Billy Goodman, 38 and Stevie Martinez, 35 are as different as a pair can be. He’s an “I.T. guy,” really into video games and making music. She’s into crafts and all things vintage.
As you might expect, Goodman and Martinez have different decorating styles. Yet, where there’s love, there’s compromise. Believe it or not, they make it work. Their home décor, I mean.
“It’s a very competing aesthetic," Martinez said, adding jokingly, "It’s a challenge. Billy thinks I’m so mean, he wants to hang comic book pages and stuff in here and I’m like ‘nope.’”
Goodman and Martinez do have some taste in common, thankfully. They share a passion for Phoenix-based artist Luster Kaboom’s paintings. The huge canvases hang in every room of their 1,100 square foot house. Where there isn’t enough space for them, the pieces are simply juxtaposed behind furniture.
“It kind of has to be like that, because it’s so small in here, and Billy won’t stop buying them," Martinez says of Goodman’s love of collecting art. "I’ve forbidden him several times, and it doesn’t help. Not that I don’t love them.”
It helps that the couple also has their own separate creative rooms, where they can live out their ultimate creative fantasies. Martinez spends most of her time at home in that space, her favorite place in the home.
“We have to compromise in these spaces,” she says, referring to common areas like the living room, “but we both just get to go crazy in our own rooms.”
The house was built circa 1951. The couple acquired it in 2013. Aside from a small addition to the back of the property — now Goodman’s music room — as far as they know, no major work has been done to the house since it was built. Only the bathroom and the kitchen floors have been retiled. The rest of the home has concrete flooring.
Similarly to most homes of that era, the house has two bedrooms, one bathroom, and, thanks to the recent addition, a den.
Martinez points out a small hole in the wall inside the original medicine cabinet. Apparently, half a century ago, it was common for people to dispose of spent razor blades inside a slot through the drywall. Unaware of this old practice, Goodman and Martinez were initially spooked.
“I imagined spiders crawling out of it, that’s why we covered it with tape,” Martinez remembers.
Their home is situated in a neighborhood of Tempe known as Hudson Manor. It’s a vibrant area close to a light rail station, Hudson Park, and the Arizona State University campus. Martinez talks about the pros and cons of living in this area:
“The neighborhood itself is great, and the people who live here are great, but it’s adjacent to a crummy part of town,” she says, referring to several break-ins that have affected their neighbors. “Right outside the neighborhood, I actually kind of like how grimy it is. There are check-cashing places, liquor stores, you see prostitutes … I like that. But it also attracts the weirdest people walking through here.
“Billy looks at the (home surveillance) cameras all day at work,” she laughs.
By day, Martinez is a medical assistant in a surgical practice, but in her free time, she sews, and sells vintage clothing online. She is proud of having managed to decorate her home while keeping her budget very low.
“I’m not happy that I don’t have money, because I would love to have more money," Martinez says. "But I feel like I’m proud that I’ve done all this on a shoestring. I don’t have the benefit of some gorgeous antique furniture or anything like that."
Instead, the homeowner shops at thrift stores. She favors The Salvation Army, where she’s had plenty of luck so far, but she also really likes discovering “mom and pop places.”
Martinez also shops at Goodwill and Gracie’s Thrift store. But some of her favorite finds come directly from people she knows.
“I find that because I just gravitate toward older stuff, that it comes to me. People just give it to me — like that rug,” she says, pointing at the living room rug. “And then of course I try to cherry pick at more mainstream places like World Market or IKEA. ... I don’t want to have that aesthetic all over, so I just cherry pick from those places. You know when you walk in someone’s house and you’re like ‘Oh, you got everything at IKEA...’ And it looks nice, but it doesn’t really reflect their personality.”
Still, shopping at thrift stores is challenging sometimes. Especially if you’re looking for a specific piece, as opposed to window shopping.
“Most of the time, when I’m shopping, I know what I’m looking for,” Martinez says. “Sometimes I’ll make something up that I want. Envision a certain piece, of clothing or for your house. And then I think ‘I bet I can find that at a thrift store.’ Usually I find what I’m looking for, but it takes time.”
As much as Martinez hates buzz words, she defines her own decorating style as eclectic, vintage, curated, intentional and minimal.
“My style is bohemian, as much as I hate saying that," she said. "It’s all over Pinterest right now. It’s really more of a lifestyle. It’s one of those words that have lost their meaning.”