When Orna Willis looks at the skeins of embroidery floss hanging from the wall in her home studio, it's not just a visual treat.
"Color has such a strong effect on me," Willis said, "that it gets mixed up in my senses until I don't know if I'm seeing it or hearing it or tasting it."
For Willis, an artist who creates intricate designs for her online fiber, fabric, and metal gallery and store, the pegboard is like grapes to a winemaker. "All I need to do is turn around and look at it, and it gets my creative juices flowing," she says.
So when Willis and her husband, Reid, both 53, moved with their 9-year-old daughter, Nina, from a McMansion in Ann Arbor, Mich., to a loft in Northern Liberties six years ago, color became her muse for the 2,950-square-foot blank canvas.
Today, the house is awash in artwork, much of it by Willis' 30-year-old daughter, Shiri Wolf, mixed with a few highlights by other artists including Andy Warhol and Piero Fornasetti. The main living room evokes warmth as well as space, with vignettes throughout: groupings of Scandinavian glassware, or large, prolifically growing terrariums. Willis' favorite design elements are those created of objects that she and her husband have accumulated in their travels to South Africa, Italy, Spain, Cambodia, and Israel, where Willis grew up. But nothing dictates the character of the rooms so much as the color.