Feature Article: Austin Interiors
Who better to design your home’s interior than your best friend?
by Charlotte Spratt
Portraits by Kristen Kilpatrick
Boy meets girl in an elevator in 1998 at one of Austin’s first downtown condos, the Brown Building. Turns out, they are next-door neighbors who share a wall and, soon, a strong friendship. Their next move was in tandem to the Brazos Lofts—he on the first floor, and she on the second. The history of interior designer Tracey Overbeck Stead and real estate broker Dave van Heuven continues like this over the story of their 18-year friendship. After Stead got married, they both purchased homes on Ninth Street. When she moved to Old Enfield, he moved to a nearby condo. Along the way, Stead designed each of van Heuven’s homes. For their fifth design project together, the stylish duo collaborated on a new construction in the Zilker neighborhood by Spaller Glover Design + Build.
The unique property is hidden from the street and you must walk through a gate to experience what Stead describes as “Austin modern urbanism with hints of art deco and a Spanish influence.” And that description nails it. The open floor plan that connects the vast rectilinear living, dining and kitchen area overlooks a saltwater pool and side courtyard. Almost the entire second floor is home to the master bedroom. As a long-time downtown dweller, these open, light-filled spaces are important to van Heuven in any new home.
The duo shares a love of glamorous, modern design, but they are also drawn to a coastal influence as they have spent summers together in Martha’s Vineyard, where Stead has a home, and in Nantucket where Van Heuven spent summers growing up. “Tracey [Stead] and I basically communicate by ESP when working together,” van Heuven shared. “Not only is she my best friend, but she also makes the design process seamless and so much fun. Part of the reason I am always up for buying and selling homes is because of how rewarding the process is working with her.”
If Stead had to pick a favorite spot in the house, it would be the kitchen. The dark hues of the walnut cabinets and Moroccan backsplash is a beautiful contrast to the neutral palette of the rest of the house. “It is sparse and clean, but so functional when it comes to cooking and entertaining, especially given that it opens to the living space.”
Even though this house is the first one van Heuven has lived in that isn’t within walking distance to Stead’s, she jokes that she tolerates it since the home is perfect for him and his lifestyle. She says: “We will grow old together as best friends and spend the rest of our lives intertwined.”
Read more from the Interiors Issue | January 2017