Again, this week, I will be sharing A Peek Inside: indie home tour instead of Wednesday Indie Artist Fixx interview. This week’s tour is of the home of photographer Hilary Hitchcock. Hilary likes documenting things that are rarely seen or are disappearing. The design sensibility of days gone by tends to make her swoon, as do rural Midwestern landscapes. She primarily uses digital cameras, but she does have a great fondness for toy cameras and Polaroids.
Hilary’s home is a treasure trove of design and I’m pretty sure that one could get lost for days looking at all her collectibles
How would describe your designing style?
In a word: nonnmatching!
In more words: I’m very fond of art nouveau, art deco, mission, and arts and crafts styles. My eye tends to be especially drawn to mid-century modern. For the most part, I was focusing on that era, décor-wise, until I found the house I live in now. That threw any attempts at continuity of style out the window! It’s an incredible space, but I’ve had to adapt to its various styles rather than try to impose my design sensibility on it. It won’t be tamed!
Tell us about your home. House or apartment? New or old? Have you done any remodeling? Is it urban, suburban or rural. etc.
I have a small house on the south side of St. Louis. It was built, along with a lot of other houses in my neighborhood, around the turn of the last century. It’s an average south St. Louis brick house, which was turned on its head by its first owners, a family of artists and craftspeople who were seemingly always tinkering with the place. So it’s sort of quirky-looking, and definitely full of character!
Would you consider the design and decor of your home to be an ongoing project or is it ‘done’?
For the most part, I know what I want it to look like in the end – the best possible version of itself. I had such incredible groundwork laid for me by the original owners that I just need to spiff things up here and there – new light fixtures in a couple of rooms where there were unfortunate replacement choices in the ‘80s or ‘90s, repaint some trim – to get it to how I hope they originally envisioned it. Barring some really unforeseen circumstances I don’t have any plans to ever move out of this house, so I guess I have the rest of my life to keep playing with it until I get it right.
It looks like you are quite a collector, tell us about a few of your collections.
I love Japanese lusterware – especially the styles that were popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Some have a bit of an art deco look, while many of my favorite pieces remind me of Clarice Cliff Bizarre Ware. They’re just so cheerful.
I have a lot of cameras – the only ones I use regularly are my Sony digital, a couple of Polaroids, and a couple of toy cameras (a Diana and a Holga). I have a lot of other older cameras on display – some are in really good shape; I’d love to find film for them and give them a whirl one day. Among my favorites are a tiny Japanese Hit camera and a Dick Tracy model.
I have a small collection of mid-century modern lamps. That was an awesome time for crazy lamps. I began to collect them when I was in my early teens, I think, when I bought a pair of very of-their-time lamps from a funky boutique on layaway. My uncle is an antique dealer and has found me some real beauties.
What’s your favorite room and why?
The dining room is the biggest standout. It was a bedroom that the first owners converted into a dining room and then built additional bedrooms on to the house. It’s meant to have a German hunting lodge look to it, and although I’ve never been in German hunting lodge, I still feel like they nailed that aesthetic!
There’s wood everywhere – ceiling, walls, a built-in-desk and large china cabinet. It’s painted with things like “bei spies & drank zu jederseit trumpi hier isi gemultlirhkeit!” on the ceiling, which is German for something like “by eating and drinking all the time comfort is the highest card here” or “with food and drink you will find here sociability at all times”.
Tell us about that amazing bar! Is that original to the house or a find? What about the chandelier?
The original owners made the china cabinet after they decided to create a dining room. Until they added the other bedrooms the family had beds that pulled out of the china cabinet. The mother and father of the family built the chandelier together – like the sconces in that room, it’s just metal and paper. Consistent with their other decorating jobs, it’s lovingly and skillfully homemade. And frugally created out of not-upscale materials.
What lovely woodwork and moulding? Is that original as well and did you do the painting?
It’s pretty surprising to find such a highly decorated room in this ordinary small house, but the dining room is made with pretty humble materials – a lot of it is plywood. There is some trim in this place that is standard turn-of-the-last-century St. Louis woodwork, but the decorative touches – including the painting – that the family added are real standouts.
Tell us about that mural.
It’s in the foyer right when you walk in – the first time I came in the house I gasped when I laid eyes on it. I’d been looking at so so so many houses for months and there just wasn’t anything in my price range that I liked better than the awesome apartment I was renting at the time. And then along came this place and it was absolutely love at first sight. I made an offer on it almost immediately. The mural sold me on the house before I even got a chance to see the rest of it!
I had a lot of work done this summer – new roof, new gutters and all kinds of other infrastructure-type projects. My idea that I would get this place all dolled up as soon as I moved in is comical to me now, four years later. At some point — if time and money permit — I would like to fix the garage up into a studio area. Along with – who knows? Maybe a screen with old theater chairs. It’s something of a blank slate and is large enough that I could do a few things with it. I have a couple of old photos of when it was the living quarters and studio of the original family’s son; it would be a natural to return it to something in that realm.