Tour a Funky, Austin Apartment Filled With Plants and Global Accents

Join wildlife conservation photographer-filmmaker duo Arnelle Lozada and Emil Walker for a tour of their quirky South Austin, Texas, apartment. Step inside and you'll find secondhand and vintage treasures, hand-thrown planters, '70s flair and unique collectibles from their travels around the world.

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September 17, 2020

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Photo By: Arnelle Lozada

Welcome to the Jungle

Arnelle here, reporting live from the jungle. I spent five years as a freelance photographer before shifting into the non-profit space. My husband, Emil, is a freelance filmmaker from London. Before moving into our Austin, Texas, home together, we made our trans-Atlantic relationship work by meeting in amazing places around the world, kickstarting our story as travel enthusiasts and fellow lovers of nature and the planet. We now focus a lot of our work together on wildlife and environmental conservation. With plants in every corner and incense and candles always burning, we want guests to feel relaxed and connected to the outdoors whenever they visit.

Moroccan Hues

While visiting Morocco, we were inspired by the terra-cotta and rust colors that blanket the riads. We decided we needed an accent wall that brought us back. This Cavern Clay wall is a reminder of the beauty of Marrakech that enamoured us and kept us longing for more.

Green With Life

We knew we wanted a green couch to complement the plants and to pop against all the other rustic, natural hues. We really think it brings out the rich colors of the foliage and makes the living space feel all the more jungle-esque — just the way we like it. The wild animal on the couch is also a nice touch.

A Nested Nook

An “egg chair” (as we like to call it) surrounded by greenery, a handmade footstool and our budding wicker and mask collection make this nook one of our favorite spots in the entire apartment to curl up with a book. As a bonus, it also faces the rest of the living space, making it prime real estate for socializing with guests.

The Wicker Wall

Though this wall is adorned by more than just wicker, “Wicker Wall” just had a nice ring to it. This fun collection features masks and baskets that we’ve purchased either secondhand or on our travels to Belize, South Africa and Mexico. For added shine, there’s also a gold purselet and triangle mirror from Morocco. We like to think of it as a scrapbook on our wall, and we plan to continue building this collection out over the years.

A DIY Success

This footstool was a true labor of love. Using fabric we purchased online from Turkey, Emil crafted and stained the wood base while I formed and attached the pillow using dense foam and batting. We bought the legs online and stained them in the same color as the base and voila! — a one-of-a-kind footstool to rest our tired footsies.

When In Doubt, More Brass

As an ode to the beauty of India and Morocco, we love to fill our home with gold and brass accents. In addition to being beautiful, they add shine and dimension to otherwise matte decor. Whether we find the pieces abroad or in secondhand and vintage shops, we’re admittedly obsessed. We are firm believers that one can never have too many brass and gold accents.

I Am the One I’ve Been Waiting For

As a graphic design and illustration enthusiast, I took it upon myself to design something that I find inspirational. I created this framed design digitally, with a watercolor effect I painted as a backdrop to a quote that I like to tell myself and others: “I am the one I’ve been waiting for.” It’s my reminder to myself and others who purchase the piece online that if you’re waiting for someone to show up and change your life, that person is you, and if you’re waiting for a time, it’s now.

This Is Where the Booze Goes

Our bar cart is currently filled with more plants and dried flowers than alcohol, and that needs to change. We love to host and entertain guests, so we like to have a stocked booze station filled with our drinks of choice: tequila, gin, red wine and vodka for the brave ones.

Barstools: The Secondhand Jackpot

This pair of barstools is one of our favorite secondhand finds. They were a steal, they're actually comfortable and we’ve never seen anything like them before. We knew we wanted unique barstools, but what we found were statement pieces that spark conversations when anyone enters our home.

Taking a Stand

We take a lot of pride in our eclectic plant stand collection. We wanted to add dimension and texture to our plant display, and we scored these three bamboo and wood stands secondhand. They are now home to an ever-evolving and ever-changing family of plants, backed by a large macramé piece that I made for our ‘70s-themed wedding. The Cornwall, United Kingdom, wedding was cancelled due to COVID-19. Instead, we had a last-minute Zoom wedding in our living room.

A Dog Bed Fit For a King

Once we adopted Tyler, we scoured the internet for a dog bed fit for our beloved, silly little pup, but to no avail. We had another “Aha!” moment when we remembered we had more gorgeous Turkish fabric lying around from the ottoman project, and commissioned a local seamstress to execute our vision and design for it. It is now lovingly stuffed with our old clothes to give them new purpose (which also makes the bed entirely machine-washable), and we are thrilled to report that it is Tyler-approved.

Where the (Creative) Magic Happens

We made it a point to make our room an inspiring space to wake up in. Waking up in a room that makes you feel good sets the tone for the rest of the day, and so we filled ours with things that make us happy — plants, dried flowers, art, funky decor and lots of texture.

That '70s Wall

Inspired by a wallpaper design we saw online at Urban Outfitters, this hand-painted accent wall was an extremely ambitious undertaking. We quickly learned that we bit off far more than we could chew. What was meant to be a weekend project ended up being a week-long project, painting for hours every day. Thankfully, Emil was clever enough to make stencils from scratch to streamline the process, but it still took days. While we are extremely happy with the end product, we’re not quite sure we’d ever take on such a tedious, meticulous and detailed design by hand ever again — at least not without the proper back and neck support.

Details From Africa

This corner of our bedroom features a Moroccan pouf purchased on our trip and a Rwandan basket from conservationist Russell Mittermeier. Through his work and travel over the years, Russ has amassed a massive, extraordinary collection of pieces from indigenous groups and locals. When his son (a friend of mine) said he was selling some of them, I jumped at the opportunity.

Bird Cage Turned Pendant Lamp

During one of our wicker hauls, we found this amazing bird cage we wanted even though we weren’t entirely sure what to do with it. Emil had the genius idea of turning it into a hanging lampshade; from there I knew the perfect spot for it. The one-of-a-kind light fixture now hangs right above our thrifted green velvet accent chair. This little corner in our bedroom is perfect for relaxing and reading in the evenings.

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Table of Treasures

Yes, that is more brass. I warned you that we love brass. Most of the brass pieces were found secondhand and at vintage shops, and I found the brass incense holder in Totnes, England — Emil’s beautiful hometown. I purchased the mini terra-cotta tajin in Morocco; it houses my hair clips. The table itself comes from the same person who sold us our beloved barstools. Because it reminds us so much of tables and decor you’d see in the Philippines, my home country, it’s a piece we’ll cherish forever.

A Bit Out of This World

While we love the beauty in and around this world, we love a bit of surrealism and otherworldliness, too. Emil says he loves waking up every morning and seeing these dreamscapes by Fran Rodriguez because they get his imagination going.

Nepali Craftsmanship

I was so excited to find these beautiful catch-all trinket boxes in Nepal, handcrafted by a local artisan. Covered in colored stone and gold accents, they serve as a perfect reminder of Nepal’s richness both in color and in nature. They now function as perfect jewelry boxes for some of my favorite pieces.

The Perfect Match: Concrete and Cacti

We hand-poured these little concrete planters in paper cups and molds, then stained and hand-painted them to create the patterns and colors. We love pairing concrete with cacti because it exudes a rugged yet earthy feel.

More From the Wedding That Could Have Been

After making the hard decision to cancel our wedding, we brought back some of the unused dried flowers to our Austin apartment. It was our way of bringing the wedding dreams home and having a piece of it come to life despite the cancellation. This arrangement sits in a water jug that we purchased secondhand in Bali.

Drink Well, Drink Wisely

We want you to pay attention to our drinking vessels. Our quirky collection includes a set of four secondhand, wicker-wrapped tea cups, and four feminine, indigo shot glasses from a ceramicist I follow, Michaela of Pipe Dream Pottery. Everyone knows it’s a party when we break these out.

A Budding Love for Pottery

I’ve taken a few one-off pottery classes in the past and always knew it was something I’d want to take more seriously. Because I'm spending so much time at home, I recently invested in a wheel and a kiln and make time to practice weekly. These are some of my first creations with my new equipment. I’ve taken it upon myself to practice by making as many pieces for our home and for friends and family — it’s a win-win!

A Custom Workhorse of a Desk

In another DIY feat, Emil designed, handcrafted and stained this wooden desk. It fits the space perfectly, with enough depth to accommodate his long legs. At 5-foot-2, I don’t have that problem, but I still love the desk as much as he does.

Cameras On Display

And finally, it wouldn’t be a filmmaker and photographer’s home without vintage cameras sprinkled about. Our mini collection features instant cameras, medium format cameras with bellows, pocket point-and-shoots and more.

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