Growing their business from a ten-foot-square antiques booth to a 16,000-square-foot design destination, the proprietors of Back Row Home reflect on friendship, travels, and becoming Houston’s one-stop-shop for European finds and modern necessities. MILIEU Style and Market Editor, Lucy Bamman, relates their story.
The legendary American decorator Billy Baldwin is remembered for prescribing the following sensible advice for furnishing a home: “Be faithful to your own taste, because nothing you really like is ever out of style.” In Houston, the owners of Back Row Home agree, filling their 16,000-square-foot showroom with American and European antique furniture, architectural elements, and decorative pieces, as well as a unique selection of tabletop, rugs, bedding, and contemporary furnishings.
Beginning as a ten foot square antiques booth, the business has grown into a one-stop-shop for designers to purchase chic staples and antiques—all of the right items perfect for layering richness into a room that only something old can provide. Visitors need not worry about sifting through undesirable items in such a large space to find that something special for the owners, Tracey Shingledecker, Kelly O’Donnell, and Leighton Hale, stick to one motto: “We only buy what we love,” so of course, every item is in style.
Back Row Home—named for its location on the “Back Row” of Houston’s Memorial Design Center—is comprised of two well-known vendors, co-owners 2Lucy’s Antiques and Leighton Hale Antiques. In 2004, Tracey Shingledecker was building a new home in the Memorial area of Houston that she wanted to fill with found architectural elements, specifically a substantial fireplace that eluded her on initial searches throughout Texas. What was left to do at this point was to convince her best friend, Kelly O’Donnell, to join her on a hunt for the perfect fireplace in Europe. The trip was a success, after they had procured a fireplace in a tiny town in Belgium. Two years later, Tracey returned the favor, joining Kelly on a shopping trip in France, sourcing items for the O’Donnell’s new home at Canyon Lake.
In the process, Tracey and Kelly learned the ropes (and headaches) of sourcing and importing antiques from the ports of Europe into the port of Houston, eventually leading to the birth of their company, 2Lucy’s—named, affectionately, for the two women’s similarity to Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy. After they had outgrown booths in multi-vendor showrooms, they decided in 2012 to create Back Row Home with the lifelong antiquarian Leighton Hale.
Leighton Hale was born a treasure hunter, encouraged by an antiques loving mother to scour local shops, estate sales, and even abandoned farms and barns in the Texas countryside for goods. As an adult, Leighton moved to Los Angeles to work at the Design Center for Richmond American Homes, in Encino. There, he learned a great deal about home and interior design, and combining those skills with his passion for antiques, Leighton soon created his own business. Leighton, too, expresses his agreement with Mr. Baldwin’s mantra, stating his simple business philosophy: “I never buy and sell an antique I wouldn’t put in my own house.”
Leighton travels to regularly to Europe, importing antiques and accessories from France, Belgium, Spain, and elsewhere. Through his travels, Leighton has become particularly familiar with the French countryside—perhaps reminiscent of his days hunting for treasures in Texas as a boy and studying under French antiquarian Jean-Francois Vitrollis, a veteran brocanteur and experienced antiques exporter.
Nowadays, Back Row Home remains an incomparable source for American and European antiques, but the owners are excited to now represent many of the industry’s favorite contemporary lines as well. Mixed among the French commodes, you will find Lee Industries upholstery, Belle Notte linens, Jan Barboglio glass, as well as a fine selection of rugs, lighting, and gift items. Everything you need to create a thoughtful, comfortable, and unique home can be found under their one large roof.
A visit to their space at 8570 Katy Freeway guarantees that you will find plenty of stylish items to love.
For more information, please visit backrowhome.com.
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WRITTEN BY LUCY BAMMAN
Images courtesy of Back Row Home