Name: Melissa Reese
Location: Tarrytown; Austin, Texas
Size: 800 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years; Rented
Her vintage bungalow is in one of Austin’s oldest neighborhoods and has such charm. Before you even reach the front door, you can see her attention to detail in everything from her beautifully potted herbs to a hand-painted bird house. The second you walk in, you feel at peace.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Colorful, quirky, a tad vintage; organized & curated clutter.
Inspiration: Thrift stores—the kind that are packed to the gills with stuff. There are certain artists and illustrators I love, and their palettes and humor inspire me: Tom Gauld, Christophe Neimann, Chris Ware, Joost Swarte, etc.
Favorite Element: All the windows! I love all the natural light. And the paint. Fresh paint makes a HUGE difference in a home. In every place I’ve lived, I slap on a quick layer of high gloss white on the woodwork, and I choose fun, inspiring colors for the walls. It instantly makes the place feel clean and unique to me.
Biggest Challenge: Dog hair. While this is not inherently a design problem, my dog’s hair just floats across the wood floors and gathers in corners, on baseboards, on door jams. It’s a constant battle. I’ve nicknamed him: Duke Droppingfur, Lord of Shedsalot.
What Friends Say: People always comment on how they love my shelves. I LOVE decorating with shelves because it allows you to display the things you love in a beautiful way. The biggest secret is that shelves can be REALLY cheap. Never buy pre made shelves. It’s a rip off. Just got to HomeDepot and buy the inexpensive white wood, and have the staff cut it to size. Don’t bother too much with sanding, just enough to finish off any splintered sides. Then stain with a brush. You can also buy basic brackets for just a few dollars each.
Biggest Embarrassment: The AC vents. I’ve been meaning to clean out the baseball-sized dust balls and spray paint them a fresh coat of white, but I always forget. Every time I look at the vents I cringe.
Proudest DIY: Tough to choose between my desk and kitchen table. I hand painted a gingham tablecloth on my kitchen table. It took forever, painting a line or two at a time, but it was worth it. It looks so cute when you set the table with candles and linen napkins. (And you can’t stain the tablecloth, no matter how much wine you spill!) My desk was a $20 find from an amazing store in Dallas called Durango. It’s an old high school lab table covered in student’s carved graffiti. I sanded it down to smooth perfection, but all of the deep carvings are still visible.
Biggest Indulgence: My upholstered furniture in the living room. I spent less than $200 on the couch and chairs in the living room, and about 4 years later finally reupholstered for about $800. (Yikes!) But, the colors and textures are perfect now, and the padding in the seats are WAY more comfortable.
Best Advice: You don’t need to invest in “decor” and nothing needs to match. Just decorate with the special things (books, cards, trinkets, jars, etc.) that you’ve collected over the years, and be organized. I honestly think half the battle of having good home design is keeping a neat house. The other half is just displaying stuff that is special to you. Stuff that has a story and/or reminds you of people, ideas, and places that you love. One more piece of advice - the best place to buy picture frames is Goodwill. Pick a frame in decent condition, and just paint it to complement your palette. One last piece of advice— decor need not be pricey. I ALWAYS shop consignment and thrift, and then I repaint and customize as I see fit.
Dream Sources: Durango (store) in Dallas; Bunglo by Shay Spaniola; vintage/resale stores; I’d love to go to one of those barn estate sale things you see on HGTV, where people can find neat old stuff in the house of a 95-year-old farmer, or something.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
● Bathroom: Melon Sorbet (Behr)
● map art frame, Goodwill, art by yours truly
● art, Esty, midcenturyco
● collage print, Judy Paul
● art above bed, collected from thrift stores, friends, and personal photos
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Re-edited from a post originally published August 2014