For some readers of home and lifestyle magazines, the beautifully designed pages serve as a source of inspiration. For others, the pages serve as challenges. But for a certain kind of reader, like Westerly’s Michaela Lamb, the pages present nothing but possibilities. Simply put, soon after Michaela receives her HGTV Magazine in the mail, she has one response: “Game on.”
“It started with my stairs,” Michaela reflects. She saw a flight of stairs in HGTV Magazine with each stair riser painted a different color. The look added visual interest to the room and a creative flair. Having just moved into her newly constructed home with then-new husband Jacob, it was just the eye-catching element she needed to add depth and dimension to the monotone home. With one-part inspiration and a whole lot of perspiration, Michaela followed the “how-to” steps in the magazine to jump into the never-before-attempted DIY project. Materials were bought at the local home improvement shop, the space was prepped and the newlywed got to work. Choosing five warm and welcoming shades of pink, Michaela painted the stair risers in a progressive light-to-dark pink spectrum one at a time. When she was finished, she stepped back, took a good look at her work, and had a revelation.
“I saw how easy it was doing it on my own,” she says. She adds that as a young couple starting out, she was equally pleased with how budget friendly the transformation was and knew she had discovered a new passion. She also discovered a passion for pink. “I was like, ‘That was so easy and it looks so cute!’”
Seven years ago, Michaela and Jacob knew the new development in Westerly would be the perfect place to plant their roots. The neighborhood had model homes, which served as guidelines and they worked closely with the builder when it came to options like countertop surfaces, wall color (but only one throughout), wood floor stain and more. “The neighborhood is right in-between both of our parents’, and we both grew up in Westerly,” Michaela explains. She says that they also loved the traditional style of the four-bedroom Colonial since they were looking forward to starting a family. “The downstairs had a nice open floor plan, room for entertaining, a nice living room and a great gas fireplace,” she adds.
Though the light gray hue they choose throughout the home was lovely, and it came standard, it was a whole lot of gray. True, it added a neutral color foundation in each space, but it also prevented each space from having its own personality. The couple knew that to make the house truly their own, they had their work cut out for them.
“After we had moved in, I said, ‘One room at a time.’ Over the next couple of years, I started getting HGTV Magazine and I started decorating,” Michaela says. “Every month, I’d rip out half the magazine and say, ‘We need more color!’”
After the positive feedback and praise for the unorthodox pink staircase, Michaela was ready for her next project. She chose a room with a low risk factor: the bathroom.
“I did the bathroom with chunky pink stripes,” she says. “It was very inexpensive.” Michaela went on to populate the home with artwork and decor she created by hand. “I love crafts,” she says. “Most of it has come from HGTV Magazine or the HGTV shows. I’ll record them and then follow the steps.” While she has found this new passion and skill, Michaela concedes design always sparked her interest. “I always said when I was young I wanted to be an interior decorator, but for various reasons, I went down a different path,” she says. Her career as a wedding planner, however, could certainly classify her as a creative visionary. But that doesn’t mean she knew how well she’d take to a paintbrush.
One room she did not paint early on was the nursery. When the couple learned they were expecting their first child shortly after moving in, they were over moon. They also wanted to experience the thrill of not finding out the gender of their little one until he or she arrived, so the room remained gender neutral – as it would for the next three children they welcomed. “I’ve always kept those yellow sheets,” she says laughing. Today the couple are parents to Lydia (seven), Molly (five), Kevin (three) and Violet (one). (You can guess what color Violet’s room was painted.)
When she wanted to add some flair to the kitchen, Michaela says a design spread inspired her to focus on the backsplash – a space that was prominent but also small enough to be subtle and easy on the budget. She knew the perfect color again: pink. “I asked Jacob and he said he didn’t care,” she explains, so she went for it. She initially asked her cousin to install the pink glass tile, but Michaela got the feeling she was getting the brush off. “I saw my uncle and he finally said my cousin wasn’t going to put it up because he thought I would eventually ask to take it down,” she learned. With ardent convincing, the backsplash was mounted, and the magenta-hued accent is one of Michaela’s favorite throughout the house. “Almost every room in my house has something from HGTV. I think I am running out of space now.”
Looking around, it’s not hard to agree that Michaela’s nickname, “The Pink Lady,” is apropos. The most popular questions she’s asked is hands down: “Does your husband care?” Early on, she says, Jacob was fine with the splashes of pink. “I’m not sure that’s still the case,” she says laughing. But she agrees with almost everyone who walks through the door because they have similar reactions: they look around, take a minute, and say how bright, happy and lively the house feels. And if you’re tempted to make a radical change with just a paint can and a brush, Michaela suggests just going for it. “Just try it!” she says. “Every time I have tried a new project, it’s been fun. And you can do it and do it inexpensively. Something can always be repainted and redone.”