A First-Time Renovator on a DIY Budget Transformed a 1971 Ranch-Style House into a “Kitsch-Chic” Home
Can't-Miss House Tours Straight to Your Inbox
Keep up with our latest house tours each weekday with our House Tour of the Day newsletter
Name: Megan Housekeeper, husband, Alex Ferrin, and dogs George Michael and Miley Cyrus
Location: Austin, Texas
Size: 1,800 square feet
Type of Home: Ranch-style home built in 1971
Years lived in: 3 years, owned
When Megan and husband, Alex, were looking to buy a house three years ago, there were a bevy of practical reasons that appealed to them about this 1,800-square-foot home. There was a large outdoor area perfect for their pups to run around in or for the humans to entertain in. There was a lot space for home offices. And the house, while it could use updating, was essentially move-in ready, without the need for serious renovations. “But if we’re being honest, the archway from the living room and the vaulted ceilings hooked me,” admits Megan. “I distinctly remember saying that this could have swanky ’70s porn-star vibes with the right styling.”
Megan is just the right person to style a house from the 1970s, because of her passions for retro vibes, thrifting, and history, which she explores on her popular blog Mid-century Millennial and on Instagram and TikTok. “Like the rest of the world, we found ourselves at home even more than we already were and I embarked on my DIY renovations to make the house a retro fever-dream room by room, while on a tight budget — as evidenced by the partially-installed flooring to mark our progress thus far,” explains Megan.
“Despite the slow and steady progress on our renovations, I strongly believe we can still make our current spaces feel like my aspirational 1970s dream in the interim with a flexible design and secondhand finds, just like we did when we were renters. I think a space being ‘done’ is a myth, and no matter what, it should always evolve with your own growth and needs.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Eclectic, retro, ’60s and ’70s, and kitsch-chic.
Which time periods/decades inspired your home’s design the most? I’ve always loved elements of 1960s and 1970s style. Our house was built in 1971, so my style has been gravitating more toward the ’70s. I like mixing in DIY upcycles, playful reproductions, and of course, a ton of secondhand vintage scores. I grew up on a strict diet of “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeannie” reruns, and I learned to thrift at a young age as a family activity.
Favorite Element: My office space is my favorite. It started as the most pressing renovated room to meet my work-from-home and creative needs. But it has become a space that captures my “Mid-century Millennial” alter-ego best. The vintage lounger and TV setup is my favorite spot to take a mental-health pause and watch episodes of classic shows and movies.
Biggest Challenge: I am a first-time renovator on a DIY budget, so progress is slow. It helps to find a middle ground between creating a space we love to living in it now, while we renovate on a more realistic timeline. Some of the most impactful solves have been:
- Low light: Thrifting and upcycling a bunch of accent lighting to create a mood without natural light.
- Flooring that needs an update: Lots of funky area rugs that we can still use after all of our flooring is finally installed.
- Mid-2000s design choices that don’t match our style: Easy DIYs, like repainting our cabinets and using retro textiles to make an impact.
Proudest DIY: My DIY frame wall was a last-minute addition to my guest bedroom, inspired by Pinterest. I felt like the room was missing a dramatic element on that wall, but had used up my budget for the project. I used leftover trim paint and thrifted frames to create a faux-molding effect, making something bold yet removable. This feature makes the room feel deceptively bigger than it is.
Biggest Indulgence: I rarely spend a lot on individual items, and even on bigger pieces, I typically wait until I find a great deal secondhand. But since we bought our house I’ve started making exceptions with art, starting small with a couple of original pieces by mixed media artist Whitney Avra, an original 1977 painting by French artist Andre Condon from Austin Antique Mall, an original watercolor of Endora from “Bewitched” by Brent Silveria, and a series of original sketches by my husband’s favorite web comic “Achewood” for the entryway gallery wall.
None of these were bank-breaking on their own, but together they are starting to make up an investment I am proud to display. Even if I change everything around them, they are becoming my most treasured pieces. Fun fact: I’d sell you almost anything else out of my house without remorse.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? We spend a majority of our time at home. We both work from home full time, love to entertain, and have dogs that are a little too naughty for prolonged public spaces. So we’ve capitalized on every inch of our home to serve our lifestyle.
Where are your favorite places to buy or find vintage home decor? I pride myself on shopping everywhere for vintage home decor. I follow local Instagram sellers and stalk Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and local vintage shops and markets like the Austin Creative Reuse and University of Texas Surplus. I spend many late-night hours curating Etsy and eBay lists, too!
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Tune into things that visually inspire you and use it to create a home that feels like your own magical world. A favorite dress can inspire a wallpaper choice, or a favorite movie set can guide details that you love about a space. I create spaces that remind me of my favorite films, TV shows, and nostalgia from time spent at my grandma’s house growing up. I like to keep things light and playful — something my 10-year-old self would be proud of — and not get too hung up on “serious design.” I can admire that quality in others, but for me, the space won’t always resonate.
PAINT & COLORS
- Yoko Sofa — Wallaroo’s
- Console Table — Gustav Gaarde Console Table – The Mod Weekend
- Gallery Wall Frames — Thin Metal Matted Gallery Frame Gold 14×18 – Target
- Gallery Wall Custom matboards: 14×18 Matboard (navy blue, tangerine, aqua blue, bright yellow, tangerine, butterscotch) – Etsy
- Gallery Wall Art — Chris Onstad, Achewood Original Character Sketches
- Lamps — Vintage lamp pair – Room Service Vintage
- Bench — Orange vintage Billy Baldwin Style X-bench – Facebook Marketplace
- Arch Blanket Ladder — Target
- Blanket — Daisy Woven Throw Blanket in Rose – Miracle Eye
- Swag Lamp — Green Velvet Swag Lamp – Facebook Marketplace
- TV Wall Art — Vinciata ’70s portrait prints – Facebook Marketplace, Thrifted
- Floating Shelf — Floating Shelf, 48-inches, Acorn – West Elm
- Faux Fireplace — Upcycled Steel Chimenea (similar style – Amazon)
- Panton style stretched fabric pair — Top Drawer Thrift
- Coffee Table — Gustav Gaarde Coffee Table – Purchased from a friend on Instagram
- Tray — Vintage Gustav Gaarde Lattice Tray – Austin Antique Mall
- Taschen Scandinavian Design Book
- Coasters — Hearth & Home Wood 4-Pack Coasters – Target
- Credenza — Vintage Teak Credenza – Uptown Modern
- Art — 1977 Andre Condon Vintage Painting (Woman and Cheetah) – Austin Antique Mall
- Vintage Elvis Bust — Lula B’s Design District
- Vintage Lucite Candlesticks — Facebook Marketplace
- Vintage vinegar & oil dispensers — Room Service Vintage
- Vintage orange slice table — Ronstadt Effect Vintage
- Vintage Leather Directors Chairs — Ronstadt Effect Vintage
- Vintage Turkish Rug — Etsy
- Vintage wicker shelving unit — Revival Vintage
- Tripod Floor Lamps — Target (no longer available)
- Vintage Amber Glassware — Estate Services of Austin, Thrifted, The Vintage Vet
- Vintage lemon meringue pie dish — Tola Home
- Vintage lemon glasses — Modified Home
- Vintage Fondue Pot — Retrospektiv
- Ceramic Oranges — Side Kitsch Vintage
- Haeger Pedestal Bowl — Thrifted
- Endora Original Watercolor — Brent Silveria
- Vintage Pie Dishes — Tola Home, Thrifted
- Vintage Floral mugs — Thrifted
- Wood Mug Tree — Target
- Vintage Floral Valance Curtain — Goodwill
- Vintage Deadstock Chromex Stacking Copper Containers — Room Service Vintage
- Breville Barista Espresso Machine
- Big Berkey Charcoal Water Filter
- Chemex Coffee Pot
- Baratza Burr Grinder
- Vintage Burlwood Night stands and mirrors — Bold Vintage
- Rug: Feroz Faux Tiger Area Rug — Justina Blakeney x Loloi
- “Who’s your Housekeeper” upcycled art – Old Made Good
- Custom Mixed-media art – Whitney Avra
- Vintage J.H. Lynch “Tina” Print
- Upcycled Gossip Bench — Facebook Marketplace
- Vintage paperback book library — Thrifted
- Vintage suitcase rack and suitcases — Thrifted
- Frame wall — Thrifted
- Zebra bench — Thrifted
- Vintage Joe Colombo Space Age Cart — Top Drawer Thrift
- Suitcase Record Player — Byron Statics Amazon
- Bedding — Target Threshold Quilt (White, Queen), Opalhouse Tiger Pillow Shams (Blush), deadstock vintage floral sheets – Thrifted
- Seashell accent pillow — Etsy (Similar)
- Bed Frame — Floyd Bed Frame & Headboard in Birch
- Stretched art above bed — Room Service Vintage
- Side Tables — Craigslist
- Bedside Mirrors — Target
- Funky red 70s lamps — Room Service Vintage
- Dresser — Side Kitsch Vintage
- Waterfall Bench — Thrifted, covered in ’70s velour from Room Service Vintage
- Dresser Paisley Lamps — Target mini lamp upcycled in thrifted paisley fabric and fringe
- Vintage 70s club chair — Facebook Marketplace
- Bedding — Ettitude sateen sheet set, Target Duvet Comforter, Bolster Pillow from Anthropologie (no longer available), vintage floral fringed coverlet (Facebook Marketplace)
- Vintage Rug — Curb Vulture
- Shag wall hanging — Modified Home
- Blanket/Towel Ladder — Crate & Barrel
- Desk Tables — Ikea Lisabo
- Floating vanity and shelves — Ikea Bergshult/Sandshult
- Acrylic Riser — Amazon
- Pink Wireless Keyboard and Mouse — Amazon
- Curtains — Society6
- Framed Slim Aarons Print — Framebridge and Etsy
- Rainbow Rug — Ruggable
- Slim Girls! Framed Print — Vintage Ken & Barbie, David Parise
- Vintage Jackets — thrifted
- Vintage vanity stool — Austin Antique Mall
- Elvis Bust — Austin Antique Mall
- Vintage Canisters — Thrifted and Etsy
- Crocheted Cake Container and Cake Slice Tissue Cover — Happy Hooker
- Hanging Tulip Swag Lamps — eBay and Thrifted
- Vintage inflatable ottoman terrarium — Top Drawer Thrift
- Vintage floral chaise lounge — Eclectic Avenues
- White Tulip Chairs & Replacement Cushions
- Vintage Spaghetti Swag Lamp — Room Service Vintage
Thanks Megan and Alex!
This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
Share Your Style: House Tour & House Call Submission Form
This piece is part of Throwback Month, where we’re revisiting vintage styles, homes, and all kinds of groovy, retro home ideas. Boogie on over here to read more!