Laura Lee’s Bright & Playful Basement Studio

House Tour

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Name: Laura Lee Gulledge
Location: Flatlands, Brooklyn, New York
Size: Basement Studio
Years lived in: 6 months; rented

Laura Lee Gulledge is no stranger to having her house featured (see Time Out New York and Houzz), but two apartments later she was faced with a new challenge: a far away Brooklyn neighborhood and an underground studio. "Bright" and "basement" are not often used in the same sentence, though Laura Lee's space proves otherwise. Bringing the outside indoors using eclectic artifacts and bold colors, Laura has created a whole world using very little natural light.

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As an Eisner and Harvey award-nominated graphic novelist, Laura Lee not only draws beautiful comics; she has also held a myriad of other artistic jobs, including creating holiday window displays for stores such as Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue. Window and mural work have given her interior aesthetic a large-scale appeal; draped tapestries and handmade pompoms hang from her low ceilings to make them look higher and more grand.

She also has a background in art education, and her two published graphic novels Page by Paige and Whil & Whit are targeted towards young adults. This sense of imagination is also evident in her home. On display are playful arrangements of photos, artwork, and tiny doors that she made either for herself or Rory, her equally playful red-haired cat. She balances it all out by being a gracious host. Her advice? "Always have an extra cord for guests to charge their smartphones."

Laura Lee has also made thoughtful decisions on paint colors, as well the alignment of her wall mirrors. The blue side of the open floor plan is for evening-time relaxing (bed, couch and tv), the green side is for daytime work and preparation (cooking and art studio), and the bright red in between divides the two sides. The mirrors, which the artist calls "infinity mirrors," are to open the space up and play back reflections — giving your a eye a sense of depth at every turn. When it's time for fresh air and creative scheming, Laura heads to the back patio to lounge in her hammock under rice paper lanterns (see patio panoramic photos here).

When visiting Laura's house of whimsy, you may not escape without adding some glitter and glue onto a blank canvas (photo towards end of the slideshow). As Laura Lee's personal friend and artner-in-crime, I can tell you that painting out of your comfort zone is entirely worth the fun. After the photo shoot she hung our glitter collaboration in her bathroom.

Thanks so much for sharing your home with us, Laura Lee! Visit her blog whoislauralee.blogspot.com and main website. You can also peek at her holiday window work on itneedsmoreglitter.blogspot.com.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Colorful, Artistic, Patterns, Textiles, Playful.

Inspiration: I was going for a folk-art inspired color palette to showcase my collection of artwork and creative artifacts.

Favorite Element: The hanging oval paper lamp, which my folks bought in the 70s. It’s hung in every place I’ve lived since high school (That’s like, oof, 9 different places!) so hanging it up in each new place always makes it feel like home.

Biggest Challenge: Lack of sunlight. Hence the attention to lighting placement, thoughtful layout of mirrors, bright colors, sun lamp, and sky blue wall color. I try to bring the outdoors indoors.

What Friends Say: Cute! Colorful! Far away! Not designed for tall people!

Biggest Embarrassment: My microwave is in the, ehem, closet. Because that kitchen is just too darn small!

Proudest DIY: The wee tiny door. (Where my house elf lives!) It was an extra door from a Lord + Taylor Christmas window that I swiped from the garbage at work and turned into a DIY project. (I wood-grained it, then added the knob and white frame.)

Biggest Indulgence: The big white taboret! (That’s a big fancy word for artist supply cabinet.) I had this Romanian-made solid-pine cabinet on layaway for months at the furniture store The Artful Lodger where I worked back in Charlottesville. Deciding to house my art supplies in such a nice piece of furniture was symbolic in helping me take my pursuit of art more seriously.

Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to go bold with color schemes, because color really has a wonderful effect on mood. What I find really activates a space is incorporating a pair of complimentary colors (I prefer tertiary), like my teal-green and poppy-red. While the complimentary colors create tension, the analogous colors (blue/green/teal & burgundy/fuschia/ poppy) work together to unify the space. And then finally you have the neutral elements to help the space breathe, otherwise it could be exhausting to the eye. You just need to lead each of your colors around your space. If you put teal accents in the red room and red accents in the teal room, the two spaces instantly start having a conversation.

Dream Sources: ABC Carpet & Home, paying for work from my artistic friends, and travel finds from exotic locations.

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Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

  • Benjamin Moore: Pool Party
  • Benjamin Moore: Pear Green
  • Benjamin Moore: Tropicana Cabana
  • Behr: Red Stone

(Laura Lee: here’s where I got everything that was purchased in an actual store! Everything not listed here is some variation of hand-me-down, thrift store find, handmade/ built, street find, gift, acquired from traveling / individual artists, or leftover from one of my zany freelance projects).

ENTRY/ART STUDIO

  • Desk- Under the Roof (a now closed down store in Charlottesville, VA)
  • Desk chair-IKEA
  • Bamboo ring curtain- IKEA
  • Taboret - The Artful Lodger (furniture store in Charlottesville, VA)

LIVING ROOM

  • Sofa- IKEA
  • Square paper lamps - IKEA
  • Patterned fabric above closet - IKEA

  • TV stand - Target

  • Teal Pillow - Urban Outfitters
  • End tables - The Artful Lodger

  • Red paper lanterns - Pearl River (in SOHO)

KITCHEN

  • Airplane window picture frames- Fab.com

BEDROOM

  • “Peanuts” yarn art - Junk (store in Williamsburg)
  • Dresser- The Artful Lodger
  • Bedspread - IKEA

  • Mini ipod stereo - Fab.com

  • Animal head necklace rack - Fab.com (it’s made by a Brooklyn girl actually, Steph Mantis)

BATHROOM

  • Shower curtain - Urban Outfitters

PATIO

  • Hammock- Paragon sports

  • Teal solar powered lanterns - IKEA
  • Teal stool and folding chair - IKEA
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Thanks, Laura Lee!

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(Image credits: Andrea Sparacio)