There is a predicament that many a domestically-inclined millennial encounters: balancing a tight budget and the restrictions of the renter lifestyle with the desire to build a nest. This was certainly the case for lifestyle blogger Caroline Ely and her husband, a part-time student. The renters of a charming ranch house in Charlotte, NC, the two have big dreams, but a tiny budget. Caroline refused to let financial limitations stand in her way of a beautiful home, though, and turned to inspiration culled from Pinterest and a knack for finding vintage treasures to transform this once decoratively-challenged house into a comfortable abode for the young couple.
“The dining room is an easy favorite in our house,” Caroline says. “All I’ve ever wanted for my future home since I was young enough to imagine it, was a big ol’ farm table, and, as you might notice in the pictures, that dream came true. The table is my very favorite wedding present that my brother incredibly built and gifted to us.”
“I found beautiful used midcentury wooden chairs to contradict the rustic appearance of the table and filled in the gaps with black metal chairs.”
“Other wonderful features in this room is our china cabinet brimming with my great grandmother’s Wedgewood collection, our marble topped credenza, farmer’s market fresh blooms, a record player, and, of course, a well stocked liquor selection.”
“Our house has a funny little set up that included a front sitting room that had a tucked away built in bookcase. We’ve never had a space like this in our previous homes but we decided the bookcase was a sign. My husband and I are both extreme book hoarders so it only made sense to turn the space into the library and add a little desk for my husband’s workspace. It’s different and a little eclectic with our crescent tufted couch, peacock chairs, and our never-ending piles of books.”
“The living room is wonderful and spacious with vaulted ceilings, but it’s not without it’s quirks,” Caroline says. “This was one of those interesting ‘DIY’ add-ons our landlord attempted, so it has some trialing features to work around (especially the awful laminate wood floors). However, we’ve made it our own—found a beautiful vintage rug to help avert company’s eyes from noticing the floors I deeply despise (our dog’s sheepskin dog beds are aesthetically pleasing to boot), threw up some nice window treatments, secured my gallery wall, piled my couch with throw pillows, and nestled a heap of quilts at arm’s length away!”
“For the first year and a half my husband and I were married, the bedroom was just all around terrible. We didn’t have a bedframe, our furniture was mismatched and didn’t make sense, our bedding was bare boned, and we left our walls blank. It’s easy to focus on the main areas of the house that other people are going to see and keep your bedroom on the back burner and hidden behind closed doors. But here’s the thing, your bedroom is your haven and it deserves priority.”
“A few months ago we finally hunkered down and thrifted our bedframe and dressers (my prize thrifted possessions), found a duvet we both loved, secured our deer skull on the wall (that was actually one of my husband’s childhood finds – word to the wise parents: let your kids wander in the woods and bring home animal carcasses, because who knew!), found a nice sized tropical plant and basket to put it in (every room deserves a plant in a basket), bronze sconces, a nice big cactus print, and a wall of hats (a nice cost effective solution if you can’t find a mirror you love or can afford). I wish I had invested time and energy into this room a lot earlier on because I love it with all my heart (I mean, my whole Instagram gallery is basically one big love letter to this space!).”
Caroline Ely is a self-proclaimed “faux redheaded, hopelessly romantic, English loving, coffee guzzling, oversized-plaid-wearing, culinary experimenting, party hosting, creative writing, pup adoring, Chardonnay sipping millennial.” When she isn’t working for her mother’s company, Saving Dinner, Caroline pens the blog Willow & Wilder. Follow her on Instagram.