Pale Pink House

Our pale pink house looks like all the other pastel houses in our Southeast neighborhood.  But once the Navajo white door opens, bright color dazzles the eye.

I am a bright, warm person.  When we bought this house, I hated the bland walls, the cream carpets, and the white tile. It drove me crazy.

“I liked the bland,” my husband admits, “But after 24 years of marriage, I knew who was going to win this battle.”

We are a military family, and we, together with our two sons, have moved 22 times.  Each move has offered us opportunities to explore new regions, try new things—and to acquire new “collectibles”.

After so many moves, I have developed a skill for overcoming architectural hurdles, blending different looks together, and quickly making a house a home.

My home is my nest. I want to leave my job, come home and feel my heart quicken when I walk through the front door. I don’t understand how people can live for years without fully unpacking their boxes.  I always unpack everything and decorate the house, even if we’re only somewhere a year.  I can’t put my life on ‘hold’ for a year—what if it’s my last year of life?

Our home is warm and inviting. Each room is set up so that family members and friends can sit and visit. For example, the master bedroom has a café table and chairs; the office has a cozy double futon chair, and the kitchen has corner bench seats, bar stools, and a built-in desk.

Our family is close-knit and we are most content spending time together. When we entertain, we naturally gravitate to the kitchen; when I am working my den, someone usually ends up on the futon.

Because the we have lived and traveled throughout Africa, the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean, our home has a multicultural mélange of artifacts, such as hand-carved drums from Ethiopia, wooden sculptures and paintings from Haiti, Native American art from New Mexico, and knick-knacks from Europe. Even though he has never been to Japan, Iain has an impressive collection of Japanese art and kimonos.

I’ve decorated each room thematically. For example, the Southwest influences our living room; the Caribbean, the master bath, and Scandinavia, the guest bath. The glassed-in sunroom has Mediterranean influences and the kitchen looks like a Bavarian gasthaus.

Bill and I met in Munich, Germany. I wanted the kitchen to look like the little restaurants we used to eat in. We painted the kitchen a deep yellow, bought a corner table and bench set, framed some old German menus, bought a picture of the Pope, painted Benedikt’s Stube on a pub sign–and voila! Instant Old Germany.

The living room colors were, initially, a source of concern for Bill.

“Bright turquoise and light green? I didn’t see it working, but I kept my mouth shut. It pulled together, and it looks really good. Same with the master bedroom—it’s Pepto-Bismol pink. That’s certainly not a color I would have chosen.”

To keep the unique flavor of each room, I needed paintings and other artwork to tie the theme together.  (If I can’t afford an original, I will make something myself, or buy prints from local artists, such as the ones over the fireplace. They were done by locall artist Charlene Thomas; I worked with her husband on Kirtland Air Force Base.)

My mother is a classically trained artist, and many of her oils are displayed in the kitchen, sunroom and guest bathroom.  My mom’s stuff is mostly of French and German subjects.  I consider my own artwork to be experimental, leaning towards mystical. I love expressionism and Hispanic religious art. I am self-taught and have been selling paintings since I was twelve. My stuff is scattered throughout the house, but is mainly in the master bedroom, which looks like a Santa Fe bed and breakfast”.  The focal point of the room is a massive handmade wooden bed.

It’s the only piece of furniture I’ve ever had custom made. We’d just moved to Albuquerque when I ordered it. When asked to choose colors for the carvings, I had no idea what colors to use—so I picked what I thought were Southwest colors: aqua and bubblegum pink. Having lived in Puerto Rico for four years had colored my judgment. Once I got the bed, all the Southwest accessories I wanted to buy wouldn’t go. So I had to repaint the bedroom walls, make some paintings, and dim the lights to compensate. Now the room is stunning.

Outside, even the garden walls are painted.

I saw a mural on a wall in Old Town. I tried to paint one like it with leftover room paints. Thank goodness it doesn’t rain much here; otherwise it would be ruined!  My next project is to plant a tiny English garden behind a picket fence, complete with an outdoor model railway. Maybe I’ll  build a small green house and put in a vegetable garden. But then, just as I do that, Bill will probably get transferred and we’ll be off on another adventure.”

Wherever we end up, it is certain that our home will be filled with family, friends—and art.

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