I spent this week in Austin, Texas. A town I used to call “home” in 2007, I was reminded of a curious question. Why do I live in Chicago!? I love the atmosphere of the big city, the bustle and hustle. But, there’s an immediate slowing down once you get off the plane in Austin and an ambience that is unparalleled. People are nice! And you feel like you’re in a foreign land if you didn’t grow up in the south. Plus people aren’t afraid to be weird. You have all strokes of folks in Austin and I like that.
Here are my recommendations for you in case you’re planning a trip to ATX any time soon.
Modern Comfort- the two words that seem apparent when I went out shopping in Austin. Though I spent most of my time at my local wallpaper & fabric showroom while I was there, I noticed a huge expansion of architecture and retail shops in downtown since the time when I left 8 years ago. Austin is really booming. There are now lots of retailers like Jonathan Adler, West Elm and the like along 5th Street in downtown, which I never expected to see.
Supply Showroom is a brand new showroom, converted from an old bungalow by owners/founders Callie Jenschke, Kim West and Kristin Gish. It is open only to the interior design trade, but we celebrated an Open House during Tribeza magazine’s Style Week 2016. Along with 20 other designers, I was invited to come and talk about my wallpaper design inspiration and process. It was truly amazing and inspiring to hear from talented designers from all over the country. There are some really talented people represented by Supply.
Well, I couldn’t leave town before walking up and down South Congress Ave. and check out my old favorite shops. On the top of my list is By George, a boutique which carries many local designers and unique labels of men’s and women’s clothing, furniture and gifts. The jewelry was so beautiful I forgot to take a picture! But the staff was so nice and explained where each item was from and how the concept of the shop came to be. I was very impressed with the quality of curation of all of the beautiful decor and clothing and the natural light that was drenching us inside the store. It’s highly recommended.
Tesoros Trading Company is one of my grandma’s favorite shops, and we used to indulge her taste for southwestern art and decor. I love the mix of global and local in Austin, and this shop has expanded from carrying only Mexican imports to other inspired objects now. I saw Moroccan (Safi) pottery, African Kuba cloths and Oaxacan-Mexican Alibrije (painted animals.) Feasting my eyes on these wonderful colors and fun shapes made me brainstorm the perfect wallpaper inspired by Mexico!
While you’re strolling with your latté, make sure you stop into Allen Boots, on So. Co. They have an array of cowgirl & boy boots that will knock your socks off. I tried on the cutest little gray suede booties, fell in love and then had to break up right away when I saw the price tag. But, they were Frye boots, made in America. So, if you’re going to spend, that’s the right way to do it. I might dream of these boots for the next few months.
A common misconception about Austin is that there are only two types of food: Tacos and Barbecue. I ate both and loved it! The best coffee in Austin is at Joe’s on South Congress Ave. so you can grab an iced coffee before you stroll around to see the shops. They also happen to have breakfast tacos by Taco Deli there, so on a weekend you can grab both and sit in the sunshine and watch the weird go by.
But I also tried out a really nice restaurant with some designers after the Tribeza party called Henri. It was really delicious food and many choices for beer and wine. I highly recommend the burger with a side salad. It was a little pricey but you pay for the ambience.
I didn’t stay at the Hotel San José, since my dad lives in Austin, but this is centrally located and one of the nicest hotels you’ll find. This urban oasis was once on our list of places to have our wedding, ages ago when we were planning our Austin wedding ceremony & reception (which never happened…we eloped to Morocco!) Each room has a charming, calming and modern decor. The courtyard is secluded with large greenery all around the walls of the hotel. It’s truly a beautiful and relaxing environment.
Lastly, I had my hair styled before the meet & greet. I got some cool bangs cut by a very Texan, lovely stylist at Propaganda salon. Knowing me, I chose the salon based on the name. But, this French concept salon was very posh. My stylist used a really luscious volumizing shampoo on my anorexic hair and gave it major body. I didn’t know this until the end, but they also offer you a glass of wine!? I would’ve said yes, but when she asked if I wanted anything to drink, I thought she meant water! I highly recommend this salon. Their staff was unpretentious and so, so chic.