Allison Burke on Austin Style and Interior Design
Native Austinite and interior designer Allison Burke has the job she never knew she always wanted. After a childhood interest in mathematics led her to pursue a degree in engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, she quickly realized that she was bored out of her mind. In a moment of inspiration, Burke decided to enter the School of Architecture where she graduated with a degree in Interior Design.
After stints at various firms, including the Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, Burke decided to open her own business. As principal of Allison Burke Interior Design, Burke works with junior designer Rowen Van Ingen to bring her trademark style to both residential and commercial projects. With a few high profile projects wrapping up in early 2016 — including the Penthouse at The W Austin and an exciting ground-up partnership with San Antonio firm Lake Flato kicking off with a Las Vegas project this spring — Burke’s design approach is perhaps best described as collaboration complete with a warm personal touch.
Here, she talks to TRIBEZA about her must-have design elements, her favorite Austin aesthetics, and the quote that changed her life.
ON AUSTIN’S CHANGING DESIGN
Austin has seen an immense shift in terms of design – especially the restaurant design scene with all the incredible chefs and talent that have come to town. Residential clients are also more willing and comfortable to have a truly modern interior without the fear of it being cold. Modern warmth really can beautifully coexist.
WORDS TO LIVE BY
While studying engineering, I read a quote by Auguste Rodin that said ‘Love your calling with passion, it is the meaning of your life’ and I decided to change my major the next day. The Interior Design Program was transitioning into the Architecture School at UT the next year and it all felt too good to be true. I never looked back.
GO-TO ITEM WHEN STYLING
I’m an incredibly sentimental person, so I always scout a client’s existing belongings to see what we can use to work with. I would much rather a client have a connection with their accessories than something on-trend. “I love styling with books – they add a timeless element to a room and can easily be supplemented.”
“I love styling with books – they add a timeless element to a room and can easily be supplemented.”
ON HER FAVORITE AUSTIN AESTHETICS
I have always loved the historic Bohn House off 29th Street. Everything from the magical circular door to the glass block sunroom.”
As far as interior décor, I would say that a beautiful pendant in the dining room really helps anchor a space and a rug in the living room also sets a great canvas. When designing/ remodeling a space I would say a ‘must have’ would be to hire a licensed professional.
ON THE FIRST THING SHE NOTICES IN A SPACE
Lighting – hands down. I have a visceral response when the lighting is out of balance.
SMALL CHANGE, BIG IMPACT
If you’re looking to make a big splash at home, definitely paint your interior — a beautiful wall color makes all the difference.
I grew up in Lake Travis before most of the roads were even paved – nowhere near like what it’s like now. We were basically told to make our own playground, and I think that sort of creativity really shaped me as a designer.
Read more from the Interiors Issue | January 2016