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Austin Outdoor Living Tour: Surviving the Summer in Style

28 May

Ah, summer in Texas.  The heat, the humidity, the mosquitoes (how do those dang things live through a drought anyway?).  Austinites have learned to be creative about living outdoors, with pools, waterwise landscaping and of course, the Hot Sauce Festival.  This Saturday you’ve got a chance to see some more unique ideas at the 3rd Annual Austin Outdoor Living Tour.

This year’s tour features 5 houses, all with a different take on outdoor living.  From the uber-modern design on Winflo, reminiscent–to me anyway–of Palm Springs, to a classic Brentwood cottage fitted out with a breezy screened porch, you’ll get great ideas on how to make your home an outdoor paradise no matter what the temperature.

Austin Outdoor Living Tour

Saturday, June 1st

11:00-5:00

Tickets and more information

Here are a few things I”m dying to check out for myself:

The nifty ceiling treatment above the dining area, how cool is that?

Austin-outdoor-living-tour-winflo

This sleek concrete gas fireplace. P.S. love those chairs too!

Austin-outdoor-living-tour-grosvener

The interesting multi-level architecture on this one, and how it relates to the outdoor spaces.

Austin-outdoor-living-tour-st.-stephens-road

The custom concrete pots, infused with marble dust. Is that like extra-heavy fairy dust?

Austin-outdoor-living-tour-thornton

And finally, I’m dying to see how Mr. Handsome and I handle  hundreds of people wandering through our garden.  Yes, dear readers, this is the home of your intrepid reporter.  Please come by and say hello, we can’t wait to meet you!

Austin Outdoor Living Tour - Alegria

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

10:30-5:00

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!

West Austin Studio Tour: Pieces for our Personal Museum

26 Apr

The West Austin Studio Tour starts this weekend, and it’s a must-do.  We went last year and could have started our own personal museum with all the delicious stuff we found*; and we only made it through about a quarter of it!  Of course there is a lot of great decorative art, but since we’re furniture buffs I figured we’d focus on stops where you can see items you can sit upon without getting beaten by the artist.

Reworks Austin reclaimed console

One of my favorite pieces from Reworks.

Our first stop will be the Reworks studio to visit our friends Chotsie and Willem. These two are New Orleans transplants who came to Austin after Katrina; their work is inspired by the amazing architecture of the city, and often includes pieces reclaimed from buildings .  I was over there earlier this week and got some snaps of some of their pieces; you’ll soon be able to find it on the Market. Storefront is up!

*Note that when we do start a museum, we’ll also start the Erichope Industries Center For Kids Who Can’t Draw Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Zoolander

Here’s are some of the stops we’re hoping to make over the next 2 weekends, the numbers are page numbers from the catalog. Let us know if we’ve missed any other great finds! (Please excuse the ugly layout, I’ve spent hours trying to make the pictures line up and they just won’t.)

UPDATE: Had a ton of fun on Saturday, can’t wait to go back this weekend!  Our favorites so far were at the “yard” at 7th street, stops 128, 129, 130.  See some pics on Pinterest!

Blacksmith Industries Austin

56 – Blacksmith Studios

Aaris Studio Austin

57 – Aaris Studios

Bald Man Mod Austin

61 – Bald Man Mod

Reclaimed  Austin coffee table

82B – Reclaimed Austin

Jobe Fabrications Austin

145B – Jobe Fabrications

Green Summit Studios Austin

124 – Green Summit Studios

Hemza Designs Austin

130 – Hemza Designs

John Parkinson Furniture Austin

175C – John Parkinson Furniture
These chairs are killing me…

Austin Heritage Homes Tour 2013: Coolest Old Stuff in Town

1 Apr

Walls-LaRue House The common thread for our recent stories seems to be “old stuff”.  But between the Round Top Antique Festival and the Preservation Austin*Heritage Homes Tour (and of course the fact that you’re reading this on Red Chair Market) the theme is actually really cool old stuff.

So this upcoming weekend is a cool-old-stuff lollapalooza. Start at Round Top (see our tips from last week) then cap it off Saturday with a visit to some of the homes that may have originally housed those treasures. (See the deets and a chance to win tickets at the end of the article).

The theme for this year’s tour is Historic Austin Homes and Gardens, so I’m quivering with anticipation to see not only the architecture, but the grounds.  The 6 properties encompass a wide range of Austin history, with each home showcasing its own take on preserving the past while living in the present.

I got a chance to talk to Jacqui Schraad, Executive Director of Preservation Austin, to get a bit of scoop.  When asked which property most captured her imagination, she said the James Smith Homestead was her favorite trip back in time.  Built in 1841, it was herewhen Austin was a little burg called Waterloo (I apologize in advance if you spend the rest of the day humming ABBA’s Waterloo).

Here are a few more fun facts and secret details from Jacqui and her team of House Captains:

The Academy (Mather-Kirkland House), built in 1889

400 Academy This gorgeous example of Queen Anne style was built at the height of the Victorian era using granite left over from the construction of the State Capitol building. It was owned for a time by iconic Austin architect Sinclair Black. The current owners have occupied the house since 1982 and have undertaken major restoration work.

Keep an eye out for:

  • -The belvedere with amazing Austin views
    -The stuffed peacock in the dining room.  Apparently current owner had a flock of peacocks that she’d had for years when she moved into the house. They’d lived at Academy for a little while when the 5 widows that lived on the street came down all at once to tell them that they couldn’t tolerate the peacock noise. The peacocks had to find a new home and they found a stuffed peacock at Round Top that now resides in the dining room.

James Smith Homestead (Boggy Creek Farm) built in 1838

Boggy Creek Farm Built by James and Elizabeth Smith when “Waterloo” was just a village with dirt streets, log cabins and simple plank houses. Can you imagine?  Not even a TacoDeli.

The current owners acquired the five-acre farm in 1992 and have celebrated its history by turning it in to one of the few truly urban farms in the country.  They grow fresh produce which is sold on market days (Wednesdays and Saturdays) at their farm stand under the ancient live oak tree.

Fun Fact from the owners:
“We named Boggy Creek Farm in honor of the no-longer meandering creek that lies, forever encased in cement, behind the houses across Lyons Road. As a confirmation of the name choice, when we took the concrete lid off of the 150-year old hand-dug well, we discovered, etched in script on the lid: Boggy Creek.”

Hackett House, built in 1920

Hackett House Four generations of the Hackett family lived in this 1920 two-story Prairie style brick house (no, not all at the same time). As typical with the Prairie style, architectural elements of the home emphasize strong horizontal lines. Interior Arts and Crafts features include exposed wood beams and wood trim. It has been lovingly restored and updated to be a practical home for a modern family who also respect its history.

Don’t Miss:

The restored craftsman style trim throughout the home.  Oak and pine floors were intentionally not sanded, in order to allow the natural patina of the wood to remain.

PS: This house will be on the market soon!  Here’s your chance to grab a piece of Austin history.  Although you may have to fight me for it.

Dill-White House, built in 1893

Dill White House The current owner found all sorts of native and adapted plans like quince, spirea, narcissus and blue bonnets, as well as pecan, American elm and fig trees in the garden.  The original plantings have been enhanced addition of period-appropriate brick and limestone walks, paths and terraces.  The gardens are beautiful by day and breathtaking at night under the glow of the nearby Moonlight Tower.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For:

The original details including the dentil molding, brick chimney, flatwork and cogged porch brackets, the front and east sides of the house are completely original.

Brunson House, built in 1917

Brunson House A beautiful example of Craftsman style, this house has been lovingly updated several times, with each renovation being done with particular attention to historic detail.  The house retains all its original woodwork, doors, long-leaf pine floors, windows and shutters as well as the four light fixtures in the living room and the chimney.  Push-button light switches are still used throughout the house.

Don’t Miss:

-Woodwork restoration master craftsmen Bill Breaux and Janine Bergin will be at the Brunson House during the tour demonstrating the tools of their trade and the artistry involved.
-Unique elements in the landscape including: a wheel from one of the trolley cars that operated on S. Congress Avenue until 1940, a 5 light antique dragon post lamp that provides a wonderful ambiance at night and a teacup dog agility course.

Wells-LaRue House, Built circa 1850

Wells LaRue House

Owned by Austin architect Tim Cuppett, this house was featured in Country Living magazine a few years ago. Built in the classic single-story, “dogtrot” style first popular in the early 19th century, the house originally featured a center hallway open to the outdoors on both ends, and with a large room on each side.

The Ancestor Keeps Watch:

Don’t miss the portrait of Wayman Wells, the property’s original owner, in the master bedroom.

So now you’re primed and ready to go! 

Austin Heritage Homes Tour Tickets and Information

“Historic Homes & Gardens”
Saturday, April 6, 2013
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
$23 members / $28 non-members
$23 Children 12 and under

Have fun, and if you’re inspired consider joining Preservation Austin to help further their mission. Donate directly, or bid on a fantastic weekend getaway at the Prarie B&B (owned by Shabby Chic founder Rachel Ashwell) in, you guessed it, Round Top!

*In case you didn’t know, The Heritage Society of Austin recently changed its name to Preservation Austin, to more accurately reflect their mission of preserving Austin’s treasured places.

Round Top Antique Festival: Wow (Or: Things We’ve Learned from our First Visit)

25 Mar

Round Top Antiques Festival hoof lampAfter living in Austin for 16 years I still had yet to visit the Round Top Antique Festival (for those in the know, simply “Round Top”).  Given my furniture obsession of late, it seemed like this was the year to remedy that omission.  I naively thought that I could run out there for a few hours, then write a concise and supremely useful story for our loyal followers about the event. What a noob.

Unaware of my folly, I packed up 10 year-old Mr. Enthusiasm (who has a love of all things weird and old) gassed up the car and headed east. I had looked up some information online and was already a bit overwhelmed, so we decided to start at the Blue Hills Show to visit our friend Chotsie of Reworks.  We had a blast wandering through tents housing at least 100 vendors—finding treasures from a 8-foot-long carved and inlaid chest to an (ahem) unique cloven-hoofed lamp. We lost track of time and had to race home after several hours, managing to not have spent a penny!

Round Top Antiques Reworks booth

Reworks’ gorgeous booth.

Well, my friends, apparently we went to the Louvre and only saw the Mona Lisa. The Blue Hills show, with its 100+ vendors, is actually just a tiny fraction of the full event.  By the first week in April there will be literally thousands of vendors, tents and shops, all spread out in somewhat random fashion between Highways 290 and 71.

It’s amazing and oddly charming that, in this day of overproduced and orchestrated events, Round Top still seems to be somewhat organic.  There isn’t one “official” organizer; it’s evolved over 40-some years to be a loosely-collected set of individual shows.  Some venues charge an entrance fee, some don’t. Some have porters, some don’t.  There are no official hours that I can find.

Seven Things to Know about the Round Top Antique Festival

So even after a visit and lots of research I’m still kind of confused, but definitely intrigued.  Here are a few things we’ve figured out so far:

  • “Shows” begin appearing as soon as March 22nd and continue to pop up over the course of the next three weeks
  • The “official” Round Top Antiques Week is April 2nd through 7th , at that point everyone is there; all the food trailers, big dealers, mimes, etc. (OK, no mimes thankfully).
  • There are five big main shows; the original Big Red Barn and Big Red Barn Tent, the Marburger Farm Antiques Show, the Continental Tent and Carmine Dance Hall.
  • Smaller stores, shows and tents stretch from Carmine to south of La Grange.
  • Most shows feature a wide variety of styles, prices and vintages; some are known slightly more for one thing than another, but it’s generally a happy mix of treasures.
  • A few of the shows charge admission, but only $10 or so.
  • A very comprehensive (although also overwhelming) magazine is produced about the show, available as a PDF or to pick up at most of the venues.  There’s a great pull-out map section that will give you a sense of the scope (flip to page 67).

Round Top Antiques Festival magazine

Tips for Enjoying the Round Top Antique Festival

So we’re definitely going back, just like we’re going back to the Louvre. It’s clearly impossible to become an expert after one short trip; I’m guessing it’s almost impossible to become an expert at all…that’s part of the fun.  But based on our limited experience and the advice of some much more seasoned sellers and shoppers, we’ve got a slightly random collection of tips to help you enjoy your trip:

  • Head out as soon as you can, things get bonkers as the weeks go on.  Maybe even plan on two trips.
  • Don’t get caught in a speed trap on your way out there, there are lots of tiny towns between Austin and Round Top with overprotective police forces.
  • Wear comfy shoes, and ones that can handle some dust.  Many of the floors are gravel or dirt.
  • According to our sources, the Blue Hills area has the best bathrooms and the BBQ from the United Methodist Men is not to be missed.
  • Royers Round Top Cafe has great food and takes online reservations, a visit to the JW Steakhouse is also recommended.
  • While there are no official hours for the free shows, most vendors are open from 9-ish to dusk.
  • There are some fun-sounding evening events, check out page 27 of the magazine. Just be careful with the wine, you may come home with the hoof lamp!
  • This is not always the bargain-hunter’s paradise. While there are deals to be had, most amateurs will probably miss them.  Go for the amazing selection and variety, not necessarily the price.
  • Do not carry a large bag.  You will knock something over, probably something expensive that you would not buy normally.

If you decide to go, let us know what you discover! Maybe we’ll see you out there next week. See Pinterest for some more pics of our trip.

A few more helpful links:

Another calendar with slightly different info

Round Top Folk Art Fair (run by the original founder of the Festival)

The “original” Round Top Antique Fair

Local restaurants

Sneak Peek: Southern Living Showcase Home Austin (Lago Vista)

6 Feb
Fireplace in the living room.  Taller than my house.

Fireplace in the living room. Taller than my house.

We were lucky enough to be invited by interior designer Heather Harkovich out to Lago Vista (when are they going to build a bridge?) to get a super-secret sneak peek of the Southern Living Showcase Home. Heather was selected to do all the design work in the house–which is a huge honor–and she had the chance to show her efforts off to a few select luminaries.  You know me, a Select Luminary.

Wow.  It was easy to assume that the house would be a traditional Hill Country Tuscan, but this house belied all the stereotypes. It’s a bit hard to describe, but the interiors feel like a marriage of beach and barn, if the beach was in the Hamptons and the barn was in the French countryside.

The interior was done in mostly shades of white, with accents of beachy blues. The furnishings were beautiful, but I was completely smitten by the materials used throughout the house.  Whitewashed horizontal-planked walls in the living room, incredible marble tilework in the kitchen and baths, navy grasscloth in the study (swoon).

Here are pics of a few details you might miss if you don’t look carefully:

Guest bath shower ceiling

The shower ceiling in the guest bath. Both Mr. Handsome and I blurted out “how the heck to they get that up there?”

Living room interior windows

Interior windows reminiscent of a barn…although not many barns have chandeliers.

Marble mosaic in kitchen

The “entertaining” kitchen. The backsplash is marble mosaic tile. Gah.

Guest bed light fixture

This unique light in the upstairs guest bedroom made beautiful patterns on the ceiling.

Here are a few other things we noticed but forgot to get photos of:

  • An electric staircase to the attic, just push a button and it slides down!  No more jumping for that dumb string that’s always just a little too short.
  • An herb garden at the entrance to the house (on the left side). You can’t have your basil too close!
  • The lamps on the buffet in the main room are corbels bought in Round Top and wired by Austin’s Re-Works Works.
  • The “entertaining kitchen” concept.  I’ve noticed this in several high-end houses lately;  builders and designers are finally accepting that everyone is going to end up in the kitchen at a party.  So there is a super-sparkly one that is in the main traffic flow and has lots of counter space for serving, and there is a second catering/family kitchen for prepping and storage.

(You can read more about the design process here on Heather’s blog).

So, of course you want to go.  The official Tour opens this Saturday and runs through the 24th.

Southern Living Showcase Home

Tickets and Information

And of course you also want to go to the new Heather Scott Home and Design Store!  Here are a sampling of some of the wonderful things they have from the Market.   Now go get inspired!

green striped rug

Green striped rug

greywashed wicker cabinet

Greywashed wicker cabinet

Leather and chrome nesting tables

Leather and chrome nesting tables