My Custom House Portrait


photo by laure joliet

I have hoarding tendencies, we all know that. But you may not know that this includes memory hoarding – which is my favorite kind of hoarding, indeed.

Having a painting done of your house is not the most normal thing to do, but it should be. I have interior and exterior photos of almost everywhere I’ve ever lived and they instantly flood back memories that I would have totally forgotten. Like my first ‘alone’ apartment in Spanish Harlem. I would never remember that underneath the apartment was a Peurto Rican bodega that i frequented every night, and every night they either called me ‘Vanilla’ or ‘Milk of Magnesia’ – clearly because i’m super white and pale.  See? That memory right there i’m sure I would have forgotten if I didn’t have a photo of the exterior that had the deli in the bottom of the frame.  God, it sounds like i suffer from serious premature Alzheimers, but life goes fast and you have to be reminded of a lot in order to properly remember.

Sometimes, nay OFTEN however, your exterior isn’t necessarily that awesome but you still want to remember it. This house that we live in now (which we are leaving soon, more on that later) is not my favorite house. AT. ALL.  The exterior of it was (and still is) my biggest beef with it … well, the kitchen …  and that VERY intense texture on the wall in the photo above (I mean, its like they were trying to make it look like it was the 15th century).

Of course I thought they would let me paint and landscape but the property manager said they had just painted so ‘no’ i wasn’t allowed to. Jerk. I don’t want to bitch too much about the exterior because I’m grateful that I have a place to live at all and the year and a half we spent here were a pretty great year and a half.

But I’m certainly not going to frame a photo of this peach wanna be mediterranean house. Luckily Danielle Krysa (The Jealous Curator) does custom paintings of your house (or car :).

You send her a photo of it and she does this:




photo by laure joliet

Ridiculously cute, right? I had it framed all proper by Dana with a pink lucite floater to make it look all extra cute and poppy (and yes, if i want to take the pink out when I’m sick of it i can without ruining the custom framing job). It makes me so happy. Its custom to Brian and I and it will always remind of us this year (the year Brian changed careers and I got pregnant twice – once successful, once, well, not and the year that we decided to buy a house). It was a good year here. And while we aren’t moving yet, its in the cards folks and now we’ll always have this ‘Portrait of our house’ to remind us.

If you are interested in a portrait of your house (or your car, I’m not kidding … she does strangely rad paintings of cars, too … see below) go to Danielle’s Etsy store and start a conversation with her about it. They are $225 if its a painting and $275 if you want a painting and embroidery (see below).

I mean, look how cute this painting/embroidery portrait is …


Now you just need a vintage muscle car, although i’m not sure that is exactly a muscle car but it seems like you’d have to have a lot of muscles to drive such a car.

And yes, if your question is ‘Can she do a portrait of the antique dining table that my great grandfather built that is falling apart and I want to at least have a memento of it before it kicks the bucket?’ The answer is, Yes. She claims she’s less good at people or pets, but any inanimate objects are game.  Contact her here: Danielle Krysa

Is this something you would do or has my memory hoarding problem gone all hipster Liberace style?

  1. Hi Emily,
    I have been a long time reader but not a big commenter! When my husband and I bought our first home, for out first wedding anniversary in our new home he gave me an ink sketch of the house along with a miniture, colourful clay model that was shadow boxed. I love it & it reminds me of this giant step we took together.
    Hollie {}

    • Emily

      Well, thank you for commenting :) Welcome, and that is such a thoughtful gift from a guy – kudos to him. xx

  2. HaiVy

    I love this idea! Emily, can you tell us more about the pink lucite floater? It’s removable? I’m looking to get a print framed in neon pink, and it’s been surprisingly hard to find any options in that color. I think this might be a good alternative! Thanks!

    • Emily

      Yes, so there are some neons out there (not online, just at some higher end framers like Dana – her link is in the post) but my biggest fear with them was that they were super expensive and its just such a trend. So normally they put a lucite floater to keep the glass to stay away from the image. What we did this time was put pink paper lining the inside of the frame then the lucite floater – so you could see through the lucite and see pink, but if/when i’m ready to not and just want a simple white frame/mat i can take it out. Make sense? Thanks for asking!!

  3. Katie

    Hey Emily, I love the idea of having a memento made of your home(s). My family has moved around A LOT and my parents have had paintings commissioned to remind them of homes they loved. My sister even made a sort of 3D model/shadow box thing of the front of one of our houses, and I once embroidered the addresses of all of the houses my mom’s lived in, each on the corner of it’s own napkin. Email me if you want to see photos and I’ll try to dig some up. This reminds me that I’m just about to move out of my first home with my boyfriend, so I should definitely make something to cherish our time here together.

    • Emily

      Oh, i love the address embroidery idea, too. And a shadow box … I want to do all of those things. Thanks!

  4. Sandy

    I would do this! These are unique and cool and amazing.

  5. Sandy

    I just tried the link on Dana’s name and I got an “Uh-Oh” page not found.

    • Emily

      Oh, good to know. I’ll include her email instead!

  6. CAT

    I can totally identify with memory hoarding. My sister and I are nuts about this. We love reminiscing, and now that we’ve found Etsy, we buy each other little mementos to remind each other of important times in our childhood. It’s silly and fun, and we love it.
    PS I absolutely adore your blog. And you have the loveliest smile. (I hope that’s not creepy.)

  7. Dana O.

    Thank you so much for the idea! My fiancé is in the process of selling his first car, a 2001 Toyota Echo, that he’s driven for the last 9 years. We had our first date in it, first kiss, first fight and several strange nights roaming a college town when we should NOT have been driving. This is such a fabulous idea, and Danielle, I’ll be inboxing you soon!

    -Dana O.

  8. I love this house portrait! I think the best portraits are uniquely from the artist, where they select which areas and colors to focus on, when the artwork transcends the original photo. Great piece!

  9. S

    Very cool Emily!
    I’d love to see the frame link…I’m so interested in “lucite matting”. The link doesn’t work tho. Hate to trouble you, but maybe it cud be relinked. Please.

  10. Carly

    I love that very much!! And I love the dalmatian on the stoop. Only thing missing is one of 3 Christmas trees. (And a bunch of drunk idiots keeping the neighbors awake.)

  11. I LOVE Danielle, as a person and an artist. She’s got an amazing eye and she’s so talented. Your house looks great.

  12. Julie B.

    So you mentioned painting the exterior before and I’m dying to know…IF they HAD been cool enough to let you paint it, what colors would you have chosen? I have a similar med. wanna be house in socal, that needs a paint job and I’m at a total impasse.

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  14. Erin

    I need my dogs to be completely liberaced/hipstered out. This is awesome!

    xx Erin

  15. Julie

    Absolutely stand by this 100%. I sketched and letterpress printed our own moving announcements and now have it framed in our hallway. It helps freeze that great moment in time!

  16. Julia @cuckoo4design

    This is so awesome!

  17. It is great having an idea how the house will look like before you paint it. It will be very risky to do experiments and paint the house in different colours before you stick to the best one.

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  20. sina

    can you tell me about the colorful blue painting that id behind the picture? its great!

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