Popsugar Wonderland in BensonOct 01, 2021 01:47PM ● By Carrielle Sedersten & Linda Persieghel
Photo by Bill Sitzmann
Walking into Jerica Christensen’s house is like stepping into the music video for “California Girls” by Katy Perry. It’s cotton-candy sweet, it’s bold, but mostly it’s fun.
Christensen, a part-time hair stylist, and her musician-husband Kyle, bought their 1960s Benson home in March 2015 knowing it needed to be overhauled. Previously a rental property, she described it back then less than favorably: “builder-grade plain,” “a little rough” and “thrown together” with a hodgepodge of materials.
The young couple wanted a house they could make all their own while respecting its history.
“We just don’t love the idea of coming into old houses and just gutting things if you don’t have to,” Christensen said.
They set about remaking the home with a few structural, but mostly cosmetic, changes per Jerica’s style. Her close friend and interior designer Megan Pettipoole described Jerica’s taste as “bright, punchy, and full of color and pattern.”
Christensen, who spends a lot of her time at home with two young kids, 9 and 6, explained the motivation behind her design style. “I’m really affected by the visual appearance of my surroundings. It affects my mood a lot, and so I think that I just am drawn to having cheerful, bright, happy interiors. And I love pink. Turns out, luckily, my husband likes it too.”
Aside from a few repairs and projects that required some muscle (her brother helped out with some of those), the Christensens have done all of the home updates themselves. “There’s a learning curve, and some of it is totally not perfect,” she admitted. “But we have a teeny tiny budget…So either we don’t get to do anything or we do it ourselves.”
Thankfully, she grew up watching her handyman dad build and repair things around the house, and credits him for her fix-it skills and can-do spirit.
Redoing the kitchen early on wasn’t the original plan, but the dingy white cabinets, faux butcher block counters, and black laminate backsplash got under her skin. “I can’t look at something I don’t like for very long before I’m, like, I’m going to do something about this,” she said.
Christensen switched the countertops to Ikea butcher block, tiled the backsplash, and painted the cabinets—the uppers a crisp white, and the lowers a bold turquoise. She also installed new hardware, covered the laminate floor with new peel-and-stick tile, and removed the upper cabinets along one wall to make room for a new vent hood. “I actually just bought a regular hood and painted it pink because I couldn’t find any colored ones,” Christensen said.
But not every idea she has pans out. She regrets taking out the wall between the living room and kitchen. “I watched too much HGTV, basically,” Christensen explained. The project wasn’t a total loss, as they recycled the framing lumber, using it for an outdoor project. A removed upper kitchen cabinet found a new home as a bench in her kid’s reading nook as well. “We try, if we can, to not waste things.”
Christensen decorated her dining room with two-tone walls—colorful, large-scale floral wallpaper on top over solid lavender paint on the bottom. “I have always loved bright colors my whole life. I think it runs in my family,” she said. “My great- grandma was a very eclectic decorator, and she loved antiques and vintage. We spent quite a bit of time [at her house] as kids, and she would let us dress up in her old clothes. I think that my love for vintage just evolved into a love for bold patterns.”
She also built their dining table from an old kitchen countertop given to her by a friend, and used lumber hydro-dipped in various colors of paint. Christensen often repurposes found items, such as an old record player bought thrifting that now sits in the dining nook and houses barware, coffee mugs, and teapots.
Once she had a few projects under her belt, Christensen embarked on the tedious task of stenciling 33 Frida Kahlo faces on the risers of her taffy-pink steps to the second floor. “Then I started painting her skin, then her hair, then went through and did the flowers…” The homage to one of her favorite artists almost ruined her back, but definitely makes a statement.
One of her most time-consuming projects was repainting an old piano a bright yellow and adding wallpaper inlays. “It’s been in my husband’s family a really long time. He learned to play the piano on it. It was this cherry red and all scratched up, ” she said. “They were gonna either toss it or give it to us…and I was like, I just can’t.” It took a lot of sanding, but Christensen is happy with how it turned out.
The couple’s patio is an ongoing project. “The mural was the first thing I did out here,” Christensen said. “It’s very bright, especially in the morning, which is why we built the pergola.” She also built a terrazzo table out of scrap wood, a project initiated to prepare for her husband’s college graduation party. “I do love terrazzo. I want it everywhere. It’s very cool.” The couple loves spending time in their backyard and hopes to expand their outdoor living space.
Christensen shares many of her home design DIYs on her Instagram with her nearly 4,000 followers. “[Jerica’s] doing something that a lot of people, at least in Omaha, aren’t doing. That’s really exciting,” Pettipoole said of her friend. “She doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about what works together, or ‘which color should I use?’ She just kind of goes for it. It’s really refreshing.”
This article originally appeared in the October 2021 issue of Omaha Home. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
View more photos of Christensen’s home at instagram.com/jericachristensen.