(Living Color)

Marita White's Now-Viral Rainbow House Helped Her Find Happiness In The Midst Of Divorce

After the rain, comes the ....

the rainbow house

After one experiences a traumatic event or major life change, therapy often manifests in a variety of ways. For some it’s in meditative practices like prayer or yoga (or both!), for others it’s in actual therapy with a neutral party. For Marita White, healing from a difficult divorce came in the form of interior design — more specifically, her colorful (and historic) home just outside of Seattle now known on Instagram as The Rainbow House which, in the two years since she bought the home, has garnered some 46K followers.

An impulse purchase made in the midst of the pandemic, the small cottage (built in the early 1900s) became a project that allowed White (who shares the house with her five-year-old daughter) to make her own decisions and find her voice again, two things that were inherently missing in her previous marriage. “There were some things that we worked well in and some things that were his decision entirely, and that included home design,” says White, who explains that her previous home with her ex-husband was actually a very minimalist, Scandinavian interior design scheme. “[...] So, when I got into the Rainbow House, I was like, ‘Everything I do is just going to be something that makes me happy, because I feel like for so long I've been trying to figure out what does make me happy in my relationship or in this environment that I live in.’”

As it happens, what made her (and her daughter) happy was color ... lots of it. And while some may take an almost formulaic and curated approach to popping bright hues into their home, White says her method was more instinctual. “When I got into the house, it was like, OK, what color do I want the living room to be? and my daughter said pink,” White recounts. “And I was like, ‘Sweet. Let's go pick a color together.’ [...] So there was this kind of healing process, almost like reeducating myself or healing myself in doing things because they're going to bring me joy. And it was very freeing to not have to bounce ideas off of somebody.”

With no limitations in sight, White truly allowed her imagination to run wild with her new two-bedroom home (which she also houses seven animals — two dogs and six cats). Her kitchen is painted in a two-tone green color palette, offset with ivy wallpaper, floating fuchsia shelves, and a matching pink fridge, grounded in black and white checker board flooring. A chaotic combo to the ear, the visual end result is actually much more cohesive and maximalist chic.

White’s bedroom (a sunny yellow confection, accessorized with floral wallpaper, plaid candy-colored bedding, and eclectic wall art) was the last on her list to design and the most difficult, likely because of its significance in her day-to-day. “For me, my bedroom is mostly about reading and snuggling animals,” she says, adding that she reads about a book a day (!). “So that's what I prioritize. And I think that's maybe where we get kind of stuck in like bedroom design. It’s like, ‘Wait. What do I want this room to be for?’ I think there's something really sacred about designing your bedroom space and making it exactly how you want it.”

To be clear, interior design is not exactly new for White. In fact, a love and passion for home decor has seemingly been embedded in her since childhood. “My parents are really into design and they don't do it professionally, but we moved so many times when I was a kid,” explains White. “And I remember our weekends were spent at open houses for fun. And maybe some kids wouldn't like that, but my brother and I thought it was so fun, because we would run upstairs and pretend which room would be ours.” Even White’s birth announcement foretold her paint-filled future: “When my parents announced my birth, they actually got a hand print and put it on their card [that read] ‘Dan and Monica finally got what they've always wanted, help painting the house,’ because they were always painting.”

That said, no one could’ve predicted that a can of paint would also teach White some very important lessons in happiness and healing. When deciding (and re-deciding) on colors for each room, hallways, nook, or cabinet, the single mother channeled Marie Kondo, asking herself if the particular shade or pattern in question actually brought her joy. She contemplated her motives for deciding each detail of her home to ensure it was always about her approval ... and no one else’s.

“I have repainted my hallway seven times and on the seventh time it was white,” she says. “And it's so silly, but now it's like a rainbow art gallery and the white just works. But it was like, every time I painted it, I was just thinking, Oh, I don't have a purple room. I should paint this purple for it to truly be the rainbow house. And then I was like, I think my friends are going to like this green better. So just really look inside yourself and be like, Why am I choosing this? Is this truly for my own happiness?”

As the Rainbow House took off on Instagram, White began to get requests from people seeking design consultations so, they too, could find their happiness in their home’s design. But, the NorCal native says helping someone else navigate their aesthetic journey didn’t come as naturally, especially when done virtually. “So I did [design consulting] and I didn't like it,” she says with a laugh. “And it was nothing to do with the design process, but I was doing remote consultation. So people would say like, ‘Can you redesign my living room? And I would send them stuff and then I'd never hear back.’ And I was like ‘I want to be there with people. I actually want to meet people.’”

With a professional interior design career on the back burner for now, White has taken up another paint-related passion that is much more hands on (and is also incorporated in the Rainbow House): murals. “I've been painting murals for like five years, but only the last two years have I really been kind of monetizing it and trying to figure out what that looks like,” she explains.

Whatever it looks like — mural painting, redoing her hallway for the eighth time, or investing in another property — you can be sure there will be color involved ... and a lot of heart. “Who knows? Maybe I'd buy a different house and do something totally different,” says White. “But it's really freeing to just live your life and be like, ‘Yeah, the pink living room. Who cares?’”