This Hand-Painted, Patterned Farmhouse Is Drenched in Color

This Hand-Painted, Patterned Farmhouse Is Drenched in Color

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Name: Kristin Nicholas. I live here with my husband Mark and teenage daughter Julia
Location: Western Massachusetts
Size: 3500 square feet
Years lived in: 20 years, owned

Our home was built in 1751 in western Massachusetts on a south facing knoll. It sits alongside an abandoned apple orchard that backs up to a small mountain populated with all kinds of wildlife. In the orchard during the growing season, our flock of sheep and lambs graze and rest, graze and sleep. Just outside my basement studio door, I grow a large flower and veggie garden.

Our house looks like a typical New England cape style home — it is painted white and has a cedar roof and brick chimneys and is surrounded by a natural cedar picket fence. When you walk in the door, it is anything but normal — color and pattern envelope you. We have lived here for almost twenty years and as time has passed, I have painted the walls with layers of color — golds, pinks, green, and orange. I have stamped borders with Indian inspired paisley motifs. I have printed walls with leaves and flowers. I have painted murals with flowers, vines and birds and tile inspired faux wallpaper. Layers of textiles from far off lands add texture and warmth. My own oil paintings, painted lampshades, collected antiques blend seamlessly to create a chaotic feeling of home and art and love. I love the feeling I get when I walk in the door and enveloped by all the color and pattern.

I have been involved with making things for my entire life. When I was a child, I learned sewing, embroidery, crochet and knitting. After college, I began to paint and make ceramics. Most recently, I have been designing patterns for surface design using a combination of handmade techniques and computer tools. I have used our home as a canvas for experimenting with color and new techniques. I try to inspire others to do the same – to forget about their fears and inhibitions and listening to what others say. My goal is to inspire others to create their very own feeling of home by layering colorful things they have made themselves. My last two books – Crafting A Colorful Home and Crafting A Patterned Home have focused on interior design and crafting. I hope others find confidence to follow their dreams.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Colorful Handmade Pattern Crazy Anglophile Bohemian Artist

Inspiration: Handmade textiles from all over the world and historic homes of artists and house museums

Favorite Element: Our home is drenched in a saturated layer of colors. It is very cold here many months of the year. Every time I walk in, I feel warm and cozy because of the enveloping feeling the colors and patterns create on all the walls, floors, furniture and collections I have decorated house with. Our house was built in 1751 so it has a real sense of history that is enhanced by the colors.

Biggest Challenge: Keeping it clean. We have three dogs, five cats, chickens, and 400 sheep that eat hay. My husband is a farmer and my daughter and I help. Stuff from outside is always coming in on our pets and our feet and clothing. Overcoming it is useless. Dark colors and patterned surfaces hide the dirt. White anything isn’t a possibility here.

Proudest DIY: When we bought our house, the kitchen was in the basement. I didn’t want to be far away from my guests and family while preparing foods. I wanted a kitchen that looked like it had been here for years. We knocked down walls and turned three small rooms into one large space. I did all the design work myself and managed the project. I love our kitchen so much. I was inspired by visits to the UK and the old country kitchens there. It was a fun project and I have no regrets.

Biggest Indulgence: Adding a basement studio with a second floor sun porch that exits off the kitchen. In the warmer months, we eat every meal on the porch. Every summer morning we look out the big windows to check on the sheep grazing, chickens scratching, roosters crowing, birds singing. I use my downstairs studio space for writing, painting, fabric design, embroidery, fabric printing, and ceramics. It is my space – no one else in my family uses it. I can let it get as messy as I want and still know where everything is. In the summer, I hold creative weekend retreats on fabric and ceramic design, lampshade painting, knitting and embroidery in the studio.

Best Advice: Think about how you and your family are going to live in the house over the years. Then design your home to work best for your family so that everyone will enjoy it. For instance, we only have two bedrooms because of the kitchen renovation. It works fine for us because we are a small family. To overcome the lack of bedrooms, I have two beds in each bedroom so we can still have overnight guests. It isn’t ideal but it works for us.


Most of my wall treatments are a result of layers of different colors applied on top of each other to make a color unique to our home. I do prefer oil-based paint for woodwork because of its durability. Many of the surfaces I painted twenty years ago are still holding up.

Many of the fabrics that I hand printed and painted are available as digital designs on fabric and wallpaper in my Spoonflower shop.

I make handmade and hand painted ceramics and fabric lampshades that are available on-line in my Etsy shop.

Sofa — Lillian August
Dragged, stamped and colorwashed wall — Instructions in my book Crafting A Colorful Home
Pillows — handmade by me from world textiles found at flea markets, especially Brimfield Flea Market in Massachusetts
Rugs — A Candle in the Night, Brattleboro, VT
Oil paintings —by Kristin Nicholas

Photos Wallpaper – handpainted by Kristin Nicholas. You can purchase a digital wallpaper of the same design in my Spoonflower shop.
Paisley hand block printed fabric on chair printed by Kristin Nicholas. You can buy the design printed digitally in three different colorways here — Spoonflower
Hand painted Ceramic Tiles on fireplace surround – made by Kristin Nicholas. Visit my Etsy shop
Lampshade – handpainted by Kristin Nicholas. Instructions in Crafting A Patterned Home (Roost 2018)
Pillows and Afghans by Kristin Nicholas. Instructions in Crafting A Patterned Home (Roost 2018)

Mural on walls – hand painted by Kristin Nicholas. You can purchase a similar version I designed for Casart Coverings in removable wallpaper here.
Table, chairs and sideboards – Inherited from my Great Aunt Jennie. Made in the 1920s in the Jacobean style. I colorwashed the furniture with thinned oil paint to turn the oak wood a shade of charcoal.
Oil Paintings by Kristin Nicholas
Embroideries on sideboard and table – Brimfield Flea Market
Brass non-electrified chandelier – Brimfield Flea Market
Plaid wall treatment below chair rail by Kristin Nicholas. Instructions included in Crafting A Patterned Home (Roost 2018)

Kitchen cabinets – Crownpoint Cabinetry
Rest of furniture inherited or antique
Crochet Afghan, Printed Tablecloth and Pillow by Kristin Nicholas. Instructions in Crafting A Patterned Home (Roost 2018)
Fabric is also available from Spoonflower as a digital print
Slip-covered chair – Fabric by Kristin Nicholas design available through Spoonflower
Rug – A Candle in the Night, Brattleboro, VT
Iron lamp with Vaseline glass shade – brought home from the UK

All furniture inherited or antique
Sunflower wallpaper – Hand painted by Kristin Nicholas. You can purchase a version in wallpaper and fabric via my design shop on Spoonflower.
Base wall color and woodwork – Behr Lamplit MQ4-11
Green wall and trim color near window – Behr Pistachio MQ4-42
Rug – Brimfield Flea Market
Lampshade and pottery by Kristin Nicholas. Similar available on her Etsy shop

Wall treatment – hand painted by Kristin. Instructions found in Crafting A Patterned Home (Roost 2018)
Bathtub Taps – Perrin and Rowe from Rohl, Georgian Era in Satin Nickel
Towels – Anthropologie

All decoration by Kristin Nicholas. Linoleum block printed curtains, sponge printed wall decoration, painted lampshade – all projects featured in Crafting A Patterned Home (Roost, 2018)

Flooring – Vinyl Composition Tiles by Armstrong in nine different colors – They come in over 400 colors and are easy to install. Very durable and washable.

Thanks, Kristin! All images are from Crafting a Patterned Home © 2018 by Kristin Nicholas. Photographs © 2018 by Rikki Snyder. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, Boulder, CO.

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