Lee's Picks
Wed, 04/25/2012 - 9:31pm

Should an independent bookstore crop up among the Butler Street shops, you just might find Lee van Egmond behind the counter, paging through a Penelope Fitzgerald novel. It’s an idea she’s been tossing around for a while now, as she begins to steer her life in new directions. She walked into O’Bannon for the first time in 2004, having just made partner at a law firm downtown. She was looking for a rug to add warmth to her new office. When she returned in 2007, it was to begin furnishing a house that was, coincidentally, two doors down from Kristen’s. Since then, the two have struck up a very rich friendship, seasoned by a mutual enthusiasm for art and, of course, Oriental textiles.


Kristen says you have quite a lamp collection. Can you talk about how this all got started?


Because of the way my house is built, I don’t get a lot of natural light. I didn’t find anything I liked at Target or Ikea and then I saw a beautiful lamp in House Beautiful or Elel Décor and it said the person had bought the lamp on eBay. So I went on eBay, typed in Oriental lamps, and turned up all of these great pieces. I would never bid more than about $40 and I never checked back. If I won it, great, and if I didn’t, that was okay too. Using that strategy I ended up amassing a collection of very, very interesting lamps. Then I found Typhoon Lighting in Regent Square, so I would take my lamps there and find the appropriate shade. Since I only spent about $20 or $30 on a lamp, I would splurge on the shade. The best part is the finial, which is like the cherry on top. They have a great collection, from very formal to very whimsical. So that’s the story of how I lit my house.


What are your passions?


Well, I’m kind of at a crossroads in my life. About a year ago I resigned from my position as a corporate lawyer. Since then I’ve been taking time to find out what my passion is. I interned at an art gallery for almost a year, learning about appraisals, installations, curating, and I’ve also travelled during my time off. I would say that my passions are books… art …, of course my dog, Chico. Right now I’m really interested in appreciating fine photography.


Are you a Kindle person?


I am not a Kindle person. I want the book. I like the physical feel of it: the heft, turning

pages. I want to put it on my shelf when I’m done. I always hate when people say: “Well it’s great for when you travel because you don’t have to carry all those books.” Who carries 50 books when they travel? [Laughs].


I’m an only child so when lights out came when I was a kid I didn’t have brothers and sisters to interact with. I would take a book under the covers and it was like my friend. Reading books takes me back to those very early memories.


What’s your favorite rug in the shop at present?


[The Egyptian Mamluk.] This would go in a room I’m passive in, like my television room; a place where I’d actually get to look at it. I can’t say exactly why I am drawn to that rug – the colors, the pattern – it’s like when I see a work of art or a photograph that I like. It’s just an instinctual draw to the object.


And your favorite decorative object?


[Stone Critters] I can’t decide between the pig and the bunny. In theory I’m a gardener, but in practice not so much. I have a huge yard. Too much yard. I may end up getting that bunny because he’s just awfully cute. And I don’t have to weed him. 


-Andrea O. Bullard


Posted By Kristen