Interiorssneak peeks

An Indianapolis Home Designed with Family in Mind

by Grace Bonney

When illustrator Penelope Dullaghan and her husband Colin first saw their Indianapolis home, it was anything but love at first sight. “I took one look at the overgrown bushes, gold paint in every room and dated paneling and walked out,” Penelope explained. But with a little persuasion from Colin, Penelope saw the home’s potential and a little less than two years ago, they moved in. Along with their daughter Veda and family pet, Vince, Penelope and Colin have spent the last year and a half falling in love with their 1949 limestone ranch while they make changes here and there to make it feel like home.

In addition to removing the home’s dated paneling (and the peach-and-maroon bathroom), Penelope and Colin added decorative molding, built-in shelving, fresh paint and storage solutions to help their home not only suit their style, but their daily, real-life needs. With a little help from Penelope’s enviable thrifting skills, the family was able to fill their home with pieces that have history and keep some great pieces out of landfills. While their to-do list is still stocked with ideas and projects around the house, Penelope, Colin, Veda and Vince now feel cozy and at home and love taking walks around their neighborhood and enjoying their river-view from the back windows. Thanks so much to this family for welcoming us into their home today. xo, grace

Penelope and Colin added the decorative molding and hooks to their entryway to make coat and boot drop-off easier. The row of hooks on the top is for adults, and the row on the bottom is for their little one and her friends. The front door is original to the home and Penelope loves its vertical lines.
The family's living room is comfortable and cozy for everyone to gather together. While Penelope isn't crazy about their current couch and matching ottoman, it's comfortable and practical for their life right now and while their daughter is still little. Penelope added the molding and column you can see in the background to add architectural interest.
The living room's standing lamp came from a garage sale (it only cost $1!) and was originally bright brass. Penelope spray-painted it black and it's appeared in just about every room of their house at some point. Penelope is a huge fan of woven baskets, so she uses them throughout the home for storing blankets, half-finished knitting projects and books - and some even hang on the walls as art! She loves the texture and warmth they add to any space.
Penelope says the living room's leather chair is the best seat in the house. They thrifted the chair for only $45 a few years ago, and it's held up well - aside from a patch here and there. On the side table is Penelope's favorite thrifted ceramic piece - a blue-gray cut out tea-light holder. The armoire in the corner was the first piece of furniture Penelope and her husband picked out together.
Penelope and Colin added built-in shelves for book storage in the living room. They even built a section of the bottom shelf to be reserved for their daughter's library books!
In the living room is a drop-down desk from Colin's childhood. (He'd put stickers all over it as a kid!) The print hanging above is by Brittain Peck, an old coworker of Colin's, and is a typographical abstract of the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner. Driftwood and rocks from various places the family has visited fill jars next to the art.
The dining room set was a Craigslist find, but when Penelope got it into the space it felt too heavy. So she painted the chairs white to lighten it up a bit. She added, "You can't see it very well in the picture, but I also recovered the chair cushions with three different bright fabric patterns. It made a pretty traditional dining set feel somewhat fun." The light fixture was designed and built by Colin from a piece of driftwood they found on their favorite beach. The hutch was a thrift store find painted white (the inside was left the original aqua color).
Open shelves in the dining room showcase some of Penelope's thrifted handmade pottery and dish collection. Her goal is to eventually replace all the store-bought white dishes she owns with handmade ceramics. "I think it'll be long a process, but it'll be really beautiful when it's done," she explained.
The kitchen was remodeled before Penelope and Colin moved in, so all the cabinetry and finishes are brand-new. The new look isn't quite their style, but they agreed it wasn't worth changing since it was recently done. So they've done little things to help it feel more like them, like adding a big island and open shelving. The blue jars on the shelves were a $3-apiece thrifting find that Penelope is proud of!
Penelope and Colin painted their bedroom 3/4 gray and 1/4 white. Penelope explained, "The room was really just a box with no architectural detail at all, so the paint adds a little interest. The headboard we actually found next to a dumpster in our neighborhood! After a super-thorough cleaning (a few of them, actually!), we brought it in and intended to paint it, but we ended up loving the unfinished, rustic look."
Penelope made the hand-lettered artwork above the bed. The quote is by Mark Twain, and Penelope says she loved it the first time she read it and knew it had to be part of their room.
This is the bedroom as seen from the doorway. Penelope calls the light in the corner her "best friend." "It makes me smile every time I see it." The thrifted armoire has simple lines and warm wood tones that Penelope loves and the basket on the floor serves as a laundry hamper.
On top of the dresser is handmade pottery (made by a 9th grader) that Penelope found in town. The candlestick and the basket are from a local thrift store and Penelope's treasured gold lamp was recovered from her mother-in-law's basement. The photo is a selfie of Penelope and Colin from before they were married, taken with a disposable waterproof camera.
Penelope made this mobile for Colin out of embroidery hoops, thin wire and clothespins (an idea she saw on Pinterest). She made it so he could display the photos he takes. "He's a photography hobbyist and shoots solely with film using discarded vintage cameras he amazingly brings back to working life. He even does his own darkroom work in our laundry room," Penelope said.
Veda's bedroom is Penelope's favorite room in the house. They painted the walls 3/4 gray and 1/4 white, like the bedroom, and it's a nice neutral background for some intense pops of color. The bed was being stored in Penelope's mother-in-law's attic so they brought it home to use for Veda. The orange mobile is from a garage sale and the frame above the bed is made with chicken wire and has tiny ladybug clothespins to attach art and photos.
This is Penelope's studio table, where she spends most of her time. The whole room is still unchanged from when they first bought the house (brown carpeting, cracked paneled walls, drop ceiling, etc.) so it's on their to-do list to work on. But for now, the space is usable and Penelope's painting desk brings her joy. She shares this space with her daughter, who uses it as her playroom. They do art together almost every day and the artwork on the walls is a mix of experiments Penelope has been playing with (her latest project is daily pattern-making) and paintings her daughter made ("She's my greatest inspiration," Penelope said).

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  • truly inspiring! Cozy seems a perfect way to describe it, and I really like the grey+white wall in their daughter’s room. we moved into our home last summer and need family-designed inspiration!

  • I love this whole home. It manages to achieve the perfect balance of “put together” and cozy.

    A note on slideshow layouts in these posts: I’d love an option to view all the photos in thumbnail version…similar to how Apartment Therapy has their slide shows setup…it’s nice to be able to see all the photos at once.

  • Your home is lovely! Did you hand letter the Mark Twain quote above your bed. I would to buy that print!

  • Thanks for the compliments, all! :)

    Angela: Yes, I hand-lettered the quote. I’ll have to make some prints for my shop update. :)

    Leslie: Most of the house is ‘Nuance’ by Sherwin Williams. The dining room is ‘Useful Gray’, the bedroom is white and ‘Aloof Gray’, and my daughter’s room and the studio are both ‘sea salt’. All by Sherwin Williams.

    Anne: That plant is called ‘firesticks’: euphorbia tirucalli. :)

  • Yes, the plant is amazing I was also intrigued and decided to find its name… Euphorbia tirucalli called also ‘Sticks on Fire’. I just love it !

  • BF: it’s textured glass from the 1950. I didn’t like it at first, but it’s really grown on me because it lets a lot of extra light in.

  • Such a cozy, warm, inviting, and beautiful home! I’m living in Indy as well, and have to ask: would you mind sharing some of your favorite places in town to thrift?

  • Sarah: Thank you! Some of my favorite places locally are Goodwill (some are better than others) and Salvation Army. There are also a bunch of great little places in northern Indiana. Another super resource (it’s not thrift, but it’s always got good stuff) is the Inventorialist downtown.

  • I love your home! I, like you, am not crazy about my couch because I have the exact same one. It was given to me by my sister’s brother in law but he doesn’t remember where it came from. Do you know who made this giant, comfy couch? Thanks so much!

  • HBOMB: The entry rug was a thrift find…

    Ashley: Thank you! I looked and was unable to find a label on the couch. It’s a mystery! Sorry!

  • Thank you for looking! I had to ask as I have never seen another one until yours popped up. Have a great day!