This Connecticut House Tour Is Our Most Colorful One Yet – Cup of Jo
In high school, Audrey Leary added color to her bedroom walls with nail polish. “I’ve always used whatever I have at my fingertips to make things more colorful,” Audrey says. “Color makes me happy.” Nowadays Audrey and her husband, Sam, own and run the Blackberry River Bistro in Canaan, Connecticut. He does most of the cooking, and she’s a trained pastry chef. They live nearby with their sons, Daniel, 6, and Kevin, 4. Here, Audrey gives us a tour of their colorful family home…
Paint: Benjamin Moore Green. Pendant: Herman Miller. Bird stencil: made by Audrey. Lights: ColorCreationStudio. Bear: a gift, similar. Bench cushion: homemade.
On a dad’s love language: When we moved in 10 years ago, the foyer had black and white tile. When my dad came to visit, he noticed that it was chipping and falling apart. He ended up changing his plane ticket to stay and re-tile the whole floor. This flooring anchors the room and I just love it.
On the central hub: This huge table is a hand-me-down from my husband’s brother. It’s the heart of our home and holds cereal bowls, Legos, mail, paintings, and whatever else this constantly moving household is in the middle of.
Wall color: Benjamin Moore Eraser Pink. Lights: customized from Color Cord. Bowls: East Fork. Chairs: Facebook marketplace, similar.
On personal paintings: Early in the pandemic, my husband went fishing and caught a gigantic trout. My son was so excited. I painted it but still need to finish it — quite a few of my paintings are up even though they’re still in progress.
Bookshelf color: Benjamin Moore Gentleman’s Gray. Lamp on bookshelf: Schoolhouse.
On book hunting: Our book collection is about one-third fishing-related, one-third novels, and one-third cookbooks. My favorites for baking are République’s book, Tartine for all the breads, and anything by Sarah Kieffer. I also love The Red Cat Cookbook for simple, well-done classics, and Food52’s Genius Recipes never fails.
Wall colors: Benjamin Moore Acadia Green and Rainforest. Sconces: Ikea, similar. Sofa: Room & Board, similar. Table: West Elm. Ottoman: Ikea, similar. Rug: Revival.
On creating a wall pattern: This wall used to be just light green, but it felt toothpastey to me, so I wanted to add a pattern. I made a simple stencil for the largest semi-circle — the top of the rainbow, if you will — by tracing an Ikea mixing bowl onto thick paper and then cutting it in half. On the wall, I started on the bottom and traced the arc with a pencil and then moved it over and traced another right next to it; I kept doing the same thing offset every other row. Finally, I painted the top arc dark green with a small paintbrush and just eyeballed the ones underneath. It was tedious but simple.
Purple lamps: Simple Designs. Wall color: Benjamin Moore Eraser Pink.
On meditative rituals: We get most of our paint from our local Buy Nothing group, and I do all the painting myself. I listen to podcasts — and show tunes when I need a boost. My biggest tip is, use a drop cloth. Sometimes I try to skip it, and it’s always a mistake. And if I don’t get the paint color I want, I mix it and hope for the best.
Green table in doorway: Ikea, similar. Chair: West Elm. Sofa: Albany Park. Ottoman: Blu Dot. Wallpaper: Sandberg. Rug: West Elm, similar. Brooches on door frame: vintage.
On collections: Years ago, when we lived in Brooklyn, I wore all vintage — day gloves, hats, brooches, I went all out. My style has changed, but I couldn’t get rid of my collection of brooches. Any collection can look cool if displayed in the right space. My husband’s fishing lures are fun to look at, too.
Sofa: Albany Park. Wallpaper: Sandberg. Ceiling color: Backdrop Stromboli Chess Club. Portraits: made by Audrey. Lamp: painted an old Target lamp inspired by this Schoolhouse one. Red console table: CB2, similar.
On remembering pets: Before having kids, my husband and I adopted a five-year-old rescue, who had many quirks and issues. But she was the sweetest. She passed away a few years ago, so I painted her for my husband for Christmas. I enjoyed the process so much that I asked for giant wooden panels for my birthday to paint portraits of our boys.
On sweet photos: My youngest [right] was the crankiest baby. But in this picture with his ice cream, he was very happy. So, I painted that photo. Then I thought it would be funny if my other son was eating ice cream in his portrait, as well. We eat a lot of ice cream.
On a playful touch: The trim below the ceiling is just a classroom scalloped trim like teachers use.
Wall color: Benjamin Moore Blue Diamond. Trim color: Benjamin Moore Firefly. Step stool: Ikea, similar. Dish towel: All Roads Studio.
On the realities of owning a restaurant: For the first year of running our restaurant, we were working 60 to 80 hours a week. Because we had to stay late and start early, we’d often sleep on a blow-up mattress in the kitchen. Then we’d wake up before the staff arrived and hide the mattress. It was all-consuming, and I remember crying to my husband. Thankfully, it’s calmed down a bit, and, as hard as it is, I love almost everything about it. I enjoy working with my hands, and there’s nothing that makes people happier than a beautiful meal that’s lovingly served.
Clock: thrifted, similar. Radiator paint: Farmhouse Red Chalked Paint. Trim color: Benjamin Moore Firefly.
On samples: I adored this wallpaper from Flavor Paper, but we couldn’t afford it. So, I ordered a sample and framed it. If you scratch it, it smells like bananas!
Purple paint: Benjamin Moore Eggplant Purple. Flowers: hand painted by Audrey. Mirror: thrifted, then painted with the leftover Benjamin Moore Firefly from the kitchen. Shower curtain: Schoolhouse, similar. Tiger bath mat: Amazon.
On cheerful spaces: Beata Heuman has a book called Every Room Should Sing, and, to me, every room should smile. That’s so dorky to say, but I really think every room should have some bright color or quirky thing.
On hilarious notes: I came home one night from the restaurant and this note was on the floor in the entryway. My oldest was so proud of his little brother! We had to frame it.
Paint colors: Backdrop’s Stromboli Chess Club, Blue Is The Coolest Color and Formentera. Side tables: bought at auction, similar. Clock: Schoolhouse. Bolster pillows: similar. Duvet: Schoolhouse. Blue pillows: Schoolhouse. Headboard: from Overstock, similar. Plug-in sconces: Amazon.
On the satisfaction of DIY: Many decisions in this house started with a thought like, I wish we had the money for this. Then I’ll figure out something similar I can do myself. There’s nothing as satisfying as having someone say, ‘Oh my god, that wallpaper is so beautiful!’ when you actually did it. I freestyle painted these walls with a couple different blues.
Pendant: Hay. Vintage chair: bought at auction. Wooden bench: thrifted.
On backstories: That framed poster is from ski championships in the ’80s. My husband was a champion skier at age three! That chair has seen better days, but our old dog Lucky used to sleep in it, so we’ve kept it for nostalgia.
Paint color: Benjamin Moore Electric Blue. Bedspread: La Cerise Sur Le Gateau. Sconces: Yollzey. Bolster: “made from an old pair of pants.” Nightstands: Wayfair.
On splashing color everywhere: My husband gave me a stamp roller for Mother’s Day, and I used it on these walls. I also spray painted the sconces red and then painted our nightstands purple with green handles, courtesy of green nail polish.
On a whirlwind romance: My husband and I met at a friend’s place in Brooklyn. We talked until four in the morning. We moved in together two weeks later, it was crazy fast. I was planning to move back to Chicago; I’d already accepted a job and put down a deposit on an apartment. When I decided not to move, my parents flew out in a panic — they thought I’d lost my mind. But Sam and I got engaged a few months later, and now we’ve been married for 12 years.
On getting dressed: I was listening to an interior design podcast a few months ago, and they said if you aren’t sure what your interior design style is, look in your closet. And I was like, oh my gosh, that rings true! Getting dressed is a creative outlet for me, and I use my Instagram as a bit of a fashion diary. I’m also inspired by hotels — I’ve been drooling over the photos of Peter & Paul in New Orleans.
Wallpaper: Hygge and West. Cactus lamp: thrifted. Red lamps: Amazon. Shelves: “my husband built them.” Yellow mobile: Mobiles Mobiles. Ship kite: Haptic Lab. Pterodactyl and hot air balloon: made by Audrey.
On the joy of children’s rooms: I would happily make our entire house look like a kid’s room and, well, maybe it does. The bunk beds I got from our local Buy Nothing group; then I took them apart and painted them with green chalkboard paint.
Dresser: hand-me-down painted Farmhouse Red Chalked Paint.
On getting a welcome from the Obamas: I was stoked to read that you can request congratulations from the president after having a baby. I did that with my oldest, who was born in June 2016. But when my younger son was born in 2019, we did not request one from Trump.
On naming the boys: My husband really wanted to name a boy after his dad. He was like, ‘My dad has done so much for me, and when else can I give a gift like this?’ So, we named our first son Daniel. When I was pregnant again, I thought that if it was a girl, we’d name her after my mom. I love my dad, but his name is Kevin and it just felt like a name of its time. But when we had a boy, we went for it. For the first six months, I’d be like, ‘This-is-Kevin-we-named-him-after-my-dad!’ But then it just happens that a name starts to fit a kid.
On bedtime: Daniel was scared to sleep alone, before Kevin was born and joined him. So, one night, I made him this sign. Speaking of bravery, when people come over, they’ll say, ‘You’re so brave to paint with bright colors.’ But you don’t have to be afraid of color. If you hate it, paint over it! Nothing makes a bigger impact for less money than color. It can make the cheap couch you inherited look cool and intentional if you get the right color behind it.
Thank you for sharing your home, Audrey! You can follow her on Instagram, if you’d like.
P.S. More house tours, including a Maine home with a view and a colorful farmhouse with open doors.
(Photos by Lyndsay Hannah for Cup of Jo.)
I’ve revisited this house tour like a gazillion times since it posted! Beautiful home! Everything is *chefs kiss!!* Do you kind of set on a color palate for each room or is it more haphazard?? I love incorporating color but I feel like every time I do it in my space it ends up looking very unintentional and disjointed in the space! I don’t know what to do to anchor the color chaos!
Well, I was about to drop $20+ on a pair of knobs for my upcycled desk-turned-vanity project, but I think I was just inspired to use nail polish instead!
What a fun, fun, fun house!!! This is the friend’s house that you go to when you’re a kid and you’re like, man, this family is way cooler than my family. 😉
HA! Audrey, we did EXACTLY the same thing! I framed the lovely birth (and wedding!) announcement from the Obamas. My second child was born in 2018…um, no thanks. Why would I send a birth announcement to a man who bragged he’d never changed a diaper?
This is so joyful! I yearn for those bookshelves. Books are the best decoration, they’re so personal and well-loved and colorful.
This is a stunning home!! And what absolutely perfect photos by Lyndsay Hannah Photography.
she was absolutely wonderful and such a delight to spend the day with!
Instagram figured out that I’d like Homerunballerina and plopped one of her posts in my feed one day. I love it when the algorithm is on it! Audrey’s outfit videos are always a treat during my day. Seeing her house here is having two parts of the web collide in the most lovely way. I love all the colors and patterns in her home and I didn’t expect anything less: her wardrobe gave me the preview!
this is so nice, thank you!!
Sooooo inspired!!! Thank you xmillion
In the top photo is that the Blue Diamond/firefly combo too at the right?
Also my previous comment should have said *lime* wash
sorry, the cover photo is a blue that I mixed up which is super not helpful. The trim color is a kind of salmony-pink that was actually here when we moved in!
Did you do anything when painting the kitchen with the BM Blue Diamond to get a more dimensional/like wash look? It’s so great!
Also what is the trim color on the boys bedroom? Thank you
Honestly I think if anything I probably should have done one more coat haha. The light is very moody in there which I think is giving it that look! The boys’ room trim is *I think* Yukon Gold by Pittsburgh Paint.
I love your home, Audrey. I love this tour and this interview. Yours is the best home tour I’ve seen in a looong time. I can usually tell I’ll like a home tour if the first couple of photos have all-white walls.
Such a fun home 🙂
LOVE this home! I’m a huge color lover too-it’s always refreshing to me to see other colorful homes when so many featured on design blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, etc etc are all white and beige. I mean, those spaces can definitely be beautiful…but I will never have one. Audrey, congrats on doing SO MUCH of your home by yourself! It’s seriously impressive. It’s really inspiring because I can’t afford most of the decor I want-it makes me think it really IS possible to have a cool home without being rich.
Thank you! And thank you Cup of Jo for featuring COLOR! More, please! 🌈🌈🌈
thank you!! we definitely don’t have the option of paying someone to work on the house and I have to say it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to say you did it yourself!
I came for the house tour, but stayed for the fashion! I think this is possibly my favourite home tour ever. This is the home I dream of for myself: hand-made, intentional, vibrant, playful, rewarding to re-visit and to look at again and again with fresh eyes. The Dream. BUT can we talk about Audrey’s fashion?! Impeccable. I loved her note about wearing all vintage everything “back in the day”. I also used to have a very ornate collection of 1950s clothes with gloves and silk garters and even vintage wildly uncomfortable shoes . I loved the process of it all. Now as a new mom, I need to be scrobbling on the floor and rolling and washing out spitup. I’ve migrated to vibrant quilted joggers and tent-shaped cropped shirts in textured woven fabrics. It’s inspiring to see another mom, artist, and business owner evolving their wardrobe whilst remaining true to themselves.
I love this so much (and so glad we connected on IG!) thank you!!
Audrey, I used to read Homerun Ballerina religiously back in the day. Your fit posts in front of your closet were ahead of their time. You’re still the coolest and your home is a beautiful expression of that.
oh my gosh, those were the days! thank you so much, that is so kind!
We have a weekend place up the road from you in Norfolk and love your bistro. How fun to see your lovely home and hear how it all came together. Obviously you and your husband are not only creative in the kitchen, but have created a beautiful home for your family.
no way! thank you so much, hopefully see you soon and please say hello next time! xoxo
Audrey! What a cheerful home! Do you hang all the wallpaper yourself too or do you have it installed? Is it peel and stick or the real deal?
I hang it myself! It’s mostly not too tricky although there was a bit of a learning curve. I did peel and stick in our guest room a long time ago – I found it way more difficult to hang since it kind of sticks to itself. I actually ended up saving that when I peeled it off and it’s in our upstairs hallway now. Anyway, a couple YouTube videos and some blind confidence got it done!
Such an inspirational home tour! Has anyone else mentioned her kids’ portraits? That fishing picture is gold- maybe consider a side art business Audrey? Does anyone know of someone (Etsy, etc.) who will draw a portrait from a personal picture? So much personality in this amazing home.
James Bartelle painted a picture of my BFF and his wife from a photo for an anniversary gift and it is so good. He can do a bunch of different styles, too.
Thank you so much!! That’s so nice – I love painting so much I’ve toyed with the idea of trying to do it on the side but I think I probably take too long! I’ve definitely seen people who do commissions from photos, I’ll try to see if I’ve saved them somewhere!
Hi there 🙂 I haven’t done portraits in a long time, but if my landscape style is one you like, I’d love to hear from you!
I’m obsessed with this house!! Wish I could live in it.
Thank you!! ❤️
SUCH a fun home, my goodness, it’s really wonderful. A house to grow up happily and comfortably in, with big imaginations and dreams. Really inspiring, thank you!
Thank you so much!
I love this house. I want to live here. Or at least be friends with ya’ll.
we have a big, empty guest room 🙂
Seriously gorgeous house. I LOVE the bathroom- the shower curtain that compliments the gorgeous purple & painted flowers on the wall with the mustard mirror and causally slung tiger mat over the bath! Delightful! Beautiful use of colors all over the house.
Love it all, but please tell where oh where is the Swedish alphabet poster from??
I think it used to be sold at Ikea.
We found it at a goodwill but I think it’s old ikea!
Wow! My grandparents had that same intercom control panel in their house. I hadn’t thought of that in decades. Thanks for the memory.
I only wish it worked!! Such a cool piece!
I live one town over (Sheffield) and was SO excited to see Audrey featured here. Can I please join your Buy Nothing group?
Oh hi!! Yes! Find us on Facebook!
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