Russ & Elissa's Vintage Pastel Pastiche

Russ & Elissa's Vintage Pastel Pastiche

Janel Laban
Feb 19, 2010

(Welcome to Jennifer from Columbus, one of the bloggers trying out for a place on the Apartment Therapy editorial team as a House Tour Contributor. Enjoy her work!)

Name: Russ and Elissa (and Stella the Cat)
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Size: 1,150 square feet
Years lived in: 3 months

Russ and Elissa have made their home in a two-story 1921 bungalow in Columbus' Merion Village. Despite the short time they've occupied their residence, Russ, president of campaign-paraphernalia company Tigereye Design, and Elissa, a manager at an upscale children's boutique, have used Easter egg-hued paint, fanciful accessories and a carefully edited selection of vintage furniture to imbue the rental with personality.

The duo's shared passion for art and design is evident throughout their home, from the portrait of their beloved cat Stella Russ created and propped by her food dishes to Elissa's jewelry collection, which adorns their bedroom wall. The home also serves as a backdrop for the self-portraits Elissa regularly posts on her fashion, art and music blog, Spandex Pony.

The newlyweds, who married Oct. 31, have learned to combine their distinct tastes--Elissa leans toward Art Deco designs, while Russ prefers mid-century modern--to achieve an end result that is polished, yet lively. Getting there takes compromise and deliberation, they say, with no small amount of time debating decor decisions so that they both are satisfied final look. Their aesthetic is playful but never childish: bottles of nail polish are elevated by their display in a hand-carved bowl; tiny toy figurines tucked in the pantry provide an extra dose of flavor; faux fur adorns a chair that's been converted into a cat-only perch; and a Godzilla figurine looms large over a bookshelf.

Though their home is chockablock with eye candy, it's functional, too. Russ and Elissa have created a warm, inviting space that both looks good and works well, with ample seating for human and feline alike, an expansive kitchen for cooking and a well-organized home office that Russ uses on the days when he opts out of his 1-1/2-hour commute. The house, particularly the upstairs, continues to be a work in progress for the two, who say they cannot imagine adopting the "bed in a bag" decorating sensibility. For instance, they say, the issue of where to place a credenza underwent a "scientific" discussion before its location was decided. Better to act slowly and with purpose than to move quickly and have an end result bereft of personality, they say.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our style: You would have to say vintage first. How about vintage pastel pastiche?

Inspiration: Honestly, the thrift store is where I developed my style. In college--since you couldn't afford anything--going to the thrift store and seeing what neat things they had, the gadgetry, was inspiring. I'm a Salvation Army brat.

Favorite Element: I would say the room colors. It looks luminescent in a way, really calming. And the function. I really like the function. I like that we took a dilapidated chair and made it for into a place for Stella--this is her bed, this grand little thing. I like that we have this 8-foot-long couch underneath the window that we can lay down on and nap. I like the way things are working.

Biggest Challenge: In the living room, because of where the fireplace is, there's no good place to put the T.V. We really don't like to have it on the mantel, because it seems "anti-fireplace," and to me, fireplaces are a good thing. It's all sort of a struggle because we're renting, there's nothing that we could build in here--you can't do that when you're renting. There's a lot of shelving we'd like to put up, new flooring that we'd like to do, even carpet in places. It's been a lived-in house since 1921 and we're sort of arriving with whatever wear and tear has already happened.

What Friends Say: People really like the wall color, which is funny, because we just went to Walmart really late at night. It was like, "Ugh, we need to paint this room, what do you want?" I think it was, like, midnight.

Biggest Embarrassment: I would say our biggest embarrassment so far is that we haven't allowed our own art--or any art, in general--to live on the walls yet. I don't know what we're waiting on, but we haven't taken that step to personalize our walls with ourselves, even though we have tons of art and posters. And we like the downstairs--I think we focused on it first because that's what most people see--but I'd say the entire upstairs is an embarrassment. But I think we're slowly but surely getting things together upstairs.

Proudest DIY: The dining room chairs we reupholstered.

Biggest Indulgence: The couch. Or porcelain figurines. And we haven't spent a lot of money on it, but the thing we can't stop buying is glassware. We have a ton of glassware.

Best advice: Even though we have been taking our time getting it done, I'm glad we didn't try to rush through it. We just don't like the look of "let's get this room decorated. Let's get some purple sheets and some purple curtains and purple rug, and we'll get them all from Target and then we're done."

Dream source: Canoe (, in Portland, is awesome. At Z Gallerie (, there's a chandelier shaped like a pirate ship. I really want that. Grandview Mercantile ( The Tenderloin district in San Francisco. If money wasn't an object, I'd take a train to San Francisco and pick up things there.


- The dining room credenza, the living room coffee and end tables and the office couch come from Dayton-area thrift stores. Dayton, Ohio has provided us with the coolest stuff from thrift stores. It's a sign of the economy: Toledo and Dayton have been major gets for me for vintage stuff, because there's a lot of people leaving and trying to sell old things at low prices, whereas Columbus isn't that way. There's not a lot of desperation in Columbus.
- The living room couch is from ebay (
- The burnt-orange chairs are from Flower child (989 N. High St., Columbus).
- The dining room table and chairs are from a garage sale.
- The black stools in the dining room and kitchen are from an estate sale.
- Living room paint -- Walmart copy of Dutch Boy's Green River
- Dining room paint -- Walmart copy of Valspar's Rainwater.

(Thanks, Russ and Elissa!)

Images: Jennifer Wray

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