This Florida Getaway Home Features DIY Projects and Tropical Colors

A young couple spent two years renovating this Florida house, and the lessons they learned will last a lifetime.

Jenna and Lucas LeBlanc have many fond memories of the first house they renovated together — despite living in the Tampa, Florida, home while they worked. Eventually, they remade every inch. They tore out overgrown landscaping in favor of a low-maintenance patio, replaced floor tile with wood-look laminate, took the kitchen down to the studs and rebuilt it, and constructed their own furniture, including a lofted bunk bed and cushioned window seat.

They transformed a house with almost zero character into a perfect getaway that they now manage as a tropical-theme vacation rental. "I wanted each room to have its own personality," Jenna says, "but I wanted to keep the overall theme consistent. It was definitely the most fun I've ever had designing a home. I took more risks and went bold with color."

backyard outdoor seating shutters windows patio
Hector Sanchez

Overgrown grass and mismatched tile made the original backyard unappealing. Lucas and Jenna LeBlanc "pretty much re-did everything there," Jenna says. Now the home has an outdoor room complete with seating.

New shutters and window frames painted bold black gave the house character. Jenna rehabbed the concrete patio with a medallion stencil, white concrete paint, three layers of sealer, and more than 27 hours of labor.

chandelier living room vintage trunk mural
Hector Sanchez

The house afforded the newlyweds lots of opportunities to hone their DIY skills. Jenna had remodeled houses before, but Lucas had never picked up a power tool. "Lucas always had an interest in redoing houses," Jenna says. "This one was the first chance for him to get his hands dirty."

A mural in the living room features a sweeping outdoor vista, which Lucas and Jenna applied in seven panels. Polyurethane molding (four ornate corners and matching connectors) frame the mural and hide the trimmed edges. A handmade cypress bench that Lucas and Jenna crafted from a log stands in as a console table/bench inside the front door.

"I had a vision in my head before I started the living room," Jenna says, "and the mural and green velvet couch were the two main components." A lightweight polyurethane medallion visually anchors the chandelier at the ceiling. The extra bit of ornamentation adds character to the living room.

beaded chandelier dining room velvet pink chairs
Hector Sanchez

The LeBlancs installed an oversize beaded chandelier in the dining room to give the space presence. New pink velvet chairs (a steal on Amazon) gather around an older table, which Jenna found on Craigslist and painted white.

Jenna LeBlanc, Homeowner

The house was just a boring box, but the bones were good and we knew we could renovate. A blank canvas is nice because we could completely add our own style to it.

—Jenna LeBlanc, Homeowner

The framed art is a city map that Jenna designed herself. She split the map into six segments, had a local print shop put them on paper, framed them, and hung them so the grouping reads as one big-impact piece.

kitchen IKEA cabinets green butcher block counters
Hector Sanchez

Lucas and Jenna took the kitchen down to the studs. No plumbing or appliances moved to save on remodeling costs. The new cabinets came from IKEA. "We painted them green and added custom toe-kicks and door panels to make the cabinets look custom and high-end," Jenna says. IKEA butcher-block counters finish the look.

Elongated subway tile in various shades of white climb from the counter to the ceiling; it's a low-maintenance, easy-clean choice for a busy rental home. Four open shelves mounted on both sides of the sink replaced wall cabinets. They hold often-used items (bowls, cutting boards, glasses) within easy reach.

Jenna nabbed the island (really, a table) from Letgo, painted it black, and installed 4-inch casters to raise it to counter height. Now it's a mobile prep space and an in-kitchen spot to sit.

Jenna LeBlanc, Homeowner

This redo was all about adding unique touches and features to each room to give visitors a memorable experience.

—Jenna LeBlanc, Homeowner

Lucas and Jenna built a custom cover for the ventilation hood out of plywood and applied grass-cloth wall covering to the surface for a shot of texture.

rich green velvet curtains bedroom bamboo shades
Hector Sanchez

Jenna downplayed the "horrible textured walls" in the primary bedroom by swathing them with floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains in rich green. The bamboo shades are blackout, which vacationers love.

breezy blue bathroom tile sink mirror
Hector Sanchez

Sometimes a small (but memorable) element can inspire an entire room. That's what happened in the primary bath. The brass swan faucet sparked Jenna's joy—and a bunch of ideas for the space.

This breezy blue bathroom was added to the primary bedroom; Jenna and Lucas carved out space for it from the closets. The new watery blue tile was a bit of a splurge but added a touch of color in a nod to the nearby bay.

A shallow wood board caps the tile and doubles as a ledge for vases and toiletries. Inexpensive birch frames set off dreamy artwork, while the brass fixtures add a touch of elegance.

twin beds vintage trunk wallpaper antiques
Hector Sanchez

Jenna is a primary at matching antique finds with retail purchases, which gives rooms an extra dose of character. Vintage trunks are favorites; they repeat throughout the house.

The brass pineapple sconces were the starting point for the kid-friendly bedroom. "I wanted it to be a rain forest, jungle, safari-type of room," Jenna says, "and I knew it would be the designated kids' room, so I wanted to go more youthful in here."

bunk bed loft tropical hangout sofa
Hector Sanchez

A narrow space off of the living room turned into a tropical hangout with additional sleeping space. Lucas and Jenna built a bunk bed into the wall, lofting it to free up floor space underneath. The sofa folds out into a queen-size mattress.

This room's wild wall of greenery is made from faux-fern fence panels from Afloral. The artificial greenery is mounted to mesh backing, which is then screwed into the wall. Jenna stuck in random leaves for variation.

Jenna hunted high and low for a custom sign and finally found a source on Amazon for about $250. This LED sign doesn't heat up like conventional neon.

With each passing project, their confidence and competence grew. Now, Lucas and Jenna renovate homes full-time, chronicling their adventures online.

"It's fun to look back and see how much we've learned and grown," Jenna says. "It taught us a lot, and the types of projects we're taking on now are happening because we learned from doing this house. There's a lot of relief and a lot of pride in it."

Updated by
Kendra Surface

Kendra Surface is a photo stylist and home design professional with more than 10 years of experience. She works with photographers to create beautifully curated spaces to be published in magazines and in advertising campaigns. In addition to styling a space, she also scouts locations and curates the space for her clients. She has worked with brands like Garden & Gun magazine, Belk, Hunter Douglas, and more.

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