Photographer and avid antiques collector Tessa Neustadt has always harboured a love for design. ‘When I was a kid, I wanted to be an interiors designer,’ she says. ‘My parents would leave me home alone and come back to find that I’d completely rearranged the furniture.’

A passion for photography ended up taking the lead, but while interning for designer Emily Henderson, Neustadt was able to combine the two and launched a career as an interiors photographer. When her boyfriend bought an Eagle Rock bungalow three and a half years ago, Neustadt had a blank canvas - after covering the bright yellow paint lining the house inside and out - with which to stretch her design muscles. The California native shared how her love of antiques, photographer’s eye and adventures abroad have informed her aesthetic.


'The plan was never to have my work in the living room, but I have a hard time finding art, so this is a temporary solution. I have collected a lot of vintage paintings, but I’ve found that they’re quite hard to place together, whereas photos or sketches work more cohesively when decorating a space. I love the picture of my grandparents on their wedding day and the Cy Twombly print I cut out of a book.'

‘As a kid, we stayed in Santa Barbara, but we moved to a new house every two or three years, so home was always changing. Now home to me is far more about the objects than the house itself. I like to look at these pieces and be reminded of where I was in life when I got them. For example, my boyfriend and I went to Italy recently and stopped in Matera, a town made entirely out of sandstone. It was so magical. We found this little shop in a cave, lit by candles, where the owner made miniature versions of the town’s houses out of the same sandstone. I bought one of those and it’s a beautiful reminder of that trip. My other most treasured possessions are the wooden chain links and a really old silver jewelry box with someone else’s initials on it.'

'My suitcase is often packed with little pieces I’ve acquired on a trip. During our Italy trip, it was raining so hard in the town we were in that we decided to drive to another one to see if we could catch the sunshine. Everything was closed, but we finally found a pottery studio that belonged to this older gentleman who paints ceramics every day and in a whole range of styles. We bought those tiles from him, and they’ve very special to me.'

‘Whenever I’m out and about, I’ll always try to stop at a new antique shop. The Rose Bowl, the monthly huge vintage fair here in LA is great; I try to go at 5:30am to get the best stuff. When it comes to vintage, I’m more willing to splurge on something one of a kind or very rare, like my HMV dog statue that’s about 200 years old. If it’s something new I want, I’ll go away and think about it. If it’s still at the top of my mind a week later, I know that it’s worth the cost.'

In with the old

‘This is a small house with lower ceilings, which is why I stuck with these light colors. I built on top of that with the vintage pieces that I’ve collected over the years. Growing up, my mom was always taking me to antique shops. I definitely didn’t love those trips as a kid, but now it’s my favourite thing to do with her. She’s who I get my love of antiques from. Any time I’m shooting someone’s house I get inspired; it’s fun to pick little details from different styles that I love and combine them in my own home.’

Favourite corners

'I think this home is a very classic Californian home, largely because of the nature of the house itself, especially with all the light. California style is not fussy, it’s laid back and uses a lot of neutrals and natural materials in warm tones. Although it’s biased to say that, because that’s the kind of prescribed California style, when actually there are so many different types. I’m always changing the books, lamps and paintings. I like that it’s constantly evolving.'

The outdoor type

'Being outside as much as possible during the day is a priority for me, so having a usable deck was essential. We made the daybed ourselves - it’s where I take naps, watch Netflix on my computer and have my breakfast when I don’t have a shoot to get to. We have our vegetable garden out here, plus lemon, apple, kumquat and orange trees. There’s something so special about being able to use homegrown herbs in your scrambled eggs in the morning.'

Neighbourhood

'The deck is where we do most of our entertaining. My boyfriend claims he built the table, but really our friend who works in construction made it. The mountain view is probably the thing I love most about living in this neighborhood. I also like that it’s quieter than other parts of Los Angeles - it really has a small-town feeling.'

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