Things To Do in Austin this Weekend:
The New Design District
Austin’s architectural vocabulary varies wildly and defies definition. Neighborhoods are composed of picturesque Craftsman bungalows with verdant gardens sitting next to xeriscaped, ultramodern cathedrals of glass and concrete. But the city’s diverse approach to the architectural language of line, shape and form parallels our interest in the color, texture and light of a home’s interior.
To serve this wide spectrum of taste, many talented interior designers and business owners have set up shop in Austin’s Design District, which sits along the West 6th corridor between Lamar Boulevard and extends across MoPac onto Lake Austin Boulevard. Whether you are looking to redecorate an entire home with the help of a designer or you are looking for the perfect accent piece to complete a weekend project, the new Design District in Old West Austin is the perfect neighborhood to discover your unique design style.
1. PAGE HOME DESIGN | 2408 Lake Austin Blvd.
Page Home Design is the west end anchor of the Design District and serves as a retail space and studio where owner Suzie Page works with clients and design novices alike. As soon as you enter the studio, you’ll find no shortage of classic antiques juxtaposed with modern art. Baroque designs and traditional furnishings are set against upholstery in striking shades and rich fabrics. Though Page Home Design draws most of its clients from nearby Tarrytown, Pemberton Heights and Westlake, her lively approach to home design is perfect for any Austin resident with a passion for color and an eye for the unique.
2. SUPPLY SHOWROOM | 2204 Lake Austin Blvd.
Open since September, SUPPLY Showroom is home to some of the newest neighbors in the Design District — Kristin Gish, Callie Jenschke and Kim West. These New York City transplants set up shop in a charming 1930s bungalow to house their globally-inspired collection of artisan wallpaper, hardwood floor tiles and lighting fixtures. The austere yet sunny design studio showcases over 50 independent vendors from around the world, encouraging Austinites to lend a sophisticated, well-travelled touch to any space.
3. MIRÓ RIVERA ARCHITECTS | 505 Powell St.
Since 1997, the award-winning Miró Rivera design firm has built upon Austin’s architectural DNA in a way that shapes the city’s focus on resourceful sustainability, approachable modernity and accessible beauty. Whether you attend a student symphonic concert at the AISD Performing Arts Center or a rock concert at the Grand Plaza and Amphitheater at the Circuit of the Americas, Miró Rivera plays an integral role in how Austin lives, plays and performs.
4. JAMES | 1411 West 6th St.
JAMES, the showroom from local design darling Meredith Ellis, has been Austin’s source for custom upholstery, hand-printed textiles and specialty wallpaper since its opening this summer. Inside the quaint bungalow, JAMES also offers vintage furniture and unique lighting fixtures to a discerning clientele. While Ellis’ career has taken her across the country, her inviting showroom is a chic distillation of Southern hospitality — something that is at once classic and charming with a sense of humor. Who else could get you to consider a pastel pink kitchen?
5. WALLY WORKMAN GALLERY | 1202 West 6th St.
Just a few blocks east of JAMES sits the Wally Workman Gallery, a top resource for Austin art lovers for more than 30 years. Where the gallery once specialized in fine art posters, Wally Workman now shows locally- and nationally-recognized artists. The sense of community is not lost on Rachel Stephens, a director at the gallery, who says she’s “delighted that so many design firms, galleries and architects have grown around us since we opened in 1980.” Stephens also adds that the gallery’s prime location in the shadow of downtown allows it to “get an overflow of that energy but without all the hassles,” a benefit to “clients trying to check things off their list.”
6. RUSSELL COLLECTION FINE ART GALLERY | 1137 West 6th St.
Owner Lisa Russell is a nine-year resident of the Design District. Her revered collection of fine art features works from masters like Renoir and Matisse as well as a growing number of contemporary artists. Russell attributes the gallery’s success to the walkability and growth of the West 6th corridor as a dining and shopping destination. Once the gallery moved from its former retail space in The Arboretum shopping center to the Old West Austin location, Russell did more business with designers than ever before. “Being able to park in one place and walk around encourages clients to walk in and consider a purchase … or meet with a designer,” says Russell, who welcomes the neighborhoods growth. Now, says Russell, “a husband and wife have lunch at Clark’s [Oyster Bar] across the street and then stop by the gallery as part of their date.”
7. ALEXANDER MARCHANT | 1114 West 5th St.
Tucked away in a purple warehouse between West 5th and 6th streets, Alexander Marchant is a haven for architectural hardware nerds. As the brainchild of Susan Alexander and Laurie Marchant, their showroom transcends all others by lending expert knowledge (do you know what an “active door” is?!) and meticulous consideration for the products they carry and the custom projects they oversee. But if you’re not in the market for new kitchen cabinet hardware, they also have plenty of lighting and plumbing fixture options as well. Whether you favor a minimalist aesthetic or lean towards the traditional, Alexander Marchant’s offerings satisfy serious designers and weekend DIY-ers alike.
8. SHABBY SLIPS | 1126 West 6th 1/2 St.
Another longtime resident of the Design District, Shabby Slips has expanded from what was once a modest slipcover business based in Houston to a full-service interior design firm. In an ever-changing town like Austin, owner Sara Scaglione’s successful career — which spans two decades — is a testament to the staying power of her design sensibility. Both her showroom and her residential projects are exercises in understated elegance. But do not let her penchant for clean lines and modern forms fool you. Scaglione surprises the eye with special touches, like a printed wall paper in a powder room, a glittering chandelier in a bedroom, or an accent of animal print in a home office.
9. FORTNEY’S ECLECTIC HOME FURNISHINGS | 1116 West 6th St.
All things rustic, eclectic and funky have a home at Fortney’s. In fact, the towering gorilla sculpture that stands guard outside the storefront might encourage passersby to dismiss Fortney’s as gaudy and ostentatious. However, reserve any harsh judgment because their expansive collection of indoor and outdoor furnishings is hand-picked and often comprised of one-of-kind gems.
10. KATIE KIME | 500 North Lamar, Suite 150
As the easternmost point on our map, Katie Kime is a feast for the eyes. And is there anything the blogger/fashion designer/interior decorator/mother can’t do? Her shop is a shrine to pattern, print and play. Katie Kime offers everything for the young-at-heart, including her customizable Bright Bar collection and ready-to-wear designs. There’s even a gilded faux elephant trophy that you can hang in your home — you know, in case you ever need a conversation starter.
DESIGN: BROADLY DEFINED
The Design District in Old West Austin is not just home to interior design firms and architects. The historic neighborhood also boasts other local movers and shakers who carry the “designer” title.
Pentagram | 1508 W 5th St #100
Alpheus Media | 1414 W 6th St
Wildflower Organics | 524 North Lamar Blvd. #101
David Alan Rugs | 1009 West 6th St.
California Closets | 500 North Lamar Blvd.
Jean-Marc Fray | 1009 West 6th St. #102
Artworks | 1214 West 6th St.
Linda Asaf | 1405 West 6th St.
By George | 524 North Lamar Blvd.
Julian Gold | 1214 West 6th St.
FOUND | 501 Oakland Ave.