A Builder-Basic Rental Home Got a Warm and Welcoming Makeover

A Builder-Basic Rental Home Got a Warm and Welcoming Makeover

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Name: Sarah Litvinchuk and Andy Litvinchuk, and our five kids are Apollo (10), Shaiden (7), Sailie (6), Abrie (3), and Adelaide (10 months). And our kitty, Jones.
Location: Mountain House, California
Size: 2,402 square feet
Years Lived In: 3 years, renting

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Our home has always been my favorite place to be—over the past eight years we’ve lived in five different ones, and this one I’ve put the most of “my touch” into. I’ve come to know how important it is for me to love the home we’re in, and as a mom I’m better at my job if the place we spend most our time is pleasant. I’m a homebody, all the way, which is fitting as I stay at home with my kids. We do rent, but thankfully I’m married to a guy who not only supports my hobby/work as a mom and interior “insta blogger” but also gets my passion for design—and just happens to be a contractor (score!)! We both decided together that if we can’t buy right now due to the price of homes where we live, that we’d put our passions together to make our rental more functional and beautiful for our family.

Over the three years we’ve lived here, we’ve taken on some projects and I myself have honed in on my specific design style (combined with a cool landlord) to truly turn our rental into a home that feels like it’s ours. It’s been tricky, as we’re pretty limited to what we can do as renters—but it’s turned into a fun challenge for us! We’re always brainstorming about how we can change up this or that room, while still keeping the bones of the house the same. Thankfully this house gets a ton of light, and it’s pretty basic in terms of style, which means we can add lots of elements to give it the character/function we desire without having to do anything too drastic.

Company tends to flow in and out of our house regularly. Whether it be the kids’ friends, having family over for dinner, or a birthday party. I like to create a casual atmosphere, with everyone feeling like they can be themselves, either busy in the kitchen with me, or playing on the floor with the kids—but there is one thing that’s always a given—music! The kids have their own mini dance parties daily, and when I feel the need to tone down the crazy I’ll play some of my own tunes. At one point my son caught on to how music can soothe and noticed things needed some calming, so he took out his ukulele and started playing. It only took seconds for the wild to die down, even the baby relaxed! I love how playing tunes in a home can bring everyone back to ground level and lend so much to the environment—peace, fun, worship, excitement… whatever that may be.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: If I had to pinpoint my style in five words, I’d say modern, traditional, minimal, and functional.

Inspiration: I’m inspired by bright, natural color palettes, and outdoor elements such a light wood, rattan, and greenery. With all the business that’s happening most of the time, it’s calming for me to use one basic color, and then mix in natural pieces and differing textures to add character and warmth. Some of my design crushes are Studio McGee, House Seven Design, and Amber Interiors.

Favorite Element: I think I’m a tad obsessed with light fixtures! They just add that stamp of style on any room, and can take the whole look of it into a completely different direction depending on the right piece! I think this last week we switched around two different fixtures and now I have extras sitting in the garage—ha! I’m always amazed how a space can take on an entirely different look with the perfect light; modern, boho, traditional… it’s such an important element!

Biggest Challenge: Hands down, the wall-to-wall carpet in the main living areas/bedrooms. It’s light, and kids don’t mix well with that. If I had my way, I’d do wood, but since it’s a rental, we don’t have free range (whomp-whomp). Area rugs have become some of my best friends! Not only do they add style, but they keep the existing carpet cleaner. We’ve even gone a bit extreme and laid laminate wood over some of the tile.

Proudest DIY: When we moved in, the kitchen was a ruddy cherry wood, and with the black granite it was like a dark hole compared to the rest of the bright house. For Christmas last year my husband painted the original cabinets white with a special type of cabinet paint, and just that in itself did wonders! I found some inexpensive hardware on Amazon and spray-painted them gold to dress it up a bit, and we added shiplap over the range hood. The final touch was putting some subway tiles up, and hanging a couple of pendants where canned lights used to be. I still look at the finished product and can’t wait to cook my next meal! It’s hard to believe that without replacing any of the original design, I could have my dream kitchen!

Biggest Indulgence: It’s either our coffee table in the living room or the skinny bench in the entry. Definitely not the most expensive items we have, but some I love most! Both took lots of time and research to find just the perfect piece for the space, and I think that says a lot. When it’s a unique find that not everyone has, I think it’s worth the extra money one might typically spend on the item—plus it adds character, and usually has a story behind it. Our coffee table was made by a husband and wife team who own a furniture shop in Denver, and I love that. The bench I found on Etsy and was shipped from the Netherlands! When you can tell a story about where something came from it makes it that much better (and it doesn’t hurt when it’s plain gorgeous!)

Best Advice: Do what you love when decorating, regardless of trends and opinions! When we needed more seating in the living area for our big family, I went back and forth on whether a lighter couch was smart with five kids. You need to do what makes you happy when it’s something used so often and such a focal point to the room, and I couldn’t get over the clean lines and plush look of the Sloan. It still gives me all the feels just looking at it, and even though a light couch may not seem practical with kids, you’ve gotta do what you love when it comes to decorating and you’ll have no regrets!


Old Wood Stool Bench — Etsy
Mirror — IKEA
Rug — Swoon Rugs

Sofa — Article
Chairs — AllModern
Coffee Table — AllModern
Console — Walker Edison

Lights — Lamps Plus
Stool — Serena and Lily

Rug — Rugs USA
Sectional — Interior Define
Throw Pillows — Shop My Haven Home
Sling Chairs — AllModern
Coffee Table — Denver Modern
Art — Max Wanger
Vases — Target
Floating Shelves — DIY

Hardware — Amazon
Cabinet Paint — Home Depot,White
Stools — Wayfair
Basket Wall Decor — Magnolia

Accent Pillow — Anthropologie
Dresser — Room and Board
Mirror — Urban Outfitters
Rug — Rugs USA
Light Fixture — IKEA

Toddler Bed — DaVinci Baby
Dolls/Pillows — Blabla Kids Shop
Prints — Opal Plus Olive
Between You And Me Signs — Etsy
Removable Wallpaper — B Darling

Bunk Bed — IKEA
Frame — Highland Hardware
Dresser — DIY Refurbished
Sconce Lights — Urban Outfitters

Hanging Chair — Serena and Lily
Desk — Walker Edison
Desk Chair — Structube (similar)
Rug — Lorena Canals
Planter — Modernica

Crib — Babyletto
Lamp — Crate and Kids
Rug — Boutique Rugs
Mobile — Bella Bloom Kids
Art — Rylee and Cru
Changing Table/Dresser — Walmart

Thanks, Sarah!

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