Four Designers Share the One-of-a-Kind Austin Locales That Inspire Them
Creativity and beauty abound at The Austin Proper Hotel, Supply Showroom, The Driskill Bar and Comedor
By Lauren Jones
Cedar and Oak Homes:
Photos by The Ingalls
Couple Lauren and Holt Williamson are the minds behind Cedar and Oak. What initially started as a project to restore homes in Central Austin has grown into a larger desire to build timeless homes in the heart of the city, says Procurement Manager Caroline Dedeker. “After building and renovating numerous homes, we have realized that home is where life happens, and homes are what we are all about,” she adds.
The design-build firm, while technically a spec builder, aims to create homes that look like they’ve been in the neighborhood for years. And because they don’t typically work directly with buyers, they “dream their homes from start to finish, including the furniture,” Dedeker says. They love the lived-in aesthetic, for homes to feel like an escape, as well as mixing metals and natural light.
While picking favorites is hard and there are so many well-designed spaces in Austin that inspire their home selections, the Williamsons adore the Austin Proper Hotel. “We love the stairwell so much that we actually recreated a similar look in one of our projects,” Dedeker says.
Photo by Molly Winters
For designer Andrée Chalaron, there is one place she goes when she wants to feel inspired: SUPPLY Showroom. The wallpaper and fabric showroom, located in a charming white, pink and green-trimmed 1960s building on West Sixth Street, is just as inviting on the outside as it is inside. Statement-making doesn’t even describe the front room’s tented ceiling.
“I’ve always wanted to do a tented ceiling but never had a client who would let us,” she says. A colorful Stilnovo chandelier complements the dreamy room’s mix of artisanal fabric swatches. While Chalaron is mainly known for her design work with local firm Amity Worrel, she has forged a second venture: Counterpart Studios, a collaborative launchpad where she and partner Stacy Bain “allow visionary artists to translate their ideas to new canvases for the home.”
“I wanted to do something that wouldn’t be in competition and still allow me to do design work,” she says. Her first collaboration with Fort Lonesome translated the brand’s hand-embroidered, timeless leather suits into bold wallpaper and fabric that epitomize its unapologetic Southern spirit. Chalaron also paired up with Eloi, a company whose technicolor scarves and bandanas have been on gift guides from “Conde Nast Traveler” to “The New York Times,” for an equally colorful line of textiles. While Chalaron loves shopping for clients at SUPPLY Showroom, she can now show off her own creations there.
Photos courtesy of The Driskill
Award-winning designer Amity Worrel has an aesthetic that is somewhat difficult to describe. “My personal style is a mix of periods,” she says. Think early American furniture, antiques from the Georgian era, paired with color, pattern, and texture that allude to New York in the 1970s, plus a splash of sweet Laura Ashley florals thrown in. Classic modernism is just one way to simplify it. “I follow traditional rules of designing spaces … but make sure there is variety and edginess that feels more contemporary.”
Worrel, who spent years working in New York City, is intrigued by Ausinites growing interest in design. “New York is a more sophisticated and educated market but Austin is getting there. The energy is a breath of fresh air,” she says. But one spot in Austin has always been close to her heart since she was a student at the University of Texas in the 1990s, an award-winning, timeless space that she feels is very reflective of its place in Texas history.
“I love the Driskill Bar,” she says. “It’s over-the-top with layers of wallpaper and Victorian-style furnishings, stained glass, leather, and highly stylized ceiling panels. It is utterly authentic and true to Big Texas spirit and the history of the building. Get a whiskey sour and hunker down for a long stay because it’s comfortable enough to extend the party late into the night.”
Photos by Holly Cowart & Julie Cope
Stacy Whitworth designs it all from traditional to updated mid-century. She even decked out Houston’s Electric Feelgood, an 80s-inspired bar and restaurant, with a neon 1500-bulb, 40-foot Lite Brite. She began her business in September 2017, and since has primarily worked on residential renovations.
“I like smaller projects where the client is open to using my creative abilities to think through the new look and feel,” she says. In lieu of 180-degree refreshes or tear-downs, Whitworth aims to keep the charm of the original architecture. She’s currently working on a 1950s home with a design that pays respect to mid-century musings with curved lines, low ceilings and retro furniture. “I like the challenge of doing something different in every home,” she adds.
Over the past five years, Whitworth has grown more confident and outside-the-box with her designs, hoping to encourage her clients to take more risks rather than going simple. Comedor, designed by Olson Kundig, has quickly become Whitworth’s favorite design destination. It’s moody, sophisticated, and “architecturally speaking one of the more uniquely designed Austin restaurants,” she says. “There’s nothing like it.”
To the untrained eye, Comedor is impressive with its mysterious glass block exterior, private garden patio and industrial feel, but it’s the little details that make it for the designer.
“It was very well thought out,” she says. “As designers, we notice small details that no one else does. A lot of commercial spaces have slip-ups if you look closely.