Take a tour of Therese Deutschlander’s apartment and three things quickly become clear. She loves color, books and bugs.
And always has, she said.
As a teen, she painted her bedroom ceiling purple and walls teal with yellow and periwinkle stripes. Now in her 30s, she still paints bold colors on her walls.
Beatrix Potter has been a favorite author since childhood. Today, “The Original Peter Rabbit Miniature Collection” of books and a Peter Rabbit ceramic flower pot are on display in the living room.
And as for those bugs – or, more accurately, spiders and insects?
In addition to a pet Chilean rose hair tarantula named Rosie housed in a habitat on a salvaged bookcase, Deutschlander has livened up her decor with a microscope kit (complete with specimens), plush spider pillow and wall hooks shaped like a spider and a bee. Colorful glass ladybugs are lined up along the back ledge of the bathroom sink. A beaded spider she acquired on a trip to Africa dangles from a purple shelf on her bedroom wall.
But even arachnophobes know this is friendly turf, with paint colors ranging from soft olive to energetic purple. For both wardrobe and decor, Deutschlander is particularly drawn to reds, pinks and purples. She started dyeing her hair shades of pink in high school.
“The apartment starts out calm with the olive living room. Then, as you go back, it gets more creative,” said Deutschlander, who graduated in 2003 with an English degree from SUNY Buffalo State.
To personalize the place, she painted the kitchen a medium purple with cranberry archway. (The kitchen was neon green when she moved in, she noted.) The back hallway off the kitchen now goes from light purple to aqua. The sewing room and bedroom walls were already painted mustard yellow, while one of the bedroom walls is white – something she often does in friends’ houses.
“I often leave the wall opposite a window white. The sunlight will bounce off the white wall and make the room brighter and also enhance the color on the other walls,” said Deutschlander, who owns Thin Ice shop of locally handcrafted gifts, 719 Elmwood Ave., which she opened 10 years ago at age 24.
Her mother isn’t surprised by her daughter’s unique approach to fashion and decor.
“She’s always had her own sense of style,” Mary Deutschlander said. Once Therese learned to sew, she made her own clothes – perhaps taking a secondhand garment and turning it into something new.
“She once came home with a big ball of blue chiffon – it was like a bridesmaid dress with sleeves that looked like lampshades. She took the whole thing apart and made this beautiful prom dress,” she said.
As for the lively bedroom palette her daughter chose as a teen, complete with purple ceiling: “We told her she could paint her room, but we had no idea she was going to do that. But it was cute, very nice,” Mary Deutschlander said.
For her adult apartment, Therese Deutschlander has collected furniture for a song from a variety of places (including for free from a curb).
“I like acquiring things and making them my own,” Deutschlander said.
She landed a dining table for $8 (on sale) at AMVETS on Elmwood Avenue. It was already painted purple, so she knew it was meant to be. The table is surrounded by what she calls “a hodgepodge of chairs” – no two alike. They come in handy for dinner parties or an Easter brunch open house. A table leaf made by a friend replaces the missing original, so the table can expand when necessary, she said.
On another hunt for bargains at the Goodwill store on Transit Road in Depew, Deutschlander came across a single dining chair painted the same color purple with a white seat. She is convinced that at one time the chair and table were part of a set that included three other chairs.
“That’s my quest; I know there are three others out there somewhere,” she said.
Most furnishings and accessories come with other interesting stories.
A friend’s mother made the “Alice in Wonderland”-themed herb garden terrarium in the living room. One of Deutschlander’s two sewing machines sits on a 1960s-era drafting table that belonged to a friend’s grandfather who worked at Trico. Dozens of spools of thread are stored on a spice rack (she garbage-picked that, too).
An artist salvaged a cabinet door and repurposed it as the top of a coffee table for her. A pair of purple end tables, designed slightly off-kilter, look like they popped off the pages of a Dr. Seuss book but actually came from a consignment store in New Jersey.
The painted walls serve as a colorful backdrop to art and accessories. Above the fireplace is a bug- and frog-themed painting by a local artist who now lives in California. A poster from “Wicked” hangs in the dining room. It’s Deutschlander’s favorite musical; she has seen it a dozen times, including in London.
A framed copy of William Shakespeare’s “Othello” in its entirety (but very tiny print) also hangs in the dining room. Another treasured piece by a local artist from her shop is a transom window hung horizontally above the sofa and printed with one of her favorite passages – “This Momentous Day” from a book by Dean Koontz, “From the Corner of His Eye.”
Deutschlander painted and hung small display shelves throughout the place. She also likes a variety of hooks for hanging clothing, jewelry and visitors’ coats as well as for keeping items close at hand in the kitchen.
These include a collection of measuring cups in bright colors hung from the bottom of a cabinet.
“At first I thought I wanted to be an adult and go for a really good set of stainless steel – until I saw these,” Deutschlander said.
“Color always wins.”