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Austin Downtown Living Tour: Bye, Bye ‘Burbs

13 May
Towers on Town Lake Austin

This could be your view! Photo courtesy of Eric Moreland Properties.

The 9th Annual Austin Downtown Living Tour is this Sunday, May 19th, giving all us suburbanites (or, halfway-theres in our case) the chance to see what life could be like if we were smack in the middle of town, walking distance from the terrace at the Stephen F.  This year is even better, with free shuttles from the various locations, and champagne, drinks and nibbles at several of the stops.

Austin Downtown Living Tour Tickets and Details

This Sunday, May 19th


Towers on Town Lake Austin

The white lacquered wall moves to open up the kitchen to the rest of the living area. Photo courtesy of Eric Moreland Properties.

Your intrepid reporter had the opportunity to preview one of the VIP spaces; a super-chic penthouse at the top of the Towers at Town Lake.  This building is actually part of old-school Austin, one of the first high-rise condo buildings in the city.  The space is accessed by its own private elevator (ooh la la!).  Aside from the insane views (the image at the top is the living room), one of the things I thought was most interesting was the moveable wall of shelving that separates the kitchen from the living room. It offers great flexibility if you want to open the area up even more. The lacquered-black cabinetry in the kitchen is also really unique. See more pictures here.

Towers on Town Lake kitchen

Sleek black cabinets in the kitchen. Photo courtesy of Eric Moreland Properties.

Unlike some tours where, after wiping the drool off the floor, you have to leave the home to its actual owners, this tour features a lot of spaces you could actually live in without squatting.

The design challenges are different when creating spaces for unknown residents, and I got a chance to learn a bit from the designers who created the lobbies, interior finish-outs and model units for Park West and the Whitley.  While both of these projects had a rental or sales objective, I got a couple of interesting tidbits that any decorator can use, whether in a downtown loft or not.

Park West Austin Living Room

Serene yet urban. Photo: Jonathan Garza

Park West was designed by Tonya Noble of Noble Design, who did both the original and redesign of Kenichi. Clearly she’s got downtown chops.

This project provided an interesting opportunity to take an urban, industrial space and make sure that it’s livable and attractive to a variety of potential residents.  That required finding ways to both emphasize and soften the industrial feel. You’ll notice how she used organic elements to soften the hard edges, including a cowhide rug, a rustic wood table and live plants to give the space a liveable quality without getting cutesy.

The Whitley Austin Model

Well-thought-out lighting at The Whitley. Photo: Miguel Segura

Kathy Andrews Interiors was the designer at  The Whitley and also had the challenge of designing for a variety of prospective denizens.  The element I thought she used to particular advantage was lighting.  Notice the variety of light sources in the model, including recessed and under-counter lights in the kitchen (why wasn’t this invented sooner?, pendants and track lighting in the living/dining areas.  Because the space is designed to be flexible, she doesn’t know in advance where people will put furniture or artwork, so track lighting allows illumination wherever the resident wants it.

There’s lots more to see, so hop on the shuttle and cruise around downtown, imagining life as an urbanite.  It also happens to be Viva Streets Austin day, and several blocks of 6th Street will be closed to traffic to allow for strolling, rollerblading, biking and anything else active your heart desires.  Well, not anything, please use your judgment.

Have fun!