Anne-Claire lives in the West End neighborhood of Rockville with her husband, 8-year-old daughter, and their two rescue cats, Millie Pop and Hortense (Anne-Claire asked that we not use her last name to protect her privacy). Anne-Claire, who is French, and her husband, who grew up in South Africa, lived in London and Dallas before settling in the DMV. She is a freelance graphic and web designer, and her husband works in the video game industry.
“We wanted to be in a neighborhood where we can walk to things,” Anne-Claire says of picking their house, which they’ve lived in for five years. “We are about a 10-minute walk to Rockville Town Center, which has a library, movie theater, bars and restaurants, and the amazing Dawson’s Market.”
Anne-Claire is an avid thrifter and DIY-er who did many of the renovations in her home herself. She rarely buys anything new, as she likes things with a story, she says. “It will bring much more personality to your home than if everything is brand new from a store,” she says of this approach. “And it won’t hurt your wallet or the planet.”
Who lives there: Anne-Claire, her husband, their daughter, and their two rescue cats
Approximate square-footage: 2,400 square-feet
Number of bedrooms: Four
Number of bathrooms: Three
Favorite piece of furniture: She has two: an antique chestnut table that she found in a Paris street market, which she uses as her desk, and the chair she pairs with it, which is from a Dallas yard sale. “You can see that it had a long life before,” she says. “I love all these little signs of age. It’s what makes it beautiful to me.” And, while it’s not a piece of furniture, another favorite is the Les Machines de l’île poster her brother gifted her. “When we visited the house for the first time, we knew already that this wall would be the spot for the poster,” she says. “It makes the room, and we love it.”
Favorite home interior store: As Anne-Claire rarely buys anything new, she lists thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets as her favorite places to shop. “I love thrifting for various reasons: one, I don’t care much about new things. I prefer vintage, old, handmade, and unique. Two, I try to be environmentally aware in my life, and thrifting is also a part of it. Three, it’s cheap.”
Favorite DIY: “I come from a family of serious DIY-ers,” says Anne-Claire. She got the gene, too: she built the home’s deck and her daughter’s playhouse, as well as renovated the kitchen and bathrooms.
Splurge: Since she doesn’t spend much on household items, she calls installing a skylight in the dining room her biggest expense. “It was not cheap, but it really made a huge difference in the room” she says. “I always say that it’s the best investment in the house.”
Steal: The oversized brass lamp in their living room, which Anne-Claire found on the curb, rewired, and redecorated with a new shade—all for $11.
Design advice: “Live in the house before making major changes. Before moving into ours, we were envisioning a few important changes like moving walls, etcetera. After a few days, we realized that would have been a mistake. You can’t know a house until you’ve lived in it.”