Paint and Personality Transform This Cookie-Cutter New Build House
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Name: Anne Neuenschwander, her partner, and three cats, Pele, Babyteo, and Mija
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Size: 1,700 square feet
Years lived in: 7 months, owned
I am a professional upholsterer and interior decorator while my boyfriend is an architect. We’ve lived together in apartments in Berlin and Raleigh but this is the first home we’ve owned. I always imagined myself living in an older home (1960s or before) but happened upon this place and loved the big windows and trees outside. We put an offer in—when it was accepted we were elated and then terrified that we we’re going to live in a cookie-cutter new build. Over the last six months we’ve turned it into a place we are proud of that we don’t think looks so ordinary.
We painted almost every room and installed new hardwood floors ourselves. Our space literally doubled from our old apartment so we’ve had to acquire quite a few new or new-to-us pieces. Most importantly we switched out every single light fixture and most bathroom fixtures. After moving in, we found out that the house was a one-man project, designed and built over the course of three years by a general contractor on the weekends. (That explains those builder grade fixtures… ha!) We live here with our three cats, Pele, Babyteo, and Mija, who, while being indoor, seem to love being “closer to nature.”
Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Modern Mid-century Treasure Cove.
What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room is the bedroom because when you’re in bed and looking at the windows, all you can see is sky and trees. It feels so comforting and private, and at the same time connected to an ever busy natural habitat. During summer we live in a treehouse, and now, in winter, we can soak up the sun.
If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? I would love to have a screened-in porch to be outside and safe from the mosquitoes. The hard part in this is that we don’t want to compromise our light. I’ll let the architect figure that out…
What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? We’ve bought a lot of things in the last six months since moving in. The last thing (and miracle item) would have to be the 10 foot by 14 foot kilim rug I bought while on a supply trip in High Point, North Carolina. I was with a manufacturing contact that had been cutting up these amazing vintage rugs to put on furniture. He was moving out of his space and sold me the last two intact rugs for practically nothing. We put the larger in our bedroom and are so grateful to have saved it from the guillotine.
Any advice for creating a home you love? Our home feels like ours because most of our furniture and possessions come with history. Whether it’s a family item or a found vintage treasure, we are not the first ones to pass our lives in an object’s presence. This makes it easy to feel like a home. We still incorporate new elements to modernize the space but try to make sure the newer pieces will be just as timeless.
We also tackled a lot of projects ourselves. Don’t be afraid of paint or a nail gun!
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