Mod Green Pod, her husband, Rodney Gibbs, her two delightful children (ages 4 and 9), and their very old cat, Fuzzy Weasel Location: Hyde Park — Austin, Texas Size: 1,700 square feet Years lived in: 6 — owned Nancy and her great organic fabric designs are no strangers to Apartment Therapy — we've previously featured her style and her approach to creating healthy materials for the modern home. A walk through her house in Austin was as amazing as expected — and I was blown away by her use of color, pattern and meaningful furnishings.
daily photographs during my wanderings and occasionally bring my found treasures home. Recent acquisitions include a deer antler from a neighborhood alley (I'm pretty sure that we don't have deer this close to downtown Austin, so someone must have discarded it), a desicated snake that had apparently died after tying itself in an inescapable knot around a tree branch (I tied a velvet ribbon to the branch and hung it on a wall), fallen birds' nests, eggshells, dead insects, 4-leaf clovers, rusty metal things, and a wooden chair that seems so wonderfully poetic because it's missing an essential piece of its seat and back. Favorite Element: Rodney and I immediately fell in love with this old house because it is very light and airy for a depression-era bungalow, so it feels much bigger than it is. Structurally, it's in great shape and still has many of its original features from the 1930s, like the original bathroom tiles and beautiful Art Deco light fixtures in the living room and dining room. As for what I have brought to the house, my favorite element is that of story and meaning. I only keep things that have significant beauty and history (to me, at least). Examples include fascinating design history (the tulip tables, for example: I love that Saarinen said he designed the tulip pieces because he wanted to "clear up the slum of legs"); family history (a few very old fixtures that my dad salvaged from old trains, lots of great textiles and objects my mom has found on my parents' travels around the world); my history (a small collection of dolls bought from Seminole Indians when I was a child growing up in North Florida, and photos galore); my husband and kids' history (photos, artwork, collections from walks and travels); natural history (lots of butterflies, birds' nests, eggshells, seashells, fossils, interesting vines, and a huge bowl of sharks' teeth found by my mom and me); and imagined history (I love to imagine the history of funny things I find at junk shops and garage sales). Biggest Challenge: Even though our house is a great size for our family, we only have two bedrooms, so our 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son share a room. We plan to add a second floor for a master suite, but for now, we have to make do with the space we have. I installed Mod Green Pod's Delight wallpaper, in a gender-neutral turquoise and grey, after having a built-in bookshelf, drawer unit and window seat added (it's identical to the one in our library; both were built by an amazing Austin carpenter). What Friends Say: I love having friends over, especially at night for drinks and dinner and long conversations. Friends seem to love looking around at the odd collections of things we have throughout the house because everything is a conversation starter. I especially love when kids come by; I hear lots of questions like, "Why do you have a dead moth in this little bowl?" Then I get to pull out a magnifying glass and point out how beautiful the moth's wings are, or have an interesting conversation about flying or death or whatever that child might think about. I hope that my house inspires my own kids' imaginations, or maybe it's just their "normal." Biggest Embarrassment: Definitely our front yard. I designed our back yard (it was installed by Austin's Bio-Gardener and have grand plans for the front, but I can never seem to get around to the project. It is pretty overgrown, weedy and neglected and it must be surprising to new visitors that the inside of the house doesn't match what they see when they're walking to the front door. Proudest DIY: This doesn't really count as DIY because I didn't actually upholster the furniture or hang the wallpaper, but I am very proud to have my own designs on so much of my furniture and walls. I'm more proud that I have worked, along with my business partners and manufacturers, to make the fabric and wallpaper home-healthy and eco-friendly and in the United States. I like being able to sleep at night knowing that I've manufactured something in an as ethical way as I can make it and that Mod Green Pod has had some amount of influence on the textile industry. Biggest Indulgence: It's probably the amount of time I spend arranging the various tableaux all over my house, even though I think it's productive to find inspiration in thinking about the stories that each and every item or arrangement holds. Best advice: Make your home fun and enjoyable. I think too many people take home decorating too seriously, then they don't understand why they can't find inspiration or comfort in their spaces. Surround yourself with things that you really love and don't worry that the next person might not think they are beautiful or useful. Be bold with color, but work to tie colors together by using a related palette throughout the house. In my house, the consistent palette is white, grey, black, fuchsia and crimson. Those 4 colors can be found in each and every room, in varying amounts, and combined with other accent colors. If you want to do one wonderfully transformative thing for your home, HANG WALLPAPER in a room or two! Wallpaper can make a space feel magical. But try to stick with non-vinyl wallpaper for the sake of clean air in your home (and for obvious environmental reasons). Dream source: Earlier this year, I collaborated with a friend on a photo-text project that resulted in a series of wooden blocks that tell different stories depending on how the viewer arranges the blocks then interprets the arrangement of images and (you can see them in the photo of the top of my piano in the butterfly wallpaper room). Working with someone else on an artistic endeavor made me think about my own creative process in a new way and it was highly motivating. My dream is to collaborate on a wide variety of projects with all of the amazing, inspiring creative people I know and to fill my house with the products of our joint work.
- The upholstered pieces are vintage, covered in Mod Green Pod's organic cotton fabric. The pieces were upholstered by local favorites Spruce and Under Cover. The sofa is covered in Mod Green Pod's Aspire pattern, the butterfly-backed mid-century chair is covered in Mod Green Pod's Atticus pattern in a custom grey color, and the tufted armchair is in a new pattern we expect in early 2011 Anticipate (it's currently available as a custom print).
- 19th Century wrought iron and bent wood theater chairs are from an Austin antique shop (no longer in biz).
- Coffee table: Herman Miller Eames Elliptical Table
- Side table 1: Knoll Saarinen Side Table
- Side table 2: vintage Heywood-Wakefield from my family
- Tall side table by the door: 19th century piece from my family
- The upholstered window seat cushion is covered in Mod Green Pod's Butterfly Jubilee and the vintage chair and ottoman are covered in Mod Green Pod's Grand Jubilee.
- Side chair is Eames' Molded Plywood Lounge Chair (LCW)
- Wicker rocking chair is a Victorian piece from my family with a Mod Green Pod Wee Jubilee covered cushion.
- Bookshelf and window seat were custom built.
- Cherry Danish sideboard from Scandinavia Contemporary Interiors in Austin
- Pine dining table is IKEA. I can be critical of IKEA, but I have deemed this $99 table a family heirloom. My husband and I bought it when we first moved to LA in 1996 and it has been lovingly used as a workbench, desk, sewing table, kids' arts and crafts table, and dining table for many gatherings of friends and family. It cracks me up how many people pause to admire it.
- Dining chairs are Knoll Bertoia Side Chairs
- The tiny school desk is an antique I had in my room growing up
- The wooden chair missing essential parts is one I recently found in an alley. I dearly love it.
- Knoll Saarinen Dining Table
- dining chairs are Eames Molded Plastic Side Chairs
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