interior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: shona cowart of LALA dex press

by anne

shona cowart fell into letterpress and book arts by chance while studying art education in college, and upon graduating started LALA dex press. lucky for her, her husband tom (the patient one) found most of her equipment to open her own studio and a good deal of the furniture for their 1,190 sf cottage outside of nashville, tennessee. ebay, craigslist, back roads flea markets, neighborhood yard sales, curbs and the tennessee leg of the annual the world’s longest yard sale have all been part of the adventure, as well as an exercise in thriftiness and bargain hunting to furnish their wonderful home. click here for the rest of the post as well as additional images. thanks so much, shona! p.s. i’m totally loving her gnome print. –anne

[above: I stripped and refinished this child’s chest of drawers, found at a thrift shop in Ventura, CA. Tom found the Eames Wire Chair at a yard sale, paid less than the price of a latte for it, and the woman felt the need to convince him it was comfortable. The Alto children’s chair was found at a shop in Nashville, marked down because they were no longer carrying that model. The lamp was one of my favorite finds from the Nashville Flea Market. The jewelry is a collection of vintage pieces, mostly belonging to Tom’s grandmother, and pieces by crafts show friends Brianna Rockstaad-Kincaid and Asia Mathis.]

The vintage Linoleum table is Nashville Flea Market find and the chairs came from a restaurant supply salvage company in Nashville. I had looked at them for years in catalogs and on websites, but could not afford them. All four chairs ended up costing less than the price of one from a catalog. The rocket ship lamp is by the late Daniel Sadler, a gift from Tom, bought at a gallery in Redondo Beach, CA. We love Peter Sellers and to be honest, I don’t remember where we got this movie poster, but it always makes me laugh.

Tom found the sofa on eBay (also on out reupholster list), which we picked up in St. Louis after attending a family wedding. It took me about a month to talk a co-worker into giving me the lamp. It needed to be re-wired and he hated it, but was reluctant to give it to me because he did not think I was serious (I will definitely send him a link to this post). The woodblock print is from a ¬†show at LACMA, which has been in storage for about 25 years. It’s been fun looking at the posters we have had in storage.

The LALA dex press studio was formerly the second bedroom in the house. We ripped out the carpet and replaced it with plywood squares because studio space and carpet do not mix well. The chalk deer head is another Nashville flea market find and the letterpress calendar was a gift from my good friend and fellow printer Beth Howard-Snyder. All the string and the letterpress furniture are things I need to have at my fingertips when I work.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Shona’s peek (and additional, full-sized images) after the jump!


This is my favorite view in our house. Tom found the display cabinet on eBay and gave it to me for my birthday. The chair was a curb-side find from the neighborhood which will be reupholstered (it’s on our list of things to do). One thing that has been very important to is is collecting artwork from friends and people we meet at crafts shows. We hope to one day have a house filled with pieces collected from the crafts shows and studio tours I do throughout the years. On the mantel are a few pieces by Claudia Lee, Holden McCurry, and Howard Finster. Painting is by me.


This desk is Tom’s pride and joy and his work space. It is actually an examining table found in a scrap heap when the county was gutting the old health department building. It was a rusty mess which he had powder coated. The chairs were found at The Goodwill Outlet in downtown Nashville. I had a problem with buying chairs and was given strict orders not to bring any more into the house, but I absolutely could not pass up these two chairs for $3.00 apiece. At that point we really had to look at our collection and kept only the chairs we really loved. One of our favorite bands is Big Star, Tom bought this lithograph years ago and as a birthday gift I decided to take it out of storage and frame it.


Above: I generally scare people with stories of how we acquired pieces for the studio, but Tom found my 1890 6 X 10 Platen press on eBay, which required a pick-up in Baltimore. I always say that the moon and the stars aligned and somehow I won the bid for under $100.00. We also turned this pick-up into a camping trip, this time in Shenandoah National Park, a quick drive through D.C. and after we picked up the press, dinner in the Italian district in Baltimore, and back to the camp ground. In the background are two cabinets of type.
Below: My 10-drawer wooden flat file cabinet. Tom’s dad found a room full of these at the corporate office of his work, they were all empty. He bough several of them, rented a trailer and hauled them from Houston to Memphis and gave me two on the condition that I pick them up in Memphis. Not a bad deal.


On the other side of the living room fireplace is this one (both are non-working). More of my collection of pieces by friends, etsy purchases, and blog swaps. The framed print is by Camilla Engman. In front of the fire place is a small proof press, which required a pick-up in Indiana we turned into a camping trip.

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