amy azzarito by 59

sneak peek: elias & theresa carlson


Theresa and Elias Carlson have lived in this small Seattle apartment for three and a half years. The couple’s day jobs don’t allow them to be quite as creative as they’d like, so they started this super cute joint blog and developed a growing photography passion. In addition, they spend a significant chunk of time working on their home — nearly everything has been garage-saled, thrifted or found and fixed up or made by Theresa’s handy parents. It’s so sweet to see that you don’t need the perfect space or a lot of money to create a beautiful home. (See more photos on Facebook!) Thanks, Theresa and Elias! — Amy A.

Image above: This green chair was my birthday present last year. My mom found it at a barn sale. The cushion was looking a bit worse for wear, so she made a new one with beautiful blue wool.


Image above: We live on the third floor of an old apartment building. The space is small — about 750 sq. feet — so we are very limited. Our funds are limited, as well, so I suppose our theme is “Make the best with what you can scrape up and fit it into the space in a pleasing manner!” My mom, sister and I are always on the look out for new “junk” that we can fix up for our houses. My sister lives in a small apartment in Seattle, as well, and since we don’t have much storage, we wind up trading things around between our houses, and my mom’s basement 300 miles away. We are excited to have a real house someday where we can move into the space and really choose a style and run with it.


Image above: This green dresser is another that my mom found. The globe was a gift to me from Elias; I just love the black waters. The little crystal lamp is one of my mom’s specialties. She finds glass lamp bases at yard sales, re-wires them if they need it and finds a lovely glass shade to set on top. You will see these little lamps all over our apartment and her house.


CLICK HERE for more of Elias & Theresa’s Seattle apartment!



Image above: We saw this leather Chesterfield sofa at Second Saturday’s Flea market here in Seattle and fell in love. We scraped up the cash we had been saving for a special occasion, tied the couch to the back of our Highlander and conned a friend into carrying this hummer up three flights of stairs to our apartment. My next project is to make pillows that better fit the color and feel of the couch. The “E” and “T” are lovely screenprinted letters from Jessica Hische.


Image above: This dresser was in shambles, and my dad fixed it up and strengthened it to be a functioning storage unit. He jokes that it would have been easier to start from scratch and make a new dresser. I love the odd spaces it allows for books to be on display. The orange lamp is part of a set that my mom picked up at Value Village and bought shades for. The other is on our bedside table. I found the mirror on an estate-sale expedition. We were looking to class up our apartment a bit, and this was the perfect addition.


Image above: The kitchen hutch has a special place in my heart. My dad built this out of wood from my grandparents’ old home. When they passed away, their house was in such disrepair that it needed to be torn down. My dad salvaged the lumber and created several pieces from the wood. The handles on the hutch came from the cabinets in my grandparents’ home. My sister has a hutch, as well; these were given to us as Christmas presents. And yes, that is Dave Matthews on my wall. That poster has traveled with me from my bedroom in high school to my dorm room in college and to our kitchen.


Image above: Fiestaware was the dish of choice when we got married, and I still love it. The mug display is our souvenir collection. When we travel, we pick up a Starbucks mug from the new location and bring one home for my sister and one for ourselves. She does the same. It is a functional and uniform record of where we have been.


Image above: This is Fantastic (as in Fantastic Mr. Fox). My family has a tradition of making homemade gifts for each other for Valentine’s Day. This was what I made for Elias last year. I am going to have a hard time ever topping that little guy.


Image above: This beautiful dresser was another estate-sale find. We got it for a mere $50, an unbelievable price for such an old piece in such good shape. We couldn’t have asked for a better color; it reminds me of bubble-gum ice cream. My jewelry storage on top is a gorgeous old turquoise planter. Perfect for draping necklaces and holding rings.


Image above: The bookshelf used to be an old gun cabinet. My dad converted it into a bookshelf/china hutch, and my mom painted it a bright, sunny yellow inside.


Image above: Elias bought me this old collection of butterflies at a flea market after I hinted how crazy I was about it. The brown background to this collection of photos is an old school chalkboard. A school in my hometown was getting rid of their chalkboards to replace them with white boards. My mom snapped them up and my dad cut them down to make one for myself, one for my sister and one for my mom. Not only are they chalkboards, but they are also magnetic. We chose to use this space as a display for a few of our favorite photos.


Image above: This yellow chair was such a fun find. I saw it sitting outside of a house next to our apartment building and I wanted it! A couple days later, the same house had a yard sale and sold me the chair for $5. That little pink dresser was found and painted by my sister and then passed on to me. I just love the size and shape of it, but I am not sure how much longer the pink color will last!

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59 Comments

Liz

this might be my favorite Sneak Peek yet! They’ve made their space so personal and their love definitely shines through

taylor

What a great home! I love how simple the furniture is, all just fabulous colors. I bet a lot of them were painted by you guys, which makes me think you can have a great looking home & not have to spend a ton of money to get it there. The giant (Dave Matthews?) poster is a great touch, while that couch is just to die for. Love love love your home!

mona

Gosh. I must have that peacock! And the fox and the table in the first photo!! Make more foxes and sell them on etsy!

amy–I love the love/fave notecard add’n. It rocks!

Ali

I absolutely love this look. Well executed and just the inspiration I need as I begin to take on my own home interior design project!

EngineerChic

I am SO envious of that yellow couch. Wow … that would be my reupholstery project in a nanosecond if I ever saw something like it in my price range. I love your mix of vintage, antique, and new objects.

EngineerChic

Whoops – forgot to ask, what year is the old classroom wall map?

Also – the couch is fab as is, I’m taking a reupholstery class now & considering signing up for another one which is why I’d make it a project, I’m not trying to say you should reupholster it. It’s hard to find “worthy” projects (materials for my first chair are running $140 so far…).

amya

thanks, mona! :) glad you like it! i love seeing people’s handwriting! xo Amy

Sarah S

My favorite kind of home! Special and meaningful collected items – love the thriftiness behind it all. Wonderfully styled too.

avital

i love the beautiful collection of furniturets! everything is so unique.
i absolutly
l-o-v-e the collection of the butterflies! i’m so looking for something like that.i wish my husband or anyone who loves me will find something like that…

melissa lee

love love love it! i love to see houses that are mostly estate sale finds/free, because that is what my house is mostly made of:)
your stuff all goes together well and it is very unique to your personality! good work!

Kiti

Love this kind of apartments, cause it shows again that without a lots of money you can reach very good interior design!
P.S: the best piece for me is a yellow sofa…love it..grrrrr

Adrienne

What a cozy home – seems like a labor of love by the couple and their family, which is very sweet. Love the idea of using maps, posters, monograms, and the butterfly collection for the walls – so personal.

Theresa

Thank you so much for featuring our home! It is so fun to see it here in such good company! What kind comments people have left :)
EngineerChic: I will check into the year of the map and get back to you!

Vanessa

This is really charming. One of my most favorite house tours ever. It seems like a very friendly and comfortable space.

donna

What a sweet place. You have a great eye for thrifting and vintage stuff and style.

stephanie

I know she said that this home was decorated on a budget…looks like a million bucks to me! One of my favorite sneak peeks ever!

Mary Jane

Amazing Home….You two really know how to pull it all together!

Elizabeth

I just LOVE that yellow sofa so much!!! It has so much personality and seems like one you’ll be able to hang on to for some time.

Also, your parents seem like super awesome people, and it’s apparent that they certainly love you guys. :)

Amanda

I’m loving the Fiestaware collection! It was mine and my husband’s dish of choice when we got married! We went with the chocolate brown, because it’s a great color to grow from… and now our collection is growing to include different colors. ;) Thanks for sharing such a beautiful home with us!

Theresa

EngineerChic: The map is a no. 100 Commonwealth Political map by Rand Mcnally. Unfortunately I could not see a year on it… sorry!

EngineerChic

Thanks for getting back to me, I have a thing for old classroom maps :) I have one in my living room with N America on one side & Europe on the other. I am searching for one of Asia for my office (the older, the better). I love how a big old map can own a wall without being obnoxious.

Debi Burton

WOW . . . I instantly recognized the yellow, leather Chesterfield I sold to Elias and Teresa at 2nd Saturdayz Market. Hey, come see me again . . . MARCH 12, Hangar 38 (Workroom) at Sand Point!! Apartment looks GREAT, you two!! Ormolulu.com

Twins Fan

Thanks for publishing such a beautiful and budget-friendly apartment. It’s so lovely and feels so achievable!

Linda

Wonderful home! But what I would mostly like to commend is the Train/Brandi Carlile poster from their Ryman-performance in 2006. So glad to see a Brandi mention, of some sort anyway, here on D*S. :D

Louise

This is the work of two happy and creative people with a collectors eye (or eyes!). Well done, you’ve really made a home here.

Patty

Your family connection through everything in your home is charming. My favorite of all the pieces is the cabinet your dad built, re-purposing wood from your grandparent’s home.

karen berg

What a charming home. I love how all the eclectic pieces fit together. Thank you for sharing your home with us. So much creativity in this space. Looks like a very happy place to dwell.

MichelleP

Bravo!!! I love a place filled with personality & heart! The care & thought put into these pieces give this home a richness that is rare & beautiful.

MartiB

I love everything about this–maybe more than it’s in Seattle, where I was born and lived for 8 years. The chair at the work/laptop table was the kind I sat on at our kitchen table for years and years! Glad you got a great deal on it The furniture pieces are wonderful and you’ve maximized and personalized a super space–no wonder you’re both happy! Kudos!!!

Notting Hill Girl

What a gorgeous home! I love the maps and globe plus the butterfly display. Definitely things on my wish list for my home one day.

mirjam

this is beautiful. and how sweet is his answer to the “what I love most about my home”-question!

Candace Duncan

dang their home is cute, I want it all, the yellow leather couch, the rhino card board taxidermy, and the kitchen is my fav. wow. I have to go re-arrange my stuff. ;)

Debbie

Some of the maps looks like framed Cavallini papers. It’s a great look for a reasonable price. Cool home!

Tracey

I love your space and how personalized it is. That chair your mom gave you is awesome! I also love the dresser and jewelry storage. It all looks great together-nice job!

Farmgirl Susan

What a wonderful home! So much inspiration, so many great pieces and stories – love the little pink dresser, the bedroom dresser, the kitchen hutch – but my favorite thing of all has to be that Fantastic Fox. Yes, you’re going to have a hard time topping him! ;) Thanks for this awesome sneak peek.

Theresa

Thank you all for such kind comments!
Debbie: Yes, the NY map in the kitchen and the Paris map in the living area are both framed Cavallini papers. I just love those!

Shannon

That yellow sofa is INCREDIBLE! ok, go to Anthropologie, they have a yellow chesterfield so similar looking for $$$$. Yours is way more incredible!

Talya

I think this home is absolutely lovely, I really like that by doing things ona budget, as many of us have to, and with limited space, consequently so many things have a special meaning. It comes across as a really loving home in these pictures, this is my absolute favourite.

teresa

This is definitely my favorite sneak peek so far! Not out of the realm of possibility for the average person and full of personality!

Lovro

Beautiful colors! Very American,in a good way. Reminds me of Gilmore Girls! :)

Casey

where did the wooden grid holder for the starbucks mugs come from? I have a collection too and just have to have one!

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