May 22, 2018 - Things to Do

Home Tour: See inside a 1,900-square-foot bargain hunter’s paradise featuring thrifted décor that only looks expensive

Note: Home Tour is a new series where we’ll go inside cool homes, condos and apartments and learn from their owners how they approached designing the space. We’ll get their favorite finds and inspiration. If you’d like to let us into your home, please send two photos and a sentence on why to [email protected] with subject line HOME TOUR.

A couple working with a strict budget, impressive dedication to DIY projects and serious eye for hidden treasures gave us a tour of their home in Matthews.

The 1,900-square-foot home was built in 1985 and has been completely redone by owners Kacie and Josh, who tackled everything from replacing the floors to putting in new appliances on their own since moving in 3 years ago.

The only thing more surprising than the couple not having hired a professional for any job is that most of the décor has been found at places like Value Village and on Craigslist and Facebook.

It’s now a stunning home with rooms filled to the brim with unique pieces worthy of your Pinterest board that’s been featured by Apartment Therapy and Skillpop.

“I really, genuinely think that people don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a house they love,” Kacie says.

Here’s how they did it.

The owners

Who: Kacie and Josh Johnson (31 and 33, respectively)

Jobs: She works for Teach for America and runs a decorating business on the side while he’s a teacher at Coulwood Middle.

Their story: They both moved to Charlotte when they were corps members with Teach for America (she taught at Oakdale, he at Briarwood) and met soon after through a mutual friend.

Home breakdown

The home: The 3-bed, 3-bath house was built in 1985, and the home’s features were enough to ease the hesitation of moving from Sedgefield to Matthews for Kacie, who says that they picked the house and location because of their budget.

“I was kicking and screaming. I did not want to go to the suburbs,” Kacie said. “At the beginning, it was a budget thing. This was where we could afford a house, but Matthews is awesome.”

Fixer upper: Kacie says that despite the amount of work the home needed, the vaulted ceilings in the living room were enough to make them say yes on the spot. Since, they’ve done everything from putting in new floors to replacing vanities, building bookshelves and installing new lighting – completely on their own.

“It’s been a real project for us,” Kacie says about the trial-by-fire approach they took with the house, but it’s also been a great experience, she insists. “In retrospect, we would do it again, even if budget wasn’t a concern. We’ve been able to make it what we want it to be.”

There’s only one thing they haven’t been able to figure out: A light in the kitchen, which is either permanently on or permanently off.

Three years later, though, she says the bones of the house are done and they’re now just tweaking around the edges making minor changes. The next big project will likely be the backyard and deck.

“I love walking in and being like, ‘Ah… we’re home.'”

Favorite space: Kacie’s office or the dining room.

Cool feature: The vaulted ceiling in the living room.

Fun fact: Almost all of the décor is secondhand, even the bigger pieces of furniture.

Decorating on a budget

The inspiration: Kacie describes her style and the desired look of the home to be high-end on a low budget, something she struggled to find on blogs and in-store, so she turned to thrifting. Needless to say, it’s worked.

“There’s some part of me that thinks that thinks that anybody with an unlimited budget could make a great, beautiful home, but I think sometimes the cooler, weirder pieces are those things you have to find because you’re limited by a certain price point,” she says.

Fun fact: The art is made from painted potatoes stamped onto a sheet

Top shops: Most of the items in the home have come from Value Village, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, factory outlets, Homegoods and an acres-wide collection of junk barns in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

“Forever 21 is a good comparison point,” Kacie says of how overwhelming thrifting can be. “There’s a lot of visual noise in a thrift store. Yeah, there’s some great stuff, but it’s also next to terrible, ugly things.”

The thrifting: She often spends between $10 and $20 on smaller knickknack-type items, but will spend up to a couple of hundred dollars on larger staple pieces, like her Pottery Barn couch she bought from the outlet at a third of the price.

She goes in armed with three words that any piece she buys must hit: nonfussy, comfortable but collected and bold, and they need to be black and white, blue, leather or brass to work in the home.

“It is a practice. I go a lot. I go once or twice a week,” she says.

Favorite finds: Immediately, she points to an old dresser that doubles as a TV stand.

“It looked like something I’d see on Chairish that goes for thousands of dollars, but I paid $125 for it on Craigslist,” she proudly says.

Her other favorite find is the dining room table, which came from a Facebook yard sale group.

Most surprising find: The bed in the guest room.

Crazy thrifting story: When Kacie found the dresser-turned-TV-stand on Craigslist, Josh was out of town, but the seller offered to bring it to the house to ease some of the stress. Kacie agreed and they settled on a drop-off time of 9 p.m. – it wasn’t until 10 p.m. that the seller called from a burner phone to say she was lost. Kacie met her halfway, guided her back to the house and then was asked for a tour.

“It’s not like going to Target. There’s always something.”


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