Infusing Color and DIY Charm into a Cookie-Cutter Home in New Mexico

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There’s never a dull moment in the Naranjo family’s household. With three daughters (ages 13, 15 and 20), and two dogs (Liberty the Great Dane and Luka the Yorkie), time has flown by for Nichol and her husband Dominic.

After buying this starter tract home in Albuquerque, NM a decade ago, the plan was to tackle some light renovations and flip it a few years later. But, as Nichol points out, “then the market crashed.” Forced to stay in this home for longer than they anticipated, Nichol has since gone above and beyond to infuse it with some much-needed character and charm. “We actually bought our house before seeing floor plans or a model home, and luckily, we still love it. The lack of character has only been met as a challenge, one that I welcome,” she shares.

Throughout the process, Nichol found a passion for interior decorating and design, one which has inspired her to make it a profession. She’s still homeschooling her youngest daughter, Téa, but after she enters high school in the near future, Nichol plans to launch her business beyond Instagram. Despite the fun she has designing her own home, she was quick to realize that there’s only so much that decorating can fix. “My wheels are constantly turning as I walk through or sit down in any room in our house,” she says, “but I wish I had more living space for dinner parties, etc. Our bedrooms are quite large and if ever we move, I would rather have that square footage in the areas where we entertain!”

A functional and beautiful refuge for the whole family, “and anyone else who comes into our home,” Nichol’s goal with the interior was to create a space that feels safe and comfortable. “Life can be difficult for everyone at some point,” she admits, “and I want my home to feel like an escape from any difficulties, if even for a moment.” –Sabrina

Photography by Dominic Naranjo

  1. Lizabeth says:

    Is there a way to read the text with the photos that goes below the bottom edge of the photo? Thanks!

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      Ack! We’ll fix that- sorry! Can you tell me which slide is going over for you? I’m not seeing any on my screen, but we may need to tailor it for a different browser.


  2. She’s one of my favorite Instagrammers to follow. Her use of space and color is to die for!

    1. Nichol Naranjo says:

      You are so sweet, Corinna! Thank you so much for your kind words! :)

  3. Holland VanDieren says:

    Scrumptious! The gilded and glam touches are unexpected, balanced throughout with a comfortable, masculine undertone. Perfection.

    1. Nichol Naranjo says:

      Oh wow! Thank you, Holland! I love your description of my home! Thank you for the feedback!

  4. I love sweet Nichol! Her style is absolutely fabulous and so inspiring! I’ve seen much of her home on Instagram, but obviously missed a few things like the incredible crystal ship chandelier!

    1. Nichol Naranjo says:

      Thank you, Brynne! You are so encouraging! The ship chandelier makes me smile daily! ;)

  5. Emily says:

    I love the vibrancy and liveliness of this home! Soo cute.


  6. kimithy says:

    Ohh, this is wonderful. What a beautiful home!

    1. kimithy says:

      Also really appreciating the story behind this, as it’s VERY common. I’ve known many people in this position, who found themselves stuck in a home they hadn’t planned on staying on when the housing market crashed. Seems like this family really made the most of it, and created a very unique home!

  7. Lyndsey says:

    Wow! This is a fun home! Loved the tour. So much to see! Took me longer than usual to finish the photos.

    1. Nichol Naranjo says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed, Lyndsey! Thank you! :)

  8. I follow Nicole on Insta, the fun home and vignettes always make me smile , but I did miss that Ship chandelier, how did that happen !!!

  9. Lisa Dawson says:

    Absolutely adore Nichols house! So individual and interesting to view, she’s one of my favourite feeds on Instagram. Great article!

  10. Jen says:

    I found the story about Linda’s Tree very touching.

    1. Ashley says:

      Me too! I love that she calls it Linda’s Tree. I loved reading about this family and their home.

  11. Hilda says:

    All of it! But the philosophy that shines through is particularly lovely…

  12. Jeri Atkin says:

    Quiet and calm comes to mind immediately. Next comes beautiful and fun together with lots of greenery to wrap around a lovely happy family. What a talented woman and wonderful mother you are and an intriguing wife as well. Your husband must be a loving, generous man, talented too, making a quiet niche for his family to gather ’round. Thank you for sharing your home with me.

  13. Kater Z says:

    Beautiful Nichol, I noticed some new looks. I always love coming to your home.

  14. madlyn easley says:

    This house absolutely sparkles! What a great way for me to start my day!

  15. Malia says:

    What a great house tour! There is tons of inspiration for our own home projects. Thanks for sharing Nichol!

    Also, the piano in the kid’s room is a great idea. I keep wondering where we’ll find space for one…

  16. Ashley Izsak says:

    Oh I loved reading this. Love Nichol’s Instagram as well but there were so many good surprises in here. Hello ship light! Vintage chandelier! And I loved the glimpses of your daughters rooms. Well done!

  17. Lesley says:

    So excited to see a creative Burquena with a beautiful home in Albuquerque!!! Great job Nichol, your home is very unique and inspiring.

  18. Marsha says:

    Love seeing New Mexico being represented! I’m a Santa Fe girl but have lived in NYC for 19 years. I also love seeing something other than the typical adobe and southwestern design so prevalent throughout the state. Beautiful, Nichol!

    1. Carla says:

      Having lived all over that state I love in particular seeing Albuquerque represented! Such a gorgeous home. Brava!

  19. Sally says:

    would love to see more about New Mexico in general on the site, a city tour of Santa Fe or ABQ, house tours, etc

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Hi Sally!

      We actually do have a Sante Fe guide, although it probably is due for an update:

      Here’s another favorite New Mexico home from our archives:

      Grace :)

  20. Jackie says:

    Beautiful! Where is the dining room rug from?

  21. Jillian says:

    This house has such vivaciousness! Love it!

  22. Christina says:

    I knew I’d seen this home somewhere before! I, too, am an Instagram follower and its so nice to see Nichol’s home featured here on Design Sponge!

    One of the reasons I began following her feed is because her home is small; my family and I are living in a modest ranch with very little square footage in the living spaces, but with large bedrooms too. I immediately identified with her space planning and LOVE how she overcomes it with her great sense of style. Anyways, just had to throw that out there, folks :)

  23. Renae Elliott says:

    What color pink is the door ?

  24. Jess says:

    Such inspiration for my own boring cookie cutter home in Albuquerque! Thanks!

  25. Sophia says:

    That pink rug is gorgeous! Where is it from?


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