Have you ever purchased a home? Or had the challenge of furnishing small spaces? If so, you know that both have the potential to be an interesting combination of fun, stressful, exciting, and challenging.
Our Customer Experience Manager, Audra, was recently fully immersed in both of these processes and today she’s sharing her home and the exclusive inside scoop with us…
Thank you for sharing your home with us. How does it feel to be a homeowner?
It feels great! It’s exciting, especially when an opportunity like this comes along that allows me to share my experience.
And how would you describe your home buying experience?
It was definitely fun! Especially because my fiancée happens to be a realtor, so I had an expert to do the legwork for me and I could just show up and say “Sure!”. I would say that a good realtor is key to making the process so much more manageable and fun.
Your home has so much character. When was it built?
The actual home was built in 1903 but, it turns out, was part of the 35W expansion. So it was moved and put on it’s current lot in the 1960’s. The nice part of that is that we have all of that fun character that comes with age, but a relatively new foundation.
The previous homeowners gave us the actual deeds from when the house was built, and for the land when it came together. It has a really unique history. It was foreclosed on a couple of times in the 1900’s and then again in the 80’s but then it stayed within one family for 3 generations.
What’s been updated?
The home’s prior owners lived in the house for over a decade and took really wonderful care of it. They repainted the walls and stained the original wood floors, and installed a new kitchen complete with a farmhouse sink, new countertops, and open shelving. The doors are original but with fresh paint, and I think the hardware and knobs have had some updates.
The remodel is recent – sometime in the past 5 years – so I just walked in and it felt like home. I didn’t change paint colors or anything.
About those original floors… the black is so striking. Do you like them?
What’s really interesting about the floors is that after watching all of the HGTV shows I thought I would like wider plank floors. But as I’ve been living with the narrow plank floor I’m liking them more and more.
And I do like the black, but the floor shows everything. (Something to keep in mind, if you’re considering them.)
When you first started planning your space, how did you want it to feel?
I took a cue from a blog post that you wrote actually, when I first started working here. In your post you used the term Minnesota Casual, and I was like – Wait. What? It resonated with me – a comfortable space where people could come in and be relaxed. I wanted that feeling but a modern vibe and a hint of industrial. So I just put my own spin on it.
When we move in the future, I want to be able to keep the same pieces because they’re quality and I love that modern, comfy element. I stuck with a neutral color palette to help me accomplish that.
Once I honed in on the style I think it all just came together.
What furniture pieces were you eyeing before you even knew you were getting the house?
All of them! The accent pieces were really the only things I didn’t already have my eye on.
For example, I loved the Janet sectional because it has a reversible chaise. I also knew that there were hundreds of custom fabric options with Jonathan Louis so I would be able to find the perfect color, in this case gray, that I wanted.
The dining room table was also something that, as soon as it hit the floor a year and a half ago, I made a mental note that it was mine.
Furnishing small spaces can sometimes feel challenging. What was the hardest part for you, if anything?
The room planning thing – I spent a lot of time working on that.
Because I wanted to have bigger pieces that would work in my next home, but I also wanted to not have them be too big for this space. And I wanted to make sure that all of the rooms had their own kind of feeling but it still made sense transitioning through the house.
So the dining room furniture is larger, but that was what you had your heart set on and you didn’t want to give it up?
Yes. And, even though my current space is small, when we’re entertaining I need the ability to fit 9 or 10 people around the table. That can happen now, and the bigger pieces are functional in the open concept space.
How about accessorizing?
What I’ve learned is that you get your core pieces in and then that next layer is accessories – that part is still going on today.
For me, less is more. And I think what I decided I wanted to do was focus on how can I get more greenery in – live plants, faux plants, and combinations. That was kind of a fun thing to do.
What’s your favorite place to relax and hang out in your space?
It’s that living room. Sitting in the corner of the sectional on the chaise kind of looking into the dining room area – that’s just like my little zen place to curl up. But then, also, that accent chair in the living room is deceivingly comfortable. And at the dining room table too because you can really spread out if you’re working on something. And then there’s the office. Or the bedroom.
So… you basically just like your whole space. There’s really not one place – sort of depends on your mood and what’s happening?
Now that you’re actually living in a small home are there any particular challenges that you’ve noticed?
Just making sure that we have storage options. That’s where the accent cabinet in the dining room, bookshelves in the office, built-ins everywhere, and a storage bed come in. Just being smart about things like that.
And, actually, when you come from a one-bedroom apartment you don’t have a lot of stuff to begin with. It still looks kind of bare sometimes.
How did you like the furnishing and decorating process overall? Any takeaways?
For me knowing what you want to accomplish in the space. What’s the mood, function, and harmony in the space?
But at the end of the day, the biggest take-away is being able to create my own unique look out of all of the beautiful furniture I’ve been surrounded by at work every day. Really – that customization option and the ability to mix and match pieces so that you are represented in your space.
It’s a deeper process than I was expecting to find and now I get to share it with everyone!
Thanks Audra! It was so much fun to see your lovely new home and hear about your experience. We appreciate you sharing it with us!
If you’d like more to see more inspiration and ideas for furnishing small spaces and more, check out our HOW TO DECORATE page!