Roost Books: Color is the common theme in your work. Have you always been drawn to color?
Kristin Nicholas: I have very early memories of distinct colors from when I was a little girl, so I suppose I have always been fascinated with color. When I began working in the textile field, I quickly realized that color was a whole industry unto itself. In the textile industry there are definite trends that designers follow. Now I chose colors that make me happy and that work well together. After so many years of working with color, it is just natural for me to combine colors in a fun and visually appealing way.
RB: What is a “color expert”?
KN: A color expert is someone who puts different colors together to create a look that is visually pleasing and that tells a story. It isn’t impossible to learn how to work with colors. It takes practice and observation but anyone can learn it if they have the desire and aren’t afraid. Part of being a color expert is being fearless and not worrying about failing.
RB: How would you describe your style?
KN: Colorful Handmade Eclectic + Acquired. I mix handmade thing—especially textiles—from all over the world with my own handmade things. While I have small collections, I don’t stick to collecting a particular period or aesthetic. I like to mix things up. I have lots of antiques and not-quite-antiques. I prefer solid, sturdy pieces with a bit of wear and patina showing. The word vintage isn’t right for my particular style but I do like vintage things and mix them in with the other things in our home.
RB: You’re so well known as a knit designer and embroiderer, but you create in so many mediums. Do you have a favorite creative outlet?
KN: I have dabbled in so many crafts over my lifetime, and they all fill a different spot in my life. I like that what I learn in one craft—for instance, pottery—can be transferred to another craft, such as knitting or crochet.
I really can’t pick a favorite creative outlet. You can’t beat paint for a quick change—it’s so easy and immediate, and accessible to everyone. Crafts like knitting, crocheting, and embroidering take more time and technical skill but there is something to be said for the slow process of building stitches that makes those items more treasured when they are completed.
RB: In Crafting a Colorful Home, we get to take a tour of your farmhouse and all of the personal touches you’ve added—along with how-to for the techniques and crafts you’ve applied to your own home. What message do you hope to convey to readers?
KN: I hope that readers will take the ideas that I have used in my home and change them to make them their own. Crafting a Colorful Home is meant to be a guide to help readers establish their own particular style—in color, design, pattern, and craft. Although there are explicit instructions for the craft projects, I wouldn’t expect readers to copy them exactly. I can’t wait to see what everyone does in their own homes with my ideas.
RB: What does “crafting a colorful home” mean to you? How does adding handmade and colorful details affect how you use your space or feel in your home?
KN: Adding handmade things to a home makes it just that: a real home that is welcoming, cozy, warm, and full of love and caring people.
RB: Your home is quite old. Do you think your ideas will translate to brand new construction or to an apartment?
KN: Our farmhouse was built in 1751 so it is steeped in history. But my ideas can be translated to any home. Most of the paint treatments I share will actually add faux age and a sense of history to a new home. If someone is renting and not able to change the colors of their walls, I suggest bringing in furniture that can be painted fun colors or hanging colorful paintings and textiles to give that warm and happy vibe. These colorful objects can move to the next apartment and then next.