Sights unseen: The art and art of home renovation

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Every time Susan Broadbent has moved into a new home, she has decorated it in a different theme or style. She has been doing this since she was 17 and has never repeated her interior decor.

After she married Richard Dahlquist, an Edward Little High School art teacher, 11 years ago, she has continued her tradition through their moves around Portland apartments and into their current Lewiston house.

“My apartments were always my studios, with the bed as secondary,” said Dahlquist, who gives his wife free rein decorating their homes.

“I always paint each apartment and then paint it back if I have to — and even then sometimes not getting my security deposit back,” laughed Broadbent, who is a Sun Journal designer and freelance artist.

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When Broadbent lived in New Mexico, her place featured Mexican art. In Portland, the couple’s State Street apartment was 1940s bohemian. Another Portland apartment was “beatnik mid-century,” with streamlined furniture and bark cloth curtains.

The couple describes their current Lewiston home as 1940s art hip, and the bright yellow dining room is styled after Claude Monet’s Giverny, France, home.

“I’ve always loved his dining room,” said Broadbent, who found chairs identical to the ones in Monet’s home on eBay.

“We’re pretending we have an old French farmhouse,” added Dahlquist. “We didn’t pull off the move (to France), so this is as close as we get.”

Their living room walls and floor are painted black, with bright pops of colors from their artwork, throw pillows, rug and bright red bookcase.

“I really liked greige, which is a warm gray, but wanted something more for the living room because its the main piece of your home,” said Broadbent. “I saw all of these black rooms and thought it was cool. Art galleries are white to show off the art, and black does basically the same thing. I wanted to use black as the neutral and have everything pop.”

It has taken time to turn their house into the home it is now. The couple purchased it in 2004 and slowly worked at ripping out dropped ceilings and mauve carpets. They had their kitchen ceiling built to cathedral heights and removed walls to open it up.

Work on the bottom floor of the house is done. The upstairs remains a work in progress. “Owning is different because we ripped out all this stuff,” admitted Dahlquist. “We’re slowly working on it.”

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