Karyn's Cultivated & Curated Character

House Call

Name: Karyn
Location: South Tampa, Florida

For the past year, I've rented this 1200-square-foot house with my husband and 2 kitties. The house is a relatively basic square cinderblock box built in the 1980s. It's got great bones but not much character, so I've spent the last year slowly cultivating and curating to put together a home with its own character that we love.We're lucky enough to have an easy-going landlord who is comfortable with us painting, as long as he sees the color before we get started. So far, he hasn't nixed any of our choices.

Though we hope to live here for years, the challenge has been figuring out how much work we're willing to do in a home that we do not own and will eventually have to walk away from. If we owned this home, I would gut the kitchen, which is the one room that I would love to change but just don't think it's worth the time or money that we would have to put into it.

My inspiration comes from almost everywhere (beautiful fabric, Apartment Therapy, Etsy, magazines, design shows, vintage stores, walking through the aisles of stores) but ultimately ends in my desire to create a comfortable and cozy home. I put my rooms together one piece at a time, usually building each new piece off the last. Once I figure out what I need to do next (purchase a lamp, find artwork, find the perfect fabric to make curtains), I tend to focus on that to the point of obsession, visiting every Goodwill, antique store and yardsale in the area and checking Craigslist every day until I've found just the right piece.

We moved into this home from a tiny one-bedroom apartment, so much of what's in here has been purchased or created in the past year. I'm so proud that I've been able to take a house filled with a bunch of boring white rooms and, through love, creativity and patience, have been able to turn it into a space that we love to come home to every day. We also love entertaining and having a space that we are proud to share with our friends and family.

Thanks, Karyn!

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Janel Laban is the Executive Editor of Apartment Therapy and has been working here, at the dreamiest of dream jobs, since March 2006.

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