An Inherited Childhood Home Gets a Modern Makeover

An Inherited Childhood Home Gets a Modern Makeover

Esteban Cortez
Sep 7, 2018

Name: Timothy Kolstad
Location: San Jose, California
Size: 1,888 square feet
Years lived in: 27 years (on and off); Owned for 2 years

Timothy never expected he'd end up back in San Jose living in his childhood home. He inherited the house two years ago, and since then, he's worked hard to remodel the space and make it his own, which he says hasn't been an easy task on a limited budget. "The house has always been full, so to be living here on my own is bizarre," he says. "Nobody expects to live in the home they grew up in as an adult, so making it 'my own' has been a big part of the process."

Editor's note: Re-running this tour because hello—this is one of my favorite living room color palettes EVER.

Though adding his own personality to the space has been difficult, Timothy has so far succeeded in make the place fit his preferred style. He loves Scandinavian design, neutral colors, and clean lines — a completely different aesthetic from the home he knew as a child. "The bones of the house are beautiful, and my dad did an incredible job, but that was almost 20 years ago," he says. "By the time I'd become the owner, it was a little too '2001 Macy's Home catalog sponsored by Kirkland Signature.'"

Today, the home is beautiful, functional, and tranquil without looking too sterile. Timothy adds texture whenever possible, whether it's via an area rug or a cascading plant on a shelf. And what's most impressive about the space is that Timothy did most of the renovations himself on a real-life budget. "My biggest qualm with interior design sources and blogs is the seemingly lack of a real-life budget." Timothy jokes that he can't relate when people talk about their custom-made, hand-pressed ceramic tiles for the shower of the guest powder room in their Westside Tudor. "Don't get me wrong, it's incredible, but find your inspiration and make it work within what you can and cannot do."

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Nordic-minimal California-casual loft owned by your twice-divorced "fun" aunt.

Inspiration: Traveling, Scandinavian design, neutrals, The Swan

Favorite Element: The history I have with this house. Being able to see where it's been and what it's changing into is rewarding...and strange.

Biggest Challenge: Working within non-ideal constraints. Essentially, taking over my childhood home in San Jose was never an expectation of mine, so finding creative ways to achieve a look using what's already here and a limited budget has proven difficult.

What Friends Say: "Where am I? How did I get here? I'm calling the police."

Biggest Embarrassment: The yard. It hasn't changed in years and died during the California drought, but time and money have left it by the wayside. It is a bit nice, though, to have guests come through the front door expecting the interior to match the exterior, and be surprised that I'm not a corpse.

Proudest DIY: The concrete coffee table, or the floors in the living room and bedroom.

Biggest Indulgence: My blue velvet sofa and every plant I can't say no to.

Best Advice: Don't be afraid to do it yourself. My biggest qualm with interior design sources and blogs is the seemingly lack of a real-life budget. Sorry, but your custom hand-pressed ceramic tiles for the shower of the guest powder room in your effortless Westside Tudor aren't cutting it. I can't relate. Don't get me wrong, it's incredible, but find your inspiration and make it work within what you can and cannot do.

Dream Sources: Home Depot, the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, and APPARENTLY THE GUTTER


Glidden — White on White
Glidden — Beautiful Bisque
Glidden — Roadster White
Behr — Cracked Pepper
Behr — Perfect Taupe
Behr — In the Woods

Saddle brown pillow chairs — Overstock
Rug — West Elm
Wood and marble credenza — Vintage, found on the side of the road
Glass coffee table — Vintage
Mirror — IKEA
Cement planters — Sawdust + Cement
Sectional — Embarrassment, LLC (I think it's '00s Macy's)
Pillows — Target
Ceramic Vase — Made by me
Record player — Vintage
Side table — Vintage
Table lamp — Target
Woven wall hanging — Made by me
Throw — Target
Arc floor lamp — Vintage, found on the side of the road
Ladder — Made by me
Art — Flea market

Blue velvet sofa — Living Spaces (discontinued)
Side table — Vintage
Rug — West Elm
Floor lamp — Target
Chairs — Overstock
Concrete coffee table — Made by me (I don't plan on ever moving it)
Small concrete stool — Made by me (I can move this one)
Secretary desk — Vintage (belonged to my dad)
Figure paintings — Vintage
Wall mirror — IKEA
Sconces — IKEA hack
Hanging cement planter — Sawdust + Cement
Table Lamp — IKEA

Dining chairs — Vintage, the side of the road
Dining table — AllModern
Cement planters — Sawdust + Cement
Art — Made by me

Cement planter — Sawdust + Cement
Ceramics — Custom made by me

Bed frame — IKEA
Linen duvet — Muji
Sheets — Target
Dresser — IKEA hack
Painting — Made by me
Bedside shelves — IKEA hack
Mirror — IKEA
Large cement planter — Sawdust + Cement

Cement planter — Sawdust + Cement
Print — Children's shop in Copenhagen
Ceramic pots — Made by me

Shelf — Made by me
Cement vase — Sawdust + Cement
Cart — IKEA

Desk — Vintage, belonged to my Grandfather
Cement planters — Sawdust + Cement
Daybed — Custom made by me
Storage cabinet — IKEA
Stools — IKEA
Mirror — Target
Table lamp — Target
Pillows — IKEA, Target, and Homegoods
Brass mobile — Target
Rug — IKEA

Stools — IKEA
Accent chair — Found on the side of the road
Gym hook — HAY
Bar and shelving — Custom made using IKEA brackets
Cement planters — Sawdust + Cement

Thanks, Timothy!

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