Name: Vickie (and cats Luna and Lucy)
Location: Austin, TX
Size: 900 square feet
Years lived in: 2
Vickie had owned her Austin home—a 1,700 square-foot space where she raised her children—for 10 years when she began to feel the itch to downsize. After her father’s passing, she sold the house and spent a year living with her mother in Florida. Upon returning to Austin, Vickie didn’t want to rush back into buying. Instead, she wanted a different lifestyle: flexibility, a walkable urban lifestyle, and way less stuff.
“I realized I could build a whole new life,” Vickie says. Her modern rental allowed for just that. Her apartment is a reflection of her colorful and lively personality, filled with vintage finds and hip DIYs. An Army brat who grew up in Europe, Vickie has an eclectic eye and an appreciation for small-framed furniture and clean lines. Her taste runs from mid-century to Hollywood Regency to IKEA—and she loves mixing it all together and seeing what happens.
Vickie loves to go treasure hunting at festivals, thrift stores, and estate sales. Then, when it comes to putting those treasures in her home, she organizes silhouettes or montages of objects to tell stories. “I can tell you where each piece came from, who I bought it from, and what day it was,” she says. “It’s not about adding stuff—[it’s] about adding narrative.”
Vickie has way less space than before; she jokes that she went from a huge custom-built kitchen to one with a single drawer. But the 12-foot ceilings and two walls of windows add a sense of airiness and light. In such small quarters, she only decorates with pieces that hold some kind of emotional resonance. That goes for cherished family keepsakes like her father’s Mickey Mouse watch and crystal decanter, and her mother’s fruit plates and thrifted finds. “I would pick the thing that’s not as beautiful but has some sentimental story or warm feeling attached to it over something that might be 10 times more expensive.”
With State Farm® Renters Insurance, Vickie can treasure hunt knowing that everything from flea market finds to the leather bucket chairs she just picked up in Florida is protected—and for just pennies a day. While property owners are only responsible for the physical structure itself and not your personal property, renters insurance has your back. In some cases, you’re even covered if the theft occurs outside the home.
When she’s not finding new items for her home, Vickie is traveling, hosting friends for dinner, and hitting the town—on foot. “I feel like a teenager again,” she says. “I can just go out and meet a friend. I’m getting back to my fun, carefree roots.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My home’s style: Eclectic mid-century.
Inspiration: I draw inspiration from movie and TV sets. I like spotting a really great mid-century furniture piece that I can maybe find in my next treasure hunt. On Pinterest, I love to see how someone else has solved a similar problem. I also follow many Instagram designers: Jan Skacelik, Victoria Elizabeth Barnes, Karen Bertelsen, Emily Henderson, Bri Emery—many different styles of interior design.
Favorite element of the home: The 12-foot ceilings with two walls of windows. Light and its reflection on the room makes the mood. And as a bonus, I get a front-row seat to those beautiful Texas sunsets every night.
Biggest challenge, and how you overcame it: Small space! I downsized from a 1,700 square-foot house that had tons of customized storage space, including a kitchen with lots and lots of drawers. Now I have only one drawer in my kitchen! I only keep what I use every day, and I display my silverware and cooking tools in some of my really cute planters rather than hiding them in a drawer.
What friends say about your home: That they wish they had my knack for having so much stuff, but still making it feel open and airy. When my youngest daughter was 16, she always said, “My friends say our house is soooooo cool.” They like how I take everyday items (all those interesting serving bowls) and use them in new ways (like a cat bowl or a place for a succulent).
Biggest embarrassment: The cat hair. Nothing I own hides it! Oh, and the fact that no matter how many things I try, I can’t keep my pictures straight. Plus the necessary evil of the large TV screens—how do you design around a big black hole?!
Proudest DIY: My Plycraft mid-century lounge chair and ottoman. I bought these two off Craigslist. They had been sitting under a tree for three years and had an inch (or two) of sap on them. After many hours of cleaning, scraping, and recovering, they are now a thing of beauty in baby blue pleather that sit in my bedroom.
Biggest indulgence: My mid-century coffee table. I got it off Craigslist from another treasure hunter in the Austin area. I spent four hours talking to this lady about finding stuff around the South and where she got the coffee table. So I got a beautiful piece and a wonderful story to go along with it.
Best advice: Love what you own and use it every day. Use that fine china for Monday’s mac and cheese and chicken fingers, and drink your wine or water in the fancy glasses. We deserve it. I would also say that “design” doesn’t mean “uncomfortable.” Make sure you and your guests are comfortable in your spaces. My couch looks stylish and is great for taking naps and watching football.
Dream sources: Over the last few years, I have been slowly replacing my art prints with original fine art. I am lucky to have received some pieces as gifts, but I still have my heart set on finding an original mid-century nude or maybe even a Highwayman oil painting. I’ve been a huge fan of Snoopy since I was about seven years old, so at the top on my list would be an original of Tom Everhart’s “Romantic Kiss.” The print hangs in my living room now. I’m also keeping my eye out for a bed, hopefully by Mengel, to match my dresser and nightstand.