"I love the original wood paneling, glass block, built-in shelves, and architectural ceiling tiles that make it unique to the era," explains Denver-based artist and illustrator Kimothy Joy, of the 1940s-era home she's owned for a year and shares with her partner (and the baby girl they welcomed just last month!). Its one-of-kind vibes come from the fact that this was once an international style office that was converted into a single-family home in 2012. It's fitting that she should call a former office home: Kimothy's worked hard to become the inspiring, successful artist she is today.
Kimothy's artwork has a mission. Known for her illustrations that combine watercolor and ink with hand lettering, her work doesn't just look aesthetically beautiful; she aims to spread positive messages of "empowerment to women and girls in a conversation where that is often lacking." She paints portraits of strong and inspiring women from the past and present.
It's important to her that she works with companies who "strive to make the world a better, more equitable, place for all." She's collaborated with Melinda Gates, Reese Witherspoon's digital media company HelloSunshine, GUCCI, The Huffington Post, and many more. And when you buy some of her art or products, a percentage of proceeds are donated to charitable organizations.
April 2018 was a big month for Kimothy; she gave birth to her daughter Luca Joy and That's What She Said, an illustrated book of influential women. She shares more information about this home:
"My favorite room in our house is the living room. It has so much diffused light with the glass block, and the warm tones of the flooring and paint make it feel very airy and expansive. I love all of the banana leaf trees, ficus, and philodendron we can grow in that room, making it feel like another world. We have beautiful mid-century couches that we purchased online, with their original upholstery, which feel like a perfect fit for the space. The rest of our furniture, like our sheath of wheat coffee table and our collection of lamps all have a unique story of where we found them which makes them each special. We also have a giant eight-person travertine dinner table that is great for hosting dinner parties. My favorite aspect of the entire house is the living room wall space filled with framed artwork. All of these were found at estate sales and were chosen for specific places on our walls. All of the artists are relatively unknown, but they make it feel as though we're in a gallery space that we've curated ourselves.
My partner and I also scraped the original tile and carpet throughout and had the concrete polished to reveal a warm sandy cement aggregate that gives the entire home a modern gallery feel while still being cozy and practical, yet doesn't take away from the original beauty of the building.
My office is where I spend most of my waking hours in my home. I keep the built-in bookshelves full of inspiring literature, especially children's books, and my large industrial office desk is where I have created almost all of my artwork and where I wrote my book That's What She Said: Wise Words from Influential Women. I love the soft diffused light that floods in through the glass block window each morning. It is the place in my home that is truly my own, cluttered with small tchotchkes and souvenirs that I've collected. It is my creative sanctuary."
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: International style and mid-century modern.
Inspiration: The home itself was an international-style dentist office that was converted into a single family home. The existing space demanded a certain style and it was fun to fill the space around that origin story.
Favorite Element: I love the large curving glass block window in the living room. I have never loved the look of glass block in most spaces; it often seems dated or more utilitarian than a design choice. In this space, however, it is perfect. It brings in a beautiful diffused light and looks amazing on the inside and out.
Proudest DIY: The largest undertaking in our space was redoing the floor. The existing carpet and tile was just not what we wanted in our home. Rather than trying to add a floating laminate floor we decided to go with a polished concrete floor. Removing the carpet was easy but removing the tile underneath took dozens of hours and a ton of back breaking effort. After the floor was polished, we couldn't have been happier with the choice. You never know what you will get with a polished concrete floor, and we were happy to see a bright sandy finish with the final product. It is a practical, economical, environmental AND a beautiful option for homes built on slab.
Biggest Indulgence: Almost all of the furnishings and artwork in our home were purchased on a tight budget. We scoured estate sales, antique shops and Craigslist for almost everything in or home. However, we splurged on our Milo Baughman-style Walnut Case sofa set from a gentleman in Golden, Colorado, that refurbishes mid-century furniture. These beauties still have their original finish and upholstery and despite the price tag, bring us happiness everyday.
Best Advice: I have two! One, if you have any unique existing design elements in your space, use them. I think it is always easier to allow the space to inspire the decor rather than attempting to force it. Some people have amazing pieces of furniture in their homes that look strange because they don't match the existing aesthetic.
Also, forget IKEA to save money. You can find amazing pieces of furniture on estate sales, Facebook or Craigslist for the same price. Sometimes these pieces need a little bit of love, but they have more character. Even if you love a vintage piece and they are not cheap, if you spend $500 on a chair from the 1940s, it is likely that someone else will spend $500 on it in a year. It is kind of like renting! Last but not least, aim for every item in your home to bring joy to your heart! This means you have to take your time, shop around, and not rush to fill it immediately.
PAINT & COLORS
Behr Premium Plus Ultra — Custom color matching existing paint
Milo Baughman Style Walnut Case Sofa Set — @circular_reference_design
Vintage travertine dining table — Craigslist
Vintage "Triune" buffet by Drexel — Estate sale
Creative Co-Op White Stoneware Hanging Planters — Amazon
Mid-Century Dining Chairs — Craigslist
Leather Mid Century Chairs — Came with the house! Originally from Mod Livin' in Denver)
Safavieh white shag rug — Overstock
Extra large faux fur blanket — Overstock
Industrial glass office table — Antique Row, South Broadway, Denver
Vintage Thonet side chair — Antique Row, South Broadway, Denver
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*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.