Turning a Rental into a First Home



Hilary and Kyle Maloney moved into this 1930s Craftsman house in Athens, Georgia shortly after getting married two years ago. At the time, they were both full-time students at the University of Georgia, so they were taking a big risk as they set out to support themselves as creatives. They chose this house because it had so much natural light and space for the couple to spread out and work on their creative projects and, as often happens with college-town rental houses, it was a house where many of their friends had lived before so it had a wonderful spirit about it. But the aesthetic of the space wasn’t quite as wonderful. It had old carpet duct taped to the floors, peeling paint and caving ceilings. But Hilary just loved the light and the way that every room opens onto a porch. The home’s owners restored the original hardwood floors, repaired the ceilings and repainted everything before the couple moved in, so they started with a new blank canvas.

And they’ve made it their own while pursuing new adventures – Hilary is a photographer and marketing coordinator for Parlore (a new iPad app for interior designers) and Kyle is a music producer. Kyle recorded his first big music projects here, and Hilary uses the dining room as a photography studio. As young newlyweds still in school, there are many projects that they’d love to do but simply couldn’t afford, but Hilary says, “I’m so glad we started there, because we created a home by being resourceful and learning to love what we had. And truthfully, it mostly became a home for us by simply experiencing life there together and with our friends.” –Amy

Photography by Logan Potterf

Image above: “I love our dining room because the natural light spills in so wonderfully, and of course we share many meals and coffee here. The set of white dining chairs is special for me and totally represents how resourceful we’ve been in decorating our home,” says Hilary. “I picked those out when I was 12, and they were originally purple with chrome legs.”


Image above: “I think every renter can relate to terrible kitchen stories. Our kitchen was definitely the least inspiring part of our home, but now it’s honestly my favorite space. It was a horrible yellow with old, worn linoleum floors. I painted the walls a fresh, clean white, painted the floors black, and restored the original porcelain sink. There was really no option for any major improvements, so we just worked with the space and tried to let the good features shine.”


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See more of this Athens, Georgia home after the jump!


Image above: “We spend the most time in our living room, so it was important to us to make this space cozy and welcoming. The sofa is a new piece and we’re so thrilled with it. It was actually our first big furniture purchase so we feel like proud parents. Everything else in our house is second hand.”


Image above: “This corner captures how much of our decor is pieced together from thrift store finds. I found this arm chair at Goodwill and updated it with a white chair cover from IKEA. The ironing board and gold mirror are both from local antique markets.”


Image above: “Whenever I’m in a creative rut, styling the mantle always gets me out of it. We recently bought this Britt Bass print and it’s totally the champion of our living room. And I always have flowers in the house from our favorite local farmers, Steve and Mandy O’Shea.”


Image above: “I found this guy for $10 at a roadside shop. I’m a big believer in having things in your home that make you laugh.”


Image above: “This cabinet lives in our dining room and houses our dishes, cookbooks and a scale my grandmother bought for me at a yard sale. The cabinet itself was given to me by my uncle who owned a furniture store and used the piece in his office.”


Image above: “I found this pendant on clearance and it had some cheesy plastic insert until I covered it with faux alligator.”


Image above: “The guest room actually got neglected when the homeowners renovated, so it still had carpet taped to the floors and pink paint when we moved in. I stripped the carpet to expose the old floors and painted everything else white. The vintage matelassé bedspread is one of my favorite finds. “


Image above: “I wanted to keep the palette of this room warm to mimic the light that pours in.”


Image above: “Kyle needed a large desk for his workspace in our shared office, and we found this one by Jofco at our local Habitat store. Working from home together on projects we’re passionate about is a huge honor.”


Image above: “This chair has been with me through many moves. I found it at a roadside shop for $30 and love the original upholstery.”


Image above: “Like the kitchen, we knew there wasn’t much we could do to update the bathroom in a major way, but we’ve come to appreciate the character in this space. I added the wood shelf and love the texture it brings.”


Image above: “The kitchen’s original porcelain sink is definitely my favorite thing about the house.”


Image above: “When we first moved in, the sink hadn’t been cleaned in years, but we restored it to a perfect bright white with the Pumie scouring stick. Seriously, those things are miracle workers.”


Image above: “Our kitchen cart is an old hospital cart, rescued by my parents who worked together in a hospital in the 80s. My dad has a few of these in his workshop, but this one made it to our place. I love having so many pieces with interesting stories, and I just think about my dad taking home any old thing the hospital tried to throw away, haha!”


Image above: “We have limited counter space, so we just keep the essentials in reach – our pour-over coffee station and bread boards from a local woodworker.”


Image above: “We try to always start our day with good coffee. Some of our favorite blends come from local roasters Jittery Joes and 1000 Faces.”


Image above: “With hectic schedules, we like to begin our day at the table touching base on our week and staying inspired for current projects.”


Image above: “We come and go through this screened porch, and it’s such a relaxing spot to wind down in the evenings.”


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