Inside an Artist’s Bold, Rebellious Georgia Home
Angela Chrusciaki Blehm gives us a tour of her color-drenched house.
Published Jul 24, 2019 7:00 AM
It’s hard to believe that Angela Chrusciaki Blehm, a painter, mother of three, and amateur decorator, existed in the dark days before Instagram. She is a woman perfectly suited to the medium, with a color-drenched style that’s superbly photogenic and an effortless way of crafting a caption and hashtag that has helped her connect to thousands of followers. And when you consider that she is telegraphing her world from the least likely location—a neighborhood of rolling hills and traditional brick homes in Gainesville, Georgia, about an hour north of Atlanta—her wonderland becomes even more inspiring.
“When we arrived in this little town, everything about us was so different,” the native Texan says with a laugh, recalling moving to the area 11 years ago with her husband, Clayton, and their children Ashton, 14, Juliet, 12, and Callan, 10. “At the time, we were vegan and I was homeschooling the kids. I thought: I won’t ﬁt in no matter what I do, so why not go all out? I’m an artist and I just wanted to be myself—you could say there’s a bit of rebellion in my style.”
The family had followed job opportunities to North Carolina and Atlanta, but it wasn’t until they found this home, with a lake view, high ceilings, and loads of untapped potential, that Blehm’s vision really took shape. Lipstick-red walls, patterned ceilings, and large-scale contemporary art and sculptures in every room—along with an impressive collection of repurposed and custom-made modern furniture—create a vibrant whole. (It comes as no surprise that friends of the Blehm children think they live in a museum.)
Blehm originally caught the bold, modernist bug when she spotted the Milan residence of ’70s Italian architect Gae Aulenti. “That apartment gave me some direction. It had such an incredible, collected feel, and I loved the look,” she explains.
Yet it would be hard to pinpoint a jumping-off point because the space Blehm dreamed up feels entirely original—which becomes clear as soon as you open the front door.
Wood cutouts of one of her signature paintings, the graphic black-and-white Ribbon #5, hang above the Missoni carpet–lined stairway. A taxi-yellow metal light ﬁxture, cobbled together from a vintage frame and metal pieces her brother made in his shop, is suspended from the deep gray ceilings. In the living and dining rooms, charcoal walls provide the backdrop for a riot of color.
A large pink painting in the entry, which two of the kids (then 3 and 5) created one night while their mom cooked dinner, sits on a custom credenza, recently updated with several coats of glossy paint and round knobs. In the far corner, a round Crate & Barrel table is surrounded by vintage molded Vernon Panton chairs and a curved sofa, picked up at a garage sale for $15. It’s a stunning collection of high-low, scavenged, and built furniture, art, and accessories.
One constant in Blehm’s approach to interiors is conﬁdence, along with a disregard for trends and a willingness to experiment. “The house does have a sense of humor,” she says. “I temper things with a lot of gray, though, so it doesn’t end up looking too ‘Toontown.’”
She scours websites such as Chairish and The Mine for pieces that speak to her, visits Atlanta-based dealer Gillian Bryce for art and interesting objects, and buys furniture off Instagram from shops and designers she follows (Marquis de Mod is a favorite).
If Blehm can’t ﬁnd something she wants or afford something she loves, she makes it. The helping hand behind most of these projects is Chris Lund, whom she contacted on a whim after her ﬁrst contractor ﬁzzled out.
“I was at the local Home Depot and I saw this van with a nice painted font, so I called,” recalls Blehm. “We’ve worked together nonstop ever since. I mean, Chris has a key to our house.” Whatever she envisions, Lund can construct, like the wood frame around the globe lights that hang in the kitchen and the built-in daybeds in the “sleepover nook” upstairs.
But don’t expect the duo to open a business together anytime soon. “I can’t do design work for other people,” says Blehm, who often participates in the One Room Challenge, an online design showcase, but focuses only on personal projects.
“For years, my dream has been to be in my studio and paint what I want and be able to sell it—and I’m doing that now!” she says. While some may view the task of putting together a home as a process to be completed, Blehm’s “slow decorating” inspires every part of her life. “I’ll be in the midst of painting and think: I just want to do a room or make some furniture—and I say the exact opposite when I’m painting. I need to do both.”
OFF THE WALL
Stop-in-your-tracks paint color is Blehm’s secret weapon for reimagining furniture and humdrum surfaces of every kind.
Get to Know Your Local Powder Coater
A professional spray-resin paint job, typically used on outdoor furniture, is an obsession of the artist’s. There are dozens of shades available and it’s very durable, according to Blehm, who has used it to reﬁnish chrome chairs, metal table bases, and light ﬁxtures.
Take It to the Floor…or the Ceiling
Instead of investing in potentially pricey (and more permanent) tile, Blehm used high-gloss enamel to paint stripes on her wood ﬂoors—as well as to create patterns on the ceiling (what she refers to as “the ﬁfth wall”).
Let the Kids Get Dirty
Two of the Blehm children and a friend painted a mural (with their mom’s art direction) on the wall of the family playroom. When they were ﬁnished, she went back and added reﬁned touches. (Remember, it’s low commitment. If it doesn’t work, you can paint over and start again.)
Play With the Spectrum
By selecting gradient shades of gray, Blehm gave a simple staircase an ombré effect, creating visual interest and dimension with a couple gallons of Sherwin-Williams paint. No stair runner required.
Breathe New Life Into Everyday Materials
Blehm has yet to see a natural wood surface she didn’t want to transform. With high-gloss paint, some patience, and many coats, she has altered vintage beds, kitchen cabinets, and the frames of paintings and mirrors.
A version of this story originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of Domino with the headline “A Modern Edge.”