I have another special interview for you this week. You might remember the recent profile I wrote on artists Jen & Bob Lake. Well, today, I'm taking you inside the heart and home of photographer, Leslie Sophia Lindell. I'm very intrigued by the work/ life balance and, perhaps, most intrigued when work, home, art, family, and inspiration seem to have only a thin membrane of separation--as if they are all necessary parts of the same beautiful whole. There are so many stories (and images) I'd love to share about Leslie but you should know this--she lives on the top floor of a beautiful bungalow in the storybook town of Mill Valley just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's adorable!
Profile: Leslie Sophia Lindell
Location: Mill Valley, California
Square footage: 1175
Rent or own: Rented for 11 years.
Residents: Myself, Iggy the loveliest/feistiest cat, and up until he left recently for his first year of college, my son Riley (I pretend he still lives here).
Most importantly, coffee or tea? COFFEE (at home with a splash of ½ & ½).
Hi Leslie! I'll just come right out and say it--I adore your aesthetic. I love the way your signature style pours through in your creative work, your home, your clothing, and your overall way of moving through the world. You are an inspiration in combining styles, periods, thrifted and new finds in a way that just feels effortless and thoughtful and I dare say, authentic. Okay, now, let's get personal. Tell us the story about that amazing hummingbird tattoo you recently added to your forearm—it’s such a beautiful tattoo.
I first encountered Amanda Wachob approx. 2 years ago. I decided then and there that I would make a plea to get a piece from her. I very carefully put together a proposal for my ideal/coveted piece... it would be a tattoo from her or no one else. Several months later the email came in that it was a YES! Her studio is in Brooklyn and I was going to NY as a salve to the tremendously difficult task of dropping my son at his first year of college at RISD. I left home with my boy and returned with my hummingbird tattoo.
The Happy Landing (the small hand-painted landing at the top of the front stairs)—what was your painting technique and how long did it take you?
This was an impromptu “I need a little project to shake things up” type of situation. I dug through the shed and found most of the colors, picked up that deep pink at the hardware store and set to verrrry carefully painting each little strip with a small foam brush. No masking tape! It needs to be touched up but I have the happiest landing to enter and leave my house every day and it always makes me smile.
This seems to be a theme in my interviews—your Wedgewood stove! Was it there when you moved in?
Yes, bless my landlord. I’ve named her Sparky and though I have to light the burners with a bbq lighter and she isn’t the most precise baker I ADORE her.
Your home is so thoughtfully decorated with beautiful furniture, textiles, and objects. Tell us, where’s your favorite spot to source home goods in Marin?
Well, truth be told, about 75% of the things you find in my home are from estate sales and flea markets. Another 10% are combed from Craigslist. The last 15% are the splurgy little items I just couldn’t live without. That said, if I could, I would buy a house full of furniture, lamps, textiles from Summer House in downtown Mill Valley.
You're a full-time professional freelance photographer and you’ve worked with a long list of clients. But I know you’re currently working on a cookbook. Food photography is so popular right now! Who/what are your favorite cookbooks, food blogs, or food photographers?
Favorite cookbooks… Living & Eating by John Pawson & Annie Bell (my never fail), The New Basics by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins (my bible), and the new Edible Selby (because it is impossibly cool and makes me want to jump on an airplane). Buy them all (and every other imaginable cookbook--in or out of print--new or used) at Omnivore Books, please!
It is a bit tough to call out favorite photographers because I tend to work with my head down… not wanting to be overly influenced by other's work. That said, I did mention Sara Remington above. Long ago her work really made me say “YES – THIS is what I want to do”. Then, two non-food Photographers who completely inspire…I GREATLY admire Linda Connor’s work and long to take a class from her one day. Henry Wessel’s work saved me several years ago from the claustrophobic insanity of the Picasso exhibit on opening night at SFMOMA. I escaped to a lower floor and had a transformative experience viewing his work.
Your aesthetic is so fluid from your home to your fashion sense to your photography. This question is so hard, but how would you describe that overall style? I’d call it “modern bohemian urban dweller with a penchant for the most gorgeous things”. How about you?
Um, I couldn’t have said it better myself! I humbly accept the compliment and might throw in something about being addicted to rich/vibrant color, too.
Favorite DIY home project to date?
This is hard to pick… I’ll have to go with the fact that I have personally repainted some portion if not all of every room in the house. It’s a big job if done all at once (I’d suggest perhaps tackling a room then waiting a few weeks before starting another) but so satisfying and completely transformative to a space.
What’s one thing currently on your home décor wish list?
I suddenly have the urge to redo EVERYTHING! First project is to reinvent Riley’s room into a male-friendly homey guest room. I’m thinking pale grays, white, burnished/antiqued silver and navy.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful, amazingly curated, absolutely lovely, art-filled, love-filled home. You are an all-around inspiration, my friend. We can't wait to see your stunning photographs in the cookbook when it's finally in print. Keep us in the loop!