Making It Work In A Bare-Bones Texas Home

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If you are lucky enough to find the home of your dreams straight out of the gate, something that fulfills all of your practical and aesthetic needs and then some, you are most certainly in the minority. For most, the “perfect” home isn’t so much found as it is created, the product of an indeterminate mixture of time, trial and error, and “making it work.” For Anna Tovar, an artist and stay-at-home mother in Denton, TX, finding her own brand of perfection meant learning to go with the flow and accept that things take time.

Anna and her husband Luis came to Denton as students at the University of North Texas. They stayed, however, because of the town’s laid-back charm and creative energy. As far as their home search went, a good neighborhood — something with trees, parks, and a good elementary school — took precedence over things like square footage or amenities. “When our house went on the market,” Anna says, “we just jumped on it.” The home itself is a decidedly simple postwar construction. Built in 1962, it had what Anna describes as a charmless, “boxy” feeling. “There wasn’t any inherent detail that made each room interesting,” she says. “It was all sort of bare bones, and not in the great, minimal-Scandinavian way, but in the this-actually-feels-like-a-box kind of way.”

Faced with a small budget and the arrival of two children (a son, Axel and a daughter, Eden), Anna and Luis knew that getting things to where they wanted wouldn’t happen overnight. “We’ve lived here for five years,” Anna says, “and I feel like we just really started liking our house this past year.” The couple tackled most of the (numerous) home renovations almost entirely on their own, gaining quite a bit of DIY knowledge along the way. Furnishings were thrifted, acquired as hand-me-downs, or purchased on the cheap. White walls and inelegant accents were spruced up with color, bits of collected artwork, and thrifty strokes of genius (like wall decals made from contact paper). The half decade of hard work and diligence has most definitely paid off, though — the house today is a fabulously personal family home, one that can sustain the rambunctious activity of two kids, two dogs, creative parents, and the occasional picnic on the living room floor. —Max

  1. LOVE ‘dinosaur with planet or moon in background’ in Axel’s room! Brilliant. And I bet it looks even better at night, illuminated by that crystal lamp.

  2. What a lovely DIY space. This couple did a fantastic job!

  3. Connie says:

    Nice floors!

  4. Lindsay says:

    I also live in Denton. Love seeing a home that sounds like it could be in my neighborhood look so good! Gives me hopes for what my place can become.

  5. I love the mix of newer and collected pieces. I love the color in the Master. When I lived in California, I painted my master bedroom almost the exact same color. People thought I was nuts. It was 2001 but once it was done all my friends went gaga over it. I loved how it made the white vaulted ceiling seem even higher and kept the room cool in the summer.

  6. Kristen says:

    We’re in the process of buying a boxy, utilitarian 1960’s house out of necessity, complete with cracked terrazzo and brown carpet floors. I’ve been busy gathering ideas on how to work with our new space and this has definitely given me hope that I can overcome the ugly and make it awesome. Great job!

  7. Tara says:

    This is a beautiful home. I understand the frustration of having to be patient with putting a house together, as I’m completely starting over from scratch and I don’t have the luxury of spending thousands of dollars at a time for decor. I was amazed and encouraged when I read you’d pieced this together the way you did. Bravo.

  8. Diane C. says:

    I crazy love that masked bandito poster/art in the living room! Great style all around!

  9. Colleen says:

    I love the color of the bedroom!

  10. Jenny says:

    Honestly this might be one of my favorite homes you’ve shown. It reminds me a little of my own house, except 10 times more put-together. I could move right in.

  11. Anni says:

    It certainly doesn’t look like a ‘bare box’ kind of a home! It’s an inspiration to those of us who live without period features or other architectural interest!

  12. carrie says:

    Love the simple sconces by the bed. Could you tell me where they’re from? its exactly what I’ve been looking for…thanks!

  13. Valerie says:

    What a sublime and lovely home. I’d love to know the paint color in the living room? It’s so calming…. thanks!

  14. madlyn says:

    I love this home!So much “created” character! And the arrangement of plates in the dining room is truly awsome .
    Thank you for sharing.

  15. meg says:

    i love that bed, and am glad to know it’s from IKEA and not somewhere crazy expensive!


  16. Caroline says:

    so much light and love – fabulous!

  17. Vajra says:

    Your home is gorgeous. Although the word “curated” has fallen into disrepute, I think it sums up your home.

  18. Madhavi says:

    I love the way you have incorporated IKEA pieces into your home along with vintage ones. Beautiful home.

  19. chelsea says:

    i live in denton!! i love seeing a home from this amazingly original and eclectic town.

  20. Debbie says:

    What a great home. Looks lived in and loved. Very nice job mixing new and old. Congratulations!

  21. alex says:

    What paint color is in the living room? Thank you!

  22. Laurel says:

    I’m sorry about this but I’m really struggling with the new website layout. I love reading through the sneak peeks and it’s one of the things that made me a regular visitor to Design Sponge. I particularly enjoy nosing through the comments afterwards and seeing what other people pick up on that I might have missed first time round. Whereas before I could do a quick scroll up to the picture being referenced I now find it super frustrating clicking through ALL the pictures again one at a time just to get to the one I want. Your previous design had everything I looked for in a good website/blog :- comfortable colours (I loved the textured grey – white is so much harsher to look at for any length of time), simple user interface and considered content – so much so that I showed DS to my web developer boyfriend as an example of someone who had got web design absolutely right. I know things will always change over time and can understand the need for extra ad revenue and don’t have an issue with this, especially when it funds such a dedicated team of talented people but there seem to be a number of user experience issues (the moving arrow clicks I know have already been mentioned) that have put me off looking in on DS so much since the changes. I really hope you guys won’t take offence at this as I have so much appreciation for what you do!

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      Thank you for your feedback and I’m really sorry for any frustration this design has caused for you.


  23. Emily says:

    I have to say…I sort of love that there is a Walmart crib in this house. I love seeing a house that looks great but doesn’t feel unattainable. Great job!

  24. emily says:

    super inspired by the plates climbing up and around the wall! great house!

  25. Annie says:

    This home sings to me. I love all the original wall painting ideas (the tape design!), and also how they blended very affordable ideas with what they already owned. Bravo!

  26. Nicole says:

    I love this home – especially the living room. That rug is gorgeous – I want one!! Does anyone know what search terms would point me in the direction of similar rugs?

  27. Anna Tovar says:

    Thank you all so much! And the biggest thanks to everyone on the D*S team that made this happen. I’m forever grateful :)

  28. Jade Winter says:

    Anna created beautiful things and spaces but is most of all, a beautiful person. I think that everything she touches just may turn to gold. I plan to one day have everything that could possibly be for sale at Also, this article was such a perfect reminder to be patient and enjoy the process! It might be our dream house, one day….but it’s so much better when you took the time to make it home.

  29. allie says:

    I love the living room paint color. Does anyone know what it is?

  30. Janelle says:

    i love the area rug in the livingroom! Where was it purchased?


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