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Living With Leah

An Intentional Designer Inspiring Others to Change Their Way of Living

On a dusty road away from the hustle of town, I met with designer, stylist, and vintage expert, Leah Finn.

A fourth-generation Texan, Leah landed in California in pursuit of the Hollywood dream at the age of 17. Instead of waiting tables between auditions like most of her acquaintances, Leah began working for celebrity designer Waldo Fernandez. While learning the principles of design and working for the stars, she quickly realized just how expensive and unattainable this lifestyle was for the average person. “At the time I was a broke college student, trying to make ends meet. But I still wanted to look, feel, and live fabulously,” says Leah. 

In 2007, she and a friend launched a YouTube channel called, A Fab Life. They set out to prove you don’t have to have a million bucks to look and feel like a millionaire. The YouTube success led to an opportunity to co-host an ABC-syndicated daytime talk show, FABLife, with co-stars such as Tyra Banks, Chrissy Teigen, Joe Zee, and Lauren Makk. A dream come true.

In the midst of her budding professional career, Leah met her husband, Michael, who was pursuing his acting dreams in Los Angeles. Michael is a fellow Texan, and they quickly bonded over their love of their home state. When FABLife came to an end, the Finns decided it was time for a new chapter for their family. It was time to go home.

In 2016. the Finns quickly realized that housing prices prevented them from getting their dream home in Austin. Their realtor sent them a listing in Caliterra and they immediately fell in love. The only memory the Finns had of Dripping Springs was when Michael’s high school football team played against the Tigers. They loved the house so much that they decided to take a chance on this new-to-them town.

“It became abundantly clear, quickly, how much we loved this little town. Everyone was so friendly,” Leah said. “We made fast friends with neighbors, our builder, people at the gym, and the local coffee shop, Mazama. We couldn’t even go to the grocery store without seeing someone we knew. It was a stark contrast from how we lived in L.A., and we couldn’t have been happier. I remember being shocked that we could bring our son and our dog everywhere. We loved being home and reconnecting to our roots.” 

The Finns had purchased a piece of land as an investment property a few years prior. When COVID hit, they took it as a sign to begin building a home with more space. Leah's dad, a home builder with River Hills Custom Homes out of New Braunfels, took on this personal project. Spending many days and evenings at their property during the lockdown, they were continually blown away by the views and the sunsets. They felt so validated in their belief that they made the right decision, they even decided to build a guest house for Leah’s mom.

The father-daughter team worked closely on the project, with dad overseeing the build and Leah the design. You can take the girl out of Hollywood but you can’t take the Hollywood out of the girl, and Leah decided that this whole endeavor would make a great reality show. “I wanted to give people a glimpse of what it really takes to start a home from the ground up and make it fun by involving the craziness of my family. Would we all kill each other by the end of the project? How would my parents work with each other after being divorced for 35 years? Sounded like good TV to me,” she exclaimed.

The Design Network picked up the show and the Finns began production of a seven-episode docuseries in late 2020, the same day they broke ground on the construction of Finn Family Farm. You can stream the whole series, Home to Homestead, now on YouTube. 

Once the building began, Leah became obsessed with being a good land steward. She dove deep into regenerative agriculture practices and permaculture landscape principles. The Finns prioritized the reduction of strain on the environment in all aspects of their new home, inside and out. “Being that I have had a love of thrifting from back in my Youtube days, I wanted to make sure that we used as many reclaimed pieces in this new build as possible,” said Leah.

“I love inspiring people to shop second-hand first or empower followers to plant more pollinators. Nurturing nature and sharing that passion with our children and in turn with the world keeps me doing what I’m doing,” Leah said. “It really all goes back to the same basic message: reduce, reuse, recycle, and make it Fabulous!”

Follow along with Leah’s design finds at @Livingwithleah and @FinnFamilyFarm.

“From vintage doors to thrifted outdoor lanterns to reclaimed architectural pieces, I believe that incorporating vintage into new construction is a wonderful way to add character to any home instantly. And one of my great passions in life is sharing how to do just that with the world.”

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