If you are drawn to vintage home decor even a little bit, then you must take a step inside the home of Mallory and Garret, two LA artists and professional vintage collectors.
As I write this, I am sitting at my kitchen table looking around my apartment and taking stock of my home decor. To set the scene, “Runaround Sue” by Dion is playing on the record player and I’m drinking home brewed iced coffee out of a pink boba straw. I see a mixture of new and old, inexpensive and “whoa, what was I thinking.” I scan the living room — I see my grandparent’s 1960s teal and gold lamp resting on a stack of German books from the 40s. Across the room, underneath a blank wall where we play movies on our projector, lives an oversized comfy green chair we purchased (quite economically) from Goodwill. Layered rugs and plants sit on the floor and flowers from our yard bloom inside recycled red wine bottles. Various pieces of art from New York, a gigantic world map from Ikea, and my boyfriend’s framed comedy posters adorn the walls. Sheesh, what a hodge podge, I think.
Looking around the house makes me really appreciate the talent of Mallory and Garret. The two moved to LA from the east coast six months ago and already have the home most people spend years trying to create. Mallory is an artist; a soft spoken soul but fiercely profound and gifted. “I have been an artist for as long as I can remember. There was never any other option.” Mallory’s partner, Garret, has also been called to pursue his artist’s heart, collecting and curating vintage items and clothing his entire life. Their home is nestled at the foot of Angeles National Forest in a small town called Altadena. Each room has an identity, a certain type of energy hard to describe. Life is in their home…. love, history, it’s all there and it’s palpable. “I would describe our home as a good mix of Mallory and I, our pasts apart, and our current interests together. Our favorite kinds of vintage items are things that have a soul, an aura surrounding them.”
These two people are some of the most laid back and authentically cool people I’ve met in a long and I am over-ecstatic to introduce you to them. So take a peek inside their home and get to know Mallory and Garret. Keep scrolling to the bottom to read their top tips to decorating your home with vintage decor.
Where are you both from? What is the thing you miss most about your home town?
Garret: I am originally from New York City. I miss the energy and community there sometimes, but it’s worth it living in Los Angeles, having more physical and creative space, and feeling less pressure to “succeed.” It feels less like a rat race out here. I’m constantly reminded that success can be whatever you want it to be. I feel successful because I am able to do what I’ve always wanted to do, all the while working for myself… that’s what brought me out here. It’s also so physically beautiful here, the diversity of the environment is incomparable to anywhere else in the states.
Mallory: I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. But spent almost a decade between Philadelphia and Brooklyn. I feel like I grew up in all of those places. At times, there are some things I miss about New York – the energy, my friends, the subway and most importantly the pina coladas and nachos from The Commodore …seriously, where can I find those in LA!?!
Good question! Anyone…? But back to this… How would you describe where you live now?
We have lived in LA for almost 6 months. We landed in a little town called Altadena, which is in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest. We spent a month on the road, driving from Brooklyn to LA. We camped almost the entire time, visiting national parks and cool, quirky towns. When we finally got to LA, I knew that I was ready to try something different. We opted to not live in Silverlake or any of the other hip neighborhoods, and picked a place with a giant 300 year old tree in the front yard. Altadena is a weird place with only one mediocre restaurant, one main street and a historic Holiday attraction called “Christmas Tree Lane.” It’s insanely beautiful and has tons of hiking. So far, our favorite thing to do here has been exploring the mountains in our backyard.
I wanted to move to California for a few years before I actually made it happen. It always seemed impossible to me. But I just kept telling myself that it was going to happen, then it finally did. Moving to LA wasn’t just moving to a city for me, it also meant transitioning from a full-time job to working freelance. It was a leap of faith but I am happy I did it. Being out here still kind of feels like I am just on vacation, but I’m not complaining.
How long have you been collecting vintage? Has it always been a passion and how long has it been your career?
Garret: I’ve been collecting historical objects for most of my life, my whole family is made up hoarder/ collectors (Hi Mom!)… but I became more focused on vintage clothing probably around eight or nine years ago. Something struck me about the texture and construction of vintage garments and the impermanence of the things we decorate ourselves with. We try and imbue soul into these things, and they can speak volumes about who we are if we just care to look closely.
Mallory, how long have you been an artist and what kind of pieces do you love making right now?
I have been artist for as long as I can remember. There was never any other option. Since moving to LA, I’ve started making accessories and home goods under the name Days Run Away, taken from one of my favorite Charles Bukowski books. Lots of hand dying and hand embroidery. This is the first time I have made functional objects, my background is in fine art and I am used to making art for the sake of art. I am enjoying the element of folk art that embroidering has brought to my practice. Both of my grandmothers were intense crafters – I feel a connection to them and I love that.
Garret, how would you describe your job?
Collecting and selling vintage has only been my full time job for about six months now and it took a hard jump transitioning over to being self-employed, a lot of discipline… which I’m still trying to work out. My day-to-day work consists of searching out new stuff for the flea markets (where I sell every weekend), working out new display ideas, photographing and posting items online… Etsy, Instagram, etc., and trying to figure out how to make this business sustainable in the long term while remembering all the time why I love doing this.
One of my favorite things in their house is Mallory’s red necklace pictured above. “Where in the world did that come from?” I ask her a little too excitedly. “Garret made me that necklace for my birthday this year. He is the absolute best at making handmade gifts. He constantly sets the bar higher and higher for himself. I believe it references the period of early trade between Native Americans and Europeans, a time where Native Americans would adorn their garments with things like German silver and glass beads.”
Where do you love finding vintage home decor?
Garret: We love finding most of our vintage home items at flea markets because you absolutely never know what you are going to find there, and somehow, you never knew that you “needed” that special thing until you saw it there staring back at you.
How would you describe your home?
Garret: I would describe our home decor as a good mix of Mallory and I, our pasts apart, and our current interests together. Our favorite kinds of vintage items are things that have a soul, an aura surrounding them. Things with personal history, or things that other people have owned and cared for, repaired or made their own in some way. Items that embody a piece of someone else, or a specific time in history.
What would you consider the coolest piece of vintage that you own?
Mallory: Right now, I am very in love with my Navajo squash blossom necklace that I bought a few months ago. Made in the 1940s, it is smaller in size and features a green turquoise that fades to blue as it grows up the collar. The man that sold it to me has been collecting Native American jewelry for over 30 years, the day I bought it, he showed me his personal collection and I was blown away – he had so many pieces that dated back to the 1890s. The experience of buying the necklace was just as special as owning it.
While I’m visiting Mallory and Garret, two cats leisurely, and quite stoically, sashay through the house. They strut and pose for me and Garret says they love getting their photo taken. “The cats are Simone and Gina and I’ve had them, or rather they’ve had me, for about 12 years now.”
Mallory and Garret’s Top Three Tips to Buying Vintage for Your Home:
-Sometimes it’s just about going with your gut, and if you do that, things will look and feel honest. Don’t do what you think you should do, do what you know you should do.
-Make sure the things you display mean something to you in some way, forget what is in fashion. Remember the qualities that make you, your personal history, and flaunt it. That is the most honest way to be, the most honest way to decorate.
-Shop flea markets, swap meets, hole in the wall antique stores or explore your grandparent’s attic… you never know what you are going to find there. Let yourself be surprised.
Thank you Mallory and Garret, you both are an inspiration!