Callen & Eli’s Artful Treehouse

published Mar 21, 2012
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Callen & Eli
Location: Austin, Texas
Size: 800 sq ft, open floorplan
Years lived in: 2 months

Art can be therapeutic and transformative. You realize that shortly after stepping into Callen and Eli’s delightful studio space. The cheery open floorplan among the trees is filled with vintage treasures, handmade objects, and a very agreeable sense of relaxation. It’s art therapy done right.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Callen has always possessed a connection to the arts. When growing up, her mother’s studio gave her early exposure to the satisfaction and joy of creating unique works. Travel destinations such as the Salt Flats of Utah, and her current residence in the plains of Texas, inspire her pieces today. The simple yet elegant forms of her mixed media work project the vast openness of those locales — using negative space to convey scale and place. As you’d expect, her work is thoughtfully arranged around the home, providing curiosities at every corner.

Callen shares the space with her partner Eli, who has created a lot of the lovely ceramics work around the home, and her adorable dog Bodhi, who serves as her personal lap-warmer when at the computer. Callen and Eli spoke of their enlightening trip to Marfa, Texas. A small town revived through art, large modern sculptures stand prominent in a retired army base where you might expect to see tanks and planes. They felt like they were transported to another era when viewing the rustic modern accommodations in the form of artfully designed airstream trailers or billowy Turkish yurts. “The place literally awakens your senses and changes you,” Eli notes.

Speaking of change, Callen has seen a lot of that come her way after her Etsy shop was recently discovered by West Elm. Her work is now featured on their catalog pages as part of their handmade line. She said she loves seeing her work patterned onto fabrics — the repetition of the design adding a new element. Callen and Eli’s space and personality are down-to-earth, friendly — the kind of company you wouldn’t mind hanging out with over a cup of coffee. Like all great artists, they seem to know the formula for blending simplicity with whimsy to create a place called home.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our style – Roadside landscape

Inspiration – Art is love.

Favorite Element – All of the wood details.

Biggest Challenge – Creating nooks within the open floor plan.

What Friends Say – “I’m never leaving!”

Biggest Embarrassment – Our dog, Bodhi, bites peoples’ ankles.

Proudest DIY – The art on the walls made by Callie, the vases and bowls made by Eli.

Biggest indulgence – Fresh flowers every week and a well-stocked cheese plate.

Best Advice – “Instead of trying harder, try softer.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Dream Source – Owning things made solely by ourselves or people we know.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)


  • 1939 O’Keefe & Merritt stove


  • A lot of items from the best thrift store in Austin, Top Drawer Thrift
  • side table a treasure from Austin’s best French antique store
  • Négrel Antiques
  • leopard print chair was a gift from a friend on the day Elizabeth Taylor died so we call it our Elizabeth Taylor chair in Liz’s honor
  • handmade chair on porch and two bookshelves in our house by our friend Bob Winters (the one with the globe on it and the one in the living room with the plants on it)
  • great old wooden desks from Craigslist- both are from the 20’s- 40’s era
  • vintage mid-century sofa given to us by friends.


  • Family heirlooms
  • Handmade pottery
  • Stones gathered at Goat Rock Beach in CA
  • Old x-ray slide holder that I use as a flat file is from Top Drawer Thrift
  • Pottery by Marfa MUD
  • Yellow and white pottery from Tienda M in Marfa
  • Guatamalan fabric on sofa from Austin import store El Interior
  • Galvanized tub in my studio that holds my shipping supplies is from Callahan’s General Store
  • Vermont shaped cutting board made by AHeirloom on Etsy
  • Various other thrift store treasure finds — mostly from Top Drawer
  • Lots of handy wooden fruit crates collected over the years


  • Half mirror light bulbs from the Light Bulb Shop in Austin, an amazing locally owned store on Burnet Rd. that carries every type of bulb imaginable.

Rugs and Carpets:

  • A Turkish carpet that Eli bought as a student while travelling in Turkey is by our bed. Southwestern wool rug in our closet is from Top Drawer Thrift.

Tiles and Stone:

  • Kitchen counter tops are concrete

Window Treatments:

  • Our friend Cheyenne Weaver made the window curtain rods out of plumbing materials.


  • Most paintings and textile pieces are by Callen
  • Ceramic bowls and vases are mostly by Eli Robinson
  • Framed bag in kitchen is by the band Lovers
  • “flying things” mobile in kitchen by Kim Baise of the store Jikits on Etsy
  • “Homestead” print near our bed by Greg Beauchamp of the store Beauchamping on Etsy
  • Silkscreen movie poster for “The Birds” by Austin artist New Flesh
  • Green tiger painting in my studio (on shelf) by Delia Robinson
  • Ceramic sculpture of woman’s torso (on windowsill) is by Kelly Hill
  • Black found object shadow box sculpture by Vancouver artist Ken Gerberick
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Callen has a solo print show at the West Elm in Emeryville, California next Thursday (March 29th). RSVP for that event here, and stop by and say hello to Callen herself.

Thanks Callen, Eli, and Bodhi!

(Images: Chris Perez)