I’ve had the seeds for this new series bouncing around in my brain for quite some time now. One of the things I cherish most about this lifestyle of gathering is connecting with kindred spirits who share my love for unique, eclectic spaces, filled with specials finds. “Your Gathered Home” will, I hope, be a recurring feature offering peeks into the homes of fellow gatherers: finders, makers, treasure seekers.
Of course, beautiful spaces are inspiring in and of themselves, but I’m particularly excited for the chance to dig a little deeper into the minds of other gatherers and hear their perspectives and experiences! We all share a common love, but everyone has their own unique passions and motivations- and I’m absolutely thrilled to celebrate those stories together!
An Eclectic Upstairs Flat in Central Austin
We recently took a long weekend trip to Austin, our favorite city in Texas. It’s a three and half hour drive south from where we live, making it the perfect, easy getaway when we need some new energy in our lives.
Whenever we visit, we like to stay in places that embody the local vibe – laid back yet vibrant, artsy, unique. We’ve used VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) in the past to find places to stay, but this time we decided to give Airbnb a whirl, which is how we stumbled on this charming apartment on the second floor of an adorable 1930’s home in Central Austin. (I have no affiliation with Airbnb – just wanted to provide the link for you if you’re planning a trip to Austin!)
As soon as we came across the listing, I could tell it was the space of a fellow gatherer. I was almost as excited to book this apartment as I was for the rest of our mini vacation! I packed my camera and a few lenses because I had a feeling I just might get an itch to shoot a home tour…
If you caught my little live-streamed walk-through on Instagram, you already know I fell passionately in love with our upstairs apartment and its furnishings!
The morning after we arrived, I spent two hours or so photographing this tour and enjoying every moment of it – crouching against doorways, bracing my camera on my knees because I thoughtlessly left my tripod at home, doing my best to capture every last drip of charm and nuance of light into a digital representation.
Being “on vacation” and yet so strongly wanting to capture and share these spaces was this incredible confirmation that I’m doing what I’m meant to do, what I love to do: share the beauty in finding and making.
My inkling that our Airbnb host, Kevin, was a kindred spirit proved to be accurate. To my delight, he responded with a treasure-trove of backstory when I proposed the idea of sharing a home tour here on the blog:
I’ve always been compelled to gather and surround myself with unique and interesting things, from when I was a boy wallpapering my room with National Geographic insert maps and keeping my rock and fossil collection in my brother’s GI Joe box.
Later I learned to appreciate things that someone has obviously devoted a lot of time to. That value never fades, even when they become secondhand, which means I can find a bargain on something amazing at a thrift store. That’s why I like the carved Mexican trays. They were made for the tourist market and didn’t have much value other than as a souvenir for the original owner, but obviously are crafted with skill and time and love. I feel like in displaying them, I am honoring the craftspeople who devoted their lives to making these mementos of their beautiful country. Of course I love hand woven blankets, handmade pottery, etc. for the same reason.
Very little of what I own is new or mass-produced. I can’t imagine going and buying home decor in a department store when there are decades of design styles and colors and textures available to build my own unique statement at thrift stores.
The Living Space:
The main living space of the flat occupies two rooms that are wide open to each other, creating the perfect hub for living and entertaining. The furnishings range from show-stopping Mid Century pieces like the atomic credenza to the laid-back ranch oak sofa draped with a brindled cowhide. Everywhere you turn, there’s something fascinating to inspect or explore.
An efficient little work station is tucked into the corner behind the glass door to the sun porch.
The round drum table in the center of the bar room space hides a secret: those beautiful quarter-sawn oak panels pull out to reveal four triangular seats!
If you can tear your eyes away from the captivating free form details of this fabulous credenza, you’ll notice that the snakeskin wall covering is actually fabric, tacked into place!
The gorgeous pineapple-inspired pottery is from Mexican folk artist Hilario Alejos Madrigal and I dream of collecting a few pieces of my own one day. Mark your calendars: 2016 is the year I fell in love with pottery!
A life-sized wooden statue of a contemplative bearded fellow in the corner? Get in my life!
Are you looking closely? These divers inhabit a miniature aquarium made from an old pendant light:
The Sun Porch:
And now we come to my favorite spot in the flat – this sun-soaked room of windows at the front of those house, full of colorful textiles and mementos.
It’s the perfect space to enjoy the sunrise with a cup of coffee… or bask in the evening glow with a cocktail.
The shrine in the sunroom… Growing up Catholic and travelling extensively in Mexico, I developed an appreciation for shrines that give special objects a place of importance, to be noticed and appreciated, for their own sake. It started with a few bricks from the kiln in my father’s hometown, some Mexican votive candles and an incense burner. A Japanese friend told me I need photos of ancestors and food on the shrine. Another friend who had travelled a lot to Cuba told me I needed some copper – so that’s where I started keeping my pennies. I started adding rocks and little things gathered on trips or at special moments in my life. Now whenever I dust, it’s a little trip down memory lane.
I do the same with boxes… not as extreme as Andy Warhol and his time capsules, but I do like to leave special concert tickets or old love letters and trinkets in decorative boxes and baskets, there’s a surprise from the past in every one.
A collection of carved Mexican trays fill the sun porch’s walls – each unique and beautiful on its own, but even better together en masse.
A metaphor for life? You tell me.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been absolutely enthralled with a bathroom before. This one packs so many beautiful details into a pint-sized space!
Even the hallway that leads to it is full of treasures to admire.
I’m completely smitten with the color palette of arsenic green walls (matched to the details in the vintage floor tile) and black and white! Add in the warmth of the apartment’s wood doors and trim – vintage bathroom perfection!
These framed World War II-era bath towel advertisements make for some hilarious and fascinating reading – you can see several of them in this post from Buzzfeed here!
A petite fern flourishes in the shower’s humidity and the sunlight by the window.
And why not hang a painting in an unexpected location like the bottom panel of a door? Brilliant.
While we barely used the kitchen on our whirlwind weekend, as we crammed in visits to all our favorite Austin eateries, I fell madly in love with the vintage rust-colored enamel stove, the pumpkin checkerboard linoleum, and the soft green and cream painted woodwork!
Open metal shelving keeps pretty serving pieces and pantry staples within easy reach, balancing the quaint cabinetry with a little industrial edge.
And of course, there is more art on every wall.
This last shot may be my favorite of them all. As we were packing up our bags to leave, this vignette caught my eye and I had to pause and grab my camera- the gorgeous pottery piece filled with everyday kitchen tools, the special housing the mundane. To me, this is what gathering is all about: finding ways to introduce beauty to every aspect of life.
I particularly enjoy collecting things that are both unique and useful…kitchen utensils and cookbooks in particular, especially when they are for fun traditions from a different time – like fondue pots or bar ware… or trays! The basics of cooking really haven’t changed in centuries… you can always find a great bowl or spoon. Don’t get me started on serving ware! More excuses to have interesting things around that are more than just decoration.
Some friends have suggested I get into interior design, but I couldn’t imagine designing for someone else, it’s such a personal thing. Everywhere I look in our home, something reminds me of a fond memory, like diving for conch off Caye Caulker in Belize, or shopping in the incense market in Chichicastenango, or sitting on a pebbly Mediterranean beach, or searching for four leaf clovers when I was 10 and life was simpler (30 years sealed between two pieces of cellophane tape and it’s still green!). I couldn’t manufacture that for someone else for a fee.
Your Gathered Home
Sweet friends, I hope you enjoyed this peek at one of the most lovely and spellbinding homes I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting! It was truly a joy to capture these photos, anticipating the fun of sharing them with you!
I so relished the experience of shooting and compiling this home tour, that I wanted to throw this out there…
First of all, if you are a kindred spirit gatherer with a love for photography and a home full of stories to share, I invite you to get in touch via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), my contact page, or even by posting pictures using #yourgatheredhome on Instagram! I can’t promise to share every space, but I do promise that I will be absolutely thrilled to hear from you and connect over our shared love of finding and making!
Secondly, if you live remotely near the Dallas/Fort Worth (or surrounding Texas cities) area and you would be interested in participating in the “Your Gathered Home” series and having me photograph your home for a home tour, I would LOVE for you to reach out! I’ll remember to bring a tripod this time, but you can still laugh at the ridiculous ways I’ll contort myself to try to snag the perfect shot…
I can’t wait to hear from you! Let’s start with your thoughts on your favorite find in today’s spectacular home tour… Can you even choose?