From College Town to Big City Living

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Design Reveals

In this week’s blog, We are diving into the deep end and talking through my story.

If you’re new around here, then you might not know that I went to Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas (and just like the name would suggest, I was spending my days in an overly glorified college town.) 

About me

I’d started my career in nonprofit youth work, which…while impactful is also heavy and emotionally exhausting work.

After being assaulted during my first “real” vacation while at this job, I wanted to place some roots down while I prioritized my mental health and healing from trauma. 

 My family was close by and I’d already established a sense of community that I could lean on for support. Staying in this college town just made sense. 

At least until what should have been a gap year, turned into two, then three, and then eventually 15 years spent in a place where every restaurant featured some form of a student discount. 

Not the vibe. 

A new start

But in May, I (finally) uprooted myself and my business, found somebody to rent my house, and moved to Austin, Texas. I downsized significantly and was in a rental for the first time in a long time.

When I was looking for where I wanted to live, here’s what I prioritized:

  • A one-bedroom apartment with enough space for a guest bedroom so I could host friends and family when they came to visit

  • Enough natural light so I could open the blinds and feel inspired and refreshed while working from home

  • A cozy atmosphere that fit the majority of my old furniture, with enough room for me to grow into

How I did it

And I know what you are probably thinking.

How could I possibly get all of that, stay in budget, AND move to one of the big cities where the real estate market is “actually” ridiculous?

Long story short: I went in with a plan.

I have myself a budget of ~$500 and decided to use it to make minor improvements while alos using a. lot of the pieces I’d had in my house

Here are just a few of the things my rental refresh budget went toward:

  • Peel and stick vinyl checkerboard ‘“tile” for my bathroom floor to make the rooms feel more separated

  • Replacing the slightly dingy (ok….suuuuper ugly) ceiling fans with new light fixtures for the #aesthetic

  • A guest bedroom and office so I had a seperate place to work and sleep (instead of keeping my desk in my living room or primary room)

  • Removing the outdated cabinet doors in my kitchen and storing them so I have an open cabinet concept that display my cute dinnerware

The truth is that I didn’t need to live in a drab rental just because that was what was in the space when I got there.

I allowed myself to dream a vision of what I wanted my space to look like, and then I set the intention of how I wanted to use it.

Want to learn more about interior design?

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  • Define your style

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Hey there, I'm Michelle!

Interior Decorator in Austin, TEXAS

As the founder and lead interior decorator here at Cultivate Your Space, I'm here to bring you the vision your space—from the baseboards to the ceilings—even if you have no idea at all what your decorating style is.

My job isn't just to design a space you love. I want your living space to be a source of peace, comfort, security, and joy...not just somewhere you lay your head each night.

Most Austin interior decorators only focus on how your space looks—but not me. I care about both how your space functions AND how it makes you feel.

Curating with intention

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