Not everyone would be giddy at the prospect of a house that sported stark white walls. Then again, not everyone has Lucy Richardson's boundless energy and creativity.
When the Georgia artist and her husband, Chuck, purchased their vacation home on St. Simons Island, Georgia, two years ago, its wall-to-wall white spoke to Lucy as strongly as the beachside locale. "I saw the home as a blank canvas and knew that I could really make it fun place for our family. Immediately, I began to think about what I could do with color and paint."
Throwing caution to the wind - and ignoring the questioning glances from Chuck and their children - Lucy drenched the walls in high-octane hues. Then she added an extra jolt with whimsically painted designs on accessories, rugs, and some walls. Her bravado isn't typical of traditional beachside décor-no seafoam hues or seashell accessories - but its befits the spirited homeowner who jokes that "if something is still long enough, I'll find a way to paint it."
This isn't the first time Lucy, whose primary residence in Macon, Georgia, is also a painterly paradise, has gone for the gusto. Lucy has long been a fan of bright "funky" colors, which she tempers with touches of black, white, or brown. In addition to grounding a bright scheme, those three colors lend sophistication, she says.
For her vacation home, Lucy gleaned the bright greens, pinks, reds, and oranges from fabrics she used in the living room. Because the home has an open floor plan, Lucy wove the colors through the rooms to create a harmonious flow. Rather than repeating the exact color from room to room, through, she combined colors that were a step lighter or darker on the paint-chip strip for contrast.
Her verve is evident the moment the front door is flung open. Lime-green walls painted with a harlequin pattern greet visitors and give a glimpse of the surprises to come. As if the bright color isn't enough, the diamonds' elongated shape - they're twice as high as they are wide - adds more interest. For dimension, Lucy hammered black upholstery tacks into the wall where the diamond points intersect.
The green entry flows into the living room, where boiling-point pink walls add the energy. When Lucy began to roll the hot-pink paint onto the walls, it didn't come as a shock to her family. "My husband simply rolled his eyes," she says. "He's used to me by now, and he always seems pleased with the end result."
More pink - and more painted pattern - continues in a bathroom. Lucy dressed the walls in wide, horizontal bands, rather than more typical vertical stripes. The design fools the eye into thinking the small area is wider than it is and visually lowers the tall ceiling.
For all the drama on the main level, it's upstairs where Lucy let loose. Nowhere is her playfulness more evident than in the loft, where a mural of larger-than-life swimsuit-clad women on a beach wraps around two walls. "I have always toyed with the idea of painting a bunch of bathing beauties who are voluptuous but with figure flaws most any woman could identify with - and I wanted them to be having fun," Lucy says.
She drew the mural's background scenery onto the wall with a pencil, then used acrylic crafts paints to add the sky, ocean, and beach. To give the sand a realistic look, she used cheesecloth to rag on a tan glaze that was a bit darker than the base coat.
Lucy used herself as a model for her beach-bound buddies. She lay on a piece of kraft paper, traced around her body, and cut out the pattern to create a life-size template. She taped the template to the wall and traced around it, ad-libbing here and there to create different body shapes and heights. Next she painted the shapes white so she had a blank canvas on which to add the fun stuff - bikinis, sunglasses, red lips, painted toenails, and so forth. She filled in blank spots with beach accessories, such as purple sand bucket and striped umbrella and a sail boat that cruises the waters in the distance.
Walls weren't Lucy's only canvas. The kiwi-motif dining room rug, which a friend of Lucy's painted, inspired Lucy to paint the punchy floral rug in the loft. Some of the artwork used throughout the home also comes from the hands of the talented homeowner and her friends. Similarly, some of the furnishings are flea-market finds that Lucy stumbled upon travels with Chuck then transformed with a fresh coat of paint. "I'm always thinking of how I'm going to paint something - glaze them, age them, or whatever," she says.
Despite the eye-rolling that ensued as Lucy went from room to room armed with brushes and plethora of paints, the verdict is in. Her family loves its home away from home. "It's a fun place because of all the colors," Lucy says. "It puts you in the best mood."