The Apartment
Episode Two – Color & Light

As promised in my last blog, I hope to inspire those of you living with anemic white walls, ugly visual blemishes or an outmoded architectural element in your home or space. My new apartment has all three! OMG – what have I gotten myself into?

The Vignette

Linda Applewhite's Blog Image of The Thinking Man by Georg Fenkl
"The Thinking Man" by Georg Fenkl.

To unlock the key to my spiritless, soulless living room with milky white walls and a hideous triple mirrored fireplace, I decided to go on a shopping spree in my apartment, garage and storage unit to find forgotten treasures. My goal was to illuminate the living room, working my way around the space to the dreaded shoddy fireplace.

I found an old, custom-made tasseled lampshade in a box and placed it on an antique wrought iron floor lamp that accommodates three light bulbs. Its terracotta-toned color projected light on a poorly lit favorite painting with orange and yellow stripes hanging above a bronze pear sculpture. By adding warm toned light through the lampshade, the walls, armoire, pear and painting lit up.

The West Wall

Linda Applewhite's blog The red and orange lampshades direct color on the art, furniture and rugs, creating warmth on the west wall image.
The red and orange lampshades direct color on the art, furniture and rugs, creating warmth on the west wall.

On our trip to the Southwest last fall, I brought two rustic lamps with apricot-colored shades back from Santa Fe. I found them in the garage, screwed in LED soft-white bulbs and placed them at each end of the 8’ long French vintage buffet.

Image of Endurance of Paper by Georg Fenkl.
"Endurance of Paper" by Georg Fenkl.

A German artist, Georg Fenkl, painted both pieces of art, one hanging above the buffet titled Endurance of Paper, and The Thinking Man with the orange and yellow striped shirt pictured earlier in the vignette. The three lamps infused light through their terracotta and orange shades onto these two colorful works of art, the furniture, walls and rug, warming the entire west wall.

The East Wall

Image of Woman with Horse by Irina Korsakova for Linda Applewhite's blog
"Woman with Horse" by Irina Korsakova.

To bring light to the east wall of the living room, we found a black and gray antique console table in Sonoma. We placed it behind the sofa to hold two additional lamps we carried in our car from New Mexico. Their persimmon-colored light bathes Russian artist, Irina Korsakova, mysterious painting in radiant light.

I am a big fan of lamps that offer softer and more intimate lighting than downlights which this apartment ceiling is dotted with throughout every room. I never turn them on as their harsh light makes anyone in the room look sick, unlike the understated lamp light that creates a warm atmospheric glow.

Image of Linda Applewhite's sofa with throw pillows
I integrated three contrasting black and white pillows to give new life to the old sofa and long-revered pouffes.

Rather than place five matching yellow pillows on the 42” deep Cisco sofa I purchased years ago, I combined pillows that once embellished our Golden Gate home and Santa Fe casita. I wanted to add an edgy feel to these long-revered pouffes, so I purchased three black and white pillows to throw into the mix. They instantly gave new life to the old sofa and existing pillows by absorbing and reflecting color as only black and white can do to a lively palette. The new dramatically contrasting pillows ( were reasonably priced and harmonized with the Russian painting. I remove some of the pillows when we sit on the deep seated sofa at night to eat dinner and watch movies.

Fireplace Focal Point

Image of Linda Applewhite's home before her interior design magic
The mirrors on the fireplace were confusing to the eye.

Surrounded by stark white walls, I show the image of the flimsy looking fireplace with the dirty stone surround, to compare with the new focal point. The mirrors reflect the outdoors, but the scene is confusing due to the horizontal and vertical orientation and shapes of the mirrors that confuse the eye.

Linda Applewhite's home after she redesigned it.
The reimagined focal point looks much more substantial with its brilliant panels of color.

The reimagined focal point evolved slowly over the past few weeks. While I shopped for paint colors, Marshall bought a 4’x 8’ piece of MDF at Home Depot for $13. He sawed it into two pieces, attaching the 1/8th” thick material carefully onto two vertical wood panels bordering the fireplace, making sure the MDF panels could be easily removed.

Once we agreed on the color, Marshall painted the two 20” wide panels Benjamin Moore CSP-1110/14 Carrots.  The happy bold pop of this carrot-hued color warms the entire room and keeps us smiling at this challenging time in the world. I believe color is not only life enhancing and healing, but vastly personal as well.

The colors in the four works of art harmonize beautifully and warm up the entire room.
The colors in the four works of art harmonize beautifully and warm up the entire room.

The large acrylic painting over the fireplace that previously hung in my Sausalito office, was wrapped in paper in the garage and signed by an unknown Marin artist, Pedroli. It covers the large horizontal mirror perfectly.

But something more was needed. I looked throughout Marin and Sonoma counties and fortunately found three small, reasonably priced oil paintings created by a local artist I have known for years, Robert Adams. The feeling and colors resonated beautifully with the Pedroli painting while diffusing the bold 14 Carrots paint color on the adjacent panels. With infrequent fires, I keep candles lit most nights to add a tender quality to the light on the north wall.

Facing South

Image of Linda Applewhite's home
The Puppeteer commands the room with his back to the San Francisco Bay.

In front of the sliding glass doors to the deck stands an 8’ long worktable I use constantly to tweak our remodel plans on Golden Gate which starts construction this spring. At the center of the table is The Puppeteer, a whimsical life size ceramic sculpture that commands the room with the deep blue San Francisco Bay at his back and golden candlelight at his sides.

Nature’s Colors

11 - The flowers form the perfect combination to accent the pile of pillows and art over the sofa and fireplace.
The flowers form the perfect combination to accent the pile of pillows and art over the sofa and fireplace.

I brought back another piece of sculpture I adore from Casita Alegria. It is a shiny burnt-orange ceramic watermelon-half, embellished with raisin-colored seeds scattered around its lime-green border.

The perfect vessel in which to display natures riotous array of glowing colors – pink, yellow and orange Gerber Daises casually integrated with cool green leaves. It’s the consummate combination to accent the sumptuous pile of pillows and intriguing art over the sofa and on the fireplace surround.

Transform Your Home

With the pandemic outside, what could be a better time to add some colorful light inside, especially if your walls are pallid. Take your white shades and lamp bases to a retailer that sells lampshades to experiment with replacing them with warm colored shades – red, terracotta, pink, apricot, orange and yellow. You’ll be surprised how colorful light changes the feeling in your rooms.

Consider painting an accent wall with a new favorite untrendy color that you love. Experiment with adding hints of black and white to colorful areas of your home. And remember, working with color changes with the light coming into the space.

Light candles at night to create a delicate and inviting glow while cooking, eating dinner, watching television or reading a book. Go shopping in your home for treasures you want to reintroduce into your rooms, making them look new with color and light. It’s an opportune time to nurture yourself and your family with colorful light that makes everyone in your home feel good!

Linda Applewhite's dog Toby with his stuffed monkey
Toby and his pal feeling good!

Stay tuned for Episode Three of The Apartment – The Multi-Purpose Room

For the love of colorful light,

Linda Applewhite's signature
Showing 15 comments
  • Maudie K.

    The new a dream come true!!!
    Wonderful & Cozy.
    Maudie K

    • Mary stone

      I Love your space…I have some furniture simailure to yours ..makes me love the pieces now more when seeing them in your space..You have given me some great I will go play house..

  • Danelle Carpenter



  • Marsha Butler

    Thank you again. Your place is so beautiful and so YOU! What a great journey, and thanks for sharing with all.

  • Courtney Eskridge

    It’s raining in Atlanta,GA but warm and sunny in my heart after seeing this! Amazing and delightful to see what you and hubby are doing to this magical home. I can’t wait to see more!!!

  • Deborah Healy

    Love everything about your space; color, art, views, and especially how you put them together. Thank you Linda.

  • bob lewis

    …love this…

  • Marla Patterson

    Oh my GAWD! To die for…and I’m not even a teeny bit surprised ! I knew you would do this. It’s jus even better than I could have imagined.
    Sir TobyMan looks so precious and cuddly.
    Amazing and beautiful just like vous!! M and MB

  • Joan

    Still following your apartment enhancements to fill your spirits……from The Netherlands, where it’s the tradition to light candles every evening to have an gezellig ambience every evening… I love each “reveal” and am cheering you on!

  • Lynn

    Such wonderful ideas, Linda! Your solution to the fireplace is brilliant – I’m glad you saved it for further down on the page, as it built my anticipation for how you were going to solve this. I love the lampshade ideas as well – a simple/affordable solution with such impact. Thank you for sharing your creative ideas with us – true inspiration 🙂

  • Kimber Hart

    Absolutely Fabulous! Such a inviting living room ! Linda the “Woman With Horse” painting has always been a favorite of mine in your home! I remember her from your “Architectural Interiors” book ( still my favorite design book) I love that good art like design has no expiration date!

  • Lizabeth Nichols

    The fireplace treatment looks great. What an amazing view you have. It makes the apartment worth having to leave your house for a while. I always love the warmth of your color palette. The carrot color is so good.

  • Ann

    Wow ! Beautiful !

  • Alyssa OHare

    I CAN NOT believe the transformation!!! OMG Linda, what sublime beauty you have created!

  • sandy

    Love how you put it all together. What a great cozy look and i love what you’ve done with your fireplace.

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