While minimalism will always have a place in our hearts, there's something special about a home that goes fully in the opposite direction. Mixing bright colors and bold prints without overwhelming the space is no easy task, yet when done right, the effect is total eye candy.
Stephanie Watkins, founder of popular design blog Casa Watkins Living, has a home that expertly nails this look. She renovated and transformed the first floor of her 3,104 square foot Maryland home in her signature style, "colorful modern bohemian with global fusion."
"As a Caribbean native with a love for color, I wanted our home to feel like we are always on vacation," Watkins says. "Many island styles have influences from other countries and create a mix of styles seen also in the unique culture of the people. My family is no different, and I have always appreciated showcasing that love of my own culture as well as other global cultures in our home. As I’m designing, I make sure the cultural elements are shown respectfully and appropriately."
As a Caribbean native with a love for color, I wanted our home to feel like we are always on vacation.
Watkins focused on the first floor of the four bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom home when renovating. She expanded the kitchen into the dining room to create a larger kitchen for her family of five, and the formal living room was transformed into the dining area, creating a much more open floor plan perfect for large family celebrations.
"The house was purchased by my husband prior to our marriage," Watkins explains. "It was the quintessential cookie cutter house with each space having plain, white walls with no architectural details, popcorn ceilings, orange-hued kitchen cabinets, and orange hardwood flooring. Decorating this space with limited budgets for each room was very challenging."
Keep scrolling to see more of this bohemian dream home.
The living room comes complete with a rattan chair, plenty of greenery, and a show-stopping green velvet sectional from Article. Watkins' readers flock to her blog for her bright colors and her fearlessness with DIYs. That didn't stop with this renovation.
"Since our home had no architectural details, I wanted each space to have it’s own statement element but still maintain a cohesive look throughout the house," Watkins says. "The living room was pretty much a white box with a fireplace, so I added a statement wall using 3D wall panels. The colorblocking of the 3D wall mimics the two white kitchen cabinets on either side of the light blue kitchen wall seen directly opposite of the living room."
In any true renovation to create an open concept home, demoing a few walls is a given.
"Knocking down the wall that divided the kitchen and dining area along with changing the formal living room into the dining area helped create a brighter, open area perfect for our family and entertaining," Watkins explains. "The larger kitchen also has an entertaining island that is used as a buffet, our dining table, and as a homework/study table. The island was a much appreciated kitchen feature for our homeschooling time during the COVID social distancing."
The bright colors and happy vibes even make it into the formal yet bohemian dining room.
"Each space is inspired by the Caribbean in some way," she says. "Most of the house is in the “sea” color scheme of blues and greens. I also add pops of orange which is reminiscent of the tropical florals I love."
Though the whole first floor is full of personality, Watkins' favorite room is the dining room.
"The reclaimed wood dining table and crossback chairs are not expected with such modern wallpaper, but I love it," Watkins says. "I wanted the statement to be the wallpaper, but still needed color. The orange drapes and colorful rug add those pops of color I craved. I started collecting colorful African baskets recently and am showcasing them on my dining room wall."
Though Watkins is known for her fearless approach to design, she's not immune to doubt.
"For the longest time, I hesitated renovating or updating the house in the way I truly wanted because I didn’t think it would do so great in resale," Watkins explains. "A friend and fellow designer, Jess of Domicile 37, told me to stop thinking of resale or moving and start creating the home I’ve always wanted for my family. You can always paint the house later. She really helped me break out of my shell and start taking design risks."
Once Watkins decided to go for it, the kitchen got a major upgrade.
"I wanted to take a modern approach to the classic white kitchen," Watkins says. "Though the white shaker cabinets can read traditional, I’ve added walnut open shelving to balance both the traditional style and white color."
The budget was the biggest challenge for this project. The kitchen renovation cost just over $30,000 (most of which went to the kitchen cabinetry and quartz countertop). while the rest of the spaces were transformed for less than $1,000 and some smart handiwork.
"I often needed to DIY things so they would fall in our budget or cut projects from the list and plan to do them at a later date," Watkins says.
Watkins painted the entryway the same color as the 3D accent wall (Behr's Alice White) in the living room and styled the walls with art she's made or collected.
"The entryway is small, but painting the baseboards and doors the same color of the wall has helped not only brighten this space, but made it feel bigger too," Watkins says.
Her eldest daughters' room was decorated with globally-inspired patterns in an array of neutral shades.
"This room was probably the most challenging for me as my daughter was adamant she didn’t want my “usual” colorful approach," Watkins says. "The tip and lesson learned here was that even a neutral space can still exude global style with pattern mixing."
For her son's room, Watkins went all in on color.
"My son is very artistic and loves to create all sorts of art projects," Watkins says. "His bedroom was decorated with colorful accents, a wall mural of colorful blocks, as well as a colorful otomi bedspread of Australian animals from Spoonflower."
Though the house is full of positivity, color, and warmth, Watkins thinks there's still more to be done.
"I haven’t felt like the work is done just yet, but I’ve been enjoying the journey," Watkins says. "I’d love to update our master bedroom and the remaining areas upstairs so they exude the same positive energy the other refreshed rooms have."