At Home with Liz Saintsing
The artist uses bold colors and vintage furniture to create a one-of-a-kind vibe in her NoDa home
After she graduated from Guilford College with a BFA in printmaking, Liz Saintsing moved to San Francisco to pursue a career in art. In 2008, she moved back to North Carolina, rented a home in NoDa, and found her creative stride.
Describe your design aesthetic. I don’t do muted tones with pops of color; I do bright and bold colors—color overload. My artwork is eccentric and very graphic, and it’s meant to be a conversation piece. I want furniture that has the same feeling—vintage pieces that are colorful and have good structure.
You moved into the Arts District and set up a studio in your home. How did that impact your style? I found a house where the landlord let me put my stamp on it. When I moved in, I put holes in the walls and painted all the rooms—I silk-screened a feature wall in the bedroom—because I wanted to make this place feel like home.
You have a really eclectic mix of furniture. How did you choose the pieces? When I moved to San Francisco, I started silk-screening designs on vintage handbags. I’d scour flea markets all over the West Coast, and there was something so thrilling about searching for the perfect bag and bargaining with vendors. I’ve found a lot of my furniture the same way—by searching for the right pieces in vintage shops, flea markets, and on eBay. It took me two years to find a coffee table that was the right dimensions for a stack of tiles I brought back from Brazil. I walked into Hong Kong Vintage [in Plaza Midwood], saw the table, and knew it was perfect. I tiled it, and it’s one of my favorite pieces.
Do you bring the same artistic vision to all of your furniture? When I see a piece with good structure, even if it’s falling apart, I have a vision of the finished piece. I found [a vintage salon chair with the hair dryer still attached] at a store in Greensboro. It was in really rough shape; the springs were coming out of the seat. It looked so bad that my mom didn’t want to put it in her car. I knew it could be beautiful. I had an upholstery shop redo the springs and cover it with red ostrich skin, and now it looks great.
You have a lot of your own work on display in your home. How do you decide which pieces to keep and which ones to sell? My walls are a rotating gallery. Some of the pieces aren’t for sale, like the drawings in the dining room that were part of my senior thesis and the etchings in the living room that were done by Beth Weintraub, an artist I worked with in San Francisco. I hang a lot of my work, putting new pieces up as I make them and taking them down when they sell.
All of my work is very personal. I’ve spent a lot of time with these pieces. There are certain pieces I’d have trouble parting with, like an 18-by-9 [fabric] panel with a magpie and butterflies in my studio. I’d be sad to see that go.
What’s the best part of having a studio in your home?
I love spending all day in my studio, turning up Van Morrison, jamming out and making art. There is something so personal and intimate about what I do, and I can get lost in it, [so] having a live/work space where I can do that any time is pretty great.