Unique Homes: Obsessive Complectic

This is the latest installment of the Unique Homes series.

When I tell you that Kathleen Welhouse used to be an elementary school art teacher and loves to découpage her home, you might have a certain idea of what that would look like.

However, when I arrived at her house to photograph it and interview her, I was blown away by the sophistication and cohesion of the space and the warmth and creativity of this Appleton homeowner, who lovingly describes her style as “obsessive complectic,” a mash-up of obsessive compulsive and eclectic.

Welhouse’s découpage skills are quite impressive. She has realized that the secret to sophisticated découpage is to use wallpaper. She collects old sample books, saying “They’re hard to come by now. They charge money for them now. They used to give them away.”

She cuts out pieces that she likes and then puts them back together in brand new arrangements.

No surface is immune. She has put them on the walls, doors and furniture.

Welhouse, who was an art major “a million years ago,” has a clear love of patterns, florals, nature and soft colors, all of which are used repeatedly to unite the home’s style.

If something she has isn’t quite the right style or color, she just changes it. For example, she has painted numerous lampshades and recovered her kitchen cabinets.

She also gives great importance to items with history. Her favorite places to shop for home goods include Etsy, eBay, her sisters’ basements and her mother’s barn and shed. Some of her furniture pieces have been moving house with her for decades.

Apart from exchanging pieces with family, she also enjoys showcasing her siblings’ creations. Her brother Bob is a talented woodworker who has contributed to her house a coffee table, cabinet doors and a bedframe.

When asked about the strangest thing in her home, Welhouse says “My favorite strange thing is my little dog.”

It was made by her sister Jane using fur from her beloved pup Buzz. “I think it’s sweet,” she says.

Welhouse certainly knows what she likes and sticks with it. The warm color scheme, soft furnishings, and affable artwork found in each and every room give the whole house a friendly vibe. Her family agrees. Rather than any particular possession or project, Welhouse says “I’m most proud of the fact that my family likes to come here.”

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