The Pink Home in Giverny: Monet's Best Work

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • August 12,  2017

It was an overcast day with a splash of light rain as I ventured 40 miles from Paris to the small medieval village in northern France.



Where Claude Monet, master of color and interior design, and great impressionist, lived in a cherry pink home with emerald green trim. Surrounded by brilliant colors in his gardens. It was here that he relocated his wife, two children and six step children from Paris in 1883.

“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.” Claude Monet

And color surrounds you in this pink masterpiece at Giverny. Lots of pops of color and wow factor, as designers today are so fond of saying.

It was here that Monet created a world surrounded by color with a palette of daffodils, tulips, narcissi and forget-me-knots.

It’s a home that was filled with love and a complicated unconventional family. And it was here that Monet created his beautiful gardens.  And in 1914, while mourning the death of his wife as World War I was getting close, he painted his “Water Lilies.”


We're accustomed to seeing Monet in a straw hat sitting at the three-legged stool at his easel under the beautiful Normandy sun.  For me, Monet’s home and beautiful gardens overshadows his famous water lilies for which the impressionist is best known. It’s where you most feel the spirit of the artist and it follows you back to Paris and then home.


With vibrant wall colors and tile, light gently streams through the windows enhancing the brilliant colors throughout the home. Monet supervised every detail of the renovation of the home himself and even selected the china. It’s filled with blues, bright yellows and white lace curtains.

The kitchen and dining room were the heart of the home and Monet’s daily life. He didn't care for fashion, which was very dark and heavy in Victorian times, so he had it painted in two tones of yellow. This vibrant color enhances the blues of the dishes on display in the buffets.


The walls are packed with Japanese engravings that Monet chose with an expert eye. For fifty years, he collected the prints by the best Japanese artists, especially Hokusai, Hiroshige and Utamaro.

The dining room is connected to the kitchen to make service easier. Monet wanted a blue kitchen so that the guests would see the right color in harmony with the yellow dining room when the door to the kitchen was open. The floors were red and white. Family lunch was served each day at 12:30 p.m.

The walls of the kitchen are covered with tiles of Rouen and copper pots. The coolness of the blue contrasts with the warm glow of the extended collection of coppers. You can bring a bit of Giverny into your own home with Annie Sloan’s popular chalk paint in the color, “Giverny.” It’s described as a “cool, cheery, bright blue that was popular in the 20th century. “


Monet’s drawing room and his first studio, filled with reproductions of his work, is a shrine dedicated to his paintings. “A painting from every stage of my life,” he said.

Like the rest of the home, the furniture and the objects in the studio are still exactly the same and this gives great authenticity to the home.

“My heart is forever in Giverny,” Monet said.


It was here that he found his inspiration, a permanent home and gained recognition as a major artist after so much rejection.

As a designer, I have to wonder if he used the bright colors to balance his gloomy, tormented moments. We will never know for sure but one thing that is certain, the pink house in Giverny is a home that has been loved.

Fortunately, it is cared for today by the Claude Monet Foundation. It is a major tourist attraction that has been lovingly restored. A priceless jewel that is, in my mind, his best work.


Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit



Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press • July 8,  2017

In organic architecture … it is quite impossible to consider the building as one thing, its furnishing another and its setting and environment still another.” Frank Lloyd Wright

It was on my bucket list for a long time. A trip to Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s most iconic design. And with so much press surrounding his 150th birthday which occurred in June, this seemed like the right time.

Photo: Wrenda Goodwyn

Photo: Wrenda Goodwyn

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator, I had been curious for years about this home built over a waterfall. I gave Loving Frank another read to try to have a deeper understanding of America’s greatest architect before embarking on trip to the beautiful Laurel Highlands, the setting for this symbol of modern architecture.

One much-told tale that has endeared me to Wright, claims that when a client complained that a Wright-built roof was leaking on his desk, Wright retorted, "Move the desk!"

 Somewhat of an arrogant genius and we must respect that.

And there are other stories. Like the one about how he sketched the design of Fallingwater in two hours. Hmmm.

So, I headed to this home, 90-miles from Pittsburgh to learn why he built Fallingwater over the waterfall where you can’t see it, instead of across from it where you can. And I found out. That and a lot more.

The spirit of Fallingwater follows you around the house and stays with you for a long while. By the end of the tour, you are captivated. It’s in perfect harmony with the setting. It celebrates nature and takes its visitors along for the fascinating ride.

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Designed as a country home for Pittsburgh department store owner, E. J. Kaufmann and his family, construction began in 1935 and was completed in 1938. Wright was featured on the cover of Time that year and the magazine called Fallingwater his most beautiful work.

To begin with, there is the waterfall. You hear it everyplace you go. Wright wanted to make the home part of the waterfall instead of using it as a backdrop. It’s true, you really can’t see it but you hear it and it’s part of the fabric of the home and of its occupants. Because of the waterfall, the home is in constant motion.

“Study nature. Love nature. Stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” Frank Lloyd Wright

There is no grand entrance to 5,300-square-foot home that includes a guest house and pool.  It’s built of concrete, steel, stone and glass. The hallways are narrow and dark. The ceilings are low. Almost cave-like. No wasted space here. Wright wanted the occupants to get outdoors.  Who really needs spacious hallways?

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

And if you are looking for the traditional garage, think again. Wright saw them as something to house clutter so instead, he built carports in many of his homes. And he came up with the “living room” at a time when houses were not so open and spacious.

The open living room has windows on three sides. There is a small kitchen. The bedrooms all have terraces. The cornerless windows open outward so they won’t impact the view. The glass hatch in the floor of the main level opens to the staircase that leads to the stream. It’s a home that draws you outdoors. Perfection. Almost.

Suspended over a 30-foot waterfall, there have to be some issues. Especially in 1938. Fallingwater was called “rising mildew.” The skylights leaked.  The steel eventually had to be reinforced. Details that we don’t see.

Wright did not just design a home. He also designed the décor and everything else. Two colors are predominant: light ochre for the concrete and his signature red for the steel.  PPG Paints created an eco friendly product to withstand environmental challenges and there is actually a Fallingwater color palette. 

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

He also designed the home’s furnishings. Most attached to the home so they could not be removed or replaced with lesser quality pieces. The rooms are simple but smart. A built-in dining table for six expands to accommodating 20 people. The master bedroom has swivel lighting that was way ahead of its time.

The home’s art collection has more than 1,000 original paintings, murals, sculptures, busts, frames, lamps and various household items. Artists include Diego Rivera, Louis Tiffany, Pablo Picasso, John James Audubon and Richmond Barthe. Stunning.

Completed at a cost of $155,000, the home today is worth around $2.7 million. It is a National Historic Landmark and is meticulously cared for and watched over by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

So, just how is Wright relevant today and what can we learn from him in relation to our own homes?

Fort Myers interior designer Ruth Condit of Ruth Condit Interiors, says that his startling innovations of the 20th century are the “truisms of the 21st.”

“Homes that honor their natural site and offer functional interiors that enhance the lives lived inside, owe a debt to this transcendent genius."

Following a visit to Fallingwater years ago, Condit’s younger brother was so inspired by Wright that he went on become an architect practicing in Colorado. And Wright’s inspiration carried over to his daughter who is also an architect. Two generations.  

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Photo: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

My takeaway as far as how we can incorporate some of Wright’s ideas into our own homes. These tips are especially applicable to our homes in Southwest Florida:

·       Let the outdoors inspire the interior design. Think of the outdoors as another room. 

·       Carefully pick a color palette compliments the natural surroundings.

·       Bring the outdoors inside through color, accessories and artwork.

·       Go for simplicity and comfort rather than complicated décor that isn’t functional.

·       If your garage is a storage place for items that no longer serve you, declutter. Now.

If, like me, you are entranced by Wright’s style of celebrating nature and creating beautiful homes, you may be interested to know there are currently at least six on the market. Check them out here. And please let me know if you purchase one!


Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her article appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit

Yellow: a burst of sunshine for your home

Yellow: a burst of sunshine for your home

If you’ve seen any of the award shows lately, you know that one color has popped up all over the red carpet: yellow. Muted. Cobalt. Sequined. Think about the gowns worn by Viola Davis and Natalie Portman. And there is Bella’s unforgettable gold/yellow ball gown in Beauty and the Beast.

And that means one thing: home interior colors follow fashion so here it comes into your home. For many, it never left.

Because I believe that current color follows what is happening in the world, it’s no surprise that yellow is popping up everywhere. A little yellow may be just what we need right now.

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Color Me Pink: a splash of happiness

Color Me Pink: a splash of happiness

It’s everywhere: Pink. The color.

Fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer said that “Anything is possible with sunshine and a little pink.”

We are tickled pink. In the pink. Pretty in pink. And there is pink champagne.

And it’s no wonder we are seeing so much of it in home decor. It’s a happy, light-hearted color. It makes us feel good.

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Spring refresh for home and spirit

Spring refresh for home and spirit

Ahhhh. Spring.

When I was growing up in Virginia, it meant that you could open the windows, flag down the ice cream man, go barefoot and stay outside an hour later. My mother always gave the house a “spring” cleaning and then we always rearranged the living room furniture. She said that the change was almost like having a new room. And she was right.

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Bathroom redux: from drab to fab

Bathroom redux: from drab to fab

There was a time when the bathroom was the most unmentioned room in the home. No longer. Today, bathrooms, as much as any room in house, reflect the style of the owners.  

It’s the most personal space in your home. It’s typically the smallest room and yet you begin and end your day in your bathroom. Next to the kitchen, it’s the most important room in the home.

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