At Home with Homerun Ballerina
To walk into the Homerun Ballerina’s house is to step foot into a technicolor dream. While some gorgeous homes can feel like museums, it’s clear that Audrey Leary’s home is lived in — a museum of life being lived. There are machines-in-progress, being built by her seven-year-old son; there are Lego builds and half-finished drawings (and sandwiches) on the big dining room table. There’s a Nugget fort spanning the short distance between her sons’ two beds.
And most of all: there’s color. Beautiful, bright, bold, intentional colors and patterns everywhere.
In this edition of At Home, we talk to Audrey about designing with color and pattern, repurposing what you already own, and why the Lemonade Nugget is “the most perfect yellow.”
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Where do you live, and how did you find yourself there?
My husband Sam, our sons Daniel (7) and Kevin (4), and I live in Northwest Connecticut. My husband and I met very much by chance one night when I was living in Brooklyn — he had a job where he traveled every week for work, and we happened to meet at a friend’s house one night and hit it off so much we moved in together a couple weeks later. After spending a couple years in the city, we were ready to settle down a bit, and decided to move; we wanted to open a bakery, so we looked high and low for a small town where a bakery was for sale for a price we could afford! We love it here.
How would you describe your home? And how would you describe your design aesthetic?
Colorful, quirky, fun. My design aesthetic is definitely one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I love pattern and color, and I like little details that you have to pay attention to in order to notice, but will make you smile or laugh if you do.
What makes your house so special to your family?
Whenever friends or family come to our house for the first time, they always remark that it really feels like us. It’s less than a block from our restaurant; we brought both of our babies home to this house. I moved around so much as a kid, every couple of years a new house, and often a new town, that it feels really special to know that we will spend all of our kids’ lives here together, that all of their memories will be anchored in this warm, crazy, colorful house.
Your house has SO many great spaces and colorful moments everywhere. What are some of your favorite spots in your home?
Oh man, honestly this changes so much week to week depending on what project I have going on! My sons’ room is always a favorite of mine — obviously I don’t shy away from pattern and color anywhere, but you can REALLY go nuts in a kids’ room, and I had a lot of fun with theirs. I love the Back to the Future wallpaper, our ever-growing bug collection, the Haptic Lab kite, and our papier-mâché mobiles.
Where do you look for inspiration for your home decor and design?
Instagram is an obvious choice — I follow some interior designers that I really love because they try to focus on repurposing what you already have, working with the guts of the house and furniture that was passed on to you rather than throwing everything out and starting over. I mostly will be inspired by color combinations I see; I have learned to appreciate other people’s homes and aesthetics without trying to copy them, for the most part — I like having what feels like my own style in my own house.
Your house is bursting with color. How do you decide which colors to use in each room, especially when they’re so bold and bright?
I’m usually painting the walls to contrast with a piece of furniture that we already had, or to work with a trim color that I like okay but want to contrast with instead of match. I think color can make just about anything look intentional, and we have been fortunate to inherit lots of furniture, or get things for really cheap on Facebook marketplace or at auctions. I try to make them feel more fresh by choosing colors that complement whatever colors we’ve been given, if that makes sense.
Any favorite small shops or products that are simply must-haves for you?
I love Schoolhouse. We have lots of their lamps and rugs and everything they make feels both modern and timeless. Mostly, my favorite things in the house were lucky thrift store finds — the cactus lamps in the boys’ room I found at two separate thrift shops a week apart!
You’re a chef, a painter, a lover of color, a mom — is there anything you can’t do!?
Haha, oh man, so many things. I often joke that I am a jack of all trades and master of none that make any money. I love anything creative but really struggle with anything that takes extended focus or computer time or any of that boring grown-up stuff.
How does your family like to spend time together?
My husband has been teaching my boys to skateboard for a couple of years, so we all like to go to the skatepark. I’m nervously trying to learn how to push around on a skateboard, but I mostly roller-skate while they skateboard. My kids both love helping me cook, and I really can’t overstate how much we love Bluey. Parenting goals.
How do your kids like playing with the Nugget? What’s their favorite build — and yours? (It’s for kids AND kids at heart, after all.)
Our most popular build lately has been a fort spanning the distance between their two beds. The kids wake up and immediately start playing on the Nugget. It’s a cave! A pirate ship! A bridge! A store! I like a good old-fashioned couch build for snuggling up and reading stories before bed.
How do you encourage your kids to embrace their own creativity and imagination?
We definitely love to draw together, or on yucky afternoons I have a big bucket of clay that I pull out and we all work on shapes for a while. Then we usually just smash them and put them back for next time. When we have long car rides, the boys and I tell stories where everyone takes turns saying what happens next.
What tips do you have for styling the Lemonade Nugget?
It’s the most perfect yellow! It really looks so good with every color in our house. I love it against the patterned green wall or in their pale blue bedroom. You can’t go wrong!
Thank you so much to Audrey for opening her home to us for this At Home feature. Keep up with her family’s adventures on Instagram. All photography is credited to Stephanie Bassos – check out her incredible work on Instagram @stephaniebassos.