When Melody Townsel moved to Dallas from New York City, she asked several real estate agents to help her find a house near downtown, with old-fashioned charm and a bit of a bohemian atmosphere. The realtors unanimously recommended the ‘M’ Streets in East Dallas. Not a single one ever mentioned Oak Cliff.
So Townsel moved into the M Streets, but didn’t feel at home. “It just felt a little too white bread for me, and coming from New York I was expecting and looking for more,” explained Townsel.
After reading about Winnetka Heights in D Magazine, Townsel had a twist of fate. Heading north on I-35 from Duncanville, Townsel hit a traffic jam. Looking for an alternative route, she exited onto Beckley and Zang in search of any bridge that crossed into downtown. A few turns later she drove past a street sign for Willomet and realized she was in Winnetka Heights. She turned north on Winnetka, and as she slowly drove up the street, admiring the historic homes and inviting porches, she realized she had found the neighborhood she could call home.
Within six months, Townsel was a resident of Winnetka Heights, living on the same street she had fallen in love with on her initial drive through the neighborhood.
Townsel purchased a 1700 square-foot craftsman-style bungalow, an extremely common home-style in Winnetka Heights. But what Townsel has done to the inside of the home is anything but common.
“Nobody really knows what to call my style of decorating,” explains Townsel. “Friends have called it boho, hippie, funky, mismatched, and it’s really all of those things. I call it garage sale chic. It’s funkier and more eclectic than shabby chic, and at about the same price point. I’m the diva of cheap and cheerful,” she muses.
There’s hardly an inch of wall space in the home that’s not covered. From antique quilts to old advertising art and store signs, the home is a museum of Townsel’s interests and her extensive worldwide travels. She’s visited flea markets and junk stores across Asia, Russia and Latin America, and calls herself the “queen of eBay”.
“As a writer, I love words. I’m sure that’s a somewhat subconscious reason that I’ve covered about every surface with things I can read. I love the idea of words as art,” says Townsel.
Townsel’s other goal in the design and restoration of her home was to make the house safe, comfortable and fun for her 6-year-old daughter, Sadie. “I would have loved living in a house with orange and turquoise walls when I was a kid, and she seems happy with the way things have turned out,” comments Townsel. “She beams when her friends tell her that her house is ‘cool.’”
The home is clearly a reflection of Townsel’s creative spirit, and is incredibly comfortable and inviting. “The benefit of decorating the garage-sale-chic way is that we live comfortably in this house. Nothing is worth very much,” she explains, “so we can relax and enjoy our rooms, knowing that if something gets broken or stained, it really just doesn’t matter.”