Personal Best

This Ocala homeowner set out to create a comfortable space for herself then found that sharing her passion inspires others to follow their decorating bliss, no matter their budget.

Fifth-generation Ocalan Ebonee Mashae was drawn to the charm and beauty of her 1933 bungalow in the historic district. She set out on her remodeling journey armed with the skills she gained while earning her interior design degree and interning at Koontz Furniture and Design. She remembers touring the house on a rainy Sunday afternoon and falling “in love with every nook and cranny.”

The process of rehabbing and decorating her home, she says, has been an exercise in “trying to keep the character but also modernizing it at the same time.”

Along the way, she has shared photos and design inspo on her blog, Living Shae, and her calming coastal tones and boho vibe caught the attention of Southern Living magazine, which featured her home remodel in a recent article.

Creating her perfect space has been an enjoyable process for Mashae, who loves a good thrift store find as much as a brand-new accessory from a high-end boutique and isn’t afraid to tackle a DIY project.

“I love a neutral, coastal and boho interior and I think that I’ve combined all three in my home,” Mashae explains. “I love natural elements mixed with a little bit of modern.”

The colors that anchor her design are a mix of soft hues that work together to create a relaxing palette. She used her favorite paint color, Sherwin-Williams’ White Duck, throughout her home. In the living room, the warm shade of cream is set off by the bright white of the fireplace and the beloved armchair that used to belong to her mom. Her secondary paint color, Sea Salt, adds a coastal flair to the bath and hallway, and highlights the greenery of succulents and palm fronds she uses as accents. 

Mashae finds inspiration in colors and pieces that remind her of her favorite regional destination, St. Augustine, and she focuses on artworks created by Central Florida artists.

“I’ve added pieces of art throughout the house from local artists here in Ocala and St. Augustine,” she explains.

Last summer, she was after a “moody coastal” vibe with her guest room redo. She chose a cloudy beach scene painting for the wall above the bed and an old Florida map over the nightstand, then added a unique nautical element: a carved Indonesian boat paddle. And when she didn’t want to pay $300 for the Serena & Lily basket light fixture she’d been eyeing online, she decided to create a similar one herself.

“I love the Mustard Seed Collection,” she says of the downtown Ocala vintage store. “I found this unique fishing basket for $30 and bought a light kit at Lowe’s for about $16 and made my very own basket light. I loved the way it turned out and the uniqueness of it. That light fixture is one of my favorite pieces in my home because it represents a bargain, uniqueness and a fun DIY project. No one else in Ocala has an Asian fish basket as a light fixture in their home.”

Mashae knows most young people and first-time homeowners are trying to personalize their home while keeping costs down, and she shares some great tips for decorating a first home or smaller dwelling on a budget.

“The first order of business is to consider the budget you’re working with for your design project and what the scope will entail,” she advises. “A single room refresh requires a vastly different budget from that of a complete home refurnishing, so consider how big your project is and determine an appropriate budget from there. A smaller project means you may be able to splurge on some more luxury items, while a larger project means you may have to make some sacrifices in order to keep your design within budget.”

If you have more wiggle room in your budget, she says, focus on “investment pieces” that will stand the test of time. And she recommends you consider how long you plan to stay when developing a design plan.

“For a home you plan to settle down in, look to pieces with durable fabrics, longstanding high-quality woods and style that is easily incorporated into other design schemes,” she urges. But if you know you’ll be moving out of your apartment or starter home in just a few years, she says, consider easily assembled and movable furniture.

Mashae says the kind of clean lines she prefers can be achieved with mid-century pieces, which can sometimes be obtained as hand-me-downs or at resale shops.

“For those that like a clean, polished look without extraneous features, look to mid-century modern, which relies heavily on functionality and simplicity,” she advises. “The great thing about mid-century pieces is that they are easy to merge into another design scheme because they have a pure, uncompromised look about them.”

Decorating your dream home on a budget is possible, Mashae says, and she encourages others to enjoy the process. Her decor is a mix of bargain finds and smaller, high-end pieces.

“I have some accents throughout from Agapanthus, like pillows and throws,” she says, “and candles from Shannon Roth Collection in a pretty wooden vessel.” But, she reveals, she has found “some amazing things at thrift stores and antique stores.”

The self-described “very blessed #GirlBoss” works as a training manager and says blogging is not her job nor does she get paid for any posts. She simply shares her favorite things.

“The real reason I started my blog was to express my creativity, love of photography and share my favorite things,” she explains, though she admits to a time when she got frustrated while trying to build her brand and attract followers. She found herself trying to understand the nature of algorithms and follower engagement, while striving to keep her content cohesive. She says that caused her to lose touch with her original intention, so she made the decision to get back to basics so she could be “free and post all of the things I love,” she shares.

“Whatever I feel like posting,” she offers, “whether it be a snapshot of my nephew and me, a new piece of furniture that I bought, flowers, whatever I’m cooking up in my kitchen, politics or a new dress, whether I get people reading my blog or followers on social media or not, I still love blogging and taking pictures and sharing them.”

And for anyone who has found themselves caught up in that same sort of social media pitfall, she offers, “Just remember we are worth more than a like on Instagram.”

While recent blog posts have featured her fireplace, reading nook and guest room, Mashae says she is currently on the hunt for a headboard for the master suite that is a real statement piece.

“I can’t wait until I find it!” she declares.

She’ll be searching furniture stores and resale shops, but if she doesn’t find what she’s looking for don’t be surprised if she just makes it herself.

Visit livingshae.blogspot.com for more information and inspiration.

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