A “White Box” Rental That Was Turned Into A Stunning Eclectic Home Via Very Budget-Friendly Buys (Like A $7 Dresser)

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OH BOY, BUCKLE UP. Today’s post is one for the books. We have a renter-friendly design! We have $7 pieces of vintage furniture! We have pieces pulled straight from the neighbor’s trash pile! We have Facebook Marketplace scores! We have DIYs (all worthwhile, albeit some more carpal tunnel-inducing than others)! And more importantly, we have a TON of knowledge from a gal who combined ALL these things to make her home look like a million bucks.

Here’s the deal: longtime reader Liberty Riggs spent a decade working as a creative director in advertising before taking the leap and partnering with her husband to open her eponymous interior design firm, Studio Riggs, during the pandemic. “My husband used to work in construction as a CFO/project manager, and we really loved the idea of creating a family business that we can build together and (hopefully!) bring our kids into one day,” Liberty said. (If that wasn’t cute enough, do you see how sweet that website is??? You can tell that she was a branding pro, right?)

ANYWAY. Liberty sent me an email earlier this month while we were on our team retreat with a few teaser shots and EHD collectively lost our minds (in the positive way) – we were so excited to see someone who could make fun, eclectic style work in a bright, fresh, and affordable way (AND in a rental, no less!). I ended up sending her ~1 million questions about her thought process and can’t wait to share her wisdom with y’all, so let’s take a peek inside Liberty’s house while we get to know her a little bit better, yeah?

Footed Bowl (similar) | Basket

It only makes sense to kick it off with the entryway, you know? We’ll go from the ground up. Yes, that is stone inlaid with hardwood – “honestly, the only little bit of character this house had when we moved in,” Liberty told me – but MY OH MY, I lost my mind over this vintage chest paired with the bust, modern art, and graphic bowl.

The kicker? “I made the art in the entryway with some extra Farrow & Ball sample tins I had sitting around. The bust and dresser were both thrift finds. I literally paid $7 for the dresser in college and have moved it with me to three different states!” She’s talented AND a gifted vintage shopper, guys. We’re going to keep it moving by touring her daughter’s room next…

Small Bin | Large Bin | Unicorn

I teased the canopy a little bit with that opener photo above, but we’re starting this room off by taking a peek at Liberty’s jumping-off point: this awesome wall art. “I made the tiger painting in my daughter’s room for her very first nursery and it gave me carpal tunnel so now she has to live with it forever, so I based the color scheme off of that. Originally I just painted the walls but it felt unfinished. A lot of historic homes that I looked at had contrast trim, so I just went with it.

I love the scale of this bench between the two doors, but I also love that this is such a lovely and bright and happy room for a 3-year-old that doesn’t necessarily scream “a toddler lives here!!” Liberty’s done such a good job of making a space that her daughter can grow into, you know?

Y’all know how I feel about a canopy (spoiler: I love them), so I was so taken by the combo of the patina on this gorgeous bed combined with the sweet and happy scalloped half-tester. “The canopy is a DIY. I screwed the corners in the ceiling and literally staple-gunned the sides up. When we take it down I’ll just have to spackle the little staple holes.” Phew. She makes it sound so easy!

I also had to ask Liberty if she had any tips about layering rugs over carpeting, and she came through. “These rug pads for carpet are MAGIC!” Thanks for sharing, pal 🙂

Sconce (sans cute fabric)

Next up, I adored how she carried the scallop motif over to the skirted bedside table. When I asked her about the choice to go with a table instead of a more traditional nightstand, she said “Since she’s only 3 she doesn’t have a lot of needs in terms of nightstand storage, so a skirted table made sense.

I had also assumed the sconces were vintage and was SHOCKED to find out that they were a DIY – “The sconces are actually IKEA! But I got on a bit of a lampshade-making kick recently and made the pleated shades for them.” (Please leave a note if you also think we should have Liberty back for an instructional lampshade post. They look so high-end and totally transform the sconce, right?)

Bolster | Striped Pillowcases

Swoon – a pattern mixer-and-matcher after my own heart. I recognized that Target x Jungalow bolster right away, but begged for the sources of everything and was SO JAZZED to learn that they were also more affordable options. “The lumbar and striped pillowcases are from Target, and the rest of the bedding I just picked up at Tuesday Morning.

I’ve been such a huge fan of the purple and mustard combo since seeing how Julie pulled it off in her bathroom last year, but it’s just so masterful and restful in this space. Big color, big pattern, still calm. 10/10! When I asked about her inspiration, Liberty said, “I’m so inspired by a lot of the English designers right now – Studio Ashby, Louise Roe, Beata Heuman. But I’m also a former art history major, so that’s a big influence as well.” I don’t know about y’all, but I think we can all tell that she probably aced color theory 🙂

Ceiling Medallion (similar)

I couldn’t leave this room without calling out the lighting update. “In every room we’ve been adding ceiling medallions as we swap out light fixtures. It’s just a really cheap, easy way to make the house feel less like an early 2000s box.” And for anyone who was curious – I obviously was – Liberty got the blessing from her landlord before making changes. “We asked permission to paint – everything else I just plan on reversing before we move out. I don’t mind the expense because we plan to be here for a while.

Next up, we’re moving into the office…

OH MY. The built-ins (that are not actually built-ins)! And THAT DESK (that I soon learned wasn’t a desk!) “The desk is a vintage console made by the Mt. Airy Chair Company that I had a stone top cut for,” she told me. I love how Liberty took a vintage piece and made it work for the space and function she needed – it’s a great lesson in sustainable shopping, too. She gets a one-of-a-kind show-stopping piece and we get to ogle it on the internet. Everyone wins!

We snagged some vintage bookcases off Facebook Marketplace, trimmed them out a bit, and painted them the same color as the walls. The office is the one space I don’t have to share with anyone else in the family, so I hoarded all of my favorite things to fill these shelves.” And what a lovely payoff, right? There’s such a nice color scheme here and it’s the perfect amount of “collected” without feeling “cluttered.” ::chef’s kiss::

Just wanted to include the pulled-back shot for full effect. WHY ISN’T THIS MY ZOOM BACKGROUND? I wish I worked here. (PS. You can see a glimpse of another handmade lampshade on the left – we gotta get a tutorial, right?!)

Last but not least, I just love the mix of styles here – the cabriole legs, the stone top, the animal print seat (truly, Liberty’s a girl after my own heart). If there was any doubt, when I asked about the chair, she said this: “I embarrassed my mother by pulling the cesca chair off her neighbor’s curb on bulky trash day!” We love a furniture-saving hero!!!

We’re going to move into the family room now but before I show you the after on this fireplace, let me give you some context: “We started looking for a rental in January, and it was insanity! I think so many people sold their houses and were having a hard time finding a new one that the market was much more competitive than it had been previously. This house was actually the 5th house we had applied for, and definitely not our first pick (it was very boxy and beige when we toured it). But as a designer, I love a creative challenge and knew I could make some lemonade out of this lemon.

And get this – “We actually just moved in this April! I still have about half the house left to finish, but we are taking a gradual approach to make my husband happy (he’s an accountant – lol). Eventually, we want to build our dream home, but as big believers in the concept of a ‘forever house’, we made the decision to wait until the housing market calms down a little and we have the resources to really do it right.” In the interim, though, some paint and a touch of thoughtful styling made a HUGE difference in the way this room looks and feels…

My first thought when tackling the living room was ‘what the hell do I do with this bizarre fireplace?!’ Painting the walls a soft white really minimized the visual impact of the mantle.” AGREED. It truly looks like a different home, and you can definitely see Liberty’s modern-traditional style elevating this formerly-beige space.

Had to come in hot with a little zoom on those mantle details. The art is so good, but how special are those uber-modern striped candles paired with those classic crystal holders?

But this sofa is what really took my breath away, and Liberty stunned me with the source – “I had the sofa made without the fringe by Monarch Sofas back in 2016. It was still in great shape when we moved into this house but it felt a little too MCM for what I was doing. The bullion fringe came from eBay and I applied it myself! Now I’m in love with this sofa all over again.

Can you believe??? That fringe totally transformed the shape – it’s such a classic style now and I never would have thought that it had lived a prior life as a mid-century-inspired piece. (BRB, running around my house and seeing if I can switch up any pieces by adding some thoughtful trim, see you in a second!)

And of course, I have to show y’all Liberty’s coffee table – how good is that tray? Her styling advice: “Just go big with your accessories and books. Like absurdly big. I would rather have one giant, gorgeous thing on a coffee table than a bunch of tiny things. And for me, it’s just more practical with two small kids (less stuff they can walk off with). For any vignette it’s always good to add something crystal or metallic to bounce the light around.

WOW. Can you believe how productive she’s been in four months? I’ve been in my apartment for two years and am almost finally ready to show off some tiny spaces – I so admire her decisiveness and her innate style.

More than anything, though, I love how cohesive this home feels despite not being too matchy-matchy – when I asked for advice (very selfishly, TBH), Liberty said, “I made a moodboard for the whole house before we moved in and just try to keep that as my ‘North Star.’ I also decided that the palette was going to be all garden-inspired hues, which gives a lot of flexibility while still feeling related.” It definitely paid off, right?

That’s all for today, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU to Liberty for taking the leap and sharing with all of us and THANK YOU to you, the readers, for joining us on this little tour of her house.

*Design and Photos by Liberty Riggs

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