Interiorssneak peeks

sneak peek: sara oswalt leete and travis leete

by Amy Azzarito

Sara, Travis and their dog, Cash, live in this Austin, Texas, home built in 1905. The couple met in New York City, where Sara started working as a fashion stylist and Travis was attending grad school at Yale. The couple moved west to Los Angeles where Sara’s work began to grow, but her heart was set on living in Austin. She frequently heads back to LA for styling work but has recently turned her aesthetic eye toward interiors, designing commercial and residential spaces in Austin. For her own home, she wanted to complement the house’s Victorian vintage charm with a more modern, clean approach. She began by painting all the rooms white and all the window trims black. This immediately had the effect of highlighting the home’s high ceilings and large original windows. One of Sara’s trademark touches is placing found objects around the house to bring a little more nature inside and to remind her of her favorite outdoor hikes. The resulting space is airy, calm and welcoming. Thanks, Sara, Travis and Cash! Photography by Sarah Wilson and Chelsea Fullerton of Go Forth Creative. — Amy Azzarito

Image above: This is the living room in the front of the house. This couch is from Crate & Barrel, and the pillows are from fabrics that I chose and had made into pillows by a friend. They are a light blue velvet and a blue-gray linen from Calico Corners. I created the coffee table from a cut beveled piece of glass that my mom kept from an old coffee table she’d had, and the base is just part of my collection of “W” magazines that I needed a place to store. So here they not only serve a purpose and look pretty cool, but they also have a home that’s out of the way. The antler is a find from one of my visits to my family’s friends’ ranch in Texas. The coasters are cut pieces of sealed wood that I bought from the store Spartan in Austin. The embossed prints that are hung vertically are drawings of the town Arcos de la Frontera in Spain. I bought them there during my time spent studying abroad in Spain. The charcoal drawing that you only see part of is a drawing that I made. The shag rug is a hand-me-down from a friend in LA. The lamp is one of two that I bought in the Antique Mart in Sacramento, CA — they are large old wallpaper printers that were made into lamps. The shades that I have on all the windows are from Selectblinds.com in a charcoal color to go with the black window frames. The paint in here and most of the house is Valspar — “Ultra White” on the walls. The paint on the molding and trim throughout the house is Behr “Frost.” The window frames are painted with Behr “Beluga.”

Image above: This is the guest room, which doubles as my art room. This bed cover is from DKNY Pure, and the pillows were from West Elm. I bought this rug from an estate/garage sale from a woman who is now a client, and I am now helping decorate her new home. The gray metal cabinets that I use as bedside tables are a find from a dealer at the antique fair at Round Top, Texas. The tiny vintage glass lamps are family heirlooms from my husband’s family, and I just replaced the shades with these black ones to update them. The six Life Magazine covers I took off original Life magazines from the ’50s and ’60s that had belonged to my great aunt. I love that a few of them have markings on them that she made as a teenager. The surfboard is my husband’s, and we like to keep it out as a reminder of his love for surfing, and because I think the design is pretty great!

See more of Sara and Travis’ home after the jump . . .

Image above: This table is a find from eBay, and I love that its legs are two “x” shapes that can swing together so that the whole table can be collapsed into a very skinny side table, which is great if we ever wanted to use the dining room for dancing. The chairs I found at an antique/vintage store in Sacramento and are from the original Scandinavian company in the ’60s that became Ikea. I recovered the chairs myself in an Ikea black and white fabric. The chandelier was an old brass thing that came with the house, and I spiced it up a bit by spray painting it bright yellow.

Image above: This vintage cream leather chair and ottoman were also found from a dealer at the Sacramento Antique Mart. The nesting tables are a cute mid-century find from a store in San Antonio, Texas.

Image above: This cabinet, which we use for a bar, was a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law. I believe she told me that it is a Shaker’s cooling cabinet for baked goods and probably used to have mesh on the cabinet doors so the baked items would cool on the shelves inside. The lamp is from Crate & Barrel; the silver tray on the bar was a wedding gift and holds a vintage soda spritzer that I bought at a flea market in NYC along with various cut glass and crystal liquor bottles. The tray hanging on the wall was a gift that Travis and I bought ourselves at Artists & Farmers in Healdsburg, CA, one of our favorite places to stop while visiting his family in Sonoma County.

Image above: This is the master bedroom. Our headboard was something that I made myself out of plywood, batting, and a sturdy gray woven fabric. The striped pillows and matching vintage bedside tables were both finds from Spruce in Austin. Both drawings on either side of the bed are originals from Claire Oswalt, who happens to be my talented sister. When we moved in, we tore up carpet in this room and put down a woven seagrass.

Image above: This armoire was something my mom purchased long ago, and I benefited when she replaced it.

Image above: Guest room again. This is another amazing Claire Oswalt drawing collage of our friend Matthew Frost. The chunky knit throw is from Restoration Hardware. I must mention that the red wire magazine rack was a Goodwill find for 50 cents, and I absolutely love its mid-century appeal.

Image above: This is an original French iron café table that I found at the Round Top Antique Market on the same trip that I found the beautiful and curious Native American woman. The table also holds an assortment of West Elm vases; another antler that I found; a vintage wood and cork mid-century drink and snack tray set that I found in a tiny antique store in Wimberly, Texas; and a beautiful milky glass vase we received as a wedding gift.

Image above: This is the master bath, and here we pulled up linoleum floors and put in black and white hex tiles and painted the bathroom all white.

Image above: Guest and hall bath. This mirror is something I’ve lugged around the country as I’ve moved. I got it when I lived in NYC from a friend who was renovating an old house in New Jersey. They took out these old mirrored cabinet doors, and I got one! It happened to fit perfectly in this space in the bathroom. The little blue ceramic vase was my great grandmother’s, and I’ve filled it with bluejay feathers that I’ve found.

Image above: Guest and hall bath. Again, we took out the linoleum floors and put in all white hex tiles. I found this vintage mirror on the curb as a giveaway one day. Score! The porcelain votives are from CB2.

Image above: This is the entry to the house from the front porch. All the doors in the house were painted, like the windows, in Behr “Beluga.” The chandelier is from Jean Pelle in Brooklyn, and I ordered it on Etsy. The four red frames are posters that have schoolhouse sayings on them, and the bench below is another thing that I found at the Sacramento Antique Mart. This is Cash, our cute and very tall mutt. The black and white hat hooks are from Anthropologie. The rug is another hand-me-down from my mom’s tremendous rug collection.

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  • I find the combination of different details facsinating. I like how there is a beachy and nautical influence near woodland creature sketches and ethnic/tribal patterned surfaces. We are such diverse beings and personalities, and it is lovely when that goes into the decoration of our homes.

  • Sara your home is beautiful! You can tell that your home is a reflection of your lives and that the story within was developed over time and with a lot of thought and consideration. It’s such an great mix of old and new. The natural light alone was worth the post! I love the white antique vanity in the bedroom. We actually have that bird tray in our home and it’s one of our favorite pieces.

  • i love your simple mix!!!! please tell me the source of your seagrass carpeting???? how is it holding up and how was it installed ( over something else? pad?). Is the guest room floor just painted subfloor or did you intall it? we have removed all the carpet upstairs and undecided as to floorcovering,,,seagrass is a consideration
    thank you

  • Just wondering, could the Sacramento antique/vintage store be Bows and Arrows??
    Used to live there and still dream about that place. I love how they have a sewing machine set up right in the middle of the shop to rework vintage pieces.

  • I photographed this post and what a treat it was to document all the stories Sara and Travis have placed around their East Austin home.

    My favorite room to shoot was the entryway. The tall ceilings, the light, the rug and of course, Sara and her sweet pup Cash.

  • Can I please copy that coffee table?! Absolutely love the rugs throughout their house – adding color or calm when needed.

  • I love the French cafe table and Native American portrait, and I got even more excited when you said they’re from Round Top. Hands down my favorite place for shopping. :) Beautiful home!

  • Wow, this is maybe the most beautiful home I have seen online, ever. I love it. Much more low key than my own crazy-pops-of-colour style — almost makes me want to do everything in my house over (even though I love my house, really).

  • I am surprised by how much I like the black windows. The idea of them black in a sea of white seems weird, but it really works. Great job with the decor. It melds well.

  • Barbara – This is Sara. the seagrass was from a local source called the Great Rug Co. and we don’t have a pad and its fine and it holds up amazingly! As for the grey floors in the guest room, it is the original hardwood floors, but also a large patch in the middle was discovered when we tore up the carpeting and so instead of trying to match and replace the wood patch, I just painted it with Benjamin Moore’s Silvery Moon porch paint. I love it and did it myself – I forgot to write that……oops.

  • That Shaker Cabinet is perfect! I’d love something like that. My dad still has the dry sink that’s been around for a while but it’s a bit wider than this one (and subsequently won’t fit in our tiny house).
    Also, the grey/blue paint — LOVE.

  • The flow from the dining room to the sitting area is really nice. I also appreciated the blue color on the walls, it brings out the architectural detail on the windows.

  • Hmmm interesting touch with the paper base for the coffee table. Though I imagine you can’t put anything too heavy on one side left it tips over. Lucky there’s a shaggy carpet underneath!

  • When can I move in? I’m going to take a lot of inspiration from this place when we renovate our place.

  • The prints from Arcos are lovely, such great colors. We bought a small print ourselves when we were there last year, and have it hanging in our living room.

  • The Leetes have a lovely L.A. home. I love that they have found things at goodwill, have portraits of friends around and all kinds of wonderful treasures full of stories. I knew they had to be in L.A. with that board. I too am in L.A. and use boards to decorate my space. I mean their functional and beautiful shapes and designs.

  • In response to the question about the dark grey paint in the dining room…..I honestly don’t know, because I lost the paint chip and the name that I used! What a dummy! It is a really dark grey though (maybe a hint of blue, but not much).

    Also, in response to the Sacramento store question, it was actually just the antique market that houses many dealers in it where I got several things. It wasn’t Bows and Arrows, though I do know and love that store as well.
    Thanks for all the compliments, everyone else!

  • I believe your lovely woman portrait is from an old Sante Fe railway calendar, or at least is by the same artist.

  • This is my favorite sneak peek to date. I LOVE it and feel inspired to reclaim the design within my condo to better reflect what I like and not just what my mother-in-law likes (as much as I do love her). :)

  • Wow, everything is beautiful. I especially love the floor coverings (the hallway rug and seagrass) and the black windows.

  • Julia – You inspired me to go look up Winold Reiss who is the artist of the portrait and I think you are right that it is probably from a Railway Calendar. Thanks for the insight!

  • I love the black interior window frames. And is that Benjamin Moore’s Evening Dove on the dining room walls? Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful everything else.

  • It looks like there is a grass carpet just outside the bathroom—I am interested in using that in a friends home I am working on. Any suggestions for me on a resource and if it’s a good choice? thanks!

  • Meme –
    We have wall to wall woven seagrass in the hallway and the master bedroom. Look at your local rub/carpet companies, most should have a fairly inexpensive choice for seagrass or sisal – seagrass I found was less and it had a tighter weave. I love it and I love how it is durable and easy. When it is installed, it will need shoe moulding over the edges to keep it from fraying, so keep this in mind.

  • Lovely home – wonderful combination of new and old. I especially love the shout outs to the Sacramento Antique Mart, one of my favorite places. Sacramento really does have some terrific places to find antiques.

  • Sara – what great style you have pulled together for your home and those of your clients! You have created a fresh look that incorporates some family treasures – such a nice touch.

    I can just imagine you, Travis and Cash sitting on the front porch having a cocktail and enjoying these beautiful, cool days!

    Bien hecho!

  • I love the double-hung windows painted in that Beluga color. They really stand out.
    The house is gorgeous.