Among the towering pine trees and piles of snow adorning the suburbs of Montreal this time of year, you’ll find Joanna Grzeszczak’s 2540-square feet floral-filled abode. However, when Joanna and her family moved into the home two years ago, it could only be described one way: Brown.
Today, this colourful Montreal home is nothing like its original dark and dreary past. As soon as you walk into the vibrant abode, you can’t help but smile. As a self-described “eclectic decorator,” Joanna is the writer, photographer and content creator behind the lifestyle and design website, Joanna Anastasia.
See how this talented Canadian designed what very well might be one of the country’s happiest, most colourful homes.
Joanna’s bold wallpaper choice for the statement wall of her main foyer is a sea of colour that leaves guests wondering what they will find around the next corner.
“I am very much in tune with the seasons; they influence me a lot,” says Joanna. “I miss light when it’s dark and I need the energy from nature.”
With this in mind, Joanna has sprinkled in floral art, gorgeous house plants and accent lighting to create a colourful home that sparks joy.
Change The Rules
Though she is constantly reconfiguring her home’s design, Joanna does so economically. “I switch lighting around my house maybe once a season,” she says. “ You put your own items in a new space and then all of a sudden, it’s a new room.” Right now, Joanna’s black Anthropologie chandelier lives in the living room off the kitchen.
Throughout her home Joanna uses unique wallpaper patterns to bring life and depth into spaces—but this wasn’t always the case. In her first home with her husband, wallpaper couldn’t be found on any of the walls. It was only a few years ago when she started experimenting in her kids’ rooms with peel and stick options that she began to gain confidence with the wall treatment.
Growing up in Poland, Joanna was often exposed to wallpaper in family and friends’ homes and believes that is the reason she is so drawn to it now. “Now, I feel a room is only complete once there is wallpaper. I feel it adds depth. Another layer of visual element for your brain to stop and analyze,” she says.
Creating Happy Spaces
Joanna goes against the grain when it comes to traditional wallpaper rules, choosing to keep some walls bare and combining multiple patterns in the same space opposed to a uniform approach.
Do you love the look of wallpaper but want a more renter-friendly option? Learning how to hang removeable wallpaper is actually easier than you think.
Diving into the World of Design
When she first started sharing blogging and creating content on Instagram in 2015, >the photos she posted of her decor were an afterthought.
Having studied family psychology in Europe and being pregnant with her second daughter, Joanna was creating content about her parenting experience with the perspective of a physiologist.
It wasn’t until a company asked Joanna to style furniture in her space for their catalog that she began to consider pursuing a career in interior decorating.
“I had always loved art but I never let myself take it seriously,” says Joanna.
Fast forward to 2023, and Joanna is still passionate about documenting her adventures decorating eclectic interiors. She also offers design services to help guide others create the home of their dreams.
Through any season, it’s likely you’ll see some of Joanna’s vintage tea cups on display. The delicately designed cups provide a sense of comfort for Joanna. Growing up, she watched her grandma and mom use them daily for their tea and coffee in Poland.
Joanna started collecting teacups at age 14 and is still a hobby she enjoys today.
A husband, three kids and three pets means a lot of time is spent in the kitchen. As the place Joanna and her family contregrate multiple times a day, functionality (and fun!) was a must.
Adding a rattan accent chair at the head of the table was a creative way to add some additional visual interest in this farmhouse-inspired dining area.
Heart of the Home
Though the layout of the kitchen remains untouched, Joanna made a lot of cosmetic changes, mostly with paint.
“First the island was white, then light blue and now it’s light pink,” says Joanna. “ And to be honest with you, I’m thinking in the back of my head, maybe I’m going to paint the entire kitchen blue. I feel paint is just such an easy update, you can always repaint.”
Along with painting out the counters and cupboards, Joanna added open shelving to complete her kitchen’s makeover. With all on display, Joanna has a few hard and fast rules to styling and using open shelving in any space. “Practicality is always number one,” she says. “I wouldn’t put items on an open shelf that I’m never going to use.”
Additionally, Joanna shares that adding a houseplant or two never fails to brighten up a space.
Joanna’s collection of a hundred teacups lives on both on the kitchen open shelving and in this reimagined, Kijiji find. “It was this very dark oak and at first I painted it white. Then I decided white was too cold so I painted it cream and now it’s blue,” says Joanna about her vintage china cabinet.
“It may change colour at some point again. I added wallpaper to the back because I wanted a fun, sweet space that would be a nice backdrop for my collection.”
Do you have a piece of furniture that you want to revamp? Here’s how to stop putting off your next DIY project.
Along with the thrill of a good vintage find, Joanna enjoys looking to the past for inspiration.
“It’s definitely a sustainability thing for me. I am a collector and if I always buy new things, it makes no sense for the planet,” she says.
Every so often she makes an exception for new pieces that she trul loves, like the blue and white kitten teapot pictured above.
Bringing the Outdoors In
Like so many during the pandemic, Joanna’s husband began working from home. To create a productive yet creative space for him, Joanna worked with Elisabeth Wing to design a hand drawn, custom wallpaper that brings their home’s natural surroundings inside.
“Through the windows you can actually see the pine trees so it’s kind of like a repetition of nature outside and inside. From very close it’s very whimsical because we aren’t that serious of people,” Joanna says about the Scandinavian forest design.
If you’re looking for an affordable way to decorate with wallpaper but want to keep costs low, consider a small space in your home first. Choosing a bold design, like this lemon print, is an effortless way to make a statement in a room that might be lacking in square footage.
Fairest of Them All
Joanna’s youngest daughter, Mila, is already well on her way to understanding her own interior style, asking for her room to be “very colourful like a rainbow fairy garden, but without actual rainbows.” When Joanna found this wallpaper with hidden fairies from Wallpaper Direct, she knew it would provide the perfect backdrop for Mila’s vision.
Bright and Playful
Though Joanna describes the style of her home as cozy, colourful and eccentric, it is her kids’ rooms that allow her the most freedom to explore the latter.
Since her youngest child occupies the smallest room of the house, Joanna opted for a large mural to help her son’s room feel bigger and create space for his growing imagination.
Relax and Unwind
When you’re decorating kids’ rooms, carving out a cozy reading area is always a good idea.
In the primary bedroom, Joanna went with a far more muted wallpaper to freshen up the space.
“I knew I wanted something floral and delicate because I change colours seasonally with the window treatments,” says Joanna. “While I do love colour, my husband and I both need a calm space by the end of the day.”
Along with adding the wainscoting and a faux fireplace on the wall opposite to the bed, Joanna added character with DIY pieces, like her two nightstands (found on Kijiji for $100)and pom-pom lampshades.