It’s pretty much expected that someone who owns a home goods company has great taste in interiors—or at least, one would hope so—but knowing how to entirely reconfigure the layout of the home is a whole other story.
Anna Crelia, co-owner of Austin-based Loot Rentals, did a little more than adding in small decor updates to make her home suitable for her tastes. Faced with an undesirable layout and a growing family, she and her husband set about renovating their 1,300-square foot ranch style home, piece by piece. By straightening out the basics—such as knocking down the wall between the living and dining rooms to accommodate an open floor plan and removing vinyl flooring—and then adding the rest in gradually, they were able to stick to a budget and still make the house into a home.
“We have been able to make little improvements along the way that have really made a big impact,” says Crelia. “My home is filled with things that I have picked up along the way and curated them in a way that works together. My loves of industrial, modern, rustic, and global design all merge together to create something that I look forward to coming home to every day.”
That intentionality behind the home’s design is one thing that sets it apart. The other is the actual finished design: The attention to detail and careful sourcing of each piece is impeccable.
“Fun fact,” says Crelia, “the rugs in my living and dining rooms are both Craigslist finds from a woman that was moving and selling them both for bottom dollar.”
Of course, having an expert eye for sourcing as a result of owning a home goods company helps. Crelia started Loot Rentals six years ago with sister-in-law Rhoda Brimberry as a rental company—which later became useful when she needed to find temporary dining room furniture—and just launched the brand’s inaugural home goods line on September 5th. The small batch collection includes a unique blend of vintage and new pieces, each carefully selected by the sisters-in-law.
We spoke with Crelia to get the full story behind her gorgeous home.
In this image: Live Edge Teak Hairpin Table, $178
What inspired you to start a home goods line and expand from the rental business?
The rental business really ignited our passion for interiors. We use our rental collection as a way to bring the feeling of “home” to parties and events and invoke feelings of intimacy and coziness among everyone attending.
We have always been drawn to vintage textiles and using them in unique ways. For instance taking a French Napoleon III armchair and upholstering it with vintage US Army tents or covering a beautiful antique settee in old batik indigo mattress covers from China. Our customers really fell in love with our look and started asking to purchase pieces from the rental collection, so we decided that we needed to make a collection specifically for purchase while incorporating the same creative vision.
Looking at the entire renovation project, was there anything from the old home that you specifically wanted to change?
When we first laid eyes on the home, I was really hesitant to put an offer down because it just didn’t feel right. The layout was bizarre and the whole house felt really dark. I told my husband that if we could redo the layout, then I could get on board. I am so glad he convinced me that it was the house for us; we got a stellar deal on the property and were able to do a lot of the work ourselves.
Can you walk us through the decorating process?
Our living room used to be a bedroom—it was very odd with the screened-in porch and sliding glass doors, and just didn’t fit with the space. We converted the closet into recessed shelving, which houses our television, and continued the built-in shelving on the other side of the wall, which is [Crelia’s son’s] room.
The original layout also had the front door open into the living room, which is now the nursery. We wanted to keep it a three bedroom home, so when we converted the third bedroom into the living room we decided to turn the living room into a spacious guest bedroom with a built-in closet. We had to reconfigure the layout to have guests enter into the dining space, but kept a little nook in the entry to make it more inviting. Now, when guests first step into our home, they are greeted with beautiful artwork and a place to set their bags down before heading into the dining/living space.
In this image: Natural Bolga Basket, $48
Did you design the entire house yourself?
My husband and I came up with the new layout ourselves and he refinished all the concrete floors. We spent nights and weekends painting while our parents helped watch our son. We hired out all of the sheet-rocking and electrical.
The design is definitely a never-ending process and is always evolving, so instead of jumping into a full reno, we try to do little updates here and there to make it feel more like ours. For instance, in the master bathroom; new paint, shelving, a modern mirror, and light fixture made a big difference without costing a fortune. New paint and appliances in the kitchen were a big upgrade as well without having to completely replace the cabinets. There are still so many things I would still like to do, but in the meantime I make do with little improvements while we save up for the next big project.
What was your design inspiration for the home?
As we got into decorating, the thing I really cared about was filling our home with things that meant something to us. It took a while to feel like a “home” because I was adamant on not just filling it with things because we thought we “needed” them.
Another design element I’m drawn to is industrial modern. I found these vintage dining chairs when I was last out in Round Top that stopped me in my tracks: Three of them are made out of solid steel and are super heavy, and the other two non-matching ones are more of a Tolix shape, but they both work together so nicely. The industrial vibe of the chairs mixed with the rustic modern table and a vintage Persian rug underneath totally sums up my decorating style. I don’t like to limit myself to “one” style genre, I find things that I love that contrast with one another to make a unique and interesting space.
In this image: Black Woven Bamboo Pendant Shade, $55.99
Since you’ve had the rental company for a few years, did that give you any insight into home decor?
I definitely think that since having the rental company, I have honed in on my design style—learning how to mix different eras and textures in a cohesive way.
In this image: Abridged Low Twin Loft Bed, $1,199
There are a lot of natural textures throughout the home—what inspired you to work with those?
I have always been drawn to nature—I love the organic feel it lends to a space. I am also used to decorating on a small budget, so if I find a piece of driftwood or beautiful wild grass, I take it home with me to not only remind me of the memories I took away from the place it was found, but also to add interest to a bookshelf or texture to a table. The shelves in my bathroom are fashioned out of the old deck boards of my childhood home. The driftwood pieces in the living room are souvenirs from my honeymoon, the coral remnants are from the most beautiful beach in Phuket. I also love to add texture with sheepskin throws and pillows.
Why did you choose to keep a full bed in the nursery?
That bed is maybe one of my most favorite belongings. My parents traded art for that bed when they were first married; it had been stored in this old man’s barn for years and is solid iron. My mom poured her sweat into stripping it and making it beautiful again and they slept on it until I was in high school. They passed it down to me when I went away to college and it’s been schlepped around ever since (in a most loving way of course!).
We weren’t pregnant with Edie (my youngest) when we first moved in to the house, and used it as a guest bedroom. When I found out I was expecting, I sort of just worked around the bed and added a crib and a changing table. It was great to have a bed in the nursery when she was a newborn. My husband or I would end up sleeping in there or if she was in our bed to nurse, my husband would go in there to get sleep.
Do you have a favorite part of the house?
The nursery is a pretty special place—the way the light floods in throughout the day, and also just the memories from bringing Edie home. I think it’s the happiest room in the whole house.