Flea Market Décor
AN ARTIST’S PALETTE
An artist’s vintage beach-cottage style is as sunny and colorful as her paintings.
Check out this artist’s vintage beach-cottage style—as sunny and colorful as her paintings.
USING ARTWORK TO INSPIRE YOUR DÉCOR IS A SMART 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. 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.”
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
“Every room in the house has something old. If it has a chip or crack, it just gives it a little personality.”
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 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.”
“I love things that are well-worn, rusty, imperfect and handmade to offset the more classic elements.”
“Most things I buy are vintage and will show up in a painting later on; my vintage blue has been bicycle in many of my paintings.”
“I would buy vintage over new any day. Each piece has history and adds to tremendously the warmth of the house.”