Archive | Plants and Gardening RSS feed for this section

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 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.

Indoor Plant Decor: No Parlor Palms Here

5 Oct
Jenny Peterson

Beautiful, smart and funny…no fair.

I had lunch with the wonderful Jenny Peterson today at the Elizabeth Street Cafe (yum! and gorgeous).  Jenny is an Austin garden designer, writer, blogger and friend.  She helped me design my own front garden, although I did all the planting myself (well, OK, that hunky guy that hangs around did a little, but only the heavy stuff).  We had so much fun that I had her back to help me with the back yard.  You can see some pics here.

Jenny and friend Kylee Baumlee are writing a book on indoor plant decor due out in April 2013.  Apparently, indoor gardening is THE new thing.  I have been an indoor gardener for years (you know me, always ahead of the curve), meaning I have had plants in the house and have generally managed to keep them alive. However, apparently just having live plants around doesn’t really count as Indoor Plant Decor.  I tried a terrarium last year that turned out almost as bad as the topiary. The stuff she’s showing in the book is true design.

Book Cover

Available April 2013! Pre-order through Amazon.

She’s got the book divided in to chapters that cover 8 decor styles (including vintage, modern eclectic, ethnic), with amazing examples in each.  For those of you modernists who eschew indoor plants because you think they’re all parlor palms, you are in for a glorious surprise.  There are even some topiaries done beautifully, much to my shame.

Sample from the book

A sample design from the book, from Austin’s own Articulture Designs.

 

If you’ve had better luck with your indoor plant decor than I have, then think about entering their contest.  Through October 20th, submit your photos of your work to Jenny and Kylee, and up to three winners will have their submissions included in the book!  Think of the prestige, you can finally go back to your high-school reunion with your head held high.