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Florida has its fair share of cookie-cutter suburbs and modern beachfront properties, but it’s also home to beautiful historic areas like Tampa Heights. Located in the heart of Tampa Bay, the neighborhood is locally renowned for its ethnically diverse culture, historic buildings, and adorable bungalows.

The convenient location is what initially intrigued Kaley Infield and her husband. The charm of Tampa Heights, and the realization that it was the perfect place to eventually start a family is ultimately what convinced them that they’d found their new neighborhood. Between work and DIY projects, Infield was happy to share a little of her house’s history (it’s rumored to be the oldest in the area), and how a career decision led her to find what could possibly be her forever home.

Name: Kaley Infield

Age: 29

Occupation: Marketing Manager, The Bank of Tampa

Location: Tampa, FL

Home: Three bedroom, two bathroom (bungalow)

Rent or Own: Own

You grew up outside of Tampa—what made you decide to move into the city?

The practical answer is that my commute to Pinellas County was taking almost three hours roundtrip. Tampa Heights made sense because it’s central to pretty much everything. The non-practical answer is that my husband and I fell in love with the neighborhood, and once we made the decision to move, there was no turning back.

Now, we’re a bike ride from downtown Tampa, we’re surrounded by 100-year-old bungalows, and we’re close enough to South Tampa that we can enjoy all of its perks—without the astronomical mortgage payment or the cost of flood insurance.

What drew you to your house in particular?

We were finalizing a deal on a different bungalow when our house came on the market. We were so charmed that we gave up a $3,000 escrow deposit without a second thought. It had been completely renovated by an investor who knew a thing or two about historic homes—he made a few modern and functional updates while preserving the house’s original character. We still have the original claw-foot tub in our guest bathroom, which is something out of a dream for me.

Not many people your age can say they own a home. Was it scary to settle in one place so early in your career?

Since I’m in marketing, I’ll likely need to live in or near the city for the rest of my professional life. That was a big part of why we decided to move to Tampa Heights—it’s convenient to pretty much any place in the Tampa Bay area that either of us could end up working. The decision to buy was actually made easier by the fact that both my husband and I were fortunate enough to move up to manager-level positions early in our careers.  

Does your career influence your home’s aesthetic?

Outside of the location, my job doesn’t have any effect on my house’s vibe. In fact, the house has had more of an influence on my tastes, not vice versa. In our first home, I designed everything with loud colors and wood tones in mind. This time around, I think about what actually fits with its character: clean whites, grays, marbles, and natural woods. I rock a weird bohemian-vintage vibe, so I still add inflections of my personal style—like switching out the silver hardware for rose gold—but I keep it subtle.

Besides the tub, is a specific piece of decor or furniture that you’re particularly attached to?

The original built-ins around the fireplace are one of my favorite parts of the house. But I also love the dry bar that we added to the kitchen last year! The fact that our house is totally self-made is super rewarding.  

How else are you putting your own touches on the house?

I want to keep the time period in mind with the decor, but there’s a lot I’d like to do to make it more functional. Eventually, I’d like to knock out a few walls to make it more of an open concept, add a laundry room, and create more storage space; linen closets weren’t really a thing when the house was built. We’d also like to turn the attic into a master suite or loft space, and invest in a pool and landscaping.

There’s always more to do—we’ll never be finished. But we think we found our forever home, so we have a lot of time to save and plan for future upgrades and additions!

What are your tips for creating a space you love on a budget?

Do it yourself. It takes a few more weekends to get it done that way, but have some friends over and do it as a group. If you give them pizza and beer, they’ll come.

We’re also fortunate enough to have a contractor in the family to help with the initial planning, so I can’t justify blowing our hard-earned money on labor we can do ourselves. It doesn’t always end up looking like something out of a magazine, but at least we get a really good workout.

What advice would you give others who are trying to create a home that inspires them?

You don’t have to execute all of your ideas at once. Write them down or save inspiration photos on Instagram, but wait until you’re really ready to tackle a project before you move forward. The end result will turn out better, and you’ll feel more accomplished when it’s done. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, and ask for help.