Elizabeth’s Colorful and Adventurous House

updated Dec 19, 2019
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Name: Elizabeth Chapin, husband Nathaniel, daughter Alabel, son Henry, Italian Greyhound Jasper, African pygmy hedgehog Quipic and tenants upstairs, Erica and Jesse
Location: Travis Heights — Austin, Texas
Size: 3500 square feet
Years lived in: Owned since 1999

The home that portrait painter Elizabeth Chapin shares with her family embodies so perfectly the spirit and soul of the quest we all undertake and aligns closely with the Apartment Therapy mission: she’s created a home full of life, love and personality.

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

There’s just something so refreshing about walking into the home of someone who doesn’t worry about what other people think and who’s not afraid to take chances or be adventurous. The home portrait painter and professional artist Elizabeth Chapin shares with her family is big, bold, beautiful and full of that: chances. Having an idea to do something a little out of the box can be scary sometimes, but Elizabeth’s home proves that your home is just that: yours, and you might as well make the most of it. Elizabeth makes the most of hers and all of her decor chances have really paid off.

Wild patterns mix with a bold and colorful palette. Antiques mix with found objects that flirt with more modern pieces. Nearly every surface in the home, from the walls to the floors to the ceilings, is painted. Art packs the walls elegantly. Collections form vignettes that grab your eye. Impromptu art shows up on unexpected surfaces, like the refrigerator and in the showers. Things hang from the ceiling, because, why not? Along with being an inspiring example of doing what you love in the home, Elizabeth’s house is also proof that you don’t get personality-filled spaces like this overnight; they’ve lived in and been decorating this home for over a decade. We’ll probably never live in a house as big as this one, but this house tour gave us a lot of hope that one day — if we keep sticking to incorporating things that we love into our space — we’ll have a home this beautiful and adventurous, too.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Ramshackle granny farmhouse goes to the beach with Kelly Wearstler.

Inspiration: Interior Designers — the drama and glamour of Kelly Wearstler, the precision and elegance of Muriel Brandolini, the wackiness and over-patterning of Diamond Baratta, the playfulness of Jonathan Adler, the mindfulness, depth of knowledge and versatility of Albert Hadley. The portraits of Alice Neel, David Hockney, Egon Shiele, Raffi Kalenderian, Mark Milroy, Ingres and John Currin. The color compositions, like music, of Hans Hoffman, the yummy paint of Wayne Thiebaud, the transporting installations of Cai Guo Qiang, the installations, video and sculpture of Emilie Faif, the fabric creations of Lyndie Dourthe, Jennifer Muskopf, and Takiyaje, the ceramics of Natalie Choux and Laura Carlin. The production design of Robert Stromberg and Eugenio Caballero. Patty Griffin and Caroline Herring’s songs become three dimensional for me, and I could go on and on about music, but that’s a rabbit hole for another time. Also, blogs: the selby, my love for you is a stampede of horses, studio toogood, all the mountains, a drawing diary, reggie darling, you are the river, life in the slow lane, bloesem, hello sandwich, mieke willems and many more…

Favorite Element: The three story cedar shake turret, the wood plank interior walls (no sheet rock).

Biggest Challenge: Absence of insulation, no central air/heat, rats living in the walls keeping us up at night.

What Friends Say: My favorite comment is “I want to come back as your child and live here.” I also get “It’s so great you’re not embarrassed to have people over!”

Biggest Embarrassment: Asking friends to wear hats and gloves when they come over for dinner during winter cold snaps.

Proudest DIY: The word walls and cartoon wood grain (Diamond Baratta knockoff) floors in the bathroom, the Georgia O’Keefe mackerel sky in Henry’s room; we’ve demolished and painted nearly every surface in the house including the fridge.

Biggest Indulgence: Art and fabric.

Biggest Advice: When you find something you love, don’t worry about where it will go or why–it will find a place. Use everything you have or get rid of it (unless it is beautiful and you just want to look at it), don’t get too precious about any of it. It is just a big wooden box that keeps out the rain. All that matters is that it works for how you live and it makes you smile.

Dream Source: Round Top (a biannual antiques fair in Round Top, Texas) and Uncommon Objects (a smorgasbord of extra special “junk” on South Congress Avenue, Austin, Texas), family hand-me-downs.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


    • Family hand-me-downs
    • Ikea
    • Street finds in NYC (when I lived there)
    • Round Top
    • Uncommon Objects
    • Howl
    • Upholstery fabric from Mod Green Pod or Designer’s Guild


    • Family hand-me-downs
    • Round Top
    • Uncommon Objects
    • Wedding presents
    • Mercury
    • Natalie Choux
    • Stuff from nature


    • Persian carpets are hand-me-downs from Nathaniel’s parents
    • Zebra is a present from my Aunt Jane on a trip to Tanzania
    • Faux zebra in Henry’s room is from Target
    • Flokati is from Home Decoration
    • Moroccan rug in our bedroom is from Nathaniel’s trip there in his 20’s
    • Turquoise flame stitch shag and the bright needlepoint circle rugs are from Round Top


(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)



    • Our bedroom walls: Martin Senour “viola” and trim: Martin Senour “boudoir blue” and “french blue” and floors Benjamin Moore 527.
    • Guest room walls: Martin Senour “pomegranate” and trim: Pratt and Lambert “olivette” and “passion flower.”
    • Library and kids’ art room walls: Glidden “theatre lights” and trim: Benjamin Moore “simply white.”
    • Henry’s room walls: Benjamin Moore “citrus blast” and trim Benjamin Moore “Simply White” and ceiling Benjamin Moore “bud green.”
    • Alabel’s room walls: Benjamin Moore “easter pink” and trim: Benjamin Moore “simply white.”
    • Kitchen walls: Ralph Lauren “slicker yellow” with two added drops of red.
    • Living and Dining room walls: Martin Senour “solar glo.”


    • I made them with fabric from Stephanie Moore of Cush Cush in Austin, TX and Designer’s Guild



    • Shams and coverlet in our bedroom from Leontine Linens, New Orleans, LA
    • Blue pom pom shams I made from a blanket I found at Uncommon Objects
    • The family dolls on our bed were made by neighbor and artist Lee Kuck
    • Pink shams and embroidered coverlet in guest room from Pandora’s in Round Top, TX
    • The knit blanket in the guest room and on Alabel’s bed are made by Marlene Stark in Bastrop, Texas
    • Henry’s bedspread and leopard shams I made from vintage Mexican textiles from Cush Cush
    • The fox pillows are by Donna Wilson in the UK
    • On Alabel’s bed, the Ikat patterned pillows I made from vintage fabric, the birdy pillows are from Clare Nicholson in the UK, the coverlet was mine when I was little, one doll is Donna Wilson and the other two (plus the mouse on Henry’s bed) I made as shameless knockoffs of the charming Apolline à Paris

    Thanks, Elizabeth!

    Images: Adrienne Breaux

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