magic: colorful, happy, and fun! This house is all about re-discovering my inner child. I look to my four-year-old daughter for inspiration each day, the way she thinks about the world, and the way she combines colors in her own art. Remember when you were a kid and you got excited to paint your room some ridiculous color or pick out new bedding? You probably gravitated toward your favorite hues, textures, and characters. Where did that little kid go? When did we trade all the fun stuff for adult conformity?
Well, I’m over it! I call myself a minimalist in recovery. I lost sight of my inner child in a previous relationship, which culminated in designing and building a Scandi modern house from scratch. The house was beautiful, but it didn’t represent me as a person. When I suddenly became a single mom, I didn’t feel at home in that space any more. I sold the house and started to collect little objects that made me happy. When I was finally able to buy another house, I put all those objects together and saw warmth and happiness in all the things I had collected. The whole thing sort of spiraled out of control from there. Now we have over 50 paint colors in the house and we just keep adding!
Inspiration: My inspiration mostly comes from my daughter. She is four years old and she loves bright and happy things. I consult her a lot on the design decisions. She picked the pink for the bathroom, the yellow for the bedroom, and the wallpaper for the living room. I also display all of her art in the art gallery leading up to the playroom. I want her to come home each day and feel happy! I also want her to stay connected to her inner child. I want the magic of childhood to be displayed in every nook and cranny of this little house.
Favorite Element: The front room, which is the entryway and also the dining room and the living room and the library and the music room (small house problems), has to be my favorite. It makes a huge impression when people walk in, and when we get home it just feels so welcoming and uplifting. I think the Hygge and West wallpaper just makes this space. The wallpaper has a bright and dynamic nature and I can’t look at it without smiling!
Biggest Challenge: I think my biggest challenge has been designing the house for me and my four-year-old daughter and not anyone else. The previous owners live next door, and they had put a significant amount of time and money into renovating the house. And they did a great job! There was nothing that needed to be changed, but the design didn’t fit my style. I felt guilty for painting over perfectly good cabinets or painting over rooms they had only just been painted. I had a moment when I realized, you know what, this is my house, and I can do whatever I want! And now that I’ve started following my heart I feel like I’ve discovered who I am, and who I was meant to be. I’ve grown as a person just by giving this space some love. And I love my neighbors dearly — they are so excited about what I’ve done with the house and they even come over to mow the grass on the curb or shovel snow on the walkway. I’m so thankful for them!
Proudest DIY: I am so proud of the mural in the playroom. I asked my daughter what she wanted for Christmas and she said “can you paint a rainbow in the playroom?” I wanted to put my own spin on a rainbow, so I went to my local paint store and ordered 30 sample cans of paint. I started painting with Ashley Mary’s work in mind, and decided to add a lot of polka dots and also some hidden things like bees, fruits, and sunshine. This space is entirely for my daughter, and I think the mural reflects the idea of a fun, kid-centric space. My dad and I also built a rock climbing wall in the playroom with holds that my mom found from Offer Up. Building the wall was a great father-daughter bonding activity for me and my dad! My dad is constantly helping me with projects and my mom is always sending me new ideas to push my creativity. My mom has also been known to take my cabinets apart, bring them to her house, and give them a fresh coat of paint. It is certainly a family affair and I’m so thankful that my parents get excited about these projects too. Now my brother is planning to buy a house and I’m crossing my fingers that he will let me help design some of the spaces!
Biggest Indulgence: The biggest indulgence was certainly the wallpaper. I was hesitant at first because wallpaper feels so permanent. I’m a chronic painter — I’ve already painted the staircase six times! And if you change your mind about wallpaper it’s a total nightmare. I installed the Rifle Paper Co wallpaper in the kitchen in a small spot so I could get a feel for the material. It wound up being my favorite project and I just kept going. Now I have plans to incorporate even more wallpaper in the future! Wallpaper in the bathroom? Yes, please! Wallpaper on the ceiling? Stay tuned!
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? We don’t have a bathtub which hurts my heart a little bit because I love a good bath. When we moved in I remodeled the kitchen and put a gigantic single-basin sink in the kitchen for my daughter to bathe in. Oh, the joys of being four! It might look completely ridiculous but it works for us right now. And when she grows I’ll always remember her taking bubble baths in that sink. When she bathes in there all of the animals sit next to her and the seven of us occupy about the same three square feet of space.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? My favorite products for the house have been all the small things that have made the space come alive. I love the paper flowers from Unwilted Flowers because if I forget to water them it’s not a big deal! I also love the candles from Grafton Yard; I feel like the signature scent of my house is their citrus, which is so energizing and happy. The portraits of ladies by Janet Hill in the entry space feel like the patron saints of the house. Whenever we leave for the day my daughter waves at them and says, “bye, ladies!”
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: It’s no secret that I am a terribly messy person. Maybe it’s because I am a single mom and I work full time and I have 11,000 animals. But cleaning is not always my highest priority, and laundry is the absolute bane of my existence. Then I heard from Oh Joy (@ohjoy) that she washes her linens once a week and has a rotation of bedding. She describes it as giving your bed a new outfit each week. This is motivation for me to actually do the laundry — to dress up my bed in a different outfit! I have several different linens all in different color palettes and I’m thinking of collecting more to complement the changing seasons. In summer we have yellow, pink, and orange linens on rotation, but I could see incorporating jewel tones in the fall and more blues in the winter.
What most people get wrong about using color in their home: I don’t think anyone can do anything wrong in home design. It’s your home and you get to decide what to do! Maybe one thing people get wrong about color is they shy away from changing things because they already committed to a certain gallon of paint. If you have the means — do it your way and change it. It’s your space and your life! Choose happy!
What are the biggest tricks/secrets to using color in decor? I’ve found that I tend to use color in a very monochrome way. The front room is all pinks and other warm hues (yellow and orange), the kitchen is all greens, the bedroom is all yellows… My best friend walked in and said “wow, you really use pink like a neutral.” I think that’s a great way to begin adding color. I’m not sure I have the talent to mix a bunch of different shades and hues and have the colors work together. Instead, I like to commit to one color and just go all out. So if you are thinking of experimenting with color I would pick just one to start with and see where it takes you!
What’s your favorite wall paint color of all time: How could I possibly pick? Perhaps the yellow/orange color in the bedroom, which is “Golden Nugget” by Benjamin Moore. Whenever I call them for another gallon I say “I’d like the Golden Nugget, please,” and the guy says “What a funny sentence!” There’s just something about this color, almost like a school bus. It’s sort of yellow and sort of orange and it’s 100% delightful. It feels like waking up in the sunshine.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Don’t feel guilty. Do you. Change stuff you don’t like! I’ve repainted the stairway six times because I haven’t found the perfect color yet. I don’t stress it, I just keep experimenting. At the end of the day it’s you who is doing the work and reaping the benefit. Painting makes me happy, color makes me happy, and change makes me happy. Who cares what other people think. I’ve gotten pushback for buying antique wood pieces and painting them. I’ve gotten DMs saying I should never paint anything that’s natural wood. That’s okay — you keep your natural wood but mine is going to be neon orange!
DINING ROOM (AKA THE NUMMY NOOK)
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.
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Name: Mackenzie Schieck with cats Franklin and Louisa
Location: Seattle, Washington
Size: 1,000 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, renting
The trouble with being someone who loves to decorate is that you are never really done. But want to know the best part of being someone who loves to decorate? You’re never really done—yay! Let’s keep decorating until forever and live happily ever after! But, when you also happen to be an Apartment Therapy House Tour writer, it poses a legit issue: When will I be done enough to do a tour of my own place? So, saaayyy you moved in August of 2017. Maybe you’d be ready by November-ish? Yeah, November. (Or not.) Okay, maybe after the first of the year? That should work. (That didn’t work.) March? (Again, no.)
Well, it got to the point where I needed to commit myself to it. Okay, June. This is happening. I have a deadline, so it is happening. And aside from some bathroom sprucing and things to wrap up in the bedroom, I was in pretty good shape. My TV room came together first, and pretty easily, last fall. I opted to skip the formal dining area the generations before me had pegged that room for, and just leaned into the fact that this part of the apartment only had one window that offered terrible light. I figured, if it’s gonna be dark in here, let’s just go dark: black, forest green, chocolate brown, and a little dusty rose just for the heck of it. And stuff…cram lots and lots of stuff in until all the accessories create a bit of a cocoon-like feeling so that all you want to do is sink into the couch and watch the first four seasons of Younger faster than you care to admit. The result? Mission accomplished and no regrets.
The remaining seven months between then and now have been about getting the rest of the rooms put together in a way that makes sense for my life. I write a food blog and do recipe development and food photography, so I needed to deck out the kitchen and have an area available by my front window for shooting. Check! I work mostly from home, so I needed a space with a lot of pretty things around a desk to make me excited to dig in every day. (And I wanted a cozy area by the desk where I could, ya know, just sit and summon creative inspiration. Because that’s totally how it happens. It happens like that all the time.) Check! (And check—kinda.)
And kittens. I got my little fluff balls, Franklin and Louisa, in January, so I needed to make a few—[ahem]—adjustments to the decor: RIP West Elm wall hanging; see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya, kitchen fern; and thanks for your service, stripe-y tablecloth—your new assignment: kitten blanket. (Also, my dining table is less a table these days than it is a kitty lounge area. Did I say, “dining table?” I meant, literally every flat surface in my apartment. It’s a good thing they’re cute.)
Phew. Almost a year in, and I think I’m done. Or, done enough.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I think my style is all the styles, balanced. I love to pair really ornate and flowery things with modern elements, hard textures with soft, solid colors with patterned pieces, and so on and so forth. I don’t like anything all the time or all over, so I tend to mix it up within a space at any one time, as well as over time by swapping things in and out.
Inspiration: Lately, it’s all the homes I’ve photographed over the past couple years. I have definitely borrowed elements in my own home from every single tour I’ve done for Apartment Therapy.
Favorite Element: This is a tough one, but it’s probably my kitchen. I’ve never actually taken the time to decorate the kitchens in my other apartments—partly because some of the set-ups weren’t really conducive to doing so, but mostly because it just never occurred to me. So this time, I went a little nuts and really love how it all came out—bursting with greenery was definitely the way to go.
Biggest Challenge: The DIY lighting scheme in the kitchen! I almost didn’t take the apartment because there was fluorescent lighting in there—it’s bad. Real bad. Made-me-wanna-cry-every-time-I-flipped-the-switch bad. But the rest of the place was so beautiful that I just figured I’d find a way around it. Once I found the light fixtures it was easy, but it is much harder than it seems like it should be to find lighting—that are not lamps—that doesn’t need to be hardwired.
What Friends Say: One friend said it looks and smells like Anthropologie—high praise! But most friends usually say that it feels warm and comfortable, and then they ask if I can please decorate their homes. Equally high praise.
Biggest Embarrassment: I wish the kitchen had different surfaces. I’m really not crazy about the counter tops and flooring, but it’s a rental, so it is what it is.
Proudest DIY: The half-wall between my desk and living room that hides my computer cords. I really lucked out finding two separate pieces at Ballard Reuse (a salvage store in Seattle) that both had the exact color wood. All I did was clean both pieces up, finish with an oil, and attach them together. It’s perfect.
Biggest Indulgence: Plants. I’m getting better about keeping green things alive, but it doesn’t come naturally to me, so it takes a little extra cash here and there to replace ones that go south. It’s so worth it, though. I don’t know how I went so long without realizing how wonderful it is to have plant life in the home.
Best Advice: Everyone always says this, but it’s because it’s true: be patient and live in your space for a while before you make big purchases, so you know how you’re going to use the space first. And don’t be too rigid about what you think you want things to look like.
After living in this apartment for four months, one night I rearranged every piece of furniture in my living room because it was really bugging me that I looked at wall every time I sat down at my computer—and hey, I thought, those shelves over there would make for a pretty nice office corner. I knew if I moved my desk, I’d have to move everything, which was daunting, but I just went for it and it paid off.
Lastly, when decorating a room, I always say to start with something you love. It could be a pillow, a painting, a piece of furniture, etc. For me, once I commit to that particular item, I start to come across other things that work with it and that build off of it, and the room just starts to take shape.
Dream Sources: One King’s Lane, Apartment Therapy (duh!), Room & Board, Schoolhouse Electric, and a whole bunch of Seattle shops that I’ll do a weekend crawl of when I’m in need: Fleurt Collective, Anders, Tides and Pines, Glasswing Shop, Isla House + Flower, RetroFit Home, Prism, Digs—just to name a few.
Couch — Macy’s
TV desk — Consignment shop
Side chair — A friend of my dad’s in college made it.
Coffee table and gold side table — Target
White and gold footstool — Marshall’s
Eucalyptus wall hanging — Teressa Johnson
Green footstool under TV — World Market
Shell chandelier — West Elm
Black wood piece — West Elm (leftover merchandising piece)
Palm art — Pier One Imports
Cat art — Spruce
Zenith radio — vintage, it was my grandpa’s
Woven wall hanging — Anders
Geometric pendant lamp — World Market
Black planter behind couch — The Palm Room
Green vase behind couch — Hearth & Hand, Target
Black and gold vase behind couch — Isla House + Flower
Blue cart — Vintage find
Shelves — Salvaged wood
Assorted vases — Target
Painting — Kimothy Joy