Artist House Tour: Marie M. Vlasic and Jiva Armetta Create Design Harmony at Home

Editor's note: Indie Design Blogger Jeanne Connolly loves to see how creative people put their houses together. In this series, she'll be sharing some of her favorite homes, by taking us inside the unique private spaces of metro Denver and beyond.

Prepare to have Artist, Marie M. Vlasic and Musician/Composer, Jiva Armetta dazzle your design senses with their quirky "Artsy-Fartsy Maximalist" decor. Delights range from pugs and disco balls to faux taxidermy. You can even find project DIY instructions included on Vlasic's blog, The Year of Living Fabulously. This beautifully eclectic Victorian home in Congress Park will have you drooling.

Westword:  What is your artist medium?

Marie: Oil paint.

Where can we find your artwork?  

Online at Vlasic Studio, on Vlasic's blog, or on the The Black Rock Portrait Project. Collectors and professionals can visit by appointment.

What’s in your artist toolbox?

It's a pretty straight-forward box of oil paints, brushes, boards and canvases. I do use photographs as reference in my work, so there are always a bunch of them floating about the studio. Oh and coffee. Must have coffee.
What’s your neighborhood?
Congress Park

Favorite thing about that neighborhood:
I love our neighborhood. There's no way I could pick just one thing. We are half a block from Colfax, within walking distance to the Bluebird Theater, Mezcal, Atomic Cowboy, Stella's, along with a handful of fun little galleries and shops to the east. The Tattered Cover/Sie Film Center complex are to the west. We are also two blocks from City Park, three blocks from the Denver Zoo, four blocks from the Botanic Gardens...the list goes on and on. It's one of the best Denver 'hoods to be sure.

Is there a hidden gem in your neighborhood?
I'm going to give you three hidden gems: A recent discovery, Café Max, on Colfax just east of Josephine. Great food, great coffee, great atmosphere. Try the French toast, you'll thank me. I do enjoy the delightful sun-dappled summer-time patio at the Dazbog coffee on 12th and Clayton. It's a great place to hang out that you only know about if you live in the hood. Except now everyone who reads this knows, too. Oops. Lastly, there's this marvelous garden shop on 12th and Madison called Wildflowers. Beautiful space with great merch, It's well put together, eclectic and inviting. I love to browse in there when I'm out walking the pugs.

Best local creative resource:
The people of Denver. Because I am mainly a figurative artist, I am always on the look-out for interesting people, and Denver has no shortage of fascinating folks to paint.
Do you rent or own your home?

What’s the square footage?
About 1,650

Do you create your art at home?

Define your home’s style?
Artsy-Fartsy Maximalist. Our home is a quirky mix of old and new, DIY's, found-object strangeness, and lots of art, both mine and other artist's work. My décor philosophy is: If you love it, it will work.

What are your favorite artistic touches?
Disco balls, stained glass windows, a wacky found cow-skull redo I did that adorns a bedroom wall and the faux taxidermy deer head I made which hangs on the back porch, my Peacock, and of course all the artwork. I can't get enough art. I'm going to have to start mounting it on the ceiling.
What inspires you about your home?
It's an 1895 Denver Square Victorian, so it's full of beautiful molding, pocket doors, and all sorts of cool antique-y goodness. I love to play with the house. It's an ever- evolving canvas, that's constantly changing and growing. This year's big projects will be DIY makeovers of the kitchen and bathroom. You can follow on my blog.

What is your favorite piece?
I have to pick one? Now that's not fair. I am rather partial to my taxidermy peacock, Herman. I rescued him from a yard sale years ago. He had been attacked by his owner's dog and needed some love. I took him home, cleaned him up, added feathers and vintage rhinestones, and now he's perfect. Another fave is the giant "M" in the living room, a gift from artist friend Paul Moschell. I added slow-change multi-color led lights inside so now it's quite a show-piece. That being said, I love pretty much everything in my home. Except the sofa. (There's a piggy-bank fund in the works for a new one.)
Have you had any design challenges?
Oh, hells yes. While it is a beautiful old Victorian, these homes were not built for modern living. The rooms are oddly configured, there's a lack of closets, and it is, well, old. There's always something that needs a-fixin', but I wouldn't trade it. It's a great house.

What are your guest’s reactions?
People love the house. Floor- knocking jaws and big smiles are commonplace here, and I love that.

Have you repurposed any materials in your home?
Only everything! The house is pretty much all made up of thrifted treasures, dumpster- diving delights and DIYs. I really enjoy found-object make-overs. 
What’s your favorite DIY project?
I'm still loving the dresser (found in the alley near the house) that I made-over in magenta for the bedroom. And the night-stand I made from old Artforum magazines. And the coffee table I made from another alley-find, a big red acrylic box. (Just add wheels, instant industrial-chic).
Did you indulge in any of your rooms?
Not yet. Everything here is El Cheapo DIY Awesomeness. Though a nice new sofa is definitely in my future, and that will be our biggest indulgence yet.

Best design advice?
Do what you love! Paint the walls colors you love! Buy art and furniture that you love! (buy LOTS of art.  Don't worry about everything matching, and don't give a flip what anyone else thinks. It's your house, and you're the one living there. As long as you love it, that's all that matters.

What’s your favorite time of day to create?
I'm a night owl. I generally paint in the evenings.

Do you have any creative organization tips?
I'm oddly organized for an artist. I can't stand looking at a mess. In the studio, most things are in bins, and I hide all my clutter-y stuff away behind a curtain. It keeps me sane.

Any challenges designing your studio?
It is small, and doubles as a work-out room, so it's a challenge to work in but I make it happen. There's no storage as well, so I've used my curtain trick to hide away canvases, shipping materials, etc.
What is your favorite studio feature?
The windows. I love looking out onto the backyard, especially in Summer. (I've made the yard into a tropical oasis, but that's fodder for another article.

Marie Vlasic is an artist specializing in figurative oils.
You can see her work at Vlasic Studio.
You can also explore her alter-ego as a DIY/Lifestyle Blogger.
Follow FacebookTwitter and Instagram.
Jiva Armetta is a life-long musician/composer and teacher of guitar at all levels. He is available for hire playing acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric sitar and guitar synth. More information on guitar lessons and contact Jiva here.
Artwork in the Vlasic-Armetta Home features work by: Sandi Calistro, Paul Moschell, Lauri Lynnxe Murphy, Bill Amundson, Anthony Camera, DAVE, Claudia Roulier, Nathan Ables, Lonnie Hanzon and many more.

When Jeanne isn't doing House Tours, she is blogging on how to create bohemian style with both vintage and recycled materials.
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Jeanne Connolly