Designing with Joy: Artful Living

In each issue of Design & Living, residential and commercial designer Christen Anderson of Live Christen Joy showcases a joyful project of hers. This month, Anderson shows us how even the small spaces matter, showcasing her mudroom renovation.

Photos by Hillary Ehlen

If you’re like me, you’re intentional about planning home renovations. Over the past few years, I’ve been slowly updating each room in my home with investment purchases to stand the test of time. 

A room-by-room approach demands a critical eye for style. My newest project is my mudroom. For most homeowners, the mudroom is the last room you see when leaving the house, and the first room to welcome you home. I want to share how I approached incorporating artful selections, and how you can do the same to update your space. 

Think Wallpaper

I wanted something special and unique in this space to create energy and excitement. Wallpaper makes a dramatic impression especially on an accent wall and on the ceiling. 

Vine-like designs swirl on my ceiling, trailing down the wall. Using colors ranging from deep blue to light blue and pink already throughout my home, I opted to expand my palette with a natural green. Since there’s a lot of blue throughout my open floor plan, green tones provide flow with added visual interest. The wallpaper draws your eye up to highlight the ceiling height. Since the wallpaper can be seen from the kitchen, it was important that it complimented the decor throughout the open floor plan.

I was tempted but opted not to wallpaper the garage door wall or flanking walls as I didn’t want guests drawn into the mudroom. Let’s be real, my mudroom is where I stash ‘stuff’ when hosting and it’s not the neatest place in the house! Another reason was functionality — my home acts as a product warehouse for clients. Boxes are moved in and out daily, and I didn’t want to risk damaging the beautiful paper.  

Expert Tip: Wallpapering your ceiling? Before you install it, skim coat over any texture to prep and smooth the surface. This keeps the wallpaper from sticking to any textured ‘pimples’ and allows it to lay flat for a lasting professional finish.  

Extend the Mood with Paint

 I matched the paint to the backdrop of the wallpaper. Though the paint is slightly more cream-colored than the bright white cabinets, the warm tones are echoed in other selections and make it seem there are layers of white instead of a yellow cast.  

Shine a Light

I fell in love with this pendant light, The Milton, when using it at our Timeless Tudor remodel. This piece is right at home in the mudroom because it’s large enough to demand attention. Other light fixtures fade in its shadow, and the room design rises up to support this stunning piece. The classic design features delicate curves that complement the shapes in the wallpaper. A pop of polished nickel shines like a platinum setting on a beautiful piece of jewelry. To brighten the room, I added a higher wattage bulb which enlivens the space.

Expert Tip: To show off vaulted ceilings or add interest in a small room, wallpapered ceilings with a pendant light will have heads tilting back to admire your amazing design style. 

Display Art That Makes You Happy

My brother-in-law paused and questioned why I’d hung my Gray Malin artwork in the mudroom. He just shook his head and laughed because by now, he’s used to my crazy ideas. However, I don’t think it’s crazy to hang art you love everywhere in your home. Don’t limit yourself by thinking, “I can’t hang art in a mudroom!” Why not? Simply ensure the pieces fit the space and are framed or protected from humidity and sunlight. 

I wanted art that would be a fabulous hello or good-bye, and I knew Gray Malin’s photography would be perfect. It’s playful enough for a mudroom, colorful enough to make the cream paint bright and clean, and the natural palette plays well with the grassy green wallpaper. I chose two pieces stacked on the wall across from the washer and dryer and searched for complimenting pieces and landed on ‘Ditch Plains Beach Umbrellas’ and ‘Fishers Island Club.’ The blue echoed in both pieces pulls the room together. I appreciate how the pieces balance each other out — one featuring more people and one featuring less. The artwork isn’t from the same collection but it felt good together. 

In the pantry, I opted for two pieces from my travels to the Caribbean. They are local pieces that I purchased at their daily market. I love the memories they bring me, and they were the perfect splash of color in this space.

All of these pieces in this smaller space make me so happy each time I enter my home and as I embark on my day with sunshine and cheer. 

The Details 

The Corky & Artist: Since I’ve become a dog mama recently, I find myself reaching for pet-themed pieces. At market last spring I found a sculpture that doubles as a bowl. I love that it’s artistic, dog-themed and quirky. (Maybe I’ll name him Milton!) 

The Practical: I’m always adding keys to my keyring from various projects, I found a specific marble tray to hold my growing ring. Notes cards, pens and notepads are easy for me to reach for and a place to store incoming and outgoing mail. Cute & practical – helping me stay organized! 

The Texture & Concealer: In the pantry & closet I opted for textured, oversized baskets to store puppy treats, Costco sized bags of almonds and smaller vases. The baskets create a cohesive look that allows the space to be organized and pretty – just in case that one guest must see the mudroom! (Ha!)

Now my mudroom is bright, fun, fashionable and functional for laundry, groceries or simply starting and ending each day in a happy mood.

You can make your home more inviting for yourself and others by using these tips and selecting and displaying art that brings you joy. After all, isn’t joy what life’s about?


Anderson is a Minnesota native with an eye for decor and design. Christen Joy specializes in new-construction commercial projects, exceptional remodels, furnishing high-end living spaces and creating memorable special events. Anderson is also a passionate art collector, world traveler and home cook who frequently entertains for friends. 

Join me on Instagram and Facebook to see my latest projects and email me at [email protected] for project inquiries.

Read more from Christen Anderson here.


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