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Marita and daughter Farah in their colorful home. "My design philosophy is just happy," Marita says. Photo by Joshua Huston

Got paint? Get inspired by the tiny Rainbow House

This adorable Bothell cottage has a small footprint and a big personality.

Rainbow House: When Marita White was born, her parents put her tiny handprint on the birth announcement and told everybody they finally got what they wanted: Help painting the house.

You could say painting is in her blood. Today, every room in Marita’s Rainbow House is painted a different color. Her walls are bright yellow, hot pink, polka-dotted and rainbow-swirled. Believe it or not, her style used to be Scandinavian minimalism.

(Photo by Joshua Huston)

“My design philosophy is just happy,” Marita says. “I love color. I love to experiment. If you don’t like it, change it. Just do what makes you happy.”

rainbow house

(Photo by Marita White)

Her 750-square-foot cottage, built in 1900, sits in downtown Bothell (within walking distance of a paint store, Sherwin-Williams). Marita, a single mama, lives there with her daughter, Farah; three ridiculously photogenic cats; and two dogs.

“I love how small it is, how cozy it is,” Marita says. “We’re almost always in the same room, all seven of us.”

rainbow house

(Photo by Marita White)

When the family moved in last August, the front room was initially a peachy pink. As soon as Farah saw it, she said, “Oh, this is a rainbow house,” and the name stuck. The first thing Marita did was add some green, and it snowballed from there. Farah helped pick out everything for their house.

“She’s 4 and she has great taste!” Marita says.

rainbow house

(Photo by Marita White)

Now there are 50 paint colors throughout the house. Marita’s mom was the person who’d taught her to paint, and together they painted every single wall of the Rainbow House. Marita makes a point of incorporating her daughter’s aesthetic, too, in the design of their home. 

“She’s pretty much, I would say, my coworker,” Marita says. “She helps me make all my decisions. It probably would be a lot less bright if she wasn’t around, in multiple ways.”

Farah picked the paint color for the bathroom pink, her favorite. When they repainted the bedroom, Farah picked yellow. Together, they picked out the wallpaper in the front room. For Christmas, Farah asked if she could have a rainbow in her loft playroom. Marita used 30 different colors and added colorful noodles on the walls.

(Photo by Marita White)

“She lives there as much as I do. She deserves to love her house and have some agency over what it looks like,” Marita says. “I want her to come home and be happy. It’s amazing living in that environment. It really boosts your mood.”

For her laundry room, Marita really wanted polka dots, but wallpaper was too expensive. She bought a round sponge from Amazon, put Farah to bed, and freehanded a polka-dot pattern with black paint.

“I thrive on chaos,” Marita says. “I just put the paint on the walls and see what happens. Sometimes it’s terrible and you repaint and you figure it out.” 

You can visit @the_rainboww_house on Instagram.

This story was first published in July 2021.

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About the Author

JiaYing Grygiel

JiaYing Grygiel is the mama of two boys and a freelance photographer and writer. Her work has appeared in Seattle's Child, The Bellingham Herald and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She previously worked as an editor for MSN.com and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and now blogs at photoj.net.