A First-Time Renovator on a DIY Budget Transformed This 1971 Ranch-Style House

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Name: Megan Housekeeper, husband, Alex Ferrin, and dogs George Michael and Miley Cyrus
Location: Austin, Texas
Size: 1,800 square feet
Type of Home: Ranch-style home built in 1971
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

When Megan and husband, Alex, were looking to buy a house three years ago, there were a bevy of practical reasons that appealed to them about this 1,800-square-foot home. There was a large outdoor area perfect for their pups to run around in or for the humans to entertain in. There was a lot space for home offices. And the house, while it could use updating, was essentially move-in ready, without the need for serious renovations. “But if we’re being honest, the archway from the living room and the vaulted ceilings hooked me,” admits Megan. “I distinctly remember saying that this could have swanky ’70s porn-star vibes with the right styling.”

Megan is just the right person to style a house from the 1970s, because of her passions for retro vibes, thrifting, and history, which she explores on her popular blog Mid-century Millennial and on Instagram and TikTok. “Like the rest of the world, we found ourselves at home even more than we already were and I embarked on my DIY renovations to make the house a retro fever-dream room by room, while on a tight budget — as evidenced by the partially-installed flooring to mark our progress thus far,” explains Megan.

“Despite the slow and steady progress on our renovations, I strongly believe we can still make our current spaces feel like my aspirational 1970s dream in the interim with a flexible design and secondhand finds, just like we did when we were renters. I think a space being ‘done’ is a myth, and no matter what, it should always evolve with your own growth and needs.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic, retro, ’60s and ’70s, and kitsch-chic.

Which time periods/decades inspired your home’s design the most? I’ve always loved elements of 1960s and 1970s style. Our house was built in 1971, so my style has been gravitating more toward the ’70s. I like mixing in DIY upcycles, playful reproductions, and of course, a ton of secondhand vintage scores. I grew up on a strict diet of “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeannie” reruns, and I learned to thrift at a young age as a family activity.  

Favorite Element: My office space is my favorite. It started as the most pressing renovated room to meet my work-from-home and creative needs. But it has become a space that captures my “Mid-century Millennial” alter-ego best. The vintage lounger and TV setup is my favorite spot to take a mental-health pause and watch episodes of classic shows and movies.

Biggest Challenge: I am a first-time renovator on a DIY budget, so progress is slow. It helps to find a middle ground between creating a space we love to living in it now, while we renovate on a more realistic timeline. Some of the most impactful solves have been:

Proudest DIY: My DIY frame wall was a last-minute addition to my guest bedroom, inspired by Pinterest. I felt like the room was missing a dramatic element on that wall, but had used up my budget for the project. I used leftover trim paint and thrifted frames to create a faux-molding effect, making something bold yet removable. This feature makes the room feel deceptively bigger than it is.

Biggest Indulgence: I rarely spend a lot on individual items, and even on bigger pieces, I typically wait until I find a great deal secondhand. But since we bought our house I’ve started making exceptions with art, starting small with a couple of original pieces by mixed media artist Whitney Avra, an original 1977 painting by French artist Andre Condon from Austin Antique Mall, an original watercolor of Endora from “Bewitched” by Brent Silveria, and a series of original sketches by my husband’s favorite web comic “Achewood” for the entryway gallery wall.

None of these were bank-breaking on their own, but together they are starting to make up an investment I am proud to display. Even if I change everything around them, they are becoming my most treasured pieces. Fun fact: I’d sell you almost anything else out of my house without remorse.

Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? We spend a majority of our time at home. We both work from home full time, love to entertain, and have dogs that are a little too naughty for prolonged public spaces. So we’ve capitalized on every inch of our home to serve our lifestyle.

Where are your favorite places to buy or find vintage home decor? I pride myself on shopping everywhere for vintage home decor. I follow local Instagram sellers and stalk Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and local vintage shops and markets like the Austin Creative Reuse and University of Texas Surplus. I spend many late-night hours curating Etsy and eBay lists, too!

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Tune into things that visually inspire you and use it to create a home that feels like your own magical world. A favorite dress can inspire a wallpaper choice, or a favorite movie set can guide details that you love about a space. I create spaces that remind me of my favorite films, TV shows, and nostalgia from time spent at my grandma’s house growing up. I like to keep things light and playful — something my 10-year-old self would be proud of — and not get too hung up on “serious design.” I can admire that quality in others, but for me, the space won’t always resonate.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.

This piece is part of Throwback Month, where we’re revisiting vintage styles, homes, and all kinds of groovy, retro home ideas. Boogie on over here to read more!

Adrienne Breaux

House Tour Editor

Adrienne loves architecture, design, cats, science fiction and watching Star Trek. In the past 10 years she’s called home: a van, a former downtown store in small town Texas and a studio apartment rumored to have once been owned by Willie Nelson.

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