Artist Sarah Stieber San Diego House Tour Photos

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Name: Sarah Stieber and husband, Chris
Location: South Park neighborhood of San Diego, California.
Size: 1350 square feet
Type of Home: House
Years Lived In: 6 months owned

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The journey of finding our home and the inspiration to design it as an extension of my art felt meant to be. My husband and I were on our honeymoon in Croatia and Venice, Italy, where I studied art and developed my colorful painting style 13 years ago! Wandering around Venice, we stumbled into an artist’s studio. He told us his life story — how he immigrated to Italy and went from being robbed, homeless, and sleeping on the train to settling in Venice and building a beautiful life as an architect, artist, and professor (at the very same program I attended )!

He told us that the secret to living a beautiful life is to CULTIVATE. Cultivate your home, your relationships, and your art. I realized then that I wanted to throw myself into cultivating a home space. The very same day we returned from Italy we found the home we’re living in now!

Over the last six months I have been passionate about cultivating our home as a joyful and expressive sanctuary. When I’m not painting walls, creating in my in-home art studio, or shipping art and jewelry out of the garage, my husband and I dancing in the kitchen making smoothies, watching the birds, walking to our favorite coffee shop, and binging “Stranger Things.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I describe my colorful painting style as “Electric Realism,” and my personal aesthetic definitely stems from that ⁠— quirky joyful maximalism that’s chock-full of vibrant colors and bold patterns!

Inspiration: My artwork is inspired by self-trust, resilience, color, and joy! When designing my home, I used my vibrant figurative paintings as the inspiration and the starting point. I selected complementary whimsical furniture, bold paint colors, and shiny iridescent accents to layer pattern, color, and light. I’m thrilled that the result is a joyful space that feels aligned with my work and my personality.

Favorite Element: Chris installed a bird feeder by my studio window, so if you see me glance up and smile during Zoom calls, it’s because I’m watching the squirrels endlessly try to access the grub and the birds happily munching away!

Biggest Challenge: The walls are certainly not straight, so when woodworker Sam Radding installed the wall easel in my art studio and when Cherise Goode and I installed wallpaper throughout the home, we had a lot of angled walls to contend with!

Proudest DIY: I’m most proud of covering all of my walls with COLOR and designing many of the elements in my home from scratch! When we first moved in, every wall was painted beige. Bringing color into our space was such a priority for me that I began painting the mural in the living room before I even unpacked my clothes! I have since painted, wallpapered, and installed my paintings on nearly every wall.

I designed a lot of the elements of my home from scratch and worked with so many talented creatives to bring my vision to life! From the woodworker who improved upon and built all of the furniture I designed for my art studio, to work with Dust Furniture to design and built the rad custom entryway table, it has been a dream to fill my home with the collective visions of so many creative minds.

Biggest Indulgence: Our entryway has a large rectangular cut-out leading into the hallway that all mistakes for a mirror! I have been obsessed with artist Dicro Davis’ large-scale sculptural installations for years, so I commissioned him to create a custom piece to fit into that space. It looks like a portal and creates the most magical colorful reflections on the ceiling and into the hallway. It was SO WORTH IT!

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? When we first toured the home, I kept referring to the ‘art studio’ in the back. Everyone reasonably thought I was talking about the art shed behind the houses, but I had my eye on the 300-square-foot second living room with three walls of windows and tons of light pouring in!

Having painted nearly every day for 12 years, slight inefficiencies over time made me realize that the tools I need just don’t exist. When I had the opportunity to build my own art studio from scratch, the first thing I did was hire a woodworker. We built a custom wall easel, a tape crate, and an adjustable paint cart.

I wanted the aesthetics of my studio to reflect and inspire my art, so I installed a custom water floor, hand-dipped rainbow curtains, a rainbow chandelier, paint splattered chairs, and I painted all of the furniture white. Creating in this customized dreamy space has improved my work flow and inspired my work. It’s no wonder that I started painting a series of water paintings right when we moved in!

What are the biggest tricks/secrets to using color in decor? Many people suggest choosing a palette of two colors and sticking with it throughout the space. I agree that having a palette can keep the space cohesive, but you don’t need to limit yourself to just two colors! Rather than choosing just orange and turquoise for my living room, I selected secondary colors that jive with those two main hues. The space features warm oranges, yellows, and shades of peach, and cool shades like turquoise, teal, emerald green, and navy blue.

My art studio certainly follows a color palette, but that palette consists of pastel versions of every color of the rainbow. I believe that the depth and richness of a space stems from multiple colors dancing together, and it’s absolutely possible to create a color symphony and still make it feel cohesive!

What’s your favorite wall paint color of all time: RAINBOW! But seriously, I’m such a colorist at heart and I love how colors sing when you hit the right combo. Years of painting with a palette of 30 paint colors at a time makes it impossible for me to choose just one. I used Dunn Edwards paint throughout the home and I love the ability to save different color palettes on their website!

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? I’ve always had a story in my head that I’m good at art in two dimensions but that when it came to working in three dimensions I was hopeless. Needless to say I was very intimidated designing this 3-dimensional space! Aptly I found the process much more accessible when I pulled out my iPad and started designing on a flat screen. This process gave me the flexibility to swap out different mural designs, furniture, rugs, wallpaper, and paintings. When I was happy with how everything fit together, I started purchasing the pieces and installing the art. I would absolutely recommend starting with a plan and mocking all of the pieces up to insure cohesion and flow before you start buying items.

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