Celesta & Sean’s Eclectic (Fun!) First Home

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Name: Sean and Celesta Carter
Location: Tampa, FL
Size: 1,640 square feet
Years lived in: 5 — owned

We found Celesta and Sean through their incredible shop Paper Street Market in St. Petersburg, Florida. We’ve been going to St. Pete for years, and are always interested in what stores pop up in its ever-evolving downtown area . Paper Street is definitely one of our new favorites. It’s an eclectic blend of Florida circus posters, industrial signage, and vintage furniture. It’s fun stuff to look at, so we were happy that they agreed to let us photograph their home.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Celesta and Sean’s bungalow in Tampa, Florida is an excellent case study of first time home ownership. We’ve heard it several times before: you purchase your first home or apartment, then over time have to figure out what you like. It’s a process. Couples are forced to meld their individual styles. There is transitional furniture from big box stores. And there’s the stuff that carries over from your last apartment.

Then, over the years, there are the things that slowly start to trickle in. There’s that antique cabinet you fell in love with. That cabinet that took you hours to refinish. Or the art print that you purchased on vacation. In other words, your home becomes more and more a reflection of who you are. Celesta and Sean are doing a great job of navigating that process, and their lovely home is the result of a lot of hard work.

After years fixing the place up, Celesta and Sean are in the process of selling it and purchasing their second home in an old neighborhood in St. Petersburg. We hear it’s an old-school Florida home, with original Spanish tile among other historic features. Cross your fingers they let us in to photograph that one as well.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Very random- we mix different styles, periods, colors, etc. Somehow it all ends up working in the end. (At least we hope it works!) The way our home is furnished kind of tells a story about us. We were young when we purchased our home- it is our first home- and we were very inexperienced when it came to design. Starting out, we hit all the big-box stores for the major pieces, like our couch and dining room table, and then kind of tried to accent around those. Over time our tastes have developed, and we realize that the fun in design is picking out pieces that mean something to you- pieces with a story or history. We began to buy nicer, more meaningful pieces to work in to the mix. This is why we have a couch from Ashley paired with a 150+ year old historic coffee table.

Inspiration: We are inspired by our local surroundings, and the Tampa area has a lot to offer…everything from beaches to a historic Cuban district with tons of history around the cigar and tobacco industry. We always enjoy working local items into our home- one of the pictures on our family room wall is a really old, original framed cigar box label from Tampa.

Favorite Element: The wide, open spaces and the overall airy feel of the home. The walls actually have paneling, which would probably be on my least favorite list normally, but painted they take on a very beachy vibe. I also like how the previous homeowners used 6″ baseboard molding for the ceiling. It’s very unconventional but it adds a really neat look to the rooms.

Biggest Challenge: Our long, narrow family room- it’s 9×24!

What Friends Say: They love our style and are always asking if we will help them decorate their spaces, which is a huge compliment.

Biggest Embarrassment: : I’m terrible at keeping plants alive, so I have to have all fake foliage throughout the house! The only time we ‘water’ them is when we take them to the front yard to spray off the dust. I killed several large, live plants and finally invested in nice silk ones. The only live plants we keep are the small ones in the window sill in the kitchen and the ‘hair’ in our statue planter in the kitchen. Luckily these are easily, cheaply replaced when they die. The neat part about that I guess is that that the statue guy has had about 7 different hairstyles over the past five years!

Proudest DIY: I’d have to say that this is the china cabinet in our formal living room. It’s one of the first projects we did after we moved in, and one of our first painting projects ever. We took lots of before and after pics, and we always look at this piece as one of the first inspiration pieces for our business, Paper Street Market.

Biggest Indulgence: Our entertainment center that we have below the TV- it was shipped over from Asia and had to be cleared by customs since they control and monitor the export of their antiques. We have a certificate of authenticity from their government declaring it an actual Asian antique.

Best Advice: If it feels good, do it (haha). Our decorating advice for people is to surround themselves with pieces that they love, things that call to them. Once you put everything together it just works. So if you find a special piece in a shop that you keep going back to over and over again, maybe it’s meant to be.

Dream Sources: The flea markets of Paris. I (Celesta) studied French for years, and when you study a language you also study the culture so I feel a real connection to that part of the world. We plan to go to Paris for our 5th anniversary, and I look forward to the great finds I am going to bring home!

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Resources of Note:

Formal Living Room

    • Paint Color: Behr Silver Screen
    • Brown Accent Chairs: Target
    • China Cabinet: Salvaged from a thrift store and redone by us!
    • Papasan chair and cushion: Pier 1

Family Room

    • Couch: Ashley
    • Coffee Table: Civil war era trunk (1860’s) with markings/inscriptions. This is a fairly new piece that we just picked up and we couldn’t have been more thrilled when we brought it home into our space!
    • Rug: Home Depot
    • TV Console: Asian antique
    • Buffet: Craigslist find
    • Bar: Sears
    • Crystal Decanters: thrift stores, antique shops, etc.
    • Art piece above the bar: Purchased from a street vendor in New Orleans when we went there for our anniversary. He does awesome works of zombies, etc out of repurposed materials. ( www.leveeland.com )


    • Window hanging in the window: Antique shop purchase …it was salvaged from a building in Manchester, England
    • Cabinets- Maple
    • Countertops- Corian


    • Dressers- antique shop find, and that’s their original color!
    • Bookshelves: Ikea, but the best part about is what they are filled with- treasures from our travels and all kinds of little things that hold really special stories and memories for us.
    • Nightstands: Antique shop find

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Sean & Celesta!

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