In farming terms, “the lower 40” refers to the acreage on a farm that isn’t useable as pasture or for crops because of its lower elevation. Laurie Lowery, founder and curator of Lower 40 Found Objects, relates this term to her love of discovering antiques that may have lost their original purpose, but continue to hold beauty and value for their new owners. “I want to give life to things so that they can continue to be useful, especially if they can be made beautiful again,” she says. And there’s no better place in Texas than Round Top to do so, the twice-yearly mecca of the antique world.
Lower 40 is located within Humble Donkey Studio, owned by Laurie’s husband, artist John Lowery. When the couple first opened the studio, which offers original works by the artist, in a smaller cabin in Henkel Square, many shoppers wanted to know why they weren’t selling antiques. Laurie had been collecting mid-century modern decorative pieces for many years, and when a larger space for Humble Donkey was acquired, she decided to open an antiques shop. “It was all very organic,” she explains. “We’re learning as we go.”
Laurie, who has a background in retail management and merchandising, is especially adept at sourcing mid-century modern finds, the newest of the design movements to join the ranks of antiques. With prices on mid-century pieces that tend to be lower than in the markets of Houston and Austin, Lower 40 is enjoying a steady flow of customers. Laurie explains that she values fair pricing because of her love of antique pieces.
“We want people to find something that they love and that they can create memories with,” she says. “Keeping that in mind, we try to be democratic about our prices.”
Over time, the world of interior design has changed, explains Laurie. Instead of matching furniture pieces and colors that blend well, folks are moving towards a more vibrant, eclectic feel. And the best thing about Round Top? “You can find anything here,” she says. Laurie’s advice to people who are newer to the antique game is to be willing to put in the work – do your homework on the authenticity of antiques, and when you find a piece that has seen better years, it’s worth it to know how to paint or refinish the object to give it new life.
Laurie understands the sense of nostalgia that comes with antique shopping, and wants to make that experience special for each visitor that arrives in our small town and visits Lower 40. “Round Top has some great local businesses,” she says. “The better we do at providing excellent retail and restaurants experiences, the more we grow. The better we are, the better Round Top will be.”
Lower 40 is constantly adding more to their inventory of antiques and eclectic finds. To learn more, follow them on Instagram, visit their website and stop by the studio the next time you find yourself in Henkel Square.