This Playful Cottage Perfectly Layers Color and Pattern

An art-lover’s sweet new bungalow could have ended up a jumble of serendipitous finds until her design-pro friend used color to turn her favorite things into one original work of art.

living room

Robert Peterson

Conventional wisdom states that a houseful of vibrant things—furniture and collections, art, and doodads—demands a neutral background. A blank canvas is a must for uniting a bounty of bold pieces or else mayhem ensues, so they say.

But who are they to say anyway? One person’s color cacophony may be another’s perfectly calibrated color cocoon. Unquestionably, the Georgia brick-and-clapboard home of Susie Mobley falls into the latter category as a vivid extension of the owner’s jubilant personality. 

“People walk in and say, ‘This looks just like you!’” Susie says. Then she admits, laughing, “They also say, ‘Gosh, I don’t think I can take it all in at once!’”

No rush, she assures visitors; the house is a story designed to unfold one room at a time. Pinks and corals, ochers, and teals catch the eye, and just when you pop into other spaces like the powder room—pow! The fun decor packs more bold color.

A self-professed lover of stuff, Susie treats her home as a magpie nest: pedigreed antiques next to family hand-me-downs, paintings with provenance near outsider art—and all of it comes with color. “I can’t just do plain. I’d be bored to death!” she says. 

living room

Robert Peterson

But her best find might be her decorator pal Tami Ramsay of Cloth & Kind. Instead of reining it all in, Ramsay became Susie’s fervent enabler. “I was seeing her become more and more adventurous,” Ramsay says. “But Susie’s always had conviction—when she likes it, she buys it, and together we figure out how to make it work.” 

The many shades of coral and teal take center stage in the living room. Susie's affection for clear, bright colors carries through the Georgia cottage in ways both big and small in art, objects, fabrics, and finishes.

You’ve heard it a million times: If you love it, it will go together. But if you’ve tried this advice, you know it’s easier said than done. Susie keeps to varying shades in a small range of colors, which is what makes her objects mingle harmoniously.

The sofa was a secondhand midcentury piece that cost $100 and seemed to beg for a special fabric. Tami and Susie chose a Kelly Wearstler linen that echoes the colors in the room. Ramsay turned an estate-sale vase into a lamp.

dining room with books

Robert Peterson

The designer astutely picked up on the prominent hues (blue-green teal and ocher) in Susie’s art and objects and suggested paint colors, pillows, and curtains in the same color families. It’s a more-is-more approach but with clear color direction. You can see it in the dining room where those key colors are expressed in a cheeky illustrated wallpaper and nonmatching but coordinating curtains.

Beneath the styled book stacks and linen topper is a dining table that, with leaves added, can accommodate a party. In this pass-through room, a lively display moment was more fitting than a plain table that sits empty too often.

kitchen island with barstools

Robert Peterson

Walk from there to the back of the house, and the palette is echoed in the kitchen’s citrus-color barstools and green-leaning cabinetry. A thread of green-gray-blue runs through the home, providing a sophisticated foil for color exclamation points like the magenta accents on the porch pillows, lampshades, and book spines. The effect feels like color kismet, mirroring the effervescent energy of its owner.

The barstools’ leather seats are easy to clean, and the polished wood bases coordinate with the island. The pale green-gray on the cabinetry is a beautiful, versatile hue that feels like a neutral contrasted with the sunshine-bright stools. Brass fixtures echo the ocher accents carried through the house.

sitting area

Robert Peterson

At the end of the kitchen is an intimate sitting area perfect for coffee or tea with a friend. Mounting the curtains higher than the windows makes the ceiling height appear taller and offers another opportunity for display. The colors might be quiet, but there’s nothing neutral about this nook.

sun room

Robert Peterson

When sofa shopping isn’t yielding the perfect shape for the room, a built-in banquette is a smart move. The platform base and bench-style top maximize available space, and nubby wool cushions add durability. The riotous mix of pillows includes block-print textiles and others sourced “from Etsy and Instagram ads!” Ramsay confesses.

Textiles in a sunny spot will fade from sunlight, so use inexpensive fabrics. The art is Susie’s passion—she’s always on the lookout—and her collection includes found art and pieces by local artists. 

bathroom wallpaper

Robert Peterson

Powder rooms are often the spot to go wild as they’re used only moments a day. Still, this wallpaper initially shocked the adventurous owner. Now Susie loves it so much, she keeps the door open so she can enjoy the sensational color from adjacent rooms.

primary bathroom

Robert Peterson

Art and a custom shower curtain make for a luxe bathing experience. Replicate the style using two rods: one that hangs a waterproof liner and one for the outer curtain on rings. Buy an additional curtain and ask a curtain maker to create a matching pelmet to hide the rods.

main bedroom

Robert Peterson

“Moody” was the mandate for the bedroom, which was achieved with deep teal paint on walls and trim. Ramsay is a believer in a quiet space for sleeping (and occasional TV-watching). She’s also not a fan of an all-white sheet set, preferring textured fabrics that are inviting to the touch.

“Working on this helped me get more confident in my creativity,” Susie says. “And living here now, I realize this house was the first step in understanding what I know to be true of me, that I’m a creative person, and I’m finally learning how to express it.”

Styled by Frances Bailey

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