Fred and Georgianna Haderman have never been shy about color. The local artists expressed their vibrant personal style when they began two local businesses: Old World Charm in Arroyo Grande and Posies in San Luis Obispo.
The couple is now retired from retail and has a decorative painting business. One of their most ambitious projects in recent years was reinventing their own diminutive hillside home in Paso Robles. It was newly built when they purchased it in 2007. Both considered it the ideal blank canvas.
“We love white walls because you can begin envisioning something new,” said Georgianna. “Different houses will speak to you in different ways.”
The Hadermans were downsizing from a 2,300-square-foot home. The new home is a modest 1,283 square feet.
They immediately began setting the stage for their design with paint. Using their large collection of art, including paintings by Georgianna, they mapped out the placement of each piece, then chose wall colors to match. Georgianna, who is adept at decorative folk painting, including German bauernmaleri, embellished doors, walls and furniture with animal and botanical motifs.
The couple’s previous home leaned toward Tuscan. This time, they found themselves drawn to spice-inspired hues like nutmeg, cinnamon and paprika. The colors informed the style of the home.
“It has a kind of an exotic feel. Kind of bohemian, artsy, or gypsy even,” said Georgianna.
Their next project was to open up their cramped galley-style kitchen. They bumped back the counter four feet and changed the layout to make the space more functional and inviting. They replaced ceramic tile countertops with marble and installed new, more ample cabinetry that Georgianna embellished with a six-layer glazing technique.
Handy and unafraid of a challenge, the Hadermans performed this and all other projects in the home entirely on their own. They completed their kitchen remodel in just 30 days.
“We’re pretty passionate, and we don’t like to spend a long time on a project,” said Georgianna.
Once finished, they began to ponder the home’s lack of a dining room. They resolved to knock out the wall between their living room and what was supposed to be the master bedroom. But they were almost stymied when they discovered that heating ducts ran behind the wall.
Their solution was an original one. Inspired by an Egyptian tapestry they found at a garage sale, they knocked out portions of the wall and, with paint, transformed the areas covering the ducts into Egyptian columns. The new dining room was large enough to incorporate a small bed that is used by the Haderman’s granddaughter when she visits.
“Now the sun shines in from the window in the dining room, so we’ve created more light in the living room,” noted Fred.
Their most recent project was installing porcelain tile in the lower-level entryway and mosaics on their stairs. Using two contrasting colors of porcelain tile, set in a harlequin pattern, the new floor visually expands the small space.
In the process of downsizing, the couple let go of many pieces of furniture. The only new piece they purchased was their antique butterfly dining table. Making their existing furniture fit in a small space was a welcome challenge for Georgianna and her artistic eye.
She decorates in vignettes, adding accessories to furniture and seating areas in compositions that evolve gradually over time. She has found ways to incorporate artful vignettes in easily overlooked corners. She managed to fit a café table and silk-covered chairs into a corner of their front doorstep. Pillows create an instant reading nook next to a small bookcase at the base of their stairs.
“We’re not minimalists,” said Georgianna. “Also, smaller houses have to have more character and personality than larger ones.”
The couple likes a lavish, layered look where complementary colors, textures and patterns interplay in striking and unexpected ways. Accessories often provide inspiration, and so the couple is always on the lookout for unusual ones.
“We really don’t care where we get something, as long as it fits,” said Georgianna, who shops everywhere from furniture stores to garage sales.
Fabric also figures big into the layering technique, adding both color and softness. In the downstairs bathroom, she artfully draped sheer organza along a rod above the shower, then added tassels to the shower curtain.
The Hadermans dubbed the house “Little Birdhouse,” and share it with their chi-ranian dog, Bella. The couple has taken easily to living in a small space.
“People tend to think big houses are the ultimate, but we really like how intimate this house is,” said Georgianna. “It’s like our little jewel box.”