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Interiorssneak peeks

Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family’s Home

by Garrett Fleming

Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge

When she was 16, artist Mary-Catheryn Baker met her current husband Jordan. You can bet his company was more than welcome as young Mary-Catheryn had just moved to the States from South America and was, unsurprisingly, in the midst of a culture shock. For years they trekked through life together as he showed her the ropes and, eventually, asked for her hand. Then came the children. Three to be exact and each one an adventure in their own right. All in all it’s been a whirlwind of a life for the couple, and their latest escapade, turning a house outside Grand Rapids, MI into a home, has been no different.

Situated on nearly three acres, the spot was move-in ready and fairly updated when the family took it over a year ago. Fair wasn’t enough for this creative duo though. Instead, they’ve worked tirelessly to make it a vibrant space for their growing brood. Gone are several of the 90s-era furnishings that used to dominate the rooms and in their place are cheerful colors and paintings courtesy of the family’s creative matriarch. Mary-Catheryn didn’t let the edges of a canvas box in her creativity though. No, no, no. She’s expanded her work to include more than just framed pieces decked out in bustling florals and charming animals. Lately she’s used her talents to add pattern and zest to the actual walls of her and Jordan’s property though hand-painted wallpapers and popping paint colors. (Pay close attention to the laundry room. Her work there is some of the best we’ve ever featured.)

Sure it’s filled with paintings, color and cheer, but the home this couple has crafted is much more than just a pretty place. You see, Mary-Catheryn comes from a country where more people than not don’t have homes at all. She says “I grew up in South America, in a 3rd world country where poverty and homelessness is the norm. To have a home, and a nice one, is something that I appreciate every single day of my life.” And as she walks her house’s halls and her children play on the plot she and her husband have worked so hard to provide them with, she’s reminded of the many gifts the family has been given. Scroll down to check out the humble Baker brood’s slice of the American dream. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Mary-Catheryn Baker

Image above: The look of Mary-Catheryn’s at-home studio — which is set against walls she painted herself — changes almost weekly as the works that decorate it come and go.

Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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New and storied finds mix well in Mary-Catheryn's at-home studio. Take, for example, this chandelier from World Market. Despite being from this year's collection, it pairs nicely with the 1800s-era headboard below it.
Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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"As we were driving to look at the house, my husband said, 'This is it. I can feel it. We are buying this house today,' and he was right!" Mary gushes. The "blank slate" of a home was fully updated in 1997.
Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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The focal point of the couple's daughters' room is this sweet painting made by their mother. Like many of Mary-Catheryn's pieces, this one features a sweet animal as its subject.
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The crib and a piece by Margaret Keane in the girls' room.
Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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Last year, Jordan's grandparents gave the couple this pair of side tables for their bedroom.
Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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Jordan and Mary-Catheryn aren't crazy about their older bed frame's look, but it makes up for its lack of modernity by setting the mood for relaxation.
Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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New trim and a fresh coat of paint gave the 90s living room an instant face lift.
Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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Hand-painted walls make this laundry room one of the prettiest I have ever seen.
Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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Working around one of your home's features can not only be a fun challenge but lead you to a final look that's better than what you initially had in mind. Take the basement/play room's cabinetry, for example. Mary-Catheryn wasn't crazy about the color of its oak accents, but after neutralizing the hue with gray walls and adding a pattern to keep the space light, the cabinetry seems much more contemporary.
Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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A peek inside the finished basement's guest room.
Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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The handy pair tore out the "very inconvenient" closet that once lived here and replaced it with industrial-looking lockers, new tile in a pattern Mary-Catheryn designed for the space (it matches the laundry room's) and a new light fixture.
Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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"What I love most about our home is... our family is happy here," -- Mary-Catheryn
Hand-Painted Walls and Artwork Enriches a Midwestern Family's Home, Design*Sponge
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Source List

Girls’ room

Paint – Sherwin-Williams “Coral Odyssey”

Paintings –  Mary Baker & Margaret Keane

Living Room

Sofa, chair & side table – Pottery Barn

Dining Room

Chairs – Pottery Barn & West Elm

Laundry Room

Paint – Sherwin-Williams “Coral Odyssey”

 

 

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Comments

  • This is a beautiful home!! Can you please share the color gray used in the photo of the room with the industrial lockers? Thank you!

  • This is beautiful. I always love artists’ homes. There is always something magical about them and those hand painted “wall papers” are to die for.

  • Lovely but something odd about the “more people than not don’t have homes at all.” Are you saying they don’t own their homes? Or that they’re homeless? Because that’s how it reads, and that is really off-putting. I cannot imagine that these homeowners would like that description.

    This sort of thing happens frequently nowadays on DS (with all writers), but I finally feel compelled to say something.

    • Hi Susan

      Thanks for your note. I’m pretty sure the sentiment was that a lot of people are homeless. I have a note into the author and homeowner to clarify though.

      Would you mind sending me a private message regarding your observations on what I’m reading as ambiguous language? We value your opinion and what to make sure we learn as much as we can. My email is caitlin@designsponge.com

      Thanks so much.

      Caitlin

    • Hi Susan

      From Mary Catheryn, the homeowner: “I grew up in South America, in a 3rd world country where poverty and homelessness is the norm. To have a home, and a nice one, is something that I appreciate every single day of my life.”

      I’m going to update the post to reflect this!

      Caitlin

    • Thank you for politely addressing this. Deficit narratives are often the norm when people talk about Latin America and Latin Americans. As a Latina, I felt uncomfortable reading this paragraph. This is a beautiful home; the love and effort that have been put into each room is evident. I am assuming goodwill and gratitude on Mary-Catheryn’s part, but I ask that readers pause and think deeply about what having a “home” really means.

  • Love this creative home–so inspiring! Can you tell us what the beautiful blue and white fabric on the sofa in the studio is? Thank you!

  • Beautiful home! The hand-painted wallpapers make it so special. And you’re right–that’s the best laundry room!

    • Thank you so much! Paint is much easier or me to manage than wallpaper. And I was hoping that a cheerful laundry room would make me want to do laundry. Still not the case…🤷‍♀️.

    • Hi and thank you so so much! Yes! I tell everyone that all they need is a brush and some paint😉.

  • Hello! This is a beautiful home. Would you happen to know what color they used for the exterior?

    Thank you!

  • Even I would enjoy doing laundry in that room!! What a beautiful, happy home. The artwork is gorgeous and really makes this home unique and inviting.

  • What a GREAT looking home – inside and out!
    I am so curious about where you sourced the lovely wall of “lockers”. They look so neat and attractive. I love that it has a built in bench with drawers undernearh. GREAT use of space!

    • Hi! Thank you so much! When we moved in, there was a double door closet that was very impractical and used too much space. We tore it out and I designed these lockers and had them custom built by a local woodworker. Always ask around for local woodworkers. There are some pretty talented ones out there😊.

  • Hi, your home reminds me of an American, glamorous, modern version of the Bloomsbury Set’s Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex, UK. I’m not sure how to add a link, but have a google around if you’re interested, it’s a beautiful, unique and historical house. Lots of hand painted walls, art and objet. I loved looking at your place, thanks.

  • this is my favorite interior I’ve ever seen on design sponge. it’s so beautiful. and I’ve finally figured out what to do with my bathroom walls (to hide the dated fixtures) – some version of the studio’s paint job, inspired by Mary Catheryn!

  • Thanks for the tour of your home. Very nice, I love it! Where did you get the bedroom nightstands? Thank you, Michael

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