Jeramy Neugent lives in an unassuming cul-de-sac in East Austin, a home he has turned into a haven for his collection of whimsical, thrifted finds and family heirlooms. Jeramy first moved to Austin as a high school student and returned years later to work in the music industry. Both as a public relations manager for other musicians and a musician himself (fun fact: Jeramy's band "Fourth Grade Nothing" has several songs in the Bio-Dome soundtrack, a 1996 movie staring Pauly Shore) Jeramy experienced success in the industry but tired of its demands. Always an avid thrifter, collector, and decorator, Jeramy was encouraged by his friends and kind strangers to turn his hobby and natural inclination towards design into a career. He now works as a interior stylist and rents his home on Airbnb to guests attracted to his unique design and sense of humor.
So when did you arrive in Austin?
I first arrived in Austin in 1994 from Lake Jackson, TX and I lived here until 1999 when I moved to San Diego for college. Then up to LA after college and moved back here in 2008. In high school when I lived here, interestingly enough, I left my parents house because I was in a very small town and I was skateboarder/punk rocker and I had dreadlocks and I didn’t feel like I fit in so I asked my mother if I could move to Austin where my older brother lived at the time. I had a job at a car wash and got my own apartment and then my parents moved here my senior year. I graduated from Austin High. I had a bunch of older friends that graduated and moved here, so that’s why I chose Austin. It wasn’t necessarily to skateboard, although skating in a bigger city is more fun.
So you’re just an independent dude.
Yeah, where I grew up the high school was very cliquey, like there were the preps and the jocks and the read-necks (who we called “kickers”) and then there were the metalhead/skateboarder/new wave kids who everyone called “hair fucks.”
So basically exactly how high school looks in the movies.
It’s really interesting when I moved here, my very first day at school at Austin High a kid walked past me with cowboy boots and preppy shirt, the same type of kid that would have called me a hair fuck and taken off down the hall in Lake Jackson, and this kid saw me in the hall and he said “cool hair.” And that’s when I knew that I had made the right decision, it was awesome. Just good vibes.
And you’re a music scene guy too, is that what you did when you moved back in 2008?
So in LA I worked for the TV show, Jimmy Kimmel live.
I’ve heard of it.
(laughs) and I worked for a company called Motormouthmedia doing PR. That was a great job, I had really interesting clients like Explosions in the Sky and Animal Collective and Four Tet. And I moved here and started this company with my best friend called Learning Secrets and we threw our own events and did PR. Our first client was Grupo Fantasma and that was really cool because they were just blowing up nationally and doing a lot of work with Prince and so I got to go out with them to LA for two weeks when they rehearsed with Prince. It was amazing, I just got to sit on the floor and cry, I was literally crying when Prince walked in the room and started playing with my first band in Austin. He played all the old hits and Creep from Radiohead. They were getting ready for Coachella.
Learning Secrets would throw parties in Austin and bring in artists and DJs from around the world and just create a unique experience around that artist. Two or three years ago I was just really burnt out on the events world so I started working in Interior Styling and home décor.
So that’s around when you bought this house, is that what got you excited about that work?
No, I don’t think so. My place before this was pretty cool, really interesting. I’ve been into mid-century furniture for as long as I can remember. When I lived in San Diego and LA I would buy up mid-century furniture and I would sell it, just kind of something I did for extra money. I found that I could go to the over-picked thrift stores because people weren’t going to the ones that were too obvious and I would find amazing pieces. Most vintage hunters are going outside the city and to small towns and I would just go more frequently to the ones in town and find really nice stuff. I was telling my mother that last night.
You want her to start going more?
Yeah, I’m trying to get her to shop more at thrift stores to find those unique pieces. There’s something to say about having a piece that no one else has, you know? I moved here from a 400 square foot studio so I didn’t have much so I started calling on family for things that I’ve always wanted that they didn’t want. Like my grandmother, I got these trees from her and that deer. She’s in Houston, and she had a really cool ranch house that I spent a lot of time in and I’ve got pictures of her house with these things in them. And so my house is a hodgepodge, I don’t feel like I have a particular style but some people might walk in here and so “oh, you’re this style…” If I find something cool and it’s affordable I will buy it because I can either sell it or it will end up on the wall or something. Like this desk. When I first moved into the house, I needed a desk and I saw this one on Craigslist for like 20 bucks. So I was like, great I’ll refinish it and of course I never did. I went to the guys house to pick it up and guess who it is?
It’s Batman! Kathleen, you’ve never seen this guy? So Batman is this guy who has a giant bat symbol tattooed on his chest and he has his shirts cut out around the tattoo. He drives a bat mobile, so he’s kind of a crazy, pleather-pants wearing guy. And he had a garage full of shit, like he was selling sunglasses out of his garage. It was bizarre.
That is weird! I love all of your cute little thrifty finds. Like that cute, pink scale in your room.
Oh, thanks. You can stand on it, it works.
Um, I'll pass.
Hahaha. One thing I have in everyone room is a vintage radio. I listen to NPR all day long so I like to have them throughout the house.
Tell me about the Interior Styling work you're doing now.
I work for a company, part-time called James Matthew Design. And after losing my last music-industry job when the company went out of business. I just, at the point, was fed up with the music industry. It’s just changing so much. Unless you’re working for a major label there’s not any money there anymore. So that process of losing that job when I assumed I was going to do music industry forever and I had no vision of what I was going to do. But over the last ten years at least, friends and family were bugging me to do interior design work and I just laughed it off because I was a music guy. But that kept playing in the back of my mind. I would post a picture of my home and someone would comment “dude, you found your calling.” And these weren’t people that knew I was looking for a calling, they were just casual acquaintances. So I heard it a little louder. And I didn’t have a portfolio to send really but I had my Airbnb profile. Oh yeah, I do that too. I Airbnb this place that’s a big part of my bread and butter.
So you’ve got the side-game going strong.
Yes, I’ve been doing that for about 8 years now, and it's been great. I just had the first really bad experience where a guy with a really bad temper showed up with a food truck. I asked him to move it into the driveway so the neighbor’s weren’t inconvenienced. Because as an Airbnb host you need to be very aware and sensitive to your neighbors. And he lost his mind, he thought that was crazy.
But other than that I've had a great experience doing that. A lot of people that book stays here wanted to be closer to downtown but they liked the way my place looks. And so that has been really important to me.
And a lot of the family items in my home are important to me. Like these trees, no one else wants these ugly things! I mean these would be tacky to a lot of people but I think they’re awesome.
I love the kitsch factor.
That’s why my kitchen is my favorite room in the house, I love the bar facing the window to the backyard.
And, oh my gosh, this Formica!
That is new Formica (laughs) and I’ve got these fresh popcorn ceilings and I hate them but people come in here and say that they like the way it looks. I found this 60s fireplace on Craigslist that I have out back for 500 bucks and that’s a huge steal but I asked him if he would take $300 and bring it to me, he was an hour away. I assumed he would do one or the other. And he did, he said “I’ll take $300 but you have to come get it.” So I said ok, I’ll see you in an hour.
My backyard is a little too big, I’m overwhelmed by it. I have a little deck all mapped out but I keep pushing it back. But eventually I’ll build that.
So you’re a handy guy, you also work on old bikes?
Yeah, this is my cool vintage bike. It’s a 1985 Peugeot with the original water bottle, it’s pretty cool. And I found colored Velcro to go with the paint for my lock. And my motorcycles. This is a 1995 KLR 650 I had it shipped down from Boise, ID. I wanted this color scheme, it’s so Miami Vice/Venice Beach and it’s so radical. And this is a 1976 BMW R75/6 that I bought from a guy in Vail, CO about 3 weeks ago. It was just delivered today.