Chris & Heather’s Happy, Hippy Haven

published Jan 26, 2010
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Name: Chris & Heather
Location: Acton, Massachusetts
Size: 2,700 square feet
Years lived in: 4

I first met Heather and Chris when they contacted me for a fresh eye to help them pull together their playful family room. The moment I entered their house I had two thoughts: This is absolutely a future Apartment Therapy House Tour, AND this woman is so talented at design, I can’t imagine how I’m going to be a value added here.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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Front Entry (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Entering Chris and Heather’s Victorian farmhouse is a viscerally delightful experience. Returning to when we first met, Heather wanted to escort me directly into the room she wanted help with, the family room. But it was impossible, as it is for any first-time visitor to their home, to skip over even a single visual detail. This deeply loved home is bursting with personal touches that reflect the people who live here.

Heather, a preschool / kids creative movement and yoga-dance teacher, is fearless and unapologetic in her passion for throw-back bright colors. The result? Regardless of your own personal style, walking into their home feels like you’re walking into a tangible, physical representation of happiness. Can’t get any better than that.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Style: Just an eclectic, mish mash. We combine what we’ve collected, inherited and what we like. I don’t think too much about a certain style, just what I love. Not sure this house reflects it, but we tend towards modern with a bit of glam and kitsch. I like to use what I have. I give away or sell what no longer inspires me or works in the space. Because my work is creative in nature, I have to have my spaces orderly and beautiful to remain inspired and be able to create. When my surroundings are chaotic or dull, so is my mind! With 2 busy teenagers and a dog, it’s a lot of work to make it all happen.

Inspiration: Apartment Therapy, Etsy, design magazines, books, art studios, vintage children’s book illustrations, anything 50’s, 60’s, 70’s (especially vintage textiles), flea markets, consignment shops, and friend’s homes. In love with pink and turquoise, happy colors, flower power, pop art, anything that harkens back to the illusion of a simpler time.

Favorite Element: Just the happy colors and seeing messages and images that I love on my walls at every turn. I’m obsessed with words! The luxury of having plenty of space. We love to dance and the big open family room lends itself to our 80’s dance parties. I also love the light and serenity of the kitchen.

Biggest Challenge: Making the family room feel “done”, hanging pictures when there is not a lot of detail in the room to work with. Kyle Freeman from Cloud 9 was a big help in rearranging the family room. Doing everything on a very small budget and being patient for all the spaces to come together. A yard that we are slowly pulling out of years of neglect by previous owner.

What Friends Say: What a happy and fun house. They love all the personal things everywhere. They say I should do this for a living. Visitors love to roam around checking out all the “art”. Kids love the house and my teenager’s friends call it “Epic”! They also call it “the Hippy House”. That makes me the happiest. My goal is to lift people’s spirits and connect them to their inner child! My hope is to inspire folks to stop and think about how their own spaces reflect who they are.

Biggest Embarrassment: Driveway, deck and yard are still so unfinished and unsightly. The yard was very neglected so it’s slow going getting it to have any design or beauty. Peeling paint on the garage and house. Outside of house is in the process of being painted. Upstairs bathroom which is in the process of a remodel. My art studio is halfway done. The other half is a huge mess!

Proudest DIY: My husband painted all the kitchen cabinets for our kitchen remodel and outfitted our pantry closet out of a coat closet. In fact, my husband has done all the painting in the whole house. We have never hired anyone to paint! Proud that we got the kitchen we wanted, which feels vintage and modern to us, and flows with the rest of the house without gutting it and spending a fortune. All with the help of our wonderful designer Thayne Emrich of Thayne Emrich Design, who is a space planner/designer extraordinaire!

Biggest Indulgence: The amount of space we have is a luxury for sure but nothing has been particularly high end. If you see something “nice” in my house, chances are it was a floor model, inherited, or the product of a huge sale. My husband indulges me with all the weird and girly stuff I collect and hang on the walls.

Best advice: The cliche: buy what you love and somehow it will eventually work somewhere. Don’t follow rules and really pay attention to what makes you happy. Keep an inspiration board and look for common threads of stuff you love whether it is in color, eras, patterns. I believe design is a spiritual endeavor. How we keep our homes and the messages we display creates the energy we send out to the universe which I believe absolutely impacts what we get back!

Dream source: I would love to have a few iconic Eames pieces from Design Within Reach. (E.g.: The Eames light blue molded plastic rocker.) I would love to be able to hire a landscape company to create an outdoor haven, but that would cost a fortune. I would also love to have more high end appliances one day, but for now, they all work.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note (furnishings, hardware, appliances & materials):

LIVING ROOM rug from Design within reach, couch from circle furniture, chairs and tables from consignment shop.

FRONT HALL runner from Susan Sargeant, “Chet” mannequin from consignment shop

DINING ROOM ALCOVE chairs and desk inherited, bar cabinet, other cabinet and end table from consignment shop

DINING ROOM table floor model from Crate & Barrel, chairs and desk inherited, bar cart from consignment shop

KITCHEN stool from Crate & Barrel, couch from consignment shop, kitchen cart from IKEA

FAMILY ROOM couches from Boston Interiors, tables from consignment shop, rug from Flor, book case from IKEA, leather chair from Restoration Hardware

STUDIO table inherited, Shelving from ikea, couch and table from consignment shop

BEDROOM bed from Crate & Barrel, tables and dresser inherited, dresser from IKEA

ACCESSORIES, PILLOWS & TEXTILES from Etsy, Urban Outfitters, IKEA.

DESIGNER Thayne Emrich of Thayne Emrich Design.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Chris and Heather!

Images: Kyle Freeman

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