Kristen & Michelle's Modern Bohemian

House Tour

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Name: Kristen Harper and Michelle Flores, owners of the Remodeling Boutique, (and some outside cats named Mr. Cat, Mrs. Kitty and Stinky)
Location: East Side; Austin, Texas
Size: 952 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Owned

How do you create a rich, layered, personalized home in a tiny space and without a lot of money? If you're Kristen Harper and Michelle Flores, you combine killer style, fearless DIY skills and a healthy mix of vintage finds and modern furnishings. 

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Michelle and Kristen are the creative minds behind the Remodeling Boutique, a commercial and residential remodeling and construction company, founded in 2006, that takes projects from conception to completion. They see the potential in a house (especially in older Austin ones) and help fix up a home to fit the owners' personalities perfectly. 

The couple applied their years of experience to the remodel of a tiny house on Austin's East Side, built in 1950. Knowing it wouldn't be their forever-home, they didn't want to spend a ton of money, but they also wanted to make it fit their tastes. Their solutions, big and small, combine to create an elegant composition of style and personality. 

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I think when you live with someone each of your styles tend to blend together. I enjoy being over stimulated in a space, while Michelle likes a more minimalist approach in design. So there is usually a balance in our home. She could probably get along with an almost sterile environment. And I bask in the creative, never ending ebb and flow of knick-knacks, found treasures, and one last little nook that can use another ‘thingy’. I love looking at a space and not being able to stop glancing from wall to table, from chandelier to nook, being overwhelmed with items everywhere I turn. So, to answer the question, I guess our combined style as of now has turned into a mix of mid-century modern and bohemian. I think as we age, our Mid-Century Modern pieces will be a bit taken over by our ‘fabulous finds’. 

Inspiration: Everything! I was a fashion merchandising major in college, and fashion definitely inspires me. But, music inspires me; nature inspires me; my mood inspires me… what doesn’t? I love being creative and I can become inspired by anything. I watch a plethora of shows, From Food Network to HGTV (I ain’t ashamed). I also have a million magazine subscriptions ranging from Dwell to Real Simple. I also love Pinterest and Springpad (we use this for our remodeling company Remodeling Boutique) and I constantly take pictures and mental notes wherever I go, whether it’s a cool graffiti piece on the street or a new restaurant I think has fabulous style. I learned long ago, even when you think it’s your own, 100% proprietary idea, usually it’s been done before. So, I try to be unique. But, design is always reinventing itself from another era, or from simply another designer or idea you just happen to have glanced over. So, the more one can soak from the world, the more ideas and creativity you then have to give. Architecture. Paris, Spain. Artists. Wood. Lines. Water.

Favorite Element: The original, restored wood ceilings are pretty rad.

Biggest Challenge: Space! There was ONE closet in the entire house when we bought it. The closet was tiny, it was in the kitchen, and housing a large water heater to boot. We converted it into a pantry with pull out drawers and placed a small, tankless water heater at the very very tippy top of the closet. Then we had to add closets to the rest of the home and devise some pretty creative storage solutions, like buying a bed with pull out drawers underneath, and making an entire bathroom medicine cabinet mirror wall for our bathroom storage.

What Friends Say: That it doesn’t look like anyone lives here. But, it either looks perfectly styled or it has last night’s Chinese food on the floor. There’s really no middle ground! I guess that says more about us than the house…?

Biggest Embarrassment: We really hate the tile and the grout in the kitchen and bathroom. It was here when we purchased the home. And, since this wasn’t our forever home we decided against replacing it. But it’s horrible. I put 2 rugs in each room to cover it up. Which actually turned out to be very 1950’s for the kitchen. I like to say I did that on purpose with my vast knowledge of the era.

Proudest DIY: The vent hood is something I have never seen done before. It is a cheap (Home Depot bottom of the line) vent hood. And we simply deconstructed the vent and covered it with plywood and some trim. We then just caulked and painted. We made it look like an expensive, custom vent hood. Like I said before — no design ever seems to be 100% unique, so maybe it has been done before. But, I haven’t seen it done. We like to try new things since we do own a small remodeling company, and I think it looks really custom and expensive. And, any handy woman (or man) can do it. You do need some tools and basic knowledge. But, it’s doable.  

Biggest Indulgence: We don’t really ever have a large budget. Or, I should say, any budget. So, the biggest indulgence in this home is definitely the closets in the master bedroom. I have always wanted an IKEA closet system — I would go into the store since high school and configure everything inside and out. So, those closets sure snowballed, and to be honest, that turned out to be expensive. I would definitely just build out a closet next time. Hindsight!  

Best Advice: Go with your gut. If you like something, buy it. If you see an idea you like somewhere… anywhere, try it. Do it yourself. Or not. Just at least do it. Why not? And, paint is the cheapest way to change anything.  

Dream Sources: Any estate sale or little market out of the country. Is that too broad? I have not visited my dream source. That is why it’s a dream.  

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Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

  • Kitchen: BEHR pale honey

  • Stencil and bathroom beadboard:  Benjamin Moore timber wolf
  • Kitchen cabinet: Benjamin Moore Lucerne (AF- 530)
  • Inside entry and back door: Benjamin Moore Hemlock (719)
  • Front Door outside: Benjamin Moore Tropical (734)
  • Exterior siding: Benjamin Moore Apple Froth (409)
  • Exterior Trim: Benjamin Moore Snow White (2122-70)
  • Exterior Second Trim (around windows/soffits/fascia):

  • Benjamin Moore Crystal Clear (2044-60)
  • Interior (throughout most home): Benjamin Moore Candice Olsen Collection Old Prairie (2143-50)

LIVING ROOM

  • Rug: Pinned quilt underneath top rug (all IKEA)

  • Teal Chairs: Bussey’s Flea Market in San Antonio circa 1950’s

  • Oil Barrel: Bussey’s Flea Market in San Antonio

  • Cantiflas Poster: Mexico, of course

  • Couch: Craigslist, used from Bloomingdale’s (I tend to think this is a lie)

  • TV stand: neighbor’s trash painted with metallic paint (Modern Masters- Iridescent Gold)
  • Jars and Vases: old pickle jars, Starbucks iced coffee jars, and too much pasta sauce
  • Side Table: Custom-Made (old speakers from old house fitted with wheels and shelves, stained using General Finishes Mahogany)

DINING ROOM

  • Bookshelf: DIY (Minwax Oil Based Stain: Early American- sides painted using Rustoleum silver hammered effect)

  • Flower Picture: Thrift store

  • Stencil on wall (Cutting Edge Stencils- online)
  • Metal Milk Crate: Thrift store Houston Texas

  • Art (hand painted using technique learned from HGTV Design Star)

  • Shell fossil: found in backyard digging fence (might not be a real fossil but Michelle swears by it)

  • Light stand: Marshalls (upside down trash can)

KITCHEN

  • Butcher block counter: basic IKEA counter, sanded and stained with General Finishes Golden Oak then set with Waterlox Seal (makes for easy clean up as it’s water based)

  • Okeiffe & Merrit 1950’s original stove (Craigslist from San Antonio)

  • Stainless steel cart and island: IKEA

  • Barefoot Contessa cookbook: priceless

  • Vent hood: Home Depot vent hood covered with custom plywood and trim and painted

  • Acrylic divider: DIY’ed from local acrylic supplier (cut to size), added washers via epoxy glue and connected each piece with tension wire to finish out

  • Original 1950’s kitchen sink and faucet; simply cleaned up

  • Vintage ice crusher: Craigslist; doesn’t crush ice too well

  • Vintage pepper grinder: from my grandma and grandpa

  • Ladder: basic IKEA pine colored ladder (we sanded and stained different parts with stain)

  • Rugs: Target and IKEA

STUDY

  • Chest of drawers: Craigslist

  • Art & Letterpress: Thrift Stores

  • Junior Prom Poster: Advertisement from my mom’s actual junior prom.  Don’t tell her I have it.

  • Tiny Terranium: Hand made from the awesome ladies at East Side Glass Studio at an event put on by Woman Design Build.

  • Bouquet: from my cousin Allisyn’s wedding where I was a bridesmaid

  • File cabinet: basic cabinet sprayed with paint

  • Crate: old egg crate from thrift shop


BEDROOM

  • Lights: IKEA (nightlight cords covered and painted with Modern Masters Metallic Paint)

  • Linens: Bed Bath and Beyond- Gramercy Collection by Echo

  • Closet system: IKEA

  • Mirror: IKEA mirror and IKEA string lights (but held at angle with custom wood stained block)

  • Burlap coffee sacks: Purchased at industrial supply shop

FRONT OUTSIDE

  • Hanging pots: Buckets hanging from twine from IKEA

  • Bench: DIY- simple slats with concrete blocks underneath. Stains used: General Finishes Golden Oak, Brown Mahogoany, Rosewood, Nutmeg, and Cherry- mixed or by themselves)

  • Patio Paint: Behr Slate Gray Concrete and Garage Floor Paint

BACKYARD

  • Blue tree: dead tree simply primed and painted with basic sprayer and mounted IKEA plastic planter pots

  • Pallets cut, painted, mounted to fence with screws- added plants and leaves  

  • Chairs and accessories: World Market, IKEA, Target, Thrift Shops, Curb Trash from expensive neighborhoods

  • Trees: Twine wrapped around basic vases and jars

  • Shed: Basic home depot storage shed with added metal siding to make look built in


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Thanks, Kristen and Michelle!

(Images: Adrienne Breaux)

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Adrienne photographs beautiful homes in and around her home base of Austin, Texas. She's a contributor to UPPERCASE Magazine and spends all her free time exploring small town Texas. She watches a lot of Star Trek.