Around 2,500 people visited the house I staged for Saturday’s Modern Home Tour.  I was parked on a dining chair with crutches beside me the entire day thanks to Blizzastrophe 2011 and my resulting fall on the ice, but it gave me a great vantage point for overhearing everyone’s honest reactions to the styling I had done. One of the comments I kept hearing throughout the day that meant the most to me was, “I just realized no one lives here.”  What high praise that felt like–that instead of the house feeling like a staged property, I’d been able to create a real feeling of “home.”  That’s always my ultimate goal wherever I’m working.

The key to creating a homey atmosphere is to establish a good mix of old and new pieces.  If everything is vintage, you run the risk of creating a period feeling…if everything’s too new, you’ll feel like you’re in a furniture showroom.  So while most of the furniture came from my furniture sponsor (Five Elements Furniture), I also brought some retro stuff from home and bought whatever else I needed to finish the space.

The thing that was most fun was curating the art.  First, I contacted gallery owner Joe Sigel (Art on 5th) to see if I could borrow some stuff.  Since he is a client and friend, he was kind enough to tell me to come pick out anything I wanted.  Score!  I also wanted to tap other local artists whose work I’ve been lusting after for years and asked a bunch of them to contribute pieces as well.  Most were happy to oblige, but I was shocked when one of my faves–represented by another gallery in town–required a $300 rental fee.  Give me a break.

Well, I’ve blabbed enough.  Check it out:



After seeing Paul C. Oglesby’s concrete sculptures during the E.A.S.T. tour, I knew I had to have one for this house.  It really looks stunning out front!  (Paul’s also doing an installation in the atrium at City Hall, which will be on view for a year.)



Paul hates waste, so if he has any leftover concrete after filling a mold, he throws it another container, making these little domed pieces.  They turned out to be a very interactive element…visitors enjoyed stepping from one to another.  The ridged bench by Efrain Velez coordinates perfectly with the siding on the house.  Check it out with its coordinating table too!



The all-white kitchen feels so clean and modern.  Although I’m a person who craves color, I didn’t want to go overboard in this space.  From the moment I saw the white cabinets, walls, and countertops, I had this vision of white vessels with fruits and vegetables along the back counter.  The rusty and unpolished patina of secondhand cake pans, pie pans and vintage wire bread baskets was a nod to the distressed concrete floor and helps dull the shine of this pristine room.  I like the bubbly, polka-dot feeling of them, and I’ll bet I didn’t spend over $25 for the bunch.  Great bang for your buck!  The modern green vase and orchids give us just the little hit of color the kitchen needs, and the concrete sculpture on top of the cabinets by Paul C. Oglesby completes the composition.  I love how simple and sophisticated this turned out.


Satch Grimley lent me the piece you get a glimpse of behind the dining table at left.  I have wanted this picture for ages.


So great, how the mirrored backsplash doubles our fruit and veggies.




I made a mini-runner for the walnut dining table from Five Elements by sewing the edges of three round placemats together.



This painting of local landmark Shady Grove, by Paul Stankiewicz (available at Art on 5th), rocked everyone’s world.  A $30 lamp from Home Goods and an inexpensive bowl from TJ Maxx could not coordinate better with the painting!


I picked up this mid-century record cabinet with bakelite handles at the now defunct Chelsea Flea Market back when I was a New Yorker.  I could have sold it 1,000 times yesterday–no exaggeration!



Don’t be afraid to mix wood finishes.  I would rather have the best-looking chairs and table than worry about whether or not the wood tones are an exact match.  Not only are these chairs well-designed and covered with luxurious fabric, they’re supercomfortable.  I can vouch for that after sitting nearly eight hours on one yesterday!


After we hung these coveted collages by Satch Grimley, Claire noticed how they pick up the lines of the stairway railing.  Happy accident!


Artist Stephanie Nance made my whole month with this diptych of a luchador and his luchadora, created specifically for the tour.  Sheri Bingham from Iron Thread Design did one of her adorable ottomans for the living room, and one of my vintage chairs makes an appearance to round out the seating arrangement…although, doesn’t it look tiny?? There’s more fab furniture from Five Elements, including an arc lamp that balances the window at right and a rug so tactile that 50% of the day’s visitors either bent down to touch it or felt compelled to wiggle their toes in the shag.



When I found out I was getting the luchadors from Stephanie, I knew I had to incorporate my Super Amigos, by Paco.  It inspired a lot of laughs…which, of course, I loved.


I had a little fun with reflections in the powder room, painting the backs of wooden letters and mounting them in reverse so they would read correctly in the mirror.  Every time I heard someone say, “Oh, how clever!” in reference to this, my ego went, “Zing!”


My friend Brian Barry did this amazing pastel drawing in college.  I stole it for the show and love the way that big baby peeks down the stairs.  You always want a statement piece at the top of a stairwell to draw your eye up to the second floor.  This picture was particularly effective in that regard, due to its grand scale, mysterious composition and use of color.


I picked up these vintage wood water skis for $30 at Room Service for the bit of subliminal summer sunshine they convey, propped against the wall.


Brian’s drawing needed to be hung on the far side of the wall in order to be positioned correctly for viewing up the stairs, so I framed some colorful paper to fill the remaining negative space.


Miles of desktop!


Claire came up with the best idea ever–filling this little alcove upstairs with a dog bed, which gave the spot a purpose but didn’t obscure the railing detail.  Local pet boutique Metrodog lent this Mr. Roboto duvet cover, which Popo is begging me to keep.  Okay…really, I’m begging myself to keep it, but I like blaming things on the dog. Wooden tennis and badminton racquets are decorative objects you can pick up secondhand for a song and they look great going up the wall.


Hard to tell in this photo, but these mod chairs from Five Elements look like water rings in a pool.  I added a metal table in shocking yellow to create a casual seating arrangement for the deck off the second floor.


Austinites are familiar with Rory Skagen‘s many murals around town–most famous is his Greetings from Austin on the side of Roadhouse Relics on South First.  I fell in love with his retro-looking paintings (pictured at left) when I saw them on display at Blue Genie during last year’s E.A.S.T. tour and felt a little brush with greatness when he agreed to let me have one for our music room.  The loveseat from Five Elements is both chic and ubercomfortable, and that little bit of hot pink chair (also from FE) tamps the testosterone in the room.  My friend Brian lent his green guitar and the folks at Strait Music let me borrow the acoustic for the duration.  Photog friend Suzy Q said she got such a kick out of people’s reactions when they noticed Bolsa Bonita‘s Tom Selleck-inspired pillow (complete with furry mustache!) that she stood outside the doorway for a few minutes to watch everyone’s expressions–it was quite the hit!  I was able to pick out a few cool albums from what remains of my high school collection to face out on the IKEA bookcase, but if anyone took the time to pick through the rest of them in the cabinet, I would lose all cred.  Roman shades from Budget Blinds diffuse just enough light for what would normally be a bedroom.


The saturated orange of the George Mamàn painting (from Art on 5th) and the laughing Buddha figure give the upstairs hall bathroom the punch they need.  Most everything else stays crisp, clean and white.


Do yourself a favor and run down to Five Elements to check out this upholstered bed.  It is so suh-weet, it made everyone’s jaws drop.  (FE also provided the nightstands.)  The combination of bright colors–from the Alexander Zerbe painting above the bed, to the orange lamps, to the lime green sheets–creates a focal point in the room.  Local artist Rene Norman’s abstract on the right packs a visual wallop I couldn’t resist.  (Both paintings are from Art on 5th.)  I whipped up the duvet cover a few nights before the show, made with about $80-worth of IKEA fabric and am in deep and abiding love with it. We’re honored that HGTV featured this bedroom design in “Dreamy Bedroom Color Palettes.”


I robbed every bathroom in my house to create this mirror grouping adjacent to the window.  My vintage bench (a Craigslist find I rehabbed and featured on this blog a couple of years ago) seemed like a perfect perch for the room. More roman shades from Budget Blinds soften the commercial-grade windows.


And what is that in the master bathroom?


Why, a robin, of course (commissioned from Sara Hasslinger).  I couldn’t help myself.  I wanted an absurd bit of nature for this vanity under a huge window full of visible branches.  The shower curtain from cb2–suspended by chains from a ceiling track–was all I needed to finish off the room.

Special thanks to all of the artists and vendors who lent their wares…as well as my clients and friends who came out for the tour!

Best Guest of the Day Award goes to Serita from the Dallas area, who giddily admitted she’s been a fan for the past three years.  She asked if she could have her picture taken with me, which cracked me the hell up, but it made me feel like a celebrity and gave me a buzz for the better part of the day.  Serita, if you read this, please send me a copy of that photo…and forgive me if I misspelled your name!

Interested in any of the art and furniture featured here? See our resources guide below.



Concrete sculptures by Paul C. Oglesby, of PCO Design.

Olithas Bench, by Efrain E. Velez.



Magic Mirror, On the Wall… by Disney.  14.5″x12.5″, framed. Enhanced lithograph on paper.  Art on 5th Gallery.


Atelier Table from Five Elements Furniture.  The Atelier Table, shown in natural walnut, has a self storing leaf insert to provide an additional 89” of dining area. As the table extends the legs remain at the corners to offer maximum comfort. Choose from natural walnut, white lacquer or wenge finish.  39” x 67” expands to 89.” Also available in 51” round.

Essex Dining Chairs from Five Elements Furniture.  The Essex side dining chair, shown in reaction gecko, is designed for maximum dining comfort. Manufactured in the USA and is available in over 200 fabrics with a dozen wood finishes for the legs. It has a solid hardwood frame with a limited lifetime warranty. 21w x 34h x 25d


Shady Grove 8, by Paul Stankiewicz.  38″x30″, oil on board.  Art on 5th Gallery.


Facing the Future Together, by Satch Grimley.

Wall of Sound, by Satch Grimley. (In stairwell.)  Mixed media on board.


Rupert Sofa from Five Elements Furniture.  This sofa is shown in exceed stone and is also available as a sectional. The Rupert is custom made in the USA with over 200 fabrics to choose from and comes with a lifetime frame warranty.  77w x 35d x 31h.

Scintillation Lime Pillows from Five Elements Furniture.  Choose from a wide array of designer fabrics and sizes to optimize any look with comfortable down filled pillows. Shown in scintillation lime, these pillows are the perfect accessories to add the finishing touches to your living environment.  20” X 20”

Rupert Chair from Five Elements Furniture.  The Rupert chair is shown in sakari lime and is custom made in the USA and comes with a lifetime frame warranty. Customize your look with any of the 200 + uphostery options.  38w x 35d x 31h.

Hokkaido End Table from Five Elements Furniture.  The Hokkaido is a series that blends bold geometry with elegant simplicity. A substantial lower wood shelf (shown in natural walnut) floats on stainless steel legs that attach to the tempered glass top. Also available in espresso stained oak and chocolate stained walnut.  22h X 24w X 24w

Vivid Shag Rug from Five Elements Furniture.  The Vivid Shag, shown here in teal, is a hand woven poly shag that doesn’t shed and cleans easily. It’s available in 18 colors and 8 sizes.  8’ x 10’


36″ Round Ottoman, by Iron Thread Design.  As seen at the tour house: Forever Stylish, in blue (56% rayon/ 43% recycled polyester/1% nylon) with mismatched buttons & hairpin legs.  $775.  “The Art of Putting Your Feet Up.”

Lamps from Five Elements Furniture.

Lucha Libre No.1 and Lucha Libre No.2, by Stephanie Nance Studio. 24″ x 30″ each.

Super Amigos, by Paco.


Isaac, by Brian Barry.  55″x43″, pastels on paper.

Mr. Roboto Dog Duvet from Metrodog.


Desk chair from Five Elements Furniture.

MUSIC ROOM (2nd Bedroom)

Julia Loveseat from Five Elements Furniture.  The Julia Loveseat is shown in cub, a durable polyester fabric, and has a solid back cushion cover with java legs.  58w x 32d x 31h

Crescent Chair from Five Elements Furniture.  The Crescent chair has an organic wool seat with a solid chromed steel wire base. Each leg is tipped with a plastic glide embedded into the metal wire. Shown in magenta and available in grey wool and black or white poly; the Crescent chair can be custom ordered with a variety of base options or even as an adjustable barstool. 29”h X 22.5”w X 24”d Seat: 17”h

Mahonia Tables from Five Elements Furniture.  The Mahonia table, shown in exotic caramelized bamboo, is a simple versatile design that can be used as a table, stool or even group them together to create a cocktail table. 12 x 12 x 17h

Simply Roman Shades from Budget Blinds.  As seen at the tour house: Flat Fold Faux Linen in Winter White.

Person to Person, by Rory Skagen.

Person to Person, by Rory Skagen.  4′ x 3′, acrylic on wood.  $2,000.00 + tax.

Silkscreened Concert Posters printed by Satch Grimley.

He’s a Mighty Fine Man Pillow by Bolsa Bonita.  14″x14″, $58.  Macho man pillows come with furry, 3D mustaches for the extrasensory experience. Each pillow has a “fortune” sewn into the back (ex. “Your dearest wish will come true”).

Guitars from Strait Music Company.


Portrait de Ville Variation #254, by Georges Mamán.  Mixed media on canvas.  $1,290.  Art on 5th Gallery.


Cleo Bed from Five Elements Furniture.  Surrender yourself to luxurious comfort in the Cleo Bed.  Choose from over 200 fabrics to create an intimate look that’s all your own. This queen size bed is shown in woolco microfiber and is also available as a king.  66”w x 45”h x 89”d

Taylor Nightstands from Five Elements Furniture.  The Taylor Nightstand is constructed from oak and birch, with a java finish. Designed with storage in mind, it has dovetail drawers, fully extendable drawer guides and a center rail support. 24”w x 18”d x 25”h

Simply Roman Shades from Budget Blinds.  As seen at the tour house: Flat Fold Faux Linen in Winter White.


3 Facets, by Rene Norman.  60″x30″, mixed media on canvas.  Art on 5th Gallery.


Purple Nights, Purple Lights, by Alexandre Zerbe.  Art on 5th Gallery.


Vegan Taxidermy: Robin, by Sara Hasslinger, Monsterlove Studio.  24″ tall, $300.


L’eau Chair from Five Elements Furniture.  The sturdy lightweight design makes the L’eau chair ideal for kitchens or bars. The aqua technopolymer shell features unique concentric waves to recall water transparency. 19w x 22d x 31h

*Prices subject to change.*