A DIY, Vintage-Filled Wonderland in Tiny New Sweden
Stephanie Moore and Jason Russel Wallers country oasis includes a historic house, a massive workshop, and a Western-themed barn turned bar.
Jason Russel Waller and Stephanie Moore love spending time in their barn-turned-bar, which they filled with finds from across Texas, including a nine-foot-long wooden bar that they got outside of San Antonio, swivel stools, and a hutch they found in Dripping Springs to use as a bar back. Photograph by Jeff Wilson
Stephanie Moore and Jason Russel Waller might be the ultimate vintage shoppers. Four years ago, the fiftysomething couple moved away from Austin after falling in love with a house on eight acres of property in the small community of New Sweden, about five miles north of Manor. Built by Swedish carpenters around 1900 on what was considered the German side of Farm-to-Market Road 973, the home—whose original owners, Herman and Ida Prinz, are buried nearby—has been moved three times. Thirty-nine years ago, it landed in its current location, not far from the historic and picturesque New Sweden Lutheran Church, whose 104-foot copper spire towers over the countryside.
Moore and Waller spent about about four months renovating and updating the 1,600-square-foot house before moving in. But the decor is an ongoing project—the couple love to spend whatever free time they have hitting thrift and vintage stores in small towns such as Elgin and Taylor. “It’s how I relax,” Moore says. “I go antiquing at least once a month.” They also fill the house with personal mementos and objects from their Texas upbringings—Moore, originally from Bryan, moved to Austin as a girl, while Waller, who was born in Mansfield, near Fort Worth, grew up all over the state. Look over the door in the kitchen, and you’ll see a collection of ceramic owls begun by Moore’s grandmother, who hailed from Hondo (“Go Hondo Owls!” Moore says with a laugh). In their shared office, a framed front page of the Austin Citizen from 1975 hangs on the wall: it features a close-up photo of a young Moore, who was one of the first two girls allowed to play in Little League, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling the previous year. There’s also a painting of Moore’s late brother and one of her (which was used for the cover of a novel) by Texas artist Stephen Durke, whose work graced the pages of Texas Monthly in the seventies and eighties.
The property includes a spacious workshop, which was a huge draw for the couple. They turned it into a studio for Moore, an artist who also designs custom window treatments through her longtime company, Cush Cush Design, and Waller, an actor, musician, and screenwriter who was recently featured in the NPR show Snap Judgment. Their most recent project was converting an old barn, once used to house cattle and shear sheep, into an entertaining area with Western vibes complete with a bar, stools, a small stage, and a washroom. Picnic tables and a stock tank pool beckon just outside the structure, which they’ve dubbed the Barn Swallow Bar after the birds that nest around their property (the couple are avid birders). They love spending time out here, especially at night, when they can relax and enjoy the benefits of their hard work. “The best of the barn is that we did everything together,” Waller says.
This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “From a Barn to a Bar.” Subscribe today.