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Posted by on Aug 24, 2011 | 12 comments

House Tour: Katie and Zack’s Rental Retreat

House Tour: Katie and Zack’s Rental Retreat

For our inaugural house tour, Leslie and I visited a neighbor’s house (also named Katie) and were completely blown away with all the DIY and creativity nestled into the less than 1,000 square-foot home. Katie is incredibly crafty and she has found a way to decorate her home (which she doesn’t even own) in a cost-conscious and stylish way.

Katie’s motto: “I won’t buy it if I can make it myself.” And when she does buy furniture/accessories, she definitely shops around for bargains — yard sales, Craig’s List, Freecycle, thrift stores — but you wouldn’t know they were second hand by looking at them because Katie has done an amazing job refreshing and repurposing all her finds.

Katie and Zack have rented their rowhouse for the past two years. They asked their landlord if they could paint and fix up the house (even if they put it back to its original condition once they move out), but their landlord said no. Undeterred, they have made the most out of what they have.

Their coffee table was a bargain at a local yard sale for only $5. The metal frame was rusted but Katie brought it back to life with a little TLC. She also transformed a picture frame into a message board by painting the frame a sunny yellow and the back with chalkboard paint.


Katie embraces the renter-white walls by continuing the neutral color scheme in her furniture and accessories. She adds pops of color throughout the house and it all flows together seamlessly (this is definitely an 80/20 room).

By the front door, a shelf with hooks keeps Katie’s purse and a leash for Beans, their Boston Terrier, organized. The console table, a Craig’s List gem, creates a welcome space for guests.


One thing I especially like is how Katie has created purposeful corners — here is the coffee corner followed by the wine/cocktail glass corner. (I’m copying this.) With limited space, she balances function with beauty. Also, check out the gorgeous valance she created over the window — made with foam core, batting, and a delightful bird print.



Everything in the kitchen has a place — pots and pans, lids, canisters — thanks to all the storage options available at IKEA. If you look closely, you might see an outdated kitchen, but Katie tricks your eyes with her mix of modern and vintage kitchen accessories. You really wouldn’t notice the problem areas unless you tried.




In general, Zack doesn’t mind all of Katie’s projects, but he did have concerns about mixing the traditional pedestal table (from Craig’s List) with the more contemporary chairs (on sale at Target). However, once Katie put everything together, he came around. The color and the shape of the table and chairs marry the different styles.


Moving upstairs, Katie’s favorite project is this upholstered headboard in the master bedroom. In about an hour, she took a piece of plywood, covered it with batting and fabric, and mounted it on the wall with a simple picture hanging hook. The upholstery tacks she used come in a row and you only have to nail down every fifth one — a huge time saver and stress reliever.


And above the windows, Katie made the valances to hide cracked and peeling paint.


The dresser was also a DIY project — repainted and adorned with vintage knobs.


The guest room is cozy and serene. Katie framed found objects such as post cards, photos, and pages from books to create a peaceful retreat for friends and family.



This TV console table is next on Katie’s to-do list. She plans to paint it a blue/green color to break up the neutral colors in the room. The decorative boxes under the TV hide remotes, DVDs, cords, and dog toys. No clutter to see here.


Katie and Zack look forward to buying a house some day so they can truly make it their own. And when they do, I’ll be the first one at the housewarming party because that’s a remodel I don’t want to miss!

If you would like to share your home on our blog, send an email to diydelray[at]

Posted by Katie
Photos by Leslie


  1. I love it! Can’t wait to get more projects done!

    • Awesome job Katie!! It is just adorable and sooooo neat!! I need to hire you to come and organize my house..

  2. awwww I love katie’s home!

  3. Katie & Zack’s house is awesomely decorated!! Katie has helped me do a couple of things in my house and they’ve turned out great!!

    • Summer- I was just going through this blog to help me remember the size of my living room (this isn’t my house but we own a pretty close copy) and big smile on my face when I saw your name and photo on the comment thread:)

  4. Beautiful! She has such a knack for decorating! She can come down and dress up our town home in Kennesaw, GA. :)

  5. Katie, You did an awesome job, your house looks fantastic!

  6. Katie, you did a fabulous job. Keep decorating!

  7. Would love to know how you did the valance – also where did ya get the curtains. You did a fantastic job!

  8. All of the valances are made from sheets of foam core (from Michael’s) with batting and fabric stapled on the back. I created the foam core base by measuring the width of the window and choosing the height I wanted (I believe mine are 18 inches tall) and then cut two pieces and attached them perpendiular to each side to make it appear to pop out a couple inches from the window. Then I added the batting and fabric and stapled in every 1/2 inch or so on the back. It took less than an hour and around $5 for each one, depending on the quality of fabric. Great way to make a big impact with little money and effort!

    All of the curtains in my house are from Ikea and were less than $20 for the pair. They have the best selection of white and neutral curtains!

  9. I don’t know who the landlord is but he was nuts to not let this young couple work even more magic!

  10. Katie–how did you attach the valences to the wall? Thanks!

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