I have been meaning to do a post on Leah Ball Steen's beautiful store, Revival Home and Garden for quite some time, and in the meantime have become great friends with her...Besides being talented, Leah has a sense of humor, that makes you want to be around her all of the time...My stomach hurts (in a good way) whenever we hang out, and I feel lucky to know her. Erika Solis from the blog Designeries conducted a great interview with Leah, and I took photo's on my recent visit to the store. Thanks Erika!
LOVE these chairs and pillows above.
You can see her sense of humor here, with the vintage boot mixed in with the more traditional pieces.
Designeries: How did you get started in interior design?
Leah Steen: I had a previous career in writing/editorial work before deciding to finally pursue my love of interior design. In what turned out to be the best possible turn of events, I was able to get a job as the office manager of a small commercial design firm at the same time I returned to school studying design. So while learning more about the process of interior design, I was simultaneously learning how to run an interior design firm! As I progressed farther in my studies, I was able to take on more and more design work.... It was truly the best preparation possible for starting my own interiors company!
D: When and why did you start Revival Home & Garden?
LS: I began Revival three years ago for a few reasons, chiefly because I saw a void in the local market for high style at a reasonable price. There were spots in Seattle where you could find fantastic pieces, but at what I felt to be sort of ridiculous prices, and often served up with a nice side dish of attitude. My goal was, and has always been, to be a place where people feel comfortable and welcome while discovering attainable, out of the ordinary pieces and
D: You offer consultations in-person and online at your store, what do you like most about offering those services to customers?
LS: Helping people accomplish their design goals and better express their personalities through their home interiors is so rewarding; I know firsthand that your surroundings can and do contribute to your happiness or lack thereof, and I feel honored to be able to help people make their homes places that make them happier. Seeing my crazy Chinatown Toile wallpaper first thing after walking in my door each night never fails to bring a smile to my face.
D: Do you have a process for finding merchandise for the store?
LS: I wish I could say I had a process, but sadly, it's all by instinct. I have some local and online regular haunts for funky vintage finds and I try to travel when I can in search of new merchandise, but with two small kids, it's not always easy to find the time. At the risk of appearing entirely unoriginal, eBay is a favorite source. But at the end of the day, I buy what I would want for my own home and hope others feel the same!
D: Is there a certain look you stick to when buying items?
LS: When I first opened the store, I was very much drawn to the whole glossy, "Hollywood Regency" aesthetic, but over the years, my tastes have evolved a bit, so that now I find myself drawn as well to classic antique pieces and weird 60s and 70s disco items. Of course there is always room in my heart for a little lacquer!
D: I am a huge fan of DIY. Do you ever re-vamp items to then sell in your store?LS: All the time! Most upholstered pieces end up being redone, and I have a fantastic furniture re-finisher who often breathes new life into battered items. It's so much fun to re-imagine items through my own lens, but it's always a balance between doing something crazy and something someone will actually buy.
D: I saw your beautiful home in Sunset magazine, how would you describe your personal interior design taste, is it different from what you offer at your store? (To see Steen's home click here!)
LS: I would describe my own style as colorful, quirky, and bold, which is pretty similar to the aesthetic of my shop, but with two small kids and two wild dogs at home, I have to always first think of practicality, which is why my sofa is covered in vinyl instead of velvet! I believe interiors should be fun, and I always encourage clients to take risks -- after all, it's just color, not brain surgery!
D: When spring and summer roll around we all want to refresh our homes, do you have any design tips for bringing life back into our homes after the winter season?
LS: For me, bringing in some new colors -- whether in the form of pillows, a new vase or tea towel, or even fresh flowers -- can be just the jolt needed to welcome spring. Of course there's nothing better than throwing open all the windows on a warm day, cranking up the music, and doing a little spring cleaning to bring back some life....not exactly a design tip, but it's definitely my strategy.
D: What are your favorite items in your shop right now? Any must-have products?
LS: My favorite thing right now is a pair of vintage white-washed lounge chairs with Greek key trim along the base; I redid them in a fantastic peacock-blue velvet that makes me drool at the sight. My must-have products would be a handful of design books from the shop's rotating selection, which I couldn't live without, as well as one of our Seda France candles (Hyacinth is my current favorite). And lastly, no house is complete without a Dash & Albert rug somewhere in the mix; their bleachable indoor/outdoor rugs are some of my favorite things!
D: When customers walk in to your store what do you want them to feel?
LS: Happy and comfortable, and in a buying mood!
D: P.S. For all you Seattle dwellers, Revival Home & Garden is on the Pike/Pine corridor in the Capital Hill neighborhood!
Interview by Erika Solis from Designeries and Photo's by me...