Interiorssneak peeks

Maximalist Style Outside of Chicago

by Maxwell Tielman

There’s a reason, I think, that head-to-toe black has remained a consistently popular sartorial choice throughout time, and bare white walls have been in vogue since the rise of Modernism — they’re easy to pull off. When it comes to dressing yourself or your home, introducing color always comes with a bit of risk; the more that is added, the more chances there are for it to turn out badly. Colors and patterns can clash, things can get lost in chaos, and combinations that might sound wonderful on paper can turn out to be horribly unflattering in real life. One wrong move, and you can be sent spiraling off into the realm of kitsch. This is why I have deep admiration for people who can not only pull off wild excesses of color, but actually take them to a place that is beautiful — a place that doesn’t employ color for color’s sake, but instead uses color to create something deeply unique and personal. Peaches Freund, a freelance designer and the author of the blog Aunt Peaches, is one of these people.

Located on one floor of a 1900 Victorian home in Evanston, IL, Peaches’ home is small in size, but positively gigantic in personality. Walking through this 800-square-foot home, one’s eyes are hardly ever (scratch that, never) at a loss for something to look at. Bright, neon colors brush elbows with bold patterns; white walls are covered floor-to-ceiling with art. Objects that seem to have no place together — miniature disco balls on a crystal chandelier or a leopard-print chair at a polka dot desk — seem right at home, forming unusual friendships that for some strange reason just work. “The ‘spirit’ of the place comes from the fact that nearly everything in my house is handmade, or secondhand,” Peaches notes. “I did a lot of sculpture work in college, and as the result of that, I see every object as carrying a certain sort energy. When you start considering the original composition of things, the spirit with which they were made, you value them much more.” She pauses. “That’s my long-winded way of saying I have hoarder tendencies.”

I think this is what I love the most about Peaches’ home — every single thing in it, no matter how off-kilter or jarring, seems to have been acquired with love and displayed with intention. Although she confesses to having a thing for camp objects (“I’m obsessed with early 1980s sitcom set design,” she says), this love seems devoid of irony — it is earnest, celebratory, and feels refreshingly authentic. “Perhaps it might look cluttered to others,” Peaches says, “but they don’t have to live here! My home makes me happy. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.” —Max

SOURCE LIST

Dining Room

  • Wall color: Dutch Boy’s “Nantucket Mist”
  • Trim color: Benjamin Moore’s “Decorator’s White”
  • Pendant light by CB2
  • Window fabric by Marrimeko
  • Gold lamp by Land of Nod

Living Room

  • Wall color: Benjamin Moore’s “Super White”
  • Couch from Domicile Furniture
  • Teal wall lamp from Urban Outfitters
  • Grid pattern pillows from H&M
  • Dalmatian dots and banana leaf pillows from Furnish Studio

Kitchen

  • Wall color: Behr’s “Ultra White”
  • Removable wallpaper: Chasing Paper’s “Sexy Hexy” pattern
  • Dog rump wall hooks from IKEA
  • Hershey Bar painting by Lauren Pretorius

Office

  • Wall color: Martha Stewart’s “Ballerina Slipper”
  • Wire basket shelving from IKEA
1/20
The dining room as seen from the living room. "The walls are decked with works from art school friends and a few family treasures," Peaches says. "The Cesca dining chairs came from a thrift store, and although they were a nostalgic purchase (my parents had Cesca style chairs around their dining table when I was a kid), they are unbelievably comfortable. A good dinner party can last four to six hours easily, but most dining chairs will hurt your back after two. No good. Cesca chairs are the best!"
2/20
A collection of blue and white ceramics sits atop a sideboard in the dining room. "I started collecting blue and white ceramics in high school but picked it up a few years ago," Peaches notes. "They have a funny way of brightening any room."
3/20
Opposite wall of the dining room. "Although I keep the wall colors light and neutral," Peaches notes, "doors are a different matter. Every door in the house is painted something bright and vivid—taxi cab yellow, moss green, lipstick red, cantaloupe, vivid fuchsia...sometimes the same color door in each room, but the fronts and back are always two different colors. It’s strange how something as simple as painting a door changes the personality of an entire room."
4/20
"Candles are like pantyhose for your home," Peaches says, "they make everything look better. It seems so formal to bring out candles every time you eat, so it’s nice to just keep some on the table at all times, sort of like sculpture. These chicken foot candle sticks are from Furbish in Raleigh."
5/20
The kitchen. "When it comes to kitchen décor, I’m obsessed with early 1980s sitcom set design," Peaches says. "I’m sure there is some weird psychological explanation for this wrapped in my childhood, but for now I call it 'Keaton Chic'—as in the Keaton family from Family Ties. The David Hicks hexagon pattern fridge came by way of removable wallpaper and the cabinets were decoupaged with newsprint like the entrance to an old TGIFriday’s restaurant. It took me a while to come up with the right adhesive/sealer formula, but they have been up for nearly three years and have held up just beautifully. The rug was the first quality home item I ever bought myself. It's from Afghanistan and it was purchased in late 2001, which was a time when merchants were unloading goods from that area in a hurry. At the time, I didn't see the political stigma, I just saw an antique rug that took somebody weeks to make and here it was laying around for $40. Now I look back and think that might have been the best $40 I ever spent."
6/20
"Again," Peaches jokes, "my 80s sitcom obsession in full force: copper pudding molds. If you look at the walls of kitchens on shows like Family Ties, Golden Girls, The Cosby Show, Who’s the Boss, Mr. Belvedere, Punky Brewster, Growing Pains, Designing Women, Married with Children (the list goes on!)...they all have one thing in common; copper pudding molds. It’s difficult for me to walk in a thrift store and not spot one. Usually for under $2, no less. They reflect the light in a way that makes the whole room sparkle."
7/20
"For me, having a rocking chair – or just a comfortable chair – in the kitchen is a luxury as well as a requirement," Peaches says. "It makes it so that my kitchen isn’t just a place I go to cook stuff, it’s a place I hang out and sometimes there is cooking involved. Big difference. This $19 thrift store rocking chair used to be white but now it's painted bright yellow and looks like a giraffe. The window to the left looks onto an indoor porch that I wanted to screen from view while letting in maximum light, so I painted circles on the glass with white face paint leftover from Halloween. When I get tired of it, it’ll wash off with soap and water."
8/20
The bathroom. "I took an inexpensive over-sized mirror, decoupaged the frame with origami paper, and hung it right over the old one. The portrait above the toilet is quite the conversation starter – it’s an image of me age 9, wearing a neon pink 'traffic cop' outfit from a dance recital. Bad makeup. Horrible hair. It was a very unflattering photo so I hid it for 20 years, only to pull it out a few years ago to discover that the costume was emblazoned with traffic terms with weird sexual undertones; 'exit slowly,' 'slippery when wet,' 'soft shoulders,' 'bumps ahead,' etc... It’s really creepy. I never would have picked up on that stuff as a kid, but I’m shocked no adult noticed it either! When I discovered it, part of me was grossed out and wanted to hide the photo permanently, but the other part of me recognized that when something that weird happens, not only do you not hide it, you take it down to Kinkos and get it enlarged. Then you hang it up! Above the toilet seemed like the most suitable location. Ha!"
9/20
The living room. "My hodge-podge of colors and patterns continues," Peaches says. "The most dominant piece in the room is an extra deep tomato-orange sofa — a color I chose because it looks really good with my cat. She spends the most time on it, so that seemed like the right thing to do. Similar to the dining room, the Turkish rug came via Ebay."
10/20
The living room's coffee table. "Adult coloring books are one of my new favorite trends," Peaches says. "Pro tip: coloring and cocktails goes really well together. This one, 'Advanced Style,' features glamorous grannies in fun costumes. I have another one featuring mid-90s gangster rappers, and another called 'Fat Ladies in Space.' You would not believe how much fun adults can have coloring in middle-aged women in superhero costumes."
11/20
"I have a glittered giraffe with fake eyelashes," Peaches says. "Her name is Donna. She looks really good in earrings and Christmas wreaths. That’s about all I can say."
12/20
Living room, alternate view. "Above the teal lamp is a portrait of my cat, Lolabelle, with Neil Diamond (see the real Lola, bottom left). It started as a mockup to demonstrate a printed canvas product that looked like a real painter’s portrait...a few hours of Photoshop later, it now hangs above Lola’s favorite sleeping spot. Sometimes friends ask me to photoshop their pets with famous people – Darth Vader, Hillary Clinton, Tupac, Hall & Oates—it makes a handy gift."
13/20
"I’m addicted to embroidered pillows," Peaches confesses. "The more rumpled and squished-up the better. You can find some great ones on Etsy, but often I’ll look for interesting scrap garments when traveling, then piece them back into pillows when I get back home."
14/20
"The chandelier came from one of my favorite junk shops here in Chicago," Peaches says. "Brownstone Antiques on Clark. It needed a little TLC. I couldn’t find a ceiling cap in the same tone of tarnished brass, so I bought the cheapest I could find and decoupaged it with origami paper. Even after all the crystals went up, it wasn’t sparkly enough so I added some disco balls purchased as ornaments on sale after Christmas. Now, for about 20 minutes every morning, the eastern light hits them in just such a way that the whole room scattered with a confetti of sun spots. It is magnificent!"
15/20
Peaches' office. "This is where I spend most of my day," she says, "surrounded by a sea of art, flamingos, and paper flowers. All the walls are lined with fabric-covered panels of foam core that I use as an ever-evolving bulletin board. Some people cannot work with clutter, but for me it’s critical to be able to see everything at the same time. To the right is my little nucleus of notes and paper pads, and to the left is a name plate that used to sit on the front of my Dad’s desk that reads 'DON’T WHINE' – which has a funny way of keeping me on track whether I like it or not. The twelve drawers below contain my supplies and are all labeled with dip-dyed mail tags. One reads 'THINGS THAT MAKE CLICKS!'"
16/20
Alternate view of the office. "Even though it looks messy," Peaches says, "it’s actually very organized. I try my best to keep the counters clear and every drawer, jar, basket and tub is labeled to reflect its contents, and even the chaotic bulletin boards are sectioned off into specific quadrants for specific projects or thought processes. You would be surprised how quickly I can find what I need."
17/20
The bedroom. "Of all the art in the house, the piece that gets the most attention is the black velvet portrait of Mandy Patinkin above the bed by Bruce White. Everyone recognizes it as something different—'Is that Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride?'...'Is that Saul from Homeland?'...'Is that Jesus?'...'Is that the guy from the Barbra Streisand movie?' and so on. You can tell a lot about a person by how they identify that portrait. The pink and purple piece just above the headboard is my latest acquisition – an original watercolor by Jenny Andrews Anderson. Her color rhythms are insane. I’m constantly looking at her portfolio for inspiration."
18/20
"Next to the bed is my vanity bureau where I keep all my 'frosting,'" Peaches says, "jewelry, makeup, things that smell nice. I’m not much of a clotheshorse, but I love, love, love my frosting. When I open the drawers and see all the bobbles and rhinestones inside it makes me feel like Miss Piggy."
19/20
The bedroom door. " I call these my knob bobbles," Peaches says. "I make them while watching television as a way to keep my hands busy. It’s less boring than knitting. They make great gifts and they give my colored doors extra oomph. I read something somewhere about Dorothy Draper saying doors needed jewelry. I believe she was talking about hardware at the time, but my knob bobbles do a fine job, too!"
20/20
"Someone once said, 'A tidy house is the sign of a wasted life.' I have no idea if that is true," Peaches says, "but I have no intention of risking it!"

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