Shelley & Reed's Creative Cottage

House Tour

Name: Shelley and Reed, with children Beatrix and Callum
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Size: 1,600 square feet, including semi-finished basement
Years lived in: 7 years, owned

Inside Shelley and Reed's charming 1934 traditional is a delightful — and surprising — mix of bold colors, DIY wonders, and creative details. Creativity is encouraged in this Madison, Wisconsin home. Whether it's repurposing a dresser for dining room storage or filling the non-working fireplace with tissue-paper flames, neither product designer Shelley nor attorney Reed is afraid to look at a room and say, "What if?" Better yet — they ask, "Why not?"

The couple brings cheery personality and humor to every room, without sacrificing function or storage in the modestly sized space. While respecting the home's historic details, they have made each room feel modern and fresh. Graphic patterns mix with dramatic color choices. Clever craft projects have an artistic sophistication that makes them elegant rather than cutesy.

The best thing about visiting, say friends, is discovering what new projects have been completed since the last visit. Shelley's professional-level sewing skills and "never-say-can't" attitude let her fearlessly take on any upholstery and window-treatment project. On this day, she was contemplating whether she and Reed could construct their own chicken coop. We think they can--and that it will be the most charming chicken coop on the block.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: For decorating and for life: Dolce vita. To me, that means surrounding myself with objects of beauty and meaning (see kids' artwork, husband's bicycle) and people of joy and humor (see husband, children). If it makes us happy, it gets into my house.

Inspiration: FLOR catalog art direction. I love how they mix architectural and decorating styles to create really interesting and livable-looking spaces. I'm a big fan of white Scandinavian interiors, but I live with two kids, one dog, two cats, two lizards, fish and a husband. Resistance is futile.

Favorite Element: My mid-century dining table, scored via Craigslist: oval teak table with inlays, two leaves, tabletop pads, and six chairs for $225. $225! There should have been another zero behind that number. I am so thankful for insomnia and smart phones.

Biggest Challenge: Creating a space for everything, and keeping everything in that place. This comes easy to one obsessive-compulsive occupant and perplexing to everyone else who lives here. If I thought it would work, I'd put Julia-Child-style circles on my walls, floors, and cabinets to make sure things would be returned to the right spot.

What Friends Say: On the first visit, "Your house has so much character." On the third visit, "I can't wait to see what you've changed!"

Proudest DIY: Remodeling the kitchen and bath. We did the demo on both rooms, and re-did everything but the plumbing and cabinet installation. We discovered our tub had two exposed sides and that the previous owners had actually covered up about a foot of space beyond the foot of the tub. We tiled the whole wall around the tub and were able to hang full-size towel racks there. Conversely, my saddest DIY is the kitchen floor. The product scratches like crazy and the planks are shifty. Come back in six months: I'm gonna tear that sucker out, and start again. Have you seen that tile that looks like hardwood?

Biggest Indulgence: Power tools. We could have rented them, but Reed knows how much I like to make and remake stuff.

Best Advice: Give the ceilings three coats of paint before you move in. I wish I had heeded this advice.

Dream Sources: Paris Flea Market, plus three months vacation there to make sure I didn't miss anything

Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

    • Dining room: Benjamin Moore Affinity Granite AF-660
    • Living room: some white with Benjamin Moore high gloss trim
    • Stairway: Benjamin Moore Affinity Nightingale AF-670
    • Bathroom: Benjamin Moore Bath & Spa Eve Green
    • Master: Martha Stewart Seal MSL268

LIVING ROOM

    • Artwork: wood block print, Nick Wroblewski, cats on window, Kristi Thom; gallery, the kids
    • Window treatments: Target
    • Rugs and carpets: FLOR with an accent rug from Marshall's
    • Couch: Floor sample from great local shop, The Century House

DINING ROOM

    • Artwork: prints, Mark Brabant; pencil work, Reed
    • Paper mache gazelle: wire frame by Steve Wirtz, paper mached by Shelley
    • Window treatments: handmade by Shelley; fabric, Target shower curtains
    • Rugs: RugsUSA.com (amazing price, free shipping)
    • Lighting: came with the house, but I ditched the shades and changed the bulbs from flame-shaped to round
    • Dining table, chairs, and dresser/buffet: Craigslist
    • Hardware: Anthropologie for dresser knobs

KITCHEN

    • Window treatments: handmade by Shelley; fabric, Jo-Ann Fabric
    • Lighting: Rejuvenation
    • Hardware: Rejuvenation
    • Appliances: LG is our go-to brand on anything new.

MASTER BEDROOM

    • Artwork: Bedroom prints, Jay Long; original art above the bed, Karen Boyer; photography and silhouette art, Shelley
    • Window treatments: handmade by Shelley; fabric, IKEA
    • Bed: IKEA (I love this headboard with the built-in storage. It allows us to use a smaller wall to put the bed on, leaving space for a seating area in the room.)
    • Rugs: 2 sheepskins from IKEA taped together end to end
    • Master bed: IKEA

KIDS' BEDROOM

    • Artwork: pet portraits and Puff the Magic Dragon (based on original art by Eric Puybaret from the book of the same name): Shelley
    • Window treatments: handmade by Shelley; fabric, Jo-Ann Fabric
    • Bunk beds: Pottery Barn Kids
    • Rugs: HABA rug from Capital Kids, a fantastic local shop
    • Cube bookcases here and all over the house: IKEA Expedit

BATHROOM

    • Artwork: The Wheatfield Etsy shop
    • Upstairs hall window treatments were (of course!) handmade by Shelley; fabric DwellStudio for Target tablecloth

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Enter House Tour

Thanks, Shelley and Reed!

Story and Images: Therese Maring

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