In a beautiful building on the corner of Shenandoah and Thurman avenues, visitors to and residents of St. Louis’ Shaw neighborhood will find the new home of Future Ancestor.
The curated vintage furniture and modern housewares shop is the brainchild of Julia and Brian Leenig. It originally started as an online Etsy shop, founded on Julia Leenig’s love of and eye for design in all forms. Years spent moving residences and decorating and styling each new space fueled a growing love for interior design and collecting vintage pieces. Realizing she couldn’t keep all of the pieces she had collected, though, Leenig started the Etsy shop with her husband, which turned into a holiday pop-up concept on St. Louis’ Cherokee Street in November 2014. The success of the holiday event led to the Leenigs’ deciding to stay in the pop-up space for three years under the name Future Ancestor.
After three years, the need to expand both their space and their selection led the Leenigs to start looking for a larger storefront. One day, Leenig was driving through the Shaw neighborhood and saw the perfect spot. On Feb. 23, Future Ancestor opened the doors on its new, much-larger digs in this ideal location. Leenig says things have been great since relocating and praises the surrounding community.
“This neighborhood is just so welcoming,” she says. “You can tell people are always looking out for you. So many people have stopped by or brought us a bottle of wine.”
Visitors to Future Ancestor will be instantly wowed by the store’s bright interior. The Leenigs painted the floors, walls and ceilings white, giving the store a showroomlike feel. Natural light pours from windows that make up the front portion of the store and illuminates a carefully curated selection of vintage and modern goods ranging from dressers to rugs to plants.
Leenig notes that the majority of her and her husband’s vintage pieces are unique because they’re often one of a kind. On top of that, the Leenigs are choosy about what they bring in.
“We want everything to be high quality,” Leenig says. “We put everything through the test before we sell it to somebody. I think that’s what makes it unique.”
Dressers are top sellers and always sell quickly due to their high quality and durability.
“Most of the dressers we carry are midcentury, which is popular right now,” she says. “They’re all so well-built, so they really sell themselves.”
Gift-type items like earrings and plants are also popular, which Leenig attributes to their going along with the lifestyle vibe of the store. Her personal favorites include gorgeous, brightly colored rugs that hang from the walls, along with a selection of textured pillows that are made from old Turkish rugs.
Because the Shaw location is double the size of Future Ancestor’s previous location, Leenig says she and her husband have been able to grow their selection of gift items, along with their contemporary selection.
“We’ve been able to expand with our modern line, not just all vintage,” she says. “[The store] is a mix of the two because that’s how most people live their lives.”
A self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” Leenig is always looking for her next venture.
“I have a lot of ideas cooking in my head,” she says.
One goal for this year is to convert the apartment above the store into an Airbnb since it’s currently sitting empty. She’s also taking Future Ancestor out the door and into the St. Louis community.
“A lot of people have been interested in design services, so the store is now offering them,” Leenig says. “It’s fun to bring Future Ancestor out of the store.”
While she may have an eye for design, Leenig says she often hears that customers are struggling with the arrangement and décor of their own homes.
“A lot of times people think they’re not good at interior design, but we’re always telling people to just have fun with it and don’t think about it too hard,” she says. “Don’t try to do everything one style. If you just buy what you love, then it’ll all go together.”
Future Ancestor, 4100 Shenandoah Ave., St. Louis, 314-201-2359, future-ancestor.com