From the street, Lisa Berg and Brian Seek’s Tempe home blends right into the suburban desert landscape. The cool, griege exterior is shrouded by mature trees and various flora and fauna.
Once inside the front door, however, it’s clear how much the couple embraces color. Bright turquoise walls and black-and-white striped floors create the perfect backdrop for Berg and Seek’s collection of all things vintage.
They bought their 1969 ranch-style home, located in the Alameda Meadows East neighborhood, in 2008. The house is just under 1,800 square feet and features three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Since moving in, they’ve put down wood flooring, painted most of the interior – including the living room floor – and replaced the windows. But the smaller details throughout the home, each and every unique piece the couple has acquired, would require multiple visits to notice.
Berg, originally from Oregon, moved to Arizona after college to escape the dreary Northwest winters. She was also in the process of getting her pilot’s license, and was being waylaid by the constant bad weather.
For the first 10 years she was here, Berg worked in restaurants and crafted in her free time.
“I knew I wanted a creative job and wasn’t sure how to translate that into a career,” she says. “When you’re making each piece, hands-on, it’s hard to make a living.”
Berg decided to go back to school and study graphic design. After a few years working in a print shop, she realized her creative pursuits had been put on the back burner.
With the support of her husband, Berg ultimately took the leap and left her day job to become self-employed. She says freelancing has allowed her to find balance between client work and personal projects.
“You notice a difference when you put the time into it and are able to engage with your customers and gather more inventory,” Berg says. She sells her goods, both collected and handmade, through her Etsy store, Color Theory Shop.
Seek works in web development, but has a creative side, too. He lists his “real interests” as collecting vintage goods, reupholstering furniture, and taking photos. He also restores old bicycles and cars, including his primary mode of transportation, a 1963 Mercury Comet. Built in the days before air conditioning, Seek says he has to wear driving gloves in the summer in order to handle the steering wheel.
“We ride the restored bikes, too,” Berg says. “I once told a customer [in a restaurant] that we rode our bikes to Four Peaks. He was an avid cyclist and was super impressed until I told him I meant the brewery and not the mountain,” she says laughing.
The couple met in 2003, when both worked at Blockbuster Video. They flirted, according to Berg, but didn’t start dating until after she quit. He always had the best hours, though, as she was his manager.
“We worked at the store on McClintock and Southern,” she says, “which was one of the busiest locations.”
“People still recognize us from there,” Seek adds, laughing.
“In this neighborhood, all the kids we rented cartoons to are adults now, and they’ll see us in a bar and do a double take.”
Though video stores have become all but extinct and replaced with a number of online viewing options (some legal, some not so much), Seek has observed a resurgence in what he calls “tangible goods.”
“There’s been a backlash,” he says. “I feel like there’s more want for tangibles because it’s so easy to acquire things; now it’s novel again.”
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He references vinyl records and one-of-a-kind trinkets that many people have cast aside as old and outdated.
“That’s what we find rewarding about vintage,” Berg says, “just the thrill of finding something.”
When collecting, Seek looks for “anything and everything,” as the self-described packrat of the family. Berg is usually hunting for clothes and furniture.
“We’re borderline hoarders at this point,” Seek says laughing. “We need to cut back on our collecting. Don’t look in the garage.”