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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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Comments

  • This is so great. Thank you for giving me a new perspective on an era of decor that, though full of nostalgia, I usually avoid at thrift shops and flea markets.

  • Love the story about the photo over the toilet – hilarious! Also – I never knew how much I needed a painting of a celebrity with my dog until this instant. I think my pitbull, Posey, would look awesome painted next to the Queen of England!

  • Yes! This home is so awesome and inspiring. Love the disco ball chandelier and all of the color and pattern. More maximalist home tours, please. :)

  • Love it! Love the lighting throughout, the colored doors, the painted furniture (which I don’t always love), and the bundt pan wall! It would have taken me 1000 years to decorate this house because I would have constantly been stopping to analyze, “Does this go with that?” This house just goes for it, and the result is so good!

  • As someone who requires a certain amount of visual quiet in my home, I will never be able to decorate like Amanda. But I so enjoy her visual expression and I live vicariously through that expression. (And really, if it weren’t for her, I doubt I’d be inspired to keep my eyes open for random flamingos.)

  • finally! a house I can relate to! while i always find something to love in each of the home tours you post, it is so nice to see one that looks like me. love love love.

  • While this is not my style, it’s really, really well done! Even though there is a lot of stuff, it doesn’t feel cluttered to me. Maybe because there is a very distinct sense of composition. I also loved the commentary from Peaches. Would have loved to see a photo of the woman herself!

  • So love this home and I love the way she described everything. I love the Miss Piggy comment. I’m totally stealing the coloring books for adults idea! Would you mind sharing the source of the animal print fabric on the office chair?

  • I could never, ever live in this home… but I love it! I think it is one of my all time favourite sneak peaks. and so many brilliant ideas that I am already planning to re-use. truly inspirational!

  • This is a bit too visually overpowering for me but I love pretty much every individual thing here and I especially love Peaches’s perspective, philosophy and humour. I also love her writing style accompanying the pictures, and although a link to her blog wasn’t given I googled it and it’s at http://www.auntpeaches.com/ for anybody else interested.

  • @Downwithbeige–thanks for the blog link! There goes my afternoon…Really fun tour, D*S. It made my morning.

  • I think Peaches is great. This story made me laugh out loud. One of the most honest, enjoyable, creative homes I’ve seen featured here in a long time. I’m going to check out her blog now. Thanks for making my day. The Neil Diamond and cat portrait, and her dance photo over the toilet is too funny. Loved it!!!!!

  • I think this is probably my favorite home tour to date! I think I’m now obsessed with Peaches (and that her name is Peaches!). This is as exactly how my house would have looked when I was 15 but now I want it again at 30. LOVE THIS SO MUCH, GUYS!

  • I think I’m in love with Peaches. I laughed out loud at almost every photo caption. That traffic cop dance outfit — WOW!! And all the color. So fun — I would sit at her dinner parties for hours too. Thanks for showing that “less is NOT always more”!

  • Beautiful post! Being scared of using colours in my own home- i really admire people who do! Amazing happy creative space! Very inspiring! Thank you DS!

  • I thought it said minimalist too, at first. Love your story about the dress, flaunt it. Your place is so well organized it doesn’t look like clutter.

  • I really didn’t think I was going to like this, let alone love every bit of it, down to the beautiful details. The disco ball ornaments hanging off the chandelier, the little tassels on the colorful doors, and awesome mix of colors and prints.

    Completely inspiring!

  • The diva of colorful fun! I am going to hang up all my favorite pictures that I have, and make those door knob tassels, paint doors two colors, and get some coloring books, too too many fun ideas!

  • I don’t know how I got on this blog but as soon as I saw the dining room, I didn’t care! I loved everything in this home. How could anyone not love a dining table that wears chicken foot candlestick holders? And adult coloring books? I’ll be turning again and again to this blog when I need a dose of home made fun . . .

  • Out of all interior posts, I come back to this blog for inspiration and to remind myself to take risks. Thank you for encoraging me to change my boring home into a lively one!

  • I LOVE YOU!!!! Your personality makes me want to come have dinner in your home and just listen to every story you could possibly offer to each piece in your place!! The comment about ” candles and pantyhose” brilliant!!!! You are a true spirit and your home exudes that! Amazing feature…amazing home….amazing style! Thank you for sharing

  • What a nice house! It look cozy and full of love :3 The rugs is so unique, I love it!
    Every pattern in this design is so great. The rug, the chair, even the fridge >.< Oh my~~~

  • Where did you find the navy floral paper on the inside of the coral shelving in the bedroom?? I am dying to get my hands on it.

  • You have Fabulous Taste and Style! My style is almost duplicate of yours! Are you Gemini? If Not? Leo ;) Your blog and style is my new favorite! Boho Chic with Splash of Groovy Colors. Thank you for sharing your blog and beautiful interior photos. With Gratitude, Regina

  • Weren’t you born and reared in eastern Arkansas. We met and became friendly in Memphis. It was through several mutual friends.
    They are all still dears.
    Not many people go by the misnomer Peaches. That is why I became so bold as to ask you.

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