James, an Austin showroom
STYLE PICK: JAMES
“I believe in living with things that mean something to you,” interior designer Meredith Ellis explains while sitting on a lovely — and surprisingly comfortable — pink custom English roll arm sofa inside the dark blue “living room” of her brand new showroom JAMES. Housed in a 1,400-square-foot Craftsman bungalow on West Sixth Street, each of the fully furnished vignettes in Ellis’s new showroom are a testament to the designer’s casually elegant style and design philosophy.
Ellis, who grew up in the Hill Country, has been dreaming of her own store for 20 years, ever since she spent a summer working at The Homestead in Fredericksburg. “My mother was a designer. I fought [being a designer] for awhile, because you don’t want to do what your mother does, but then it sort of fell upon me.” After college, Ellis moved to New York, where she quickly got a job with Bunny Williams and realized that designing was, in fact, her calling. Five years later, she moved to Los Angeles to work as a senior designer for Thomas Beeton and later, White House designer Michael S. Smith.
But the Lone Star State beckoned. There’s a special relationship Texans have with their homes, explains Ellis, and so she and her husband, Hunter, moved to Austin in 2010. “I wanted to come and create something,” she says of the move. “I knew when I came back that I would someday bring the things I loved here.”
Now, luckily for us, the things she loves are thoughtfully housed at JAMES, where a mix of antique and modern pieces, fabrics, area rugs, lighting, art, objects and more serve as both a market resource and design inspiration.
In the airy fabric room, beautiful textiles are hooked onto the wall, inviting browsing and touching. Organized by vendor, the colorful fabric lines were previously unavailable in Austin, and include vendors like Pintura Studio, Kathryn M. Ireland and Tulu Textiles. There’s living room seating and a large worktable, meant for poring over the full-size fabric samples and envisioning the final upholstery.
Open to both professionals and the public, Ellis sees JAMES as more than just a showroom for casual browsing. It’s designed to be user-friendly, and she hopes it will become both a resource hub for the design community and a place for design lovers to brainstorm and hang out. “Nothing can be too precious — live in it!” says Ellis of her home design philosophy. It’s clear she has brought that same attitude to her warm new showroom.
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