Blogger Rachel Cafferty grew up drawing floorplans and re-arranging her bedroom at 4am on school nights. Despite her education in marketing, she’s always been drawn to interior design and decorating. She started a blog called Quarter Life Living, where she shares tips and tricks for bringing sophistication to the homes of twenty-somethings who are just starting out.
She’s got a knack for budget renovations and finding decor that looks more expensive than it is. “You may not have it all figured out, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be proud of where you live,” she says. Quarter Life Living brings together inspiration from Pinterest trends, color palettes, and local businesses while giving tips on where to shop for home decor that won’t break the bank. If you’ve got a blank slate on a budget and don’t know what to do with it, Rachel’s blog is a great online resource.
When she purchased her own first home with her husband in 2018, Rachel got her own blank slate. The 1950s Mid-Century ranch-style home in Minneapolis was fully renovated in 2016, and she was tasked with imparting some charm and coziness to the space.
“I spent the 60 days before closing drawing layouts, compiling design boards, and shopping for all the key furniture and decorative pieces,” which she admits was a bit of a gamble. The results, however, speak for themselves. Read up on how she designed her first home and see the full space below!
Photography by Samantha Lewis.
Hi! I’m Rachel Cafferty.
I was born and raised in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and met my now husband, Jonas, on a chance visit to Kansas City. We lived in KC and Denver for several years before relocating back to Minneapolis in 2018. I’m a marketing manager and he’s a mechanical engineer, so he gladly gives me (nearly) full freedom to exercise my creativity in our home design.
How would you describe your personal style in one phrase?
Intentional and neutral. As someone who is pretty much always on the go, I want my home to feel like a retreat from the day-to-day grind of life. Because of this, I’ve shifted my mindset in recent years to focus on only getting pieces that I really love, and maintaining an overall calming aesthetic.
Which room do you spend the most time in and what do you love most about it?
Our living room instantly became my favorite room in our home. From a structural standpoint, I love the vaulted ceilings and bright, natural light. I also tried to infuse contrasts in the design elements for this space, pairing light and dark textiles, earthy and glam accents, and bold black with white paint. The juxtaposition of everything feels perfectly “us.”
What were your 3 main goals when designing this space?
1. Focus on the quality/longevity of each piece. Being our first home, we put greater investment into the furnishings knowing we won’t have to uproot again in a year or two. Because of this, I wanted to make sure each piece was higher quality and would have greater “staying power” from a style standpoint. I can swap out lower pricepoint items like accents or throw pillows more readily, but needed our furniture to feel timeless enough to last several years.
2. Simplify to maximize. This goes back to the intentional part. Instead of filling my room for the sake of having accents, I wanted to ensure I loved everything I bought. While some people might find our space to be a little too minimalist (although it is not “minimalist”), I feel happier knowing there is a story or reason for each new item in our home.
3. Practicality. This was the hardest part for me, but I needed to think about the use of each piece and what made sense for our home. For example, I opted for the glass top Mid-Century Art Display Coffee Table knowing that I didn’t want to force guests to use coasters. Although we don’t have kids or pets, we love hosting and didn’t want to be in perpetual fear of an item getting some wear and tear.
What’s one thing in your home you couldn’t live without?
Plants. I’m still honing my green thumb, but I now have 16 houseplants and I’ll never look back. They bring so much life to our home, especially in the winter.
What were some big (or small) challenges in designing your space?
Budget. Going from a 600 square foot apartment in Denver to 2,200 square foot home in Minneapolis required us to purchase a lot of pieces. We are tackling rooms in stages, and also leveraging secondhand sources for some great vintage finds.
What’s something you would do if you had an unlimited budget and timeline?
I would love to enlarge all of our windows and change all of the entrances to French doors. We get decent natural light, but only have one room that is south-facing (our sunroom) so it would be amazing to capture more light and create a brighter, airier environment.
What’s your best piece of advice to those just starting to design a space for themselves?
Give yourself some slack! You don’t need everything to happen at once. Focus on finding furniture and decor that you really love, and give yourself the flexibility to acquire the items over time. In my opinion, it’s better to spend 6 months curating a look that you swoon over than to throw a room together and feel ho-hum or blow your budget.