Elizabeth’s Very Vintage House of Handiwork & Travel

updated Feb 20, 2019
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(Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)

Name: Elizabeth Wissel
Location: Irvington; Indianapolis, Indiana
Size: 2,508 square feet (including unfinished basement)
Years lived in: 6 years; Owned

In design, as in real estate, the key is location, location, location — at least that’s the case in Elizabeth’s home, in which everything is arranged beautifully. The layered clusters of curios around the house provide rich texture and engaging depth in every corner. Beyond that, locations seem to play a key role in her decor: maps adorn a wall, keepsakes from her travels brighten every room, and, perhaps best of all, art celebrating her neighborhood and city can be found all around.

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The house’s entry is full of cool colors and light. (Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)
(Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)

Touring Elizabeth’s home, it was surprising (and exciting!) to see how many pieces of furniture were worked on or restored by her family members. This added knowledge increased the feeling of history that is so tangible in her home. It’s not surprising that the past lives of many items, along with pieces that have benefited from new life, are front-and-center, since Irvington is one of Indianapolis’s historic neighborhoods.

Elizabeth knows more than how to use heritage, history, and home in her decor, however. She knows how to use her own artistic handiwork, and does so proudly and to great effect. And she knows, as any good designer should, how to enhance all the handcrafted and vintage finds with coordinating and sometimes contrasting selections from her favorite stores. As if that wasn’t enough, Elizabeth has impressive deal-finding skills when it comes to the slightly pricier items. This Irvington home proves that a perfect blend of savvy shopping, inherited items (and talent!), and treasures from abroad are all you need for a perfectly eclectic and stylish home!

(Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Eclectic. I actually took several design quizzes to validate what I already know: I do not fit into a traditional category when it comes to design (and maybe even life!) A good analogy for my style stems from a photo of me when I was little and rocked a bowl cut — I am wearing a striped shirt, a plaid skirt, tights, socks, and sandals. Class that up a bit (maybe by removing the socks/sandals combination) and you have a pretty good image of my style. I love to mix modern pieces with vintage finds, refinished furniture from someone’s trash along with Ikea pieces. Add lots of patterns and art, and that should do it!

Inspiration: Vintage pieces and textiles…or basically, whatever strikes my fancy!

Favorite Element: One of my favorite pieces is my coffee table. It is an old card catalog table that I first accidentally stole (as a result of miscommunication) and then bought from my college. My dad helped me refinish the top and add legs. Not only does it pay homage to my bibliophilic nature, it is also super functional in terms of storage (it currently houses my massive collection of winter accoutrements). I remember playing a board game called Imaginiff and the question was, “Imagine if Elizabeth were a piece of furniture, what would she be?” Almost all of my friends chose bookshelf, but my boyfriend at the time picked coffee table. I looked at him in confusion, and his explanation was that he was thinking of my coffee table and how unique and special it was — major brownie points for that!

Biggest Challenge: Plaster walls/my stairs. Nails hardly ever go in properly and you end up feeling like you are hitting them with a rubber mallet as the hammer tends to bounce back and the nail goes nowhere. Honestly, most of my challenges come from living in a home that was built in 1924. The main issue with the stairs was that there must have been a runner on them at some point of time and the center of the stairs took the stain in a drastically different way. My solution was time-consuming, but the end result is pretty awesome, I think, as it looks like they are inlaid. With a lot of measuring, painters tape, and several do-overs, I stained the center and lines along the sides of the steps a much darker color. I wanted to make sure that they were well-protected so I used a varnish and varnished my way into the second bedroom where I shut myself and my cat in for the night. Unfortunately, that night someone set my neighbor across the street’s garage on fire and when I opened the door to investigate the flashing lights, my cat escaped and left some paw marks on a few steps. I remember having to climb down the railings in the morning as the stairs were still a bit tacky!

What Friends Say: I have too many things! But there is always something they didn’t notice before.

Biggest Embarrassment: Not taking the time to do things right the first time — which sometimes ends with one varnishing pieces of one’s hair onto the stairs.

Proudest DIY: Does my whole house count?? Aside from my stairs, I would say my artwork, particularly the piece(s) I hung gallery-style in the dining room.

Best Advice: Don’t be afraid to pick a piece solely because you love it. Get it (you will regret it if you don’t) and you will find a way to make it work!

Dream Sources: Pottery Barn and Anthropologie


(Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)


  • Living room (above): Valspar Cocoa Butter and Valspar Berry Brown
  • Dining room: Behr Starry Night (I think; I color-matched this one)
  • Downstairs bathroom: Behr Little Dipper
  • Kitchen: Valspar Lake Breeze
  • Master bedroom: Valspar Pale Oak Grove
  • Guest room: Behr Oat Straw
(Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)


  • Rug: Lowe’s
  • Couch: Ikea
  • Large table: Ikea
  • Tree print: Target
  • Pillows: Lowe’s
  • Broom: Anthropologie
(Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)


  • Bookcases: Ikea
  • Curtains: Lowe’s
  • Pillows: Target and HomeGoods
  • Lamp: Melodie Yvonne Ramey
  • Apothecary jars: Hobby Lobby
  • Coffee table: antique card catalogue refinished by Elizabeth and her dad
  • Maps: original art by Elizabeth with help from Anthropologie Make Map Art
  • Photographs on mantle: David Van Deman
  • Kile Oak/Irivington Prints: Wayne Kimmel
  • Underwater Library print: Melissa Bryant
  • Everything else: antiques, yard sales, refinished family furniture
(Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)


  • Curtains and curtain rods: Kmart!
  • Chandelier: Lowe’s
  • Rug: Lowe’s
  • Dishes and glasses: Anthropologie, vintage finds
  • Napkins: Anthropologie
  • Candlestick holders (colored): Ikea
  • Candlestick holders (glass): Hobby Lobby
  • Cabinet: restored by Elizabeth’s father
  • Silverware: Anthropologie
  • Here Comes the Sun paintings: Elizabeth Wissel
  • Button garland: hand-strung by Elizabeth from her grandma’s button collection
  • Bird fabric on chairs: Joanne Fabrics
  • Rug: Lowe’s
(Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)


  • Indianapolis A to Z: Society of Salvage
  • Curtains: Meijer
  • Red bookshelves: Ikea
  • Blue cart: Ikea
  • Microwave: Meijer
  • White storage unit: Ikea
  • Mason jar dishtowel: Target
  • Butter dish: Anthropologie
  • Multi-colored dish towel: Anthropologie
  • Table: vintage
  • Chairs: vintage — Elizabeth used vinyl spray paint from the auto section to spray them red; they were originally pink.
(Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)


  • Bedspread: Turkey
  • Pillows: Target, Wal-mart
  • Small pillow: vintage
  • Bird drawing: Elizabeth Wissel, inspired by Kelly Rae Roberts
  • Photography: Elizabeth Wissel
  • Jewelry board: designed and made by Elizabeth
  • Lawrence Tree paining: Elizabeth Wissel, inspired by Georgia O’Keffee
  • Steamer trunk: vintage/refinished (It was covered in grey paint!)
  • Rug: made by Elizabeth’s grandma
(Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)


  • Bedspread and pillows: Big Lots
  • Curtains and shades: Big Lots
  • Ferris wheel pillow: ModCloth
  • Green chair: Millie & Myrtle
  • Rug: Big Lots
  • Bookshelf: wall-mounted shelf “book-wrapped” by Elizabeth
  • Everything else: vintage/repurposed
(Image credit: Olivia Hinkel)


  • Bird pictures: old calendar pages
  • Origami cranes: made by Elizabeth
  • Curtain: Target
  • Cork board: made from wine bottle corks by Elizabeth’s sister
  • Tell Your Story canvas: Kelly Rae Roberts
  • Painting of house: Andy Chabot
  • Chandelier: Lowe’s

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Thanks, Elizabeth!