If Bryn and Matt Dunn’s house in Ballantyne illustrates anything, it’s that style and taste don’t depend upon a budget.
This young couple, who moved into the two-story, 2,300-square-foot colonial-style house in May 2010, have deliberately kept the cost of furnishings low. “We’re young, and this is the first house we’ve bought,” explains Bryn. “We admit that we don’t have a whole lot of money. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t like nice things.”
It helps that Bryn, 29, is an interior designer. And she has trained Matt, 30, to look at potential home purchases with a critical eye.
The result is a comfortable, texture-rich space in soothing neutral colors and decor whose sophistication belies the age of its occupants.
Moreover, no less a style arbiter than HGTV Magazine agrees that the Dunns hit a home run with their fresh aesthetic and budget-friendly approach. The Hearst publication features the home in its February 2014 issue.
In her position in marketing and design at Isabella, a home furnishings boutique in Myers Park, Bryn had met a client whose Davidson home was featured in the magazine. Serendipity did the rest to match up the Dunns with the publication.
From Plano to Charlotte
In fact, if Bryn and Matt Dunn have a theme running through their lives, it’s probably serendipity.
They were in the same high school class in Plano, Texas, but didn’t actually meet and fall in love until they ended up at the same college, the University of Oklahoma. After graduation they both got jobs in Los Angeles – he in insurance and she in advertising.
With her background in graphic design, however, Bryn kept leaning toward interior design projects, which she did on the side for fun. She also began blogging, which led to other freelance design jobs – more evidence of that serendipity at work.
After their marriage in 2007, one of her first projects was transforming their tiny rental house into a livable space on a strict budget. Flea market treasures were the norm, but both she and her husband dreamed of the day when they could stretch out in a house of their own. Southern California’s cost of living made that dream seem impossible.
But in November 2009, Matt’s company gave him the opportunity to relocate. One of the choices was Charlotte. Neither he nor Bryn had ever visited the Queen City, but when they did, it was love at first sight. And quite by coincidence – serendipity? – their dog was already named Charlotte.
They started immediately looking for a house to buy – a “blank slate that we could put our own stamp on,” says Bryn. They happily got rid of most of their furnishings from California so they could start from scratch to acquire more sophisticated pieces despite their limited means.
They found a solid investment in the 1990 house on a quarter-acre in Ballantyne with three bedrooms, a bonus room for an office and two and a half baths – enough room if children came along.
The treasure trove of second-hand resources they’ve found here have delighted them. Both have enjoyed weekends browsing through Sleepy Poet, Slate Interiors and auction houses throughout the region searching for furnishings.
Bryn takes the lead, but Matt weighs in as well. “He’s the best husband for what I do,” she says. “We’ll find a piece of furniture, and so long as it’s comfortable and doesn’t cost too much, he’s amenable. And he has developed a really good eye for design along the way.” Matt, however, adds that if he had free rein he’d deck out the walls in NASCAR posters.
“She edits me,” Matt admits with a laugh, even though his passion for racing is evident in the occasional photograph around the house. “I trust her judgment, and I just go with the flow.”
It’s been nearly four years that the Dunns have thoughtfully and deliberately worked on giving their first house an “adult” sensibility. Charlotte the dog has a companion, fluffy orange Henry the cat. And in April the Dunns expect to welcome their first baby, a boy.
Their transition from newlywed renters to stylish homeowners seems just about complete.