Easy DIY Projects and a Rainbow of Color Add Sunny Style to This 1905 Victorian Home
This colorful home shows off its owners' cheery disposition through playful wallpaper, glamorous accents, and rainbows in almost every room.
Ashley Wilson knows what you're thinking. Aqua blue kitchen cabinets, a pink refrigerator, tiger-print wallpaper, and stair risers swabbed with every color of the rainbow? "People always ask me what I'm going to do when I sell the house, and the answer is, 'I don't care!'" she says. "The beauty is that I get to have a house that's designed for our family rather than live in a beige house."
There's certainly nothing beige or blah about the Wilsons' two-story Victorian built in 1905 in Logan, Utah. Each wall and surface radiates with Wilson's signature girly-glam style, which combines happy vibes and statement wallpaper with modern light fixtures and glamorous gold accents. "What is my formula?" she asks. "I like white painted walls because that balances out the crazy colors. I do a lot of pink, and I like to add whimsical touches—lots of little animal accents, for instance. I love a good wallpaper, and rainbows are big for me. The colors and gradation are just so pleasing."
Clearly, Wilson is a big proponent of you doing you. That even extends to tackling projects herself when she can't find what she wants out and about. She and husband Preston have installed bookshelves, painted canvases, revamped countertops, and tiled walls, all to make the house suit their sunny style.
Wilson's decorating plan often starts with a single element she adores, and she builds from it. For instance, the living room started with the rug—"it was the very first thing we had in this house," she says. "It's a nice wool rug, and I love how the pattern includes pink." That meant she could pluck that tone from the rug for the tasseled curtains and repeat it on the large rainbow canvas she painted herself. A sofa in rich cognac leather is a more masculine choice than she normally makes, "but it grounds the other light accents," she says. It's also ultra comfy and durable.
With just a slip of space for an eating area, the Wilsons ushered a small bistro table, two pink chairs, and a bench into the kitchen for family meals. They revamped the rest of the room by eliminating the upper cabinets, replacing them with shelves, and covering an old backsplash with peel-and-stick marble-look tiles. "If you can use scissors, you can install them," Wilson says. "It's as easy as applying a sticker."
The kitchen previously was dreary and overcast, with oak cabinets, dark brown tile, and moody green walls. "I spent months painting it because it was so dark!" Wilson says. The walls and a few upper cabinets went white, the base cabinets are awash in dazzling aqua, the refrigerator blushes with rosy pink, and the tile countertops now mimic marble. Wilson tackled the paint job over time because "I didn't want to pull apart my whole kitchen and not be able to function," she says. "I did this area first, and two months later when I got up enough energy, I did another section."
Once red from top to bottom, the stairs now beam with every (pastel) color of the rainbow. Wilson picked out the paint in just a few minutes by opting for three hues on the same color strip (pinks, yellows, greens, and blues) "so they all flow," she says. As soon as she posted photos on her blog, At Home with Ashley, she was overwhelmed with readers' responses. Soon she got word that other people had painted their stair risers too. "All over the world there are now rainbow stairs," Wilson says with awe. "This is my legacy!"
She spent five hours applying caulk to fill gaps in the old, creaky stairs. "Caulk can save any project," Wilson says. "It takes a project from looking like you did it yourself to looking professional."
What was once a small, awkward spot at the top of the stairs is now her son Don's playroom. One wall features riotous paper, so Wilson repeated the background hue (a minty blue) as an accent and otherwise washed the walls, trim, and door in clean white paint. The space is outfitted with a kid-size kitchen crafted of old cabinets, a faucet, and a bowl standing as a sink. A vintage basket hung on the wall displays Don's artwork. Nestled against the sloped ceiling, a shelf holds books and a roll of white paper, which Don can pull down for drawing and doodles.
With the wall a wild cacophony of color and movement in the playroom, Wilson wisely kept the furniture and rug neutral and subdued. Splashed with oranges and leaves and tigers (oh my!), the fanciful wallpaper (starting at $89, Etsy) was the springboard for the rest of the playroom's decor. The cabinet keeps Don's toys tidy behind closed doors, and the dollhouse was a lucky thrift store find.
The master bedroom is sizable, with slanted ceilings on two sides and a fireplace front and center. It has such capacity for coziness, and "this wall needed to be a bookcase," Wilson says. Four days and $300 later, it is! Wilson carefully planned the shelves to include a center section so she and Preston could use shorter, standard-length lumber (nothing too long and pricey). The shelves on the right are cut at an angle to match the ceiling. The bookcases are installed so the bottom shelf is at the baseboard—a brilliant move for making the shelves slip seamlessly into this nook. To fill them with her signature rainbow of hues, Wilson scoured shops for accessories and books on home decor.
The bed snugs against a low wall aflutter in a bird-pattern paper in the master bedroom. This paper, covering two walls, sparked the color scheme of pinks, golds, and teal blue. "I wanted the blue for my husband," Wilson says. "It was tricky to find a bed because we couldn't go too high in this room—this was the tallest bed we could have in this space." The bed is dressed in mostly white linens for a clean, hotel-like retreat, with pink pillows for accents. Another set of built-in bookshelves and a window seat pile on even more coziness.
This laundry room makes a run for the highlight of the home. With multicolor stripes painted on the floor, large subway tiles sheathing part of the wall, and boisterous wallpaper covering the rest, it creates quite the view when passing from the kitchen to the backyard. A brass finishing strip gleams where tiles and paper meet—a glamorous exclamation point.
In the bathroom, peel-and-stick wallpaper in a large-scale terrazzo pattern crowns a thin sheet of brass stretched on the wall behind the vanity for an inexpensive and attractive backsplash option. Subtracting paste from installing wallpaper means the paper can be easily applied in almost any room. Plus peel-and-stick paper can be moved or even removed if the mood strikes—or if something isn't right.
Wilson claimed one of several sheds on the property as her very own spot for garden-related gear and activities. "The more I looked at this one, the more I could tell that someone put a lot of time into it," she says. It was already electrified, for instance, and it had a pea gravel floor. "This is the one space where I painted everything pink, even the trim and the electrical outlet," she says. The color wraps the space in cheer and charm.
Wilson put one portion of the shed to use as a gardening getaway, and she covered the doorway to a less-attractive part with a shower curtain she had on hand.
Wilson ramped up the shed's cuteness quotient by installing shiplap, shelves, and hooks on the walls. A white potting bench provides a work surface for taking notes about her rose garden and for potting plants; soil and pots hide in galvanized bins behind the curtain. The wide shelf was built from 1x10 lumber and metal brackets Wilson had on hand. A sweep of pink paint puts the focus on the shelf's contents.