David Kowalski, the vintage curator/designer behind local Atlanta favorites such as Bell Street Burritos, The Pinewood, and Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall, has a knack for creating fresh new environments with a worn-in feel. The kind of places you return to because they feel like home through their lovable connection to the past. Admiring David's work around town, I knew I had to pop in to see where this creative mind dwells.
David certainly keeps himself busy with new projects rolling in, and most recently, his pop-up shop in the Westside Provisions District. So, I was lucky enough to catch him on a rainy afternoon which happened to be the perfect vibe for his comfy 1930s bungalow. The warm and inviting feel combined with the weather definitely tempted me to stick around for another cup of coffee and some good conversation. One of the main elements that made me feel right at home was the library/museum-like feel that made me want to curl up and crack open a good book. The stories behind each piece were so compelling, and I admired David's genuine enthusiasm for creating a space that has a deep connection to family and the past. This combined with his incorporation of modern pieces gave his space a certain refinement. I think this is why David's designs have been so successful and alluring; that comforting presence of history and significance, yet still remaining in the present.
He's built his environment in a creative and resourceful way where nothing feels forced, and everything seems to be in its rightful place. Even the custom paint in the dining room came through a process of trial and error until it was just right. If you love the vintage feel, but don't have the time or energy to try and dig up those dusty gems, and are in the Atlanta area, you should definitely make the trip out to Brick + Mortar's pop-up shop in the White Provisions building next to West Egg!
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Hard to say, I kind of just buy what I like but I tend to like early 1900s Americana with some modern thrown in.
Inspiration: History. If something has a story, I’m drawn to it.
Favorite Element: This house has a ton of character. Half the reason I bought the place was because of the porch and dining room. The built in bookshelves are also another favorite part.
Biggest Challenge: The walls are plaster so it makes it hard to hang stuff, and I hate a blank wall. Other than that, it’s just hard to heat, but it’s worth it.
What Friends Say: There’s a lot of stuff to look at, so usually people ask where I got everything. Since I buy and sell for a living people ask about how much I paid for stuff, too.
Biggest Embarrassment: The ceiling in the living room. It’s that popcorn stuff.
Proudest DIY: A friend and I recently tore up the tile in the kitchen and redid the original hardwoods underneath them. I’ll never do that again.
Biggest Indulgence: I am the cheapest person I know so I never spend a lot on anything. I did buy an Eames shell chair off Craigslist but it was still pretty cheap.
Best Advice: Put things you love in your house. Don’t worry too much about design, which is probably not great to say on this site, but it’s true.
Dream Sources: Deyrolle all day long, that is the most inspiring store. Modern Anthology has the best vintage goods and clothing. Same with Peter Nappi, they sell amazing vintage home goods and shoes.
Resources of Note:
- Porch swing - made by my friend Kendrick Anderson
- Pews - endowed to me by my friends when they moved to Philly
- Sofa - craigslist find.
- Blanket cover-found in Switzerland
- Green Wingback Chairs - found them at an estate sale of an old lady in Buckhead
- Blowfish - found on Ebay
- Radio - my grandparents gave this to my dad who later gave it to me
- Driftwood Lamp - my dad made it for me out of a piece of driftwood I got on Cannon Beach
- Vintage Chinese Photos - found them at an antique store in Zhengzhou where I lived for a bit.
- Painting - done by my friend Mick Bailey
- Finster Print - from Paradise Gardens in Summerville
- Honore Daumier Drawings - Found at an estate sale
- Andrew Wyeth Prints - Given to me by my dad. Wyeth is my all time favorite artist.
- Tufted Leather Chair - Craigslist find. I had it in my shop for a bit but it was one of the few things that made it’s way back to my house.
- Rabbit Hides - a friend and I actually tanned two of those ourselves. A neighbor raises rabbits to eat and gave me a couple of hides to tan. The process is pretty disgusting and time intensive. I’ll probably never do that again. The other hide is from this amazing place called Cooterville on the way from Portland to Cannon Beach.
- Globe - my dad gave it to me.
- Lamp (large one in corner) - bought it off a 1stdibs dealer.
- Table - they are just two wood countertops on top of sawhorses from Ikea. I just needed something large and basic. I love having folks over for meals and wanted something big
- Chairs - about half are estate sale finds and the others are from family.
- Rug - all the rugs in my house are from estate sales. They are so expensive to buy elsewhere.
- Finster Piece - My first real art purchase. I found it at an estate sale in Ansley Park.
- Photographs - The top one I took of a woman in Qingdao. She looks like she is laughing but she is actually yelling at me. The bottom one I took in Zhengzhou.
- The Switchboards - I picked those up at an estate sale and they originally told me they were scoreboards from local Atlanta schools. A buddy of mine came over and was convinced they were something else so a couple of hours of research later, he figured out that they were actually old switchboards.
- Photograph Under Deer - Taken by my friend Bob Butler (photographer turned home renovator). It’s a photo of my old roommate Micah Dalton and he hated it being up in the house, but I love it.
- Cameras Under b&w photos - I went to an estate sale last year of this man named Maurice. He worked for Howard Hughes and was the guy who first installed tv’s on airplanes. He collected cameras and projectors and filled his whole basement with them. I bought his collection after the sale was over and these few are the leftovers.
- Wicker table - Given to me by my friend Billy who is a super talented designer
- Mountain print - from Yee Haw Industries in Knoxville
- Yetti print - From an agency in Seattle called Tether
- Photograph of train tracks - done by my friend Kyle Hale
- Fish print - found it at a letterpress outfit in Seattle called Pike Street Press
- Fish prints with sailors - From an artist in Portland named Evan B Harris
- Pray For ATL - Done by the local artist R Land
- Refrigerator magnets - Done by the local artist Evereman
- Lights - Ikea
- Rug - Picked it up at an estate sale
- Bedding - from Ikea
- Painting Above Bed - The first painting given to my dad by his parents
- Desk - The glass is from a hockey rink. A friend and I found it behind an old house. It is supported by an Ikea sawhorse and an old Shaw Walker filing cabinet
- Chair - an Eames shell chair that I got off of Craigslist
- Animal Poster - I found this in an antique shop in Hong Kong
- Leather Chair - Found on Craigslist
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