Interiorssneak peeks

Turning a Once Cookie Cutter House into an Unique Home

by Amy Azzarito

Carrie Waller and her husband John have called this home in Lynchburg, Virginia for three years. The couple live on one those blocks with about 40 identical town homes so their goal was to make it stand out. And they’re attempting to kill the “cookie cutter” syndrome with vintage light fixtures, reclaimed wood pieces and second-hand mid-century furniture. Carrie recently quit her corporate job to pursue full-time freelance work as a writer and designer and so that she could focus more on her DIY and lifestyle blog Dream Green DIY.  And like many designers, her home is her canvas. Carrie is always looking to bring a little character into her space. When out thrifting, she can’t resist a conversation piece whether it’s a brass giraffe or a dusty neon sign or broken clocks or bird-shaped perfume bottles. Although she only has about 1,400 square feet to work with, every room is filled with treasures that recall favorite memories. Thank you, Carrie and John! And a big thank you to Mallory Benedict for the lovely photographs. –Amy

Image above: The living room is the one room in the house that I’d consider “finished.” The only splurge was the couch, which everyone assumes is from West Elm but was really a budget buy from Haverty’s – I’m happy to let them assume that it’s from the former. The rest of the room was put together using thrift store and Craigslist finds – from the coffee table and lamp, to the art and accessories.

Image above: Come visit and you’ll find that Ginny the cat always seems to be lurking around the corner.


Image above: This dresser originally had a sad light wood finish all over. My husband and I sanded it down, painted the outside of the piece a glossy white and then restained the drawer fronts a dark walnut color. A herringbone stencil down the middle drawers completed the transformation. The finished piece was actually featured in Better Homes and Gardens this past July.

Image above: The Eames reproduction side chairs came from Overstock.com, while the dresser-turned-TV-stand, clock and lamp all came from a local estate shop in town. The wall color is “Halcyon Green” by Sherwin Williams. Our shag rugs (we pushed two together to get a massive rug for under $200) are from Lowe’s.

Image above: With lazy summer evenings in mind, I wanted to create a portable game table. So I picked up this Moroccan style piece from Home Goods and added a checkerboard pattern to the top using painter’s tape and white spray paint.

Image above: This 1960s ceramic lamp is a hand painted treasure snagged from Estates & Consignments locally. My husband wasn’t so sure about the height and bold colors, but I managed to convince him to give it a shot, and now it’s a show stopper in the room.

Image above: I’ve always been a big fan of Joy Cho, of Oh Joy!, especially her wallpaper collection. The only problem is that the designer price tag per roll is out of budget. Luckily, they sell $5 samples online, so I ordered a set and put them behind frames as an homage to my favorite patterns.

Image above: I feel like it’s bad luck to toss out fortune cookie fortunes, so we keep them rotating in this little glass dish picked up during a recent vacation to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

Image above: One of the first DIY projects my husband and I tackled were these oak shelves. Now they showcase my other projects, like the toy horse I painted white to mimic porcelain, the painted tree branch and the gold urchin made from toothpicks and a foam ball.

Image above: When we were planning our wedding, we decided to collect mismatched china rather than rent the standard white plates. Now, we let the memories carry on through the plate wall in our dining room. The china cabinet was a wedding gift from my grandparents and the chandelier is from CB2.

Image above: I know bar carts are super trendy right now, but this consignment find is a permanent fixture in our house. I picked it up for just $50, and have filled it with more thrift store finds, like the glass decanters and faux wood ice bucket down below. The framed Toulouse-Lautrec print above is another estate store find.

Image above: I found the frame leaning on top of the china cabinet at a yard sale, but it needed a little personality. So I painted the cardboard insert with chalkboard paint and gave the frame itself a fresh coat of gold paint. The candlesticks are from Estates Revisited downtown, and the white ceramic planter is from eBay.

Image above: The tea cups were given to me by my grandmother, and the tree slice was handmade by my dad for the centerpieces at our wedding last year.

Image above: One of the first things I did when I moved into my husband’s then bachelor pad was paint the kitchen cabinets. The layout was great, but the peach white washed finish left everything to be desired. We sanded, primed and then painted everything with two coats of Valspar’s “Mudslide.” As a temporary fix for the tile-less backsplash, I painted it mint to complement the rich new cabinet color.

Image above: I had seen chalkboard calendar decals on Etsy, but the $60 price tag was out of budget. So I bought a can of chalkboard paint, some thin automotive masking tape and made one myself for something like $15. We use this piece every single day. The frames are from Target, the dutch oven is Crate & Barrel and the glass containers are from Hobby Lobby. The salt and pepper shakers were another second hand find from an antique mall in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Image above: The 1970’s bed was one of the few pieces of furniture my husband had before I came along, and I love it. The bedding is from IKEA, the bookshelf is from Crate & Barrel and the painting is from Goodwill. The wall color is “Victorian Pewter” by Olympic paint.


Image above: I have a pretty extensive collection of jewelry, so I made two organizers using old frames, window screening and peg board to keep it all within easy reach.

Image above: Grace Kelly and Edith Head are two of my biggest muses, so my sister bought me this costume sketch from eBay to celebrate that fascination. The “W” is a vintage sign letter bought from the sfgirlbybay Etsy shop. The wall color is “Icy Mint” by Valspar, my favorite in the whole house.

Image above: I’ve slowly repainted all of the bathrooms in our home the same Sherwin Williams “Zircon” gray color. The valance is from Curtains, Blinds and Bath locally and the brass birds were a consignment store find from Richmond, Virginia.

Image above: The basket-turned-towel-storage was a Pinterest-inspired project that has served me well over the last couple of years. The art is a collection of Paris postcards put inside a $10 IKEA frame.

Image above: Of all the DIY decorations recycled from our wedding, these paper pinwheels have to be my favorite. I hung them en masse in my studio and can’t get enough of the color, the pattern and the memories. The Parsons desk is from Overstock.com, the ghost chair is from Amazon and the shelving unit is from IKEA. The wall color is “Icy Mint” by Valspar, with a painted band of “Behr Ultra White” at the top for a faux crown molding effect.

Image above: I went to school for art and one of our assignments was to recreate a famous work. I chose a Paul Klee painting and the piece, now framed in our bedroom, has since dictated the wild range of colors in the space. The wall color is Olympic’s “Victorian Pewter,” the rug is from CB2, the chair is from a thrift store in Charlottesville, Virginia and the lamp is a Ross find.

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