A note from our editors: 

It’s time for one of our favorite traditions! Each year, we spend the holidays reflecting on the stories and articles you loved most. It’s the “Best of Rue” and this is one of 2020’s top stories. Enjoy!

Previously published on October 15, 2020:

When Anastasia Casey and her husband began their house hunt three years ago, they bought the first and only home they looked at. The entrepreneur (and founder of The Identité Collective) credits this to the fact the house is technically a condo. “I think a lot of people missed out on our house because when they were searching, they didn’t check ‘condo’ as a search filter. Because of that, they never saw our home (or homes like it) that live and feel like a free standing home, but without the price tag,” she shares. “We don’t share any walls though, we have a totally private backyard, plus a low cost HOA that does all our landscaping, irrigation, and even has a pool!”

However, it wasn’t all good at the start. The property was dark and dated, and far from the bright and airy aesthetic Anastasia is known for. Of course, it was her ability to spot a diamond in the rough that made it an easy decision. “When we first went to see it, I saw right past the gaudy, dark decor and focused on all the natural light, giant windows, and excellent floor plan. The ceilings are 11 feet tall downstairs and 9 feet upstairs. I loved the small balcony off the primary bedroom and the yard’s limestone pavers. I loved that the laundry room is upstairs along with all three bedrooms, with a very spacious bonus room,” she recalls. There was also the large two car garage (a rarity in Austin), a full attic, and plenty of storage space. “The house was actually masterfully planned. You never look into a neighbors window, and mostly just see trees. It’s a happy home, and I felt it even before it got redone,” she smiles.

Right before they moved in, the couple painted everything Super White by Benjamin Moore — saying goodbye to Frappuccino colored walls and a few bold accents of red and black. Then, before making any further changes, they lived in the house for a bit to really get to know the space and how they would use it. Two years later, she started on her dream kitchen. “The dark cabinetry and granite counters made the kitchen feel like a dark hole compared to the rest of the space. It also had a pony wall between the sink and the dining area, and I knew we could better utilize the kitchen and increase counter space, simply by dropping that,” Anastasia says. This was definitely the most dramatic transformation in the home, especially because it’s visible from the entire first floor. Like any renovation, though, it wasn’t smooth sailing. “We did have one terrifying accident, as I came downstairs to a flooded kitchen mid-renovation,” she recalls. “A glass had broken in our dishwasher at some point, and during the construction movement, a small piece got lodged in the dishwasher drain, clogging it. When we ran the dishwasher the first time, the entire thing overflowed and flooded both the kitchen and dining with a couple inches of water. Our team [Austin’s Home Renovation] was amazing though. They got it all dried out and we were able to save our floors.”

After the kitchen was completed, the couple saved for about a year before tackling the remaining renovations. Upstairs, the bathroom was transformed into a spa-like oasis with the addition of floor-to-ceiling Alexander James tile. “I’d never ordered tile before, but they answered all my questions, made very helpful suggestions, and were the best price on designer tile I could find,” Anastasia says. (Note from Rue: Anastasia has a 15% off code for Alexander James that she’s graciously offered our readers: IDCO15)

The total cost of renovations rings in at $53,000. “That includes the kitchen, 2.5 baths, the entry, stairs, primary bedroom and closet, and new carpeting,” Anastasia discloses. “I worked really hard to source things economically, and just focus on a few key splurge items.” For instance, she wasn’t willing to compromise her goal of leathered marble counters. “However, I saved a lot by sourcing a solid brass faucet from Kingston Brass instead of a designer brand. We reused our cabinets and just got new fronts, and because we removed all the uppers, it was only 12 doors we had to purchase!” Another compromise was flooring. “In a perfect world, I would have replaced all the floors and ran solid wood upstairs as well, but it just wasn’t in the cards,” she shares. “So we worked with the existing wood floors downstairs and just replaced the brown carpet with beautiful white berber. I know carpet isn’t everyone’s favorite, but it made sense for our budget and also for the safety of our dog as she runs up and down the steep steps.”

While her overall vision of the space shifted as they lived in the home and really got to know the space, she has settled on calling it a “modern cottage” and thinks it’s happy settling there. “I love the way the house feels new, but old. I love the way the sun soaks in the windows. I love the way that we use every inch of our 2,200 SF,” she concludes with a smile.

To easily shop items in Anastasia’s home,  everything is linked here. Happy shopping!