Allison Smoler and Heydon Hatcher live in sweet Hyde Park bungalow filled with beautiful and personal artwork and greenery. It's both well styled and completely unpretentious. Allison and Heydon have lived together several times over the years, since their days in Boulder, CO and now in their Austin home. Because of this history, the house feels less like a collection of late-twenties roommates sharing a space and more like a family home.
You just bought this house, I guess, a little over year ago?
Al – Yes May 13th! Pretty much a year ago.
Wow, you should have a party!
Al – I’m going to.
And it looks like a totally established house with all your cute things and your cute friends in it. Tell me a little bit about your house.
Al – It was built in 1948 and before I moved in it was one big lot and they kind of cut the house in half and built another house next door and sold it as two houses on the same lot. And after I moved in, I started getting letters to a lot of people I know that apparently used to live here which is super random. Meg Alley was my realtor and she showed me houses in this area because I think she wanted all of our friends to move this way and it was just love at first sight, me and this house.
And it’s just so beautifully decorated, I know you come from a furniture family so tell me about that background.
Al – My great grandfather moved from Russia to Omaha, Nebraska maybe 90 years ago and opened a furniture store called Allens Home and since then my grandfather ran it and now my dad runs it. So we have had a store my whole life and I kind of grew up there and so I had my parent’s help when I was picking everything out. And there’s also a store in Austin called Four Hands that I LOVE that I went to for a lot of things.
And so I grew up in a store too, like many young Jewish girls... (all laugh) and it’s the kind of thing where not a lot of people that I know in our generation are going into the business. It’s like 3 generations and then it just stops with us. Did you ever dabble with the idea of going into the family business? Did you get a real taste for it, or did you always know you wanted to do something else?
Al – yeah! I went to Furniture market growing and I would like to keep going to furniture market, I love going! And I have also considered opening a store, I just don’t want to move back to Nebraska. So if that ever happened it wouldn’t happen there and I’m kind of thinking it’s just not going to happen. None of my cousins or anyone else in the family wanted to go that route, so I feel like it’s going to end with my parents. Which my parents are supportive of, they’re not trying to push us into the family business or anything. What about you?
Kathleen - I think my dad would actually like to find a protégé to hopefully sell the business to at some point. But there’s no pressure on us, other than pressure I put on myself because I feel like going into the business would make my dad so happy. But when it comes down to it I don’t really want to settle down in San Antonio right now because I’m so happy in Austin but it’s a great business and it was a great way to grow up so I’m all for the family biz retail life. Also menswear…. I love going to market as well but I don’t know if I could be as excited about menswear in San Antonio. It’s for the gentleman, there’s no edge to it and it’s very conservative. So even if I took the business over I would totally redo it. So at that point, I just think it’s better to keep the integrity of the business and sell it to someone that’s into that scene.
After moving to Austin from Boulder after college, did you first work in photography?
Al – I’ve had so many odd jobs in this city. My first job was for a neon sign company. It was these two guys that work out of this… it almost looked like a little barn. And they were probably in their mid-sixties and I think they liked having a girl around. It was an odd job, there was no consistency to it and I really loved it at the time. We traded “Open” signs for a lot of things with restaurants for example, and they traded a sign for a car so it was really fun! I’ve had a lot of random jobs and it just wasn’t quite for me.
So do you still have that relationship?
Al – Yeah! They’re still my buddies and I want to get another neon sign.
I think I would like one.
Al- It’s just deciding what to get. I have one that they gave me when I stopped working with them which was super nice, and I think it was the very first sign I ever made with them. While I was there, I painted on metal and then I cut out the metal and did the riveting. One of the guys would do the actual neon and another guy would do the electrical work like light bulbs and everything so they would help me with anything I couldn’t do. I went to school for painting so it was somewhat related.
And now you make jewelry so the transition to metal kind of makes sense. So tell me about your photography and jewelry work.
Al- My friend Meg Alley moved here and got a job at Eliza Page and it’s a jewelry store and they hired me to do photography for them. And I worked for Eliza Page part-time for probably 4 years and she paid for us to take jewelry classes which was really awesome, really amazing. So I got my gemstone professional certificate and then took metal smithing classes and that’s how I got into that and I met other people in the jewelry world and started doing photography for multiple designers and making jewelry on the side. So the jewelry part is really more of a hobby at this point and I really enjoy it.
What are some of your favorite pieces in the house?
Al- This painting (a painting in Allison’s dining room) was my first housewarming gift. I grew up around painting, my grandparents were painters. Not professionally but they both loved to paint, and so when I was about eight I was with my grandmother in Arizona and she told me to look through a magazine and find a painting that we would recreate. And I found this painting, the artists name was Billy Sullivan, and my grandma and I painted these smaller versions. And probably 10 years later she was at an art gallery in New York and stumbled upon the same painting that we painted when I was little and so she bought it for me.
Oh my gosh, that’s such a sweet story!
Al – Yeah, so that was my housewarming gift and probably one of my most prized possessions in the house. And probably all of my paintings really, these are all of my grandfather’s paintings in the kitchen, in the living room,
Heydon – the one in the hallway is amazing!
Al - there’s one in the hallway that I LOVE! My grandfather for a while was sending them to me like once every other month. Because while working at the store he really just worked in the back studio and painted. And on the back of them they all have inspirational quotes which is totally adorable. I think one of them says “your home is the friends you keep in it”. They’re all just really sweet. “Look forward, continue to grow, as long as you live you have a future”
And they’re hand written, “dear Allison”
Al- I also love this painting of Jackson (Allison’s dog) that Heydon’s dad painted that I think is really incredible, he’s super talented. I love all of Heydon’s dad’s paintings in the house also. It’s a lot of family artwork, which I think is cool. My dog is my most prized possession, especially when he crosses his legs, he’s such a lounger, he’s a princess. He loves to get his picture taken.
He’s so photogenic. And we’re down here in this little green room with all the wonderful plants brought here by Miss Heydon Hatcher. Heydon, when did you move in?
Heydon – well I used to live a little bit further South in Hyde Park, and due to certain circumstances I moved in with Allison who has been my roommate multiple times.
Al – this is our fourth house
Heydon – 2 times here and 2 times in Boulder.
And you certainly add to the space, being the plant mom that you are
Heydon – well I have always been driven to green spaces and I think that when I started living in my own spaces (especially post-college) I really wanted to start cultivating a collection of plants just because it is something that makes me feel good, to put it simply, I just really like having greenery around.
And did you just teach yourself everything or is it something you kind of grew up knowing?
Heydon – my parents do not have green thumbs at all, it’s something I taught myself. My mother has actually started getting more interested in plants since I have. But, yeah I read about it a lot and when I am dealing with plants time just flies by. It’s definitely a blissful activity to me. Like Allison I have a lot of odd jobs. I write the blog for Johnson’s Backyard Garden and I work for a lighting design firm based out of Atlanta and I do floral work pretty randomly and I am headed back to school for landscape design. Utlimately, I’d like to be doing plant stuff, obviously.
So is your end goal to work residentially?
Heydon – at this point, yes, I’d like to do people’s gardens. And hopefully some of my friends will let me just go crazy on their yards so I can start my portfolio and then see where it goes from there.
It’s a great idea and it’s definitely a service that I need
Al – I was going to say, you can go crazy on my yard!
Heydon – I know, well that’s kind of my plan. I think your garden is great right now, honestly.
Al – Oh, thanks. It needs a little love
Heydon – It needs a little weeding. But I think that all of those giant agave and cactus are super cool.
Al – And our agave is actively dying right now.
Right? It’s regenerating as we speak.
Al – Regenarating, living and dying. And it has little babies everywhere, I love looking at it, it’s crazy
Heydon – it’s very phallic.
(laughs) It sure is! Seems like an appropriate transition, here. So Heydon, what’s your favorite thing about the new house?
Heydon – Well I really like living with Allison I think she did a good job of making it really homey and cozy and (I like living with our other roommate Zach). I really like her grandfather’s art piece that’s hanging in our hallway, I like the natural light and I like how I’ve integrated my plants into what’s pre-existing. It helps that I don’t have a lot of furniture and I don’t have a lot of things besides plants and art.
Al – and for me I’ve lived a lot of those things so many times that it’s so familiar that it is just fitting to the spaces.
That’s so sweet
Al – Such as the bobcat and the teeth in the bathroom, that’s always been a thing.
I’ve never seen that!
Al – you will.
Heydon – it’s a mold of my teeth that I always put in the bathroom wherever I live. It’s this weird thing that I do.
Al – that portrait of your parents.
Heydon – yeah we have a lot of good, old photography which I really enjoy, of our family members. It’s funny that she says that because I feel the same way about a lot of her things. Like this portrait has always been around of Allison’s grandparents and her uncle and I love it.