ART IMITATES LIFE
An artist’s beach-cottage style is as sunny and colorful as her paintings.
This artist homeowner’s beach-cottage style is as bright and colorful as her paintings.
BEACH-COTTAGE BEAUTY. The living room is “the epitome of everything that I love,” Erin says. The different white textures of the room are anchored by wood finishes.
“I love things that are well-worn, rusty,
imperfect and handmade to offset the more classic elements.”
Using artwork to inspire your décor is a great decorating trick.
But when you are an artist, your rooms become your blank canvas on which to create. Stepping into artist Erin Houghton’s home feels like walking into one of her paintings. The similarities between her décor and her artwork are striking, seamless and even a bit surreal.
When you arrive at the beach cottage’s front door you see the same bright shade of red as appears on a bicycle in one of her paintings. And the yellow gingham curtains on the kitchen windows match the sunflowers that pop up in her artwork as well as in her garden. Erin’s attraction to vibrant colors is the basis for her aesthetic approach to her life and her work.
How does her ability to mix and match paint influence her décor? “My artist’s eye creates harmony in decorating by repeating a single primary color throughout the garden and home,” Erin explains.
“My favorite colors are ocean and sky blues accented with whites, reds and yellows,” Erin says. “My style is a mix of classic and whimsy, as I use traditional beach-cottage blue and white elements, mixing them with vintage finds and collections, and then layering pillows and accessories in florals, checks and stripes. I love to add a flag pillow to the mix for fun and tie it together with a few primary colors and touches of blue to create a sense of harmony.”
CLEAN KITCHEN. Erin refreshed the kitchen with resurfaced doors and beadboard. The mirror, chairs and table were distressed with craft paint. Erin repurposed an old herb drying rack as a place to hang baskets. She put new hardware on the drawers in brushed nickel to make them look more high end. There was an old telephone jack she couldn’t get rid of, so she painted roosters on canvases to cover the hole.
“I grew up with and adore books. I have them stacked up everywhere and use them to add height to tables with lamps
as well as to add touches of color.”
|OPPOSITE| MIRROR IMAGE. This side of the living room faces the fireplace. The lamps on either side have books underneath. Erin added a distressed paint finish to the mirror from Ballard Designs to make it look more like an architectural piece.
|ABOVE LEFT| VINTAGE VIGNETTE. In another part of the guest room, a vintage-style vignette includes a wicker chair with grain-sack pillows. The small painting is from Erin’s series called “Beach Girls.”
|ABOVE RIGHT| Erin likes to “tie in a little blue everywhere” as one of her signature statements, along with sunflowers in blue vases, so here she used blue pillows as an accent.
|RIGHT| CLASSIC COMFORT. This bedroom features a high ceiling and a built-in bookcase, original to the cottage, that goes all the way to the top, with blue-and-white china lining the shelves.
““I love things that are well-worn, rusty, imperfect and handmade to offset the more
|OPPOSITE| CREATING CURTAINS. Erin made the table curtain under her worktable out of an old shower curtain. She found the huge cupboard on the left in someone’s trash, and the old shutters behind the table hide her exercise bike. The garage doors have windows for light. People can’t believe it’s the garage. “I’m very good at hiding stuff,” Erin says.
To add whimsy and texture to her beach cottage, Erin decorates with what she calls “vintage imperfect elements” and collections such as picnic baskets, which she uses to store books, boxes, metal clam baskets and seashells.
“I love things that are well-worn, rusty, imperfect and handmade to offset the more classic elements,” Erin says. “I collect vintage birdhouses in all sizes, shapes and colors, and signs, galvanized buckets and watering cans for the garden. The watering cans, when not in use, are filled with flowers or greens from the garden, and the buckets are used for charming planters.”
But with all her vintage finds, Erin’s home and garden never look cluttered or busy. She approaches the spaces as she does her paintings. “I like to use white as a background and achieve this with the use of white walls and slipcovers in my home and white furniture in the garden. I add character and interest by using distressed blue-painted furniture and primitive wood antiques as anchors to the white.
“I am an avid flea-market, garage-sale and Goodwill junkie and have been known to pick up discarded roadside finds. I am |ABOVE| GARAGE ART GALLERY. Erin’s garage is her art studio by day, car garage by night. With high loft-like ceilings and plenty of built-in cabinets to conceal storage, it’s big enough to have meetings with 12 people. Erin painted the flagstone design on the floor. fortunate to have an amazing handyman who can fix anything that I drag home,” she says. “I grew up with and adore books. I have them stacked up everywhere and use them to add height to tables with lamps as well as to add touches of color.”
Even after decades of collecting secondhand items, Erin has no plans to modernize her living spaces. “I would buy vintage over new any day,” she says. “Each piece has history and adds tremendously to the warmth of the house. Every room in the house has something old. If it has a chip or crack, it just gives it a little personality. Most things I buy are vintage and will show up in a painting later on; my vintage blue bicycle has been in many of my paintings.”
Erin believes her three-bedroom Cape Cod cottage, located 1.5 miles from the beach, is the perfect place to inspire her creativity and give her joy and serenity.
“It’s my happy place,” Erin says. “And anybody who comes here to relax, it’s their happy place too.”
|OPPOSITE| HOME AWAY FROM HOME.
Erin’s office has a daybed perfect for lounging,
with its ample pillows in classic cottage prints like buffalo check, stripes and burlap. The charming bench coffee table is from Scotland. An old Shaker rocking chair livens up the corner. Garden hats are hung near the high ceiling. Erin likes to include hats in her décor for their texture. “With all the light walls and furniture, I needed to add
some texture,” she says.
BLUE-PLATE SPECIAL. Blueand-white plates and tea sets dot the dining room. The smallest room
in the house, it has low ceilings,
so Erin placed mirrors on each
end to make it look bigger and brought in an old antique table and had a glass top made for it so it doesn’t appear to
take up much room.
“I would buy vintage over new any day. Each piece has history and adds tremendously to the
warmth of the house.”