Vivid color and design brighten a home

Sarah Schilling of Little Falls painted a variety of animals around the walls of her daughter’s room. From a giraffe, a lion, a monkey and a zebra to a butterfly and a turtle — there is something to delight a child anywhere she looks.

Sarah Schilling of Little Falls painted a variety of animals around the walls of her daughter’s room. From a giraffe, a lion, a monkey and a zebra to a butterfly and a turtle — there is something to delight a child anywhere she looks.

Sarah Schilling finds ideas in many places

 by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

Little Falls resident Sarah Schilling always has a mile-long list of projects for the home she shares with husband, Dan, and their 3-year-old daughter, Bailey.

“I spent most of my life in a hardware store,” Schilling said.

When she was five, Schilling’s father, Dennis Kukowski, bought Coast to Coast Hardware in Pierz. He later owned Coast to Coast in Little Falls, where Schilling also worked. She now works at Ace Hardware next to Coborn’s, right alongside her dad.

“I took all the paint classes and learned a lot of things over the years,” she said. “I learned tricks of the trade and picked up a lot of remodeling ideas.”

Schilling has painted all the houses she’s ever lived in, as well as helping friends paint.

“I keep coming up with new ideas,” said Schilling.

She is a fan of “Rehab Addict,” a television show based in Minneapolis that features foreclosed homes that are rehabilitated.

“It would be so much fun to do something like that,” she said.

She goes to thrift stores, flea markets and auctions.

Schilling used simple plastic gutters as bookshelves in an out-of-the-way corner of the upstairs hall, adding decorative paint and letters to brighten the area.

Schilling used simple plastic gutters as bookshelves in an out-of-the-way corner of the upstairs hall, adding decorative paint and letters to brighten the area.

“I find things that I can upgrade and update,” she said. “Now I’m looking for old windows to build a curio cabinet.”

She is a big fan of Pinterest.

“Sometimes a visual is all you need to spark an idea,” she said.

Schilling enjoys refinishing furniture and adding new handles. “I get something for cheap, put a little elbow grease into it and make it beautiful.”

In her free time Schilling draws out new decorating and remodeling ideas.

“Some people play on the computer, read a book or watch TV to clear their minds,” she said. “I draw in a notebook of ideas for the house.”

Schilling and her family live in a mid-1950s house on Little Falls’ west side. It the most updated house in their price range with the space for a growing family. It’s also a few short blocks from Schilling’s parents.

The first thing Schilling and her husband tackled before even moving in was to enlarge the doors to the main floor bedroom closets.

“There were only 30-inch doors on closets that are six to eight feet,” she said. “Since the wall are 1-inch plaster, it took a while.”

The Schillings have been saving to repair a leaky roof, which they hope to complete this summer.

Sarah Schilling’s most fun project was the spiral family tree filling the wall in her stairwell. “It’s whimsical with fun pictures and all sorts of different colors,” she said.

Sarah Schilling’s most fun project was the spiral family tree filling the wall in her stairwell. “It’s whimsical with fun pictures and all sorts of different colors,” she said.

Schilling’s painting skills have been put to work in nearly every room in the house, with decorative painting brightening up many rooms.

The master bedroom has a very wide stripe along the top of the walls, with a narrow stripe below it.

Hailey’s bedroom takes the prize for making people smile. Brightly-colored animals of every persuasion cover the walls.

Her most fun project is a spiral family tree painted on the wall in the stairwell. “It’s whimsical with fun pictures and all sorts of different colors,” she said. “It’s lighthearted and I have fun adding to it.”

Schilling has used her experiences to refine her remodeling style.

“I’ve learned over the years to wait before I start a project,” Schilling said. “I ponder all different viewpoints and thing about what could go wrong.”

Schilling artfully camouflaged a small wall in the upstairs hallway, giving the impression of an entrance to another room while hiding attic storage.

Schilling artfully camouflaged a small wall in the upstairs hallway, giving the impression of an entrance to another room while hiding attic storage.

After she finds an inspiration piece, she waits to make sure she really likes it before basing an entire room’s decoration scheme from it.

“I’m happy with my choices longer,” she said.

When considering what to do in the kitchen, Schilling thought about changing the wall color but decided that brown’s such a good neutral she wanted to keep it.

“I decided to paint the hutch instead,” she said. “It will be a gray-blue taken from a kitchen chair cushion.”

Schilling has so enjoyed her hobby that she encourages other to try it too.

Magnetic paint was used on the kneewall in the upstairs hall, allowing Schilling’s daughter, Hailey, a handy place to play.

Magnetic paint was used on the kneewall in the upstairs hall, allowing Schilling’s daughter, Hailey, a handy place to play.

“I recommend people take the risk and do it themselves,” she said. “There are so many instructional videos out there. Have the pride and satisfaction of doing it yourself.”

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