Behind the Scenes

Hi Friends: I've decided to begin a regular feature showing life behind the scenes at Blue Thistle Arts. Today, I am sharing a few photos of my home in Santa Fe, which illustrates my love of color, art and pattern! And I have a few suggestions about how to design a joyful and distinctive space of your own.

My goal is always to create a happy, uplifting atmosphere for my family, because our environment helps shape our feelings, thoughts, imagination and who we are as individuals - not that a home needs to be filled with expensive items - just with things that are meaningful to us personally, like a painting that makes us smile, a hue that represents a favorite place, an object made by a loved one, or a book that holds treasured ideas. Many functional items are also attractive such as plates, platters and glassware, for example, and can be displayed, rather than stored away.


My home is casual and somewhat rustic. I dislike formal rooms, because I think comfort and joy trump propriety! We transformed our formal living room into a billiard/game room, because that way, the space is used more frequently and playfully. I don't like rules either - who says you can't mix periods or patterns? Eclectic rooms are interesting and usually evolve from life stories, not from show rooms. I think our homes are for our own enjoyment, rather than for pleasing or impressing others. And they should be practical - with 3 kids and 2 dogs, slip covers are the best!


Figure out what inspires you and feature it in a favorite space. I once read about an entrepreneur who decorated his office with photos of famous inventors. He drew energy from these images, and to provide an extra visual spark, he reproduced the inventors' sketches in brilliant colors. As a result, his office could be appreciated both aesthetically and intellectually. I keep books in every room because I love to read, and because many volumes are beautiful in and of themselves. Plants are important, too, because they bring nature indoors and emit oxygen for good health.


Studies have proven that color and imagery influence our moods. Because I suffer from chronic fatigue, I fill my home with bright, energizing colors and vibrant patterns. They simply make me feel better! My family and many friends love this palette, while others prefer neutral or pale, soothing shades that reduce stress. Experiment and see what works for you.


Art is a key ingredient in any room. Choose something that resonates with you emotionally and will not become tiring to look at daily. I love vibrant art that is expressive and often nature-inspired. Are you drawn to humorous folk art, graphic abstracts or serene seascapes? Or maybe you prefer charcoal drawings and modern sculpture? Buy what you can afford, whether it is a calendar page, a print, a child's sketch, or an original painting. They all add dimension and vitality to a home. Objects are great, too - hang an old bike on the wall or repurpose a ladder for displaying textiles and linens. Salvaged architectural elements make wonderful art and can be found in flea markets or on curbs!


I hope my photos will inspire you to try new things in your own house - hang a piece of quirky art, buy a bold throw pillow (so easy to change), or mix up items you already own into fresh groups. A few changes can make a big difference in how we see and feel about our environment. If we never alter anything, we stop noticing our surroundings, and life at home becomes bland and routine.


Design legend Van Day Truex once said," Interiors speak! Rooms emphasize whether one exists or lives, and there is a great difference between the two." Use your place as a studio where you can test ideas and express your creativity. This is a great way to discover or hone your personal style, and make your house a true haven for you and your family. We all need an environment where we can relax, be ourselves, recharge, and laugh OUT LOUD! So, have fun, throw out the rules, and give your abode some personality! 


Photos Top: studio bookcase with crazy collections; Emil Gorky handcrafted plates from beloved Mexico. Row 2: Game room was formal living room; hand painted Talevera jar. Row 3: favorite book on Monet's garden, ceramic/glass platter made by son Erik; top painting gift from my mom, lower painting one of my originals. Row 4: studio day bed with pillows (most from Blue Thistle Arts) Mexican blanket, chevron storage ottoman, plants. Row 5: family room showing mix of patterns, periods and paintings (those on left by artist Phyllis Kapp); antique cabinet from mom's house, painting by Flora Bowley, purchased on one of her art retreats to San Miguel d'Allende. Row 6: dining and family room with our Corgi, Jake, by slip-covered sofa. Row 6: Pastel drawing by George Colin, a coal miner who took up art at 65; Chippendale chair with Blue Thistle Arts pillow, remnant fabric and embroidered sash from Thailand.