Tuesday, January 27

Unexpected Guests: The Vintage Laundress.

Today we're taking a trip to the art-filled town of Austin, Texas to drop in on The Vintage Laundress, aka LeAnn Stephenson. They say Austin is a bit like the San Francisco of Texas, filled with a myriad of creative artists and musicians, and the home of South by Southwest, the annual indie music festival. LeAnn is one of those folks, a professed 'textile addict' with a big love of the visual and tactile experience. You can share her penchant in her online etsy shop at, The Vintage Laundry, and on her blog The Vintage Laundress, where she shares ideas about what can be repurposed with vintage textiles. LeAnn has shared a glimpse into her family life in Austin, which one can tell from her collections is quite near and dear to her. I've yet to visit Austin, and it's on my short list of places to travel, but now it's moving much closer to the top of that list. Thanks LeAnn, for sharing your family mementos and memories, your funky, fun shop, and your very lovely vintage inspired home.

What city/neighborhood do you live in?
I live in a little suburb of Austin, Texas called Bee Cave.

What is your idea of a perfect day in Austin?
Breakfast with my kids and hubbs at Magnolia Cafe on Congress, followed by hours of digging in my favorite thrift stores. Later, maybe some goodies from Amy’s Ice Cream on Sixth Street followed by a stop at Half Price Books, Bookstop or Barnes & Noble to peruse the new magazines and drop hints to my family about which books don’t suck - which is code for I want this book, please buy it for me immediately! I would probably suggest supper and a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse.

What don't you leave home without?
Some sort of large carbonated beverage with lots of ice and caffeine. Oh, and my digital camera and my Moleskine notebook for ideas and sketches.

What are some of your favorite local shops?
I have a lot of friends who also have their own businesses and I try to patronize them as much as possible. Steve at Mercury Design Studio finds discarded funky, mod furnishings from the ‘60s and '70s and reworks them with lacquer finishes or fabulous fabrics. Likewise, Amanda and Lizzie at Spruce are just infectious with their energy and ideas on how to re-purpose vintage furniture. And my friend Jean at Uptown Modern has some of the most amazing mid century furniture I’ve ever seen.

What's on your wish list?
At the moment I’m longing for a faux zebra hide for my living room floor. I’m also on the hunt for another Tole faux bamboo chandelier to complete a redo in my kitchen.

What's your favorite bargain find or product?
When I was expecting our first child, my husband and I got up every Saturday morning and buzzed around to all the garage sales and estate sales in search of furniture for the nursery. One Saturday at the end of our day we happened by a sale that was closing up. I spied this great set of mid century arm chairs. The lady shouted out that we could have all four for $15. We bought them, the hubbs stripped them and I reupholstered them and we still have them in our home 15 years later. They were the beginning of a meaningful relationship with thrifting and later means of making a living.

What is your biggest interior design nightmare?
Windows! I love and crave the light they offer, but the whole dilemma they cause when placing furniture drives me up the wall.

Who are your favorite artists? And why?
I have many favorites. Robert Longo is one artist I came to know when I was in art school in 1980s. One of my professors suggested that I look at his 'Men in the Cities' series and I’ve been hooked ever since. I also love the riotous colors and painting style that David Hockney and Chuck Close exhibit. In the textile design arena I have a “gi-normous” crush on Vera Neumann, because of her volume of work and Florence Broadhurst because of her eccentricities - and both for their sheer brilliance in graphic design.

Where do you find inspiration?
Books, magazines, the Internet, my kids, lyrics, movies - everything pretty much covers it.

Who do you admire and why?
The women of my family - my mom, my aunts, my grandmother, my sisters - they are all very strong women, determined, smart, brave, steadfast, loving, supportive, loyal, beautiful, funny and hard workers - they have taught me through example that when there is work to be done - you do the work!

Do you collect anything?
It might make a shorter reply to cite things that I don’t collect - However, I try to focus on vintage textiles (mostly Vera and other graphic artist in the textile field), vintage chandeliers, vintage clothing (1940s -1970s), vintage furniture (French and mid century in particular.)

What's your favorite feature in your home?
My white epoxy floor - it’s not at all practical but it is really “handsome”! And I love how all of my furniture just pops off of it.

If you could photograph anyone in the world, who might that be?
My late sister D’Aunn - she had the most amazingly beautiful eyes, they were the color of an iceberg that had been sprinkled with blue glitter. She also had the warmest most accepting smile. I miss her very much! I don’t have enough pictures of her. I have many in my mind, just not enough on paper.

Who would you like to sit down to drinks with?
My dear old Uncle Dean - he had some great funny stories! - Oh, and Cary Grant - just so I could stare at him and drool!

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Piper Heitzig champagne and Haagen-Dazs ice cream bars - sometimes a combo of the two.

What is your most treasured belonging?
A photograph of my Grandmother holding me, my little sister and my little cousin, when we are ages 3, 2 and 1 year of age.

What's souvenir did you bring back from your last trip?
This past summer my family had a reunion, everyone was required to bring family photos- old and new. I got some great copies of photos and I was given my Grandmother’s vintage French Sunglasses.

If you could be any other nationality, which would it be?
I’m a southern woman - I AM another nationality, if not an entirely different species all together!

What's your greatest indulgence?
Floor parties with my kids and husband - we order out and sit on the floor and watch a movies, eat, hang out and hug around on each other.

What is your idea of living hell?
Life without my children . . . and living without Diet Dr. Pepper - in that order!

What are some of your favorites websites & blogs to visit?
Print & Pattern, Flickr, Etsy, sfgirlbybay (no sucking up, honestly!), Adolie Day, Domino, marymcdonald.com, moo.com, 1stdibs, Wishpot, and craigslist.


Cindy said...

leann has the most lovely things. all of those chandeliers, pops of color and the florals are so pretty without being cute. very elegant.

jacklyn said...

wonderful interview! thank you!

me melodia said...

beautiful post.

###### said...

WOW her pink chair reminds me of my grandmothers chair that I am redoing. I loved the interview.

Unknown said...

Victoria you the best-est! Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

victoria - you should come to austin...a night at the san jose, dinner at vespaio, a swim at barton springs, and a mexican martini at matt's el rancho. oh, and of course some shopping at uncommon objects and allen boots! just to get you started!! ;)
we'll keep the lights on.

sfgirlbybay said...

thanks, leann, for being our gracious hostess today!

i'm glad you all enjoyed it!

anon - i was just thinking the same thing, maybe SXS, and all your recommendations sound great! i have two good friends who live there now, so you never know! :)

Anonymous said...

Great guest! I collect Vera scarfs too, they are so beautiful!

Carrie Nicole said...

oh my goodness, such a lovely home! there was so much eye candy in every shot, with the chandeliers, the patterns on the walls, the colors, etc. i loved it all!!

MELI. said...

thos are some adorable dresses! oh dear♥
Im a californian and I love Austin. I know is unlike the rest of TX, but when Ive visited the people I have met (nevermind UT is a sports machine) and the art culture and weather, vibe, everything I love about Austin. It is a beautiful city, great artists, good queso with your drinks and humid hot weather in sept.
Thanks for introducing us to Leann, windows, moleskins and soco cafes. Im a fan already ;)

Lindsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lindsay said...

What a beautiful home! Do you have any idea where she got her wallpaper from, in particular the wallpaper in the bedroom? Its GORGEOUS!

Little Miss B said...

such beautiful furniture, so full of color and warm feeling.

la la Lovely said...

so lovely.. thanks for the introduction

Unknown said...

what a coincidence! i recently came across her photos on flickr and fell in love with her patterned walls - which she painted herself!

glad to take more of a glimpse into her life - every picture is so beautiful!

Jess said...

I really love all of her mirros and chandeliers! Can you find out where she found them?

Unknown said...

Victoria asked if I would answer some questions from readers. Jess had asked about the lighting and mirrors - the chandelier in the pink room is actually one of a pair of vintage chandeliers that I found at the Antiques Weekend in Warrenton/Round Top, Tx. I have the mate listed on my Etsy site www.thevintagelaundry.etsy.com. The chandelier in the blue room was a clearance fixture I found at Home Depot for $39.99- if you can believe my fortune! The reproduction Venetian mirrors were also found at the Antiques weekend. I have found similar ones at http://www.simplymirrors.com and http://www.thechandeliermarket.com. I can’t resist further self promotion here and tell you to check my Etsy store often for both mirrors and chandeliers. Lindsay had asked about the wallpaper - actually that is a painting technique I achieved with painters tape. Painter’s tape and I have a very meaningful relationship! The color in the blue room is Silver Sage from Restoration Hardware and the pinks are Musical Mist (150c-1) flat interior by Behr and Hawaiian Shell (150C-2) by Behr. I have the step by step process on my blog at http://thevintagelaundress.blogspot.com/2008/08/vintage-laundry-studio-redo.html.

 Viv said...

I've just come across this post. I adore this home tour. The wallpaper, hits of pink, pretty blues - ahhh love it all. i've bookmarked it to refer to it when I'm looking for inspiration for my own home.

Great job decorating LeAnn and lovely interview.

Viv xx

Kelly said...

OH my Gawd,
You have a White Epoxy Floor! I am so jealous. I think nearly every project I work on I push for the white epoxy floor(within reason) and people just look at me like I'm crazy...

I dream of living in a white house one day.

loved the photos thanks Victoria!

Lana Manis said...

What a great & interesting interview!

Elissa said...

love your home tres chic! x