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Innovative Kitchen & Bath Designs Texas Olive Orchards Wonderful Wimberley

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6225 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78757 9901 Broadway, Suites 104-105, San Antonio, TX 78217 w w w.k i v a h o me .c o m

From the Editors Without a doubt, kitchens and baths are the most utilized rooms in our homes. Kitchens are the heart of the home where families congregate, not only to prepare meals, but to socialize or do homework; it’s how and where we live. Their designs have changed to accommodate this lifestyle, with open floor plans, ample seating and amenities that invite you in and encourage lingering. New bath designs also offer this same invitation. Homeowners are longing for more comfortable features in the space where they begin and end each day. This issue offers several distinct kitchen and bath designs that incorporate innovations in technology, creative space planning and decorating solutions that will provide pages of ideas for your ‘wish book.’ Our cover home was originally planned as an investment property. The Sherriff family had purchased the lot right next door to their home and began the building process. But halfway through construction, they decided it was meant for them, and in what could be called the shortest move in history, they packed up and moved next door. First, they called on Dawn Hearn to guide them through selections in what was to be their new home. Maintaining a neutral palette for resale purposes — in case the urge to move popped up again — Hearn kept it interesting with a variety of textures and patterns in stones, textiles, woods and metals. Looking for a cool hang out? The Hangar Lounge in Austin’s Fourth Street Warehouse District is just the place. You will be transported to a by-gone era of subtle sophistication. The retro-aviation theme harkens back to a time when traveling by plane was an important social occasion. Inspired by the childhood memories of architect Dick Clark, he insists this is no place for a margarita. The appropriate drink? A Manhattan. While vineyards are by no means new to Texas, another Italian favorite is flourishing here as well — the olive tree. The same soil and weather conditions apply, and three orchards in our area have found that the Texas Hill Country is similar to other olive-growing places like Southern Europe and North Africa. Texas olive oil is now making a statement in the culinary world thanks to Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, Bella Vista Ranch and Texas Hill Country Olive Company. And while we have all heard of the possible healthful properties of olive oil, Jeff Conarko of Con’ Olio Oils in Austin shares his knowledge as a certified olive oil sommelier, explaining what to look for and how it’s done in Europe. (Editor’s note: Texas Hill Country Olive Company produces vinegars as well. The Terra Verde Mandarin Balsamic Vinegar is an absolute favorite at our house!) We’d like to introduce you to Oscar Saldivar. This relatively new metal artist resides in San Antonio and produces the most creative pieces of functional art. They look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, but his engineering background ensures these delicate pieces are as firmly balanced as they are beautiful. And finally, as Market Days season will soon be upon us, we bring you the wonderful town of Wimberley. However, don’t wait for Market Days. This town is loaded with everything from quaint to quirky: artists, shops, restaurants, B&Bs, hiking…. The list goes on and on. It’s also a huge wedding destination. Plan a weekend and plan it often. There’s so much to see and do in any season. Thanks for joining us this issue. We encourage you to recycle or pass it on to a friend!

Trisha Doucette & Leslie Woods, editors

On The Cover: This rustic yet contemporary home incorporates a combination of materials to create a new take on transitional design, and is cleverly positioned on a lot to provide waterfront views. Page 22


Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

2014 | VOL. 9 | NO. 1 Publisher Louis Doucette Editors Trisha Doucette and Leslie Woods Contributing Editors Bill Evans – ABOR Catrina Kendrick – Catrina’s Ranch Interiors Savana Schroeder-Beckman – Austin NARI Rodney Hill – NARI San Antonio Contributing Writers Jackie Benton, Michelle Burgess, Julie Catalano, Mauri Elbel, Ashley Festa, Dana W. Todd Strategic Media Placement Diane Purcell Advertising Sales Sandy Weatherford, Gerry Lair, Janis Maxymof Photography Jessica Attie, Paul Bardagjy, Dave Bolch, Casey Dunn, Tre Dunham, Coles Hairston, Jonathan Jackson, Thomas McConnell, Brian Mihealsick Design and Production Tim Shaw – The Shaw Creative Printing and Direct Mail SmithPrint Phone 512.385.4663, Austin - 210.410.0014, San Antonio Fax 830.981.8887 Business Office 4714 Cambridge / Sugar Land, Texas 77479 Sales Office 10036 Saxet Drive / Boerne, Texas 78006 Email Website Urban Home Magazine Austin-San Antonio is published by Big City Magazines of Austin, LLC. Advertising rates available upon request. All rights reserved by copyright. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written consent from publisher. Every effort is made to assure accuracy of the information contained herein. However, the publisher cannot guarantee such accuracy. Advertising is subject to errors, omissions and or other changes without notice. Mention of any product or service does not constitute endorsement from Urban Home Magazine. The information contained in this publication is deemed reliable from third party sources, but not guaranteed. Urban Home Magazine does not act as an agent for any of the advertisers in this publication. It is recommended that you choose a qualified remodeling, home furnishings or home improvement firm based on your own selection criteria. Urban Home Magazine, does not act as an agent for any of the realtors or builders in this publication. It is recommended that you choose a qualified realtor to assist you in your new home purchase. Urban Home Magazine will not knowingly accept advertising for real estate that is a violation of the Fair Housing Act. All real estate advertising in Urban Home Magazine, is subject to the Fair Housing Act that states “We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the nation. We encourage and support an affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin.”

© Copyright 2014 by Urban Home Magazine. All Rights Reserved.

dare to think outside the box‌ let your dreams become reality.

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February / March 2014

Contents cover 22 A New Take On Transitional Photography by Tre Dunham

featured Kitchens 30 Making The Pieces Fit Photography by Brian Mihealsick 34 Inspired By A Classic Photography by Jonathan Jackson 38 From Awkward To Awesome Photography by Paul Bardagjy


featured Baths 42 New Bath Suite, Old World Style Photography by Coles Hairston 46 Pretty In Pink Photography by Casey Dunn 50 Planning For Success Photography by Thomas McConnell

highlights 54 Cool, Quiet Comfort 68 A Home Of Distinction




Commercial Design 56 Travel Back In Time At Hangar Lounge Why This Space Works 60 Designer Spotlight: Peter Stafford Elements 64 Kitchen Revolution New Masters 70 Finding The Balance Between Art and Science - Design Food 74 Olive Oil



Essentials 77 New Products: Kitchen & Bath Fabulous Finds 78 Wimberley Contributing Editors 66 Savana Schroeder-Beckman, Austin NARI & Rodney Hill, NARI San Antonio 66 Catrina Kendrick, Catrina’s Ranch Interiors 67 Bill Evans, ABOR

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Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

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A New Take on


Transitional Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

Modern Touches Wake Up A Rustic Home By Dana W. Todd


Photography by Tre Dunham

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio



oving next door qualifies as the shortest move in history, but the Sherriff family decided it was worth packing up the household and moving next door into a newly built Rustic Contemporary house in a waterfront community in northwest Austin. The Sherriff’s had previously built their home on the shores of Lake Austin, while the odd-shaped lot beside them languished on the market. Karen Sherriff says she and her husband, Jim, decided to purchase the lot and build a spec home there. As an experienced real estate agent and having built several homes with her spouse, Sherriff knew they had the vision needed to turn the quirky lot into a home someone would love. They just didn’t realize at the time that someone would be themselves. 24

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Sherriff is the first to admit they move a lot, but the original intent for the lot next door was not as a keeper but to build a spec house as an investment. She says they spent long hours working with the City of Austin, who annexed the neighborhood after the Sherriff’s purchased the property, to address unexpected limitations. They were forced to build the house around an existing pecan tree which they were not allowed to cut down. Land sloping issues also limited the location of the pool and house, which Sherriff insisted had to maintain waterfront views. One-third of the way through the building process, the Sherriff’s decided this spec house should become their new home. They were already working with Dawn Hearn of Dawn Hearn Interior Design because they were pleased with her work

on their current home, so together they changed the focus to a more custom design project. “Since the home began as a spec home, and the Sherriff’s indicated they may still sell it in the future, we chose a subdued neutral color palette throughout the house, which does not interfere with waterfront views,” Hearn says. “The design walks the line between contemporary and rustic.” The key to infusing an entire house with a neutral palette is layering textures and patterns, incorporating materials of various cuts, and working in interesting artwork and furnishings. Hearn achieved the look using a wide range of patterns and textures on granite, textiles, stone, glass tile, travertine, aged wood and metal materials.

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


Blending Modern with Rustic Hearn incorporated and coordinated both rugged, rustic materials and modern hardware and details to convey a clean, rustic feel in the five bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms. The 180-degree material combinations showcase a clever new take on transitional design. Up front, the entryway immediately shows visitors how timeworn and modern materials will be combined throughout the house, with a mesquite stairway accented with straight wrought iron balusters. Soaring 25-foot ceilings are “cozied up” by the wood’s warmth, providing a lodge feel, says Sherriff. The bathrooms are another way Hearn brings out the union of contrasting materials. She takes liberties with bumping together several tile and stone choices in each room, keeping the colors in the warm brown and cream categories but adding modern-styled faucets and hardware. Warm wood cabinets in most bathrooms and even a bamboo vessel sink in the powder room balance out the more severe elements, such as frameless glass shower doors and the smooth surfaces of wall-to-wall and wall-to-ceiling mirrors and backsplash-to-ceiling tile. In the master bathroom, a free-standing Victoria + Albert® tub floats in front of a tiled ledge which hides the plumbing of the deckmounted faucet, preserving modern sensibilities. In the main living areas of the home, pecan floors, Oklahoma stone columns, walls and fireplace, travertine flooring, and textured slate warm up the spaces. In the butler’s pantry, which doubles as a bar, and an uncorking station, Fontenay wood flooring made from reclaimed wine barrels makes its new home as a cozy backsplash in both areas. The same design approach in the kitchen combines cool, shiny stainless appliances and a to-the-ceiling backsplash mosaic of stone and glass tile. Large, open metal drum light fixtures from Lightspann® and a stainless, wall-mounted range hood play off the rough-hewn, curved stone island topped with Bordeaux River granite. Despite the assortment of materials, the kitchen is neutral so the color design can be changed as often as the homeowners are inspired. Future owners, too, can make it their own. Making it Multi-Family Friendly In the spirit of making the home friendly for entertaining, Sherriff eschewed a kitchen table, opting for a conversation area comprised of four low leather chairs and side tables. While the chairs face each other for an easy tête-à-tête, they also offer lake views. Sherriff envisions the home as a place for multiple families to share a relaxing weekend. Since so many of the neighborhood’s homes are second residences for other families, Sherriff believes 28

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one day this home may serve as a family’s retreat to share with others, so she incorporated touches important for hosting. An open plan features a great room, kitchen and covered porch fashioned as a collective gathering place joined by glass doors opening onto the patio. The patio is part of an outdoor living space surrounding the pool and overlooking Lake Austin that expands the entertainment space. Although there’s no formal dining room, a large dining table custom designed by ecoconscious furniture maker Thomas Bina is family friendly. Moving throughout the house to ensure all parts of it are entertainment friendly, Sherriff insisted each bedroom have its own bathroom and that “hiding places” be designed where individual families can retreat for a break. “When they walk in the front door, I wanted visitors’ shoulders to go down and think, ‘We’re home,’” Sherriff says. Adding a Special Homeowner’s Touch As if the integration of rusticity and contemporary aesthetic were not enough, Hearn upped the eclecticism by working in the homeowner’s favorite Asian collectibles and furnishings. Living seven years in Asia, the Sherriff family amassed a large collection of artwork and furnishings they brought back to Austin. Hearn used them to great advantage as a way to introduce modern touches in the decor. The rustic wooden living room bookcase, for example, holds Asian sculptures and vases. A tansu chest, paired with contemporary paintings hanging above it, displays additional vases and sculptures in the master bedroom. Hearn transformed two Asian chests into nightstands by adding an iron base to them. She also mounted four Asian sculptures in open shadow boxes for the bedroom walls to ensure they would appear dramatically striking over the nightstands. Global-themed rugs and pillows add the pops of color — eggplant, lime green, turquoise, and red — that personalize the house’s neutral background. The combination of rustic, reclaimed heritage pieces with modern and Asian influences seems like a disparate design concept. The resulting transitional feel of this beauty, however, is both clean-lined and cozy — perfect enough for a family retreat. v ARCHITECT Austin Design Group 512.346.9200 | BUILDER Sterling Custom Homes 512.263.2214 | DESIGNER Dawn Hearn Interior Design 512.930.0250 |

Making the

Pieces Fit Austin Architect Creates Tetris Inspired Home Remodel By Jackie Benton | Photography by Brian Mihealsick

Any architect will tell you trying to conceptualize a custom design that uniquely and evenly embodies the personalities of the homeowners is a bit like playing the famously addicting Game Boy video game Tetris, where the goal is to fit all the puzzle pieces in rows without any gaps.


oseph Bennett, AIA and owner of Joseph M. Bennett Architects, managed to successfully put all of the pieces together in a whole house remodeling project for clients Matt Smith and Juan Rubio, but didn’t realize how apt this metaphor was until construction was almost complete. The licensed architect and interior designer brought a playful sense of whimsy into the update of the couple’s circa-1950’s home that beautifully personified his clients. It wasn’t until near the project’s end, when Smith and Rubio specifically requested Tetris shapes as part of the tiled design of their kitchen that Bennett finally, literally and figuratively, put it all together. 30

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“I didn’t know that they were going to put a Tetris design on their kitchen backsplash until the end of the project,” says a surprised and amused Bennett. “I believe later they said they both really liked Tetris, and always wanted to do something like that. They just hadn’t really mentioned the Tetris thing until we were pretty far along, and after I sent some of my earlier sketches to them.” “Juan and I are both children of the Eighties. I think everyone of our generation appreciates walking into the house and recognizing a piece of our childhood,” relates Smith, owner and operator of Detour, a travel tour agency specializing in Latin

America. “Tetris was a great way to take simple materials and do something unique with them. And it’s an idea Juan and I developed together. One of us first had the idea of arranging the tiles into Tetris blocks, and the other had the idea of using white space and ‘falling’ tiles.” “We also asked for a Fifties-style soda parlor element, and the kitchen has that kind of feel. Matt wanted banquette seating, so Joe created the dining area using a curved wall and asymmetric table,” says Rubio, a computer researcher with IBM. “He proposed multiple layouts, making sure we’d get something we really love. As he got the idea for this one, he was just sketching

it on the fly — 3D sketches of how it would look from different angles. It was amazing.” For his part, Bennett was concentrating on a much larger puzzle: how to create good traffic flow through a ranch-style floor plan which featured a dark foyer area awkwardly spilling into a small kitchen. After interviewing Matt and Juan, he realized the kitchen was the heart and soul of their home, where company would gather when they were entertaining. “I was trying to represent the owners’ personalities while resolving some previous circulation problems,” explains Bennett. “There were sort of two ‘front’ doors to the house, and the previous Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


kitchen was pretty small, approximately 10 feet by 11 feet. Most of the circulation went right through it, which was challenging when someone was cooking. I relocated the front door but didn’t want it to open up right into the kitchen.” With the main entry relocated and the space between the entryway and the kitchen opened up without increasing the home’s original footprint, Bennett discovered the new open floor plan was just a little too open between the entryway and the kitchen. He hit upon the idea of building a unique, curved wall with cutout peek-a-boo shapes to create some privacy between the two spaces while maintaining the open floor plan. “I used the curved wall to define a foyer and shield guests from a direct view into the kitchen. It also provides a sense of curiosity, ‘What’s behind the curved wall?’ There are peek-a-boo openings, so you get a glimpse, but then you get to discover more as you come around the wall,” says Bennett. That “mystery something” behind the wall includes a wonderful banquette seating arrangement nestled into the wall’s curved nook, with an open Fifties-style dinette table arrangement positioned just in front of the open stove-top. Ample counter space abounds, and seems to almost float much like Tetris tiles, in this inviting, cleanly constructed kitchen space. “It is a space with a great community sense,” explains Bennett. “It would actually be great for a cooking show, with the range right where it is, and in fact, I was inspired by cooking shows to incorporate that open feeling into the design. Everyone ends up around the range in the kitchen anyway, and it’s always fun to make that work.” Even though the Tetris theme was a bit of surprise for Bennett, 32

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

the revelation didn’t alter the design process for him or his company in creating a beautiful remodel for Smith and Rubio. “I wouldn’t have changed anything about the design process: clients make working on their projects different and unique from all the others, and the real challenge is making a space customized for them and how they like to live,” Bennett says. Smith agrees and adds, “We had ideas about what was important to us, but no idea how to translate that into a home design. We really appreciated how Joe envisioned something that met all our needs and also expresses who we are. Part of what I love about the house is how we can see ourselves in the design. This was one case where the pieces of the puzzle came together just right.” v Joseph M. Bennett Architects 512.478.0057 |

We’ve got great glass 512-388-9400 1609 Chisholm Trail #100, Round Rock

Inspired by a

Classic By Michelle Burgess | Photography by Jonathan Jackson


Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

The concept was a simple one, for simple times. For the first half of the 20th century, poring over the SearsÂŽ catalog and its Christmas Wish Book was a nearly universal American pastime for families from Maine to California. But from 1908 through 1940, in addition to the work boots and watches and BB guns and baby carriages displayed in its pages, folks could procure something a bit grander, a bit more permanent.


hey could order up a house. Shipped in railroad boxcars, the 370 different designs of Sears Catalog Homes came complete with blueprints, materials and instructions — everything needed to build a surprisingly well-appointed and modern house. Once the kits were delivered, the buyer need only assemble a passel of strong, willing friends and then, in the tradition of farmcommunity barn-raisings, a sturdy and modern home would materialize where before only a bare lot had stood. Times have changed, but Michael Alwan of Austin’s RedBud Custom Homes has a soft spot for those old, uniquely American

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


homes. A third-generation homebuilder with roots in Chicago — home to one of the heaviest concentrations of still-standing Sears homes in the country — Alwan acquired a project back in 2007 for which he knew the kit homes would make an ideal inspiration. Sears halted its line of house kits back in 1940, following a deluge of loan defaults on the homes during the Depression. So sure, he skipped the boxcar-transported materials, but the finished product definitely puts an updated spin on a oncecommon piece of Americana. “The main goal was to keep the aesthetics of the kit homes while modernizing the floor plans to fit today’s lifestyle,” Alwan says. “What that meant was having an open kitchen/living room/dining concept” for the three-bedroom, two-and-a-halfbath South Austin home. The result is an abode that will look as great in 20 years as it does today. Anchored by clean lines and classic design elements — a subway-tile kitchen backsplash, dark wood floors, box-beamed ceilings, and crisp white beadboard, built-ins and cabinets — the home is as fresh and open as it is timeless. It is a true craftsman, both inside and out, but with modern touches such as extra storage, a six-burner gas stove and a luxurious walk-in shower to accommodate a 21st century homeowner. In addition to the 2,700-square-foot main home, RedBud built a 400-square-foot mother-in-law suite and detached garage on the property. The decision to make both structures detached was in keeping with Alwan’s efforts to reflect the craftsman style. “We were trying to stay true to the neighborhood, which is filled with little bungalows,” he says. “This design was appropriate because it didn’t create a massive structure when you look at it from the street.” A guiding force in Alwan’s design was his clients’ affinity for entertaining. That consideration, along with their commitment to reflecting the integrity of their neighborhood, was forefront in his thought process during the planning of the home. Alwan 36

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

says that both he and the clients, who have become his good friends since the project, are thrilled with the results. “The clients and I both love the open kitchen/living room design,” he says. “It’s a winner because of their love of entertaining.” v Redbud Custom Homes 512.788.3646 |

Dawn F. Hearn, ASID, NARI, CAPS Texas Registered Interior Designer #9501

New Construction Remodeling Space Planning Consultation Furnishings Accessories 512.930.0250

From Awkward

to Awesome Austin Architect Intervenes to Take Kitchen from Funky to Functional By Jackie Benton | Photography by Paul Bardagjy


ith its location midway up a steeply sloping street, the house was uniquely situated so that one corner was almost underground, while the other corner of the home jutted far out of the ground. It was quickly obvious to David Webber, AIA of Webber + Studio, that the homeowners had been enchanted with the lovely views this Jester Estates home afforded of a nearby hillside and into a valley. But the outside gave no hint of what was inside: an awkwardly sprawling, uninspired, Eighties-era style tract home layout. Bland, neutral-colored ceramic tile lent to the claustrophobic 38

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

feeling in the kitchen, while harsh angles and illogically placed counters made preparing meals difficult. However, Webber decided to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives, the home offered. “The good news was this house had never been remodeled, so we could go back to the original construction,” he explains. “We didn’t have to deal with other visions from previous remodels, and we didn’t have to undo work. It was actually okay to take this challenging house and turn it into something beautiful by upgrading finishes, taking rooms that had weird angles and squaring them off, and

There was no doubt in the owners’ minds: their house needed an intervention. A do-over. A renovation. Call it what you will, a change was needed, and needed sooner than later.

transform it.” His clients wanted to start with the kitchen, the heart of the home, and work from there. The house was more or less a lesson in good intentions gone awry, according to Webber. “There were some really interesting choices,” Webber recalls. “They had cabinet space, but the space between the main walkway and the cabinets was extremely skinny. When you looked at the house’s original blueprint, you could tell they had somehow managed to take a large space and make it feel small and not very functional with the way they installed their cabinets and work areas.” Further, there was a comical chimneyed fireplace the owners lovingly referred to as “The Pencil,” so dubbed because the chimney’s rounded shape and tapered bottom looked exactly like a pencil. “The Pencil” was positioned between the kitchen and the living room, hampering interaction between the two rooms. Another strange block was found between the kitchen and the dining room, with the placement of a kitchen island featuring 45-degree angles cut into the cabinet countertops with nicked corners. “It had a warm, folksy, farmhouse-y kind of finish, with grout in-between the tiles that was just a magnet for bacteria,” says Webber. “The island’s weird shape didn’t work very well and was so dysfunctional — the angles were illogically placed and inhibited the functionality of the kitchen. People were left wondering, ‘Where do I stand to chop vegetables?’ because the angle made it so difficult to do.” Bernie Calcote of Melde Construction Company, and Webber’s builder for the project, echoed Webber’s assessment of the home. Like Webber, Calcote was not concerned with the home’s age or Eighties-era construction, and was prepared to bring everything up to present day code requirements, but the design made it clumsy to work with. “The separation and angles of the house did present some unique challenges in framing. David’s vision to open everything up, apply nice, clean lines, and appropriate flow was an uphill climb,” says Calcote. “The site had a reasonably nice exposure; there was no horrible western exposure to work around. We noted there was no definition from the entryway to the living room, but there was opportunity to have a lot of nice light come into the kitchen,” says Webber. By tearing out the cabinetry and essentially gutting the kitchen, Webber and Calcote were able to begin their project

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


with a clean slate. “We were able to install a new, frameless glass panel window to let in the light from the eastern exposure, and on either side of the window we installed adjacent, functional cabinets, with additional usable storage space gained with the inclusion of lower drawers on the cabinet wall,” Webber explains. The new cabinetry by Artcraft Kitchens, a company based in Canada, features a gleaming, painted wood lacquer finish, imbuing the kitchen with a bright cheeriness. “Another addition was a back-painted white glass backsplash that was extremely polished to reflect the light from the newly added window, so even if you have your back to the window, you still can see the view in the reflection. We found the backsplash at Marble Falls Glass and Mirror, and while this is a standard material used when building high-rise buildings, it’s not typically used in a house. It comes ready-made off the shelf in a variety of colors. The unique quality of the backsplash allowed it to work with the countertops and cabinets and together they became silent partners with the new reflected light from the window.” “‘The Pencil’ chimney absolutely had to go,” says Webber. “The removal of that and the adjacent living room wall allowed the kitchen space to open up to the living room.” Webber and his team quickly decided to take advantage of the newly opened space in the kitchen and completely removed the “folksy” island 40

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

to create a brand-new, functional kitchen island with Silestone® countertops that beautifully matched the new kitchen’s color palette. Completing the kitchen’s new look was the inclusion of pecan wood flooring, which Webber was able to source regionally. “Pecan is one of our favorites to use; it’s a local wood and very cost-effective, and it has so much character,” he says. The owners now easily move around their kitchen and enjoy a much more natural flow of movement between the kitchen and the dining room. Counter seating in the kitchen has been added for casual meals. “My clients are not showy people. They are good, solid, practical-minded people. I like to think our work is smart and subtle, not showy, and they had a natural attraction to what we do,” says Webber. “We were able to use the base bones of the home and transform their kitchen into a subtle, quiet way for them to enjoy the natural beauty of the sunlight and the views that surround them.” v ARCHITECT Webber + Studio 512.236.1032 | BUILDER Melde Construction Company 512.442.4479 |

AWARD-WINNING INTERIOR DESIGN custom homes • lofts spec homes • commercial Stephanie J. Villavicencio, ASID Texas Registered Interior Designer


New Bath Suite, Old World Style By Mauri Elbel | Photography by Coles Hairston

It’s difficult to imagine the lavish master bath suite tucked inside a home in Northwest Austin’s hilly Shepherd Mountain neighborhood was once an ordinary builder-grade bathroom.


ow luxurious and highly-functional, this suite exudes Old World charm from its ornate floor-to-ceiling wall of wooden cabinetry down to the antique bronze lion feet grounding its freestanding tub thanks to a bit of design savvy from Marsha Topham, a project architect for CG&S DesignBuild. When Topham embarked on the remodel project, the 42

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

first order of business was sitting down with the homeowners to address their real needs and come up with a design that would make the space more efficient, pleasant and cohesive with the level of quality found throughout the home. “The clients had done upgrades throughout the rest of the house with lots of high-end finishes and antiques,” says Topham,

adding that the home’s master bath in particular lacked the same level of attention. “We took what was a plain, ordinary suburban bathroom and turned it into this luxury bath that is enjoyable for the homeowners to use.” The renovation was built by CG&S Design-Build under the expertise of project manager Jay Schaefer. “The homeowners, who have built other projects, say it was the easiest construction process they have ever experienced,” says Topham of the design-build project. A before and after look at this space reveals the transformation that took place –– a once mundane and cluttered space now drips in elegance and concealed functionality. Previously, the bathroom had two built-in vanities with low countertops that lacked the drawer space the clients needed, resulting in an eyesore of bottles and brushes that were constantly stacked on the countertops in plain view. A large built-in corner tub consumed much of the bathroom’s real estate while depleting the capacity of the home’s hot water heater when in use. Formerly, the shower was a small glass-enclosed space with an elevated entry that required users to step up into it, presenting a potential problem. “We created a curbless shower which, if need be, could be wheelchair accessible to address some of those aging-in-place needs in the future,” Topham says. The vanity’s painted cabinets featured large exposed frames –– another space-waster that needed to be addressed. Topham says the new design was a result of collaborating closely with her clients to rework the space in a way that would suit them, both now and in the future. “I worked very closely with them to determine what their needs were,” says Topham. “They needed drawers of a certain height because they wanted to have enough space for hairdryers, bottles and things –– so we worked to make the drawers tall enough but not too tall.” Topham’s design raised the counter height from the original 32 inches to 36 inches –– a more comfortable height when standing at the counter that also allowed for an extra row of drawers. To use space more efficiently, the drawer heights were determined by the contents they were to hold. In one case, a large drawer was made to look like two drawers in order to store taller items and stay consistent with the design. The sink cabinet is just big enough to hide the drain pipes with a large drawer below for better use and accessibility. Medicine cabinets are recessed into the cabinetry, flanking the sinks with concealing touch-latches rather than typical knobs.

Custom rustic cherry cabinets with a teak stain and glazed finish by Kingwood Fine Cabinetry of Fredericksburg span the 12-foot stretch of wall. “The idea for the sink and linen cabinets came from James Van Staven, a designer and friend of the homeowner,” says Topham. “He suggested that the cabinetry look like a fabulous antique armoire that was pushed into the wall.” The look was accomplished by using details normally seen on fine furniture: high-quality materials and superior craftsmanship, twisted-rope pilasters, a progression of smaller drawers at the top to larger ones at the bottom and furniture legs rather than a recessed kick space found on cabinets. “We did not have a particular style in mind when we designed the piece, but it has some characteristics of English Tudor wood work,” she adds. “The stain on the cherry is darkest in the deep grooves of the turned pilasters and door panels, enhancing their sculptural quality. When you walk in, you see this wall of magnificent cabinetry –– it really just takes your breath away.” While the design is visually appealing, one of the biggest perks of the remodel was the ability to remove all of the clutter from the countertops and conceal it within the ample addition of storage. The Regency Tub with antique bronze lion feet by Cheviot® Products, Inc. remains a focal point of the master bath, replacing the oversized tub while consuming less space and energy. “The homeowners enjoy their new tub,” says Topham. “It’s elegant in style, comfortable to use and doesn’t drain the capacity of the water heater.” The arched-top window bay was added to gain a little extra space while defining the area around the tub, says Topham. Kolbe® Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


window frames featuring custom leaded glass by Renaissance Glass Company creates visual appeal while providing soft daytime light without the need for window treatments. “This created a design feature in the room and allowed natural light inside without compromising privacy,” adds Topham. The bathroom’s swirled granite countertops were replaced with Honey Onyx by Architectural Tile and Stone, providing the inspiration for the neutral and soothing color palette that now plays throughout the well-lit bathroom. “I wasn’t going for a specific style with this bathroom, other than being fairly traditional,” says Topham. “We wanted to use rich, warm materials and when the homeowners found the spectacular onyx with its translucent gold and honey tones, all the other finishes were selected to complement the onyx.” Oil-rubbed bronze Renaissance light sconces by Schonbek® Lighting and lavatory faucets from the Vantage Crystal Collection by Santec combine to further the Old World feel of the space.

Builder-grade flooring was replaced with 16x16 San Mateo honed limestone. The same material continues onto the bathroom walls in an 8x16 pattern, creating a more seamless look as opposed to the glazed ceramic tile that once covered the shower walls. A decorative band of basket-weave Afyon Sugar marble with Jerusalem Gold dots wraps the space in refined cohesion with a matching chair rail, countertop backsplash and shower nook, all installed by Custom Tile of Austin. In the original layout, the make-up vanity was an extension of the sink vanity. But in the new design, a writing desk by Theodore Alexander inspired by furniture from the Althorp estate, Princess Di’s family home, serves as the make-up vanity and fits perfectly beside the tub. This thoughtful redesign serves as a solid testament to how renovation can improve a space and the lives of those who use it. “The homeowners love both the beauty and the ease of use in the bathroom,” says Topham. “While it is fairly simple to design beautiful rooms, the greater challenge is to create lovely spaces tailored to the client’s specific needs. The reward in this challenge is a very happy client.” v CG&S Design-Build 512.444.1580 | 44

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

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Pretty in Pink

By Jackie Benton | Photography by Casey Dunn

It’s not often a powder room is so breathtakingly posh it would turn Beverly Hills stylistas pink with envy. Yet the masterful Shea Pumarejo of Younique Designs has done just that — turning what had been just an utilitarian, mundane bathroom into a gorgeous space that puts the “Pow!” into powder room, capturing her teenage client’s love for fashion and drawing you into a space that makes you feel as though you just stepped into the trendiest Rodeo Drive boutique.


he San Antonio-based interior designer’s attentiongetting “The Forward Fashionista” design drew “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” as well as awards from the National Kitchen and Bath Association last April in 2013, easily winning “Best Large Bath” as well as the grand prize “Best Bath” award. “This was essentially a mother’s gift to her 17-year-old daughter for making an unexpected move to northwest San Antonio,” explains Pumarejo. “And this was no ordinary daughter. This was a daughter who had definite ideas about design and firm opinions about what she wanted. She had already pulled some inspiration photos of Paris Hilton’s bedroom and bath, done in all white with pink accents, for our first meeting.” Knowing the client’s tastes is basic Interior Designer 101, but where the designer finds that inspiration is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. During the interview process, Pumarejo’s eye fell upon her client’s extensive collection of shoes and handbags, and intuitively realized the remodel design would draw its inspiration from her client’s sense of dramatic fashion and gilded glamorama. But before she could concentrate on the fun details, Pumarejo realized there were some major structural changes that would need to happen first. “When I first walked into the bathroom space, it was claustrophobic, with a door to the closet on one side and a door to

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


the toilet. There were all of these doors and walls all around, as well as an ugly fluorescent electric light fixture, and it felt so constricting. We had to open it up so you could breathe,” says Pumarejo. “The bathroom originally had a tiny closet, and my client would have to crawl into this cramped space just to see what she had. This is the space that became the drawers and shelf space where she could easily put her shoes and handbags on display. We took out walls and expanded the whole space from the original floor plan, created a built-in closet and repositioned the door entry.” But whenever making significant changes to a floor plan, there are always hidden surprises and structural issues to be factored in. “There’s always something strange when you start ripping out walls,” sighs Pumarejo. In this case, Pumarejo and her team found an oddly placed, unexpected plumbing pipe that ran down the wall. Pumarejo decided to work with, rather than against, the placement of the errant plumbing pipe, by leaving it where it was and creating a fantastic wall that is at once baroque and modern, with colorful flourishes that are intricate, but not over the top. “We had designed the bedroom as a tranquil space, using all white,” says Pumarejo. “But if the bedroom was tranquil, we wanted to add some ‘Pow!’ to the bath to make it fun. And so I thought we would make it mostly white, but with added pops of pink.” To achieve that goal, Pumarejo designed a custom-created, one-of-a-kind, hand-cut glass wall with a pattern of pink, red, silver and white ribbons cascading downward, covering her previously problematic pipe. “I found an intricately scrolled baroque lacquer mirror and paired it with a simple Bombay chest. CR Currin, the designer of the Bombay chest, created an amazing fuchsia metallic finish that was matched to the pink glass of the wall,” she says. CR Currin also added Swarovski® crystal drawer pulls for added bling, which Pumarejo also used for the towel holders, toilet paper holder and closet drawer pulls. However, Pumarejo quickly realized her artful solution to one 48

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issue quickly brought up another challenge. “I was thinking of all the curvy lines on the back wall, and I realized I couldn’t put a regular metal faucet there with the wash basin, as it would have been the odd thing out. So I went to Google, and came across amazing glass artists that create glass faucets and sinks. I decided to go with Jim McKelvey, and he was able to match the pink I wanted. His creation just had perfect lines, fluid and contemporary, and worked beautifully with the space.” For Pumarejo, this “Pretty in Pink” design turned out to be a dream project that led not only to professional accolades and national recognition from her peers, but also to a new high in the personal satisfaction of creating work that was appreciated by her client, without any of the usual restrictions. “This was one of those dream projects without the usual parameters of budget and trying to appeal to the masses for resale,” explains Pumarejo. “My client just wanted her daughter to love her space, so I got to be a 17-year-old girl again, and imagine what I would have wanted if I were a teenage ‘IT’ girl. More than anything, it was one of those projects where I was free to just be myself and do what I do without restriction.” The freedom afforded by her client allowed Pumarejo to stretch and push the creative process, and fearlessly construct a fierce and feminine space truly worthy of her stylista client. “A lot of times clients want to reign in the creativity out of fear, and if you’re not careful, the result can be plain vanilla,” Pumarejo says. “Every client has their own sense of style, and it’s up to me as a designer to delve into that and create a space that is uniquely their own, that they will feel comfortable in, and not try to impose my own style on them. I understand that this bathroom doesn’t appeal to everyone, but that’s just the point: I didn’t design it for everyone.” v Younique Designs 210.602.9726 |

Planning for Success Small Renovation Project Makes Big Impact By Jackie Benton


Photography by Thomas McConnell

Nothing succeeds like success, and preparation is the key to that success — especially when transforming a singular Fifties-era bathroom on Martin Avenue in Austin into a beautiful spa-like retreat. The work on this airy and modern bath was accomplished swiftly, much to the delight of the owner, who had been looking forward to having her bath updated, but had been less than enthusiastic about having the only bathroom in her little Mid-Century bungalow out of commission during the necessary renovation work. Still, David Wilkes of David Wilkes Builders went into high gear with Cindy Black of Rick and Cindy Black Architects to create a fabulous bath, and all in record time.


he homeowner was actually a neighbor of Black’s, who decided to take the leap of faith and trust that Black would help her get the bath she had been dreaming of for many years — one that would afford her a sense of luxury, while reflecting her aesthetic sense of beauty, and all within the smallish space typical of the neighborhood homes built along Martin Avenue in the Fifties. “It was fun to finally get to work with her on the design. She has a great sense of humor and approached the project with an optimistic attitude. The owner, Teresa, had gotten tired of her kid-sized bathtub, funky vinyl flooring and lack of storage space,” explains Black. “She desired a calming, ‘spa-like’ bath that would function almost as a lounge. Working abroad, she had spent time in the Middle East and had brought back some beautiful rugs, artwork and other antiques. I think the new bath relates more to these items than the existing 1950 bungalow, although the new window proportions did stay true to some of the other windows in the house.”

“The biggest challenge to a project like this is the schedule, because it makes such an impact on the client’s day-to-day life,” explains David Wilkes, owner of David Wilkes Builders. “You’ve got to get in and get out as fast as possible. All decisions should be made up front, so you’re not in a position of waiting three weeks for a bathtub, for example, and the homeowner has to deal with that downtime. Cindy Black, the architect on this project, did a great job of having everything selected prior to the job, so there were no long lead times waiting for materials to arrive that affected the schedule. The fixtures, tile and electrical materials were all on hand and ready to go, and the custom-created cabinets were constructed off-site and ready for installation.” But even best-laid plans can still face challenges. Removing the subfloor to the bath revealed a substandard foundation condition that needed to be dealt with, and lead paint on the old window frames required removal under stringent guidelines. Still, the original bath design remained unchanged, and Wilkes’ crew worked hard and diligently to keep Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


everything running according to schedule. Black is extremely complimentary and appreciative of her builder partner and his crew, noting that everyone, especially the tile-setter, kept everything humming along. That professional admiration is returned, as the awardwinning builder has been unabashed in his praise of Black’s project management and the creative approach she took in the bath’s renovation. “Cindy was great. Her excitement and open-mindedness and understanding made this such a positive experience,” says Wilkes. “The client loved the finished project — Cindy did a great job of making the bath feel so much bigger than it actually is. The space itself was only seven feet by nine feet — a relatively small space, but there’s no glass enclosures so it makes it feel so much more open.” Turkish Applestone limestone tile was selected for its smooth, powdery effect for the bath floor, as well as at the walls, curb and tub sides, and Akdo™ Icelandic Blue glass tile was used to line the shower walls. The combination of matte and reflective finishes gave the desired look of additional depth to the space. Black chose to extend the blue color scheme to the walls, contributing to the sense of calming spaciousness. Black’s design is at once very modern, and yet very retro. “The bath sink is a bit funky, right?” notes Black. “We needed 52

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a sink to fit to the proportions, and it was a bit shallower than a typical sink. This allowed for the new configuration of the toilet across the way, on the opposite wall. The vessel sink from Whitehaus® worked pretty well for this, and Teresa liked its distinctive egg-like shape, somewhat like an ancient vessel. A lot of older homes have built-in niches, so the ones we created near the sink and in the shower relate to that concept, but in a modern way.” The fruits of success are sweet, in more ways than one: the knowledge of a job well done and knowing architect and builder formed a dynamic team that exceeded the expectations of their client is priceless. Black reports her neighbor and client continues to be thrilled with the results of her updated bath. “I know Teresa has remained in close contact with David Wilkes, and hopes to collaborate again in the future. We were all invited to her bath-warming party, which involved a tub full of ice and champagne bottles!” v ARCHITECT Rick & Cindy Black Architects 512.472.2826 | BUILDER David Wilkes Builders 512.328.9888 |

Cool, Quiet

Comfort By Ashley Festa


nother scorching Texas summer is on its way, but don’t turn on the AC just yet. Deciding between suffering during the heat of the day or lowering the thermostat only to pay the price for it later aren’t a homeowner’s only choices. Instead, consider scrapping old windows and installing customized replacements made with insulating glass units. With these new windows, beauty and efficiency come as a package deal. 54

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

Insulating glass units are made with two pieces of glass within the frame of the window. A low-emissivity (or low-e) coating and an inner gas create the magic, says Aaron Heth, CEO at ASAP Windows & Siding. The low-e coating is an invisible silver metal on the inside panes of glass that reflects heat back outside, keeping the interior of the house cooler and the energy bill lower. “In the old days and even today, most homes just have one

piece of glass and heat flows into the house,” Heth says. “A low-e coating doesn’t allow heat to transfer to the inside of the house.” While the low-e coating handles the heat, the gas between the panes of glass combats the cold. “It’s cold enough in Texas to make us uncomfortable,” says Heth. “People here in Texas think it doesn’t get cold, but when it’s 48 degrees outside, it makes the home cold and the heater has to come on.” Double-paned windows with a gas filling prevent much of that cold from seeping into the home, maintaining a more consistent indoor temperature without wasting energy. And the amount of savings might shock you. “People often think they need more insulation in the walls and attic, but that saves only about 15 percent on their energy bill,” explains Heth. “Seventy-five percent is lost through windows and doors because we have so many of them and because windows are such a big part of the wall when you consider a sliding glass door or French door.” Replacing all the windows and doors in a home may be pricy, but could save a homeowner up to 40 percent on the energy bill. Depending on the type of windows chosen, the replacements could pay for themselves within eight years. Taking into account not only energy savings, but also added value to the price of the home, the investment offers a big payoff — into the thousands of dollars, according to Heth. Just replacing the windows creates an immediate 71 percent return on investment. For example, a homeowner who spends $10,000 on replacement windows can expect an increase of $7,100 on the sale price of the home. On top of that, the windows also protect the homeowner’s personal belongings by blocking out 98 percent of harmful UV rays which could bleach rugs or furniture.

“If you have a really expensive Italian leather sofa sitting next to a window that doesn’t have the protective coating, you could ruin that couch,” Heth says. And as if the windows needed another selling point, they’re also safer than regular single-paned windows. The locking mechanism is located inside the window for the tilt-in feature of easy cleaning, a placement that also makes it much harder for burglars to break in. “The glass in the windows is an eighth-inch thick. It’s heat treated so it’s super strong. You can’t take a glass cutter and cut it,” Heth says. “You’d have to take a hammer to it, and that’s way too loud for most thieves.” The thick glass also creates a sound barrier, which is immediately noticeable to Heth’s customers. From highway traffic and nearby railroad tracks to neighbors’ dogs and lawn mowers — annoying outdoor noise practically vanishes. Beyond efficiency and safety, the frames themselves boost home value as well. Wood window frames that require zero maintenance? Yes, you can have it all. Specially treated wood doesn’t need painting and comes with a 20-year or a lifetime guarantee. A simple change of windows — adding a big picture window, for example — can make a dramatic update to the home, creating a more modern or more traditional look depending on the homeowner’s style. “I’ve been in the home improvement business for quite a while, and I’ve never seen a home improvement that changes the look of a house as much as the windows,” Heth says. “Windows are the only home improvement that I know of that can upgrade and beautify the home on both the interior and exterior.” v ASAP Windows & Siding 512.288.8354 | Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


Travel back in time at

Hangar Lounge By Mauri Elbel


emember a time when flying was glamorous? Some fondly recall that bygone era when air travel was an anticipated event, calling for suits and cocktails, and inviting leisurely moments laced with mingling and laughter. While that same sense of enjoyment might not come to mind when reflecting on your most recent speed-race through the airport as you came to an abrupt halt in the security line to anxiously await a pat-down with your shoes resting in the gray bin beside you, the nostalgic romance from travel’s heyday still flourishes at Hangar Lounge. 56

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Photography by Dave Bolch

Tucked within downtown Austin’s hip Fourth Street Warehouse District, Hangar Lounge is reminiscent of a Mid-Century airport lounge –– a design feat born out of award-winning architect Dick Clark’s dreamlike recollection of travel memories from his childhood. “I always had the dream of doing one of these Mid-Century airport lounge type bars –– one where people would put on a suit and tie to meet friends in the airport for a cocktail before their flight in or out,” Clark says of the revamped space adjacent to Dick Clark + Associates downtown offices which previously

housed a hair salon. “I design a lot of bars and restaurants downtown so I was looking to create more of an adult bar –– I had the concept and really wanted to do the project for years.” In every design detail, Hangar Lounge seeks to recreate the thrill of airline travel years ago, during that time when people met at the airport hours before their flight departure as a way to stretch out the experience. “All travel used to be was a big adventure,” Clark says. “People would travel in small groups, two or three couples, and they would go out there and have a cocktail party before they got on a plane. Now it is just a chore –– at least the plane ride part of it. I remember as a little kid traveling with my parents, not all the time but on occasion, and from a kid’s point of view, that plane ride was the most exciting part of the trip. Often, it was more exciting than where you were actually going. And you got to do it twice –– once there and once back.” Growing up in his parents’ Dallas home, located right next to Dallas Love Field, Clark recalls sitting outside for hours as a child, watching the planes take off and land for entertainment. He vividly remembers the occasional plane trips he got to take with his parents –– a couple times to Southern California; once to New York City. Those same

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


images from Clark’s childhood air travel fantasies are depicted throughout Hangar Lounge today. Take a seat at the bar and watch his dreamlike imagery play out through his design, perfectly capturing the allure of airline travel in the 1950’s. Hangar Lounge is furnished with a selection of Mid-Century modern furniture, including Replica Eames molded plastic dowel chairs, and benches and tables with hairpin legs custom-upholstered in black vinyl and dot patterns by Charles and Ray Eames. A retro-future aviation theme is fluid throughout the space, evidenced by the Daltile diamond tile in black and white on both the exterior facade and the interior bar front, the bowstring truss overhead and the oversized flight-related graphics and wall murals. Downstairs, industrial-looking clocks display the current time in major cities including New York and London, giving patrons the feeling that they are waiting to embark on a trip to another zone of the world. A world map water-cut out of a large sheet of aluminum stands off the wall and cold rolled steel forms the top of the bar as Big Ass Fans whirl above. A lounge area was incorporated into the design, outfitted with televisions and gathering spots, to both serve as a place to mingle with small groups or to host private parties. Throughout the entire space, there is a playful marriage of aluminum, stainless steel, concrete and wood. Journey upstairs to Hangar Lounge’s main attraction: an aerial adventure that provides a stunning view of downtown Austin’s skyline. Hangar Lounge’s roof deck, furnished with vintage style metal lawn chairs, and aluminum barstools and side tables, features a steel Quonset hut that contains the bar, bathrooms, stairs and elevator. Painted lines and numbers on the terrace floor resemble a landing strip –– a suiting design for a bar located 58

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

in what could easily be considered downtown Austin’s landing pad for nightlife. “The rooftop deck is a fabulous center to look over and see the world of downtown Austin,” says Clark. “Hangar Lounge is located two blocks from half of what there is to do in downtown Austin.” Clark says he had the name and concept for Hangar Lounge in mind for years but it wasn’t until he secured the lease on the space near his downtown office that the stars aligned. Clark admits he didn’t know much about running a bar so he contacted SIX Lounge owners John Korioth and Chris Ruhling, and asked them to become his partners in the venture. Once the partnership formed, the only thing that really changed was the scale of the project. “I had the lease and the concept,” says Clark. “But they had the expertise on how to run a bar. It really is the perfect partnership –– a ‘that is your turf and this is mine’ sort of thing. I would do it again with them in a heartbeat.” The partnership grew Clark’s initially modest concept into a sprawling 4,500-square-foot space complete with a roof deck –– an expanded design that required an enormous foundation which had to be dug six feet down to support the large steel structure. “At first I thought it would just be a hole in the wall type thing,” admits Clark. “I had the dream but didn’t have the smarts that were needed to make money so we actually decided to build up. Then everything just clicked. We were all thinking along the same path.” Out of all the years designing, Clark says Hangar Lounge has been a true learning experience for him. It has provided him with a glimpse inside the inner workings of a hospitality business and it has allowed him to transform his longstanding vision into a successful venture in Austin’s competitive bar scene. “There are several things to it that I love,” says Clark. “All the imagery –– from the airplanes, airports, that flying wing behind the bar, the clocks and that wall map. This bar has a real personality. Most bars are just great places to gather and have a good feel to them, but there is some history to this one.” Today, sitting inside the Hangar Lounge is a little bit like rewinding back in time. More than any other downtown Austin bar, it translates a certain mood and era to anyone who takes a seat at the bar or visits the roof deck. “You can’t be in a hurry here,” says Clark. “You have to be lounging around. You don’t go in there and order a margarita. You’ve got to go in there and order a Manhattan.” v Dick Clark + Associates 512.472.4980 | Hangar Lounge 512.474.4264 |

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Hill Country Galleria

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We are located at the intersections of Bee Caves Rd/Hwy 71/Hwy 620 at the Shops at the Galleria (across from the Hill Country Galleria) next door to Faraday’s Kitchen Store.

works WHY THIS



Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

Designer Spotlight: Design Theory’s Peter Stafford By Mauri Elbel | Photography by Jessica Attie

When an Austin-based family contacted Peter Stafford, a design consultant and project manager for Design Theory, to design their walkin closet and pantry, the process went so well that they asked him to revamp their outdated kitchen to suit their modern-day lifestyle. The result? A highly-functioning and streamlined design that suits this family’s tastes.

Please give us the background behind this remodel and the main problems with the existing kitchen. PS: This is an older home in Northwest Austin. It is a quintessential Austin neighborhood with beautiful homes set back on large lots with clusters of live oaks everywhere. The family completely remodeled the home before moving in. When I met them, they were about halfway through the process so they had a pretty clear idea of the direction they wanted to take with the kitchen. I think the issues with the original kitchen were fairly typical to older homes in Austin — small and sectioned off from the house with appliances crammed together. A kitchen was a place where somebody went to cook for other people. But we really don’t live that way anymore. The open, central kitchen is such a great place for families to spend time preparing meals, doing homework and getting ready for work and school.

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


Austin, and when I saw them for the first time I was pretty amazed by how they transformed the kitchen. This is a perfect example of how the details can define the look of a space. This kitchen has a dramatic palette with great contrasts of light and dark –– how did you decide on these colors? PS: I think the contrast really reflects the dynamics of the family. They have distinct personalities that compliment and never overshadow one another. I can’t imagine a monotone or subtle color scheme for them. It just wouldn’t be their style.

How did you help these homeowners bring this outdated kitchen up to speed with their modern-day lifestyle? PS: The goal of this project was to create a space that the family would love every time they walked through the door. This is a large space so we created zones to make it more focused. The cooking area is relatively condensed and right next to the pantry. Clean-up is another zone and is located about midway between the cooking, serving and eating areas. The refrigerator is centrally located so that everyone has easy access. It also is convenient to the garage so it is easy to unload groceries. A good mix of drawers and doors help keep things well organized, and there is storage space everywhere. Even the typically awkward corner cabinet contains a set of drawers accessed from the dining room for place settings and linens. Please tell us about the finishes you chose and how they came together in this space. PS: This is a high contrast kitchen. The rich dark wood flooring throughout the house provides a solid base for the jet black island topped with Grey Goose granite. Grey Goose is a fantastic surface because it gives you a look similar to Carrara marble with the durability of granite. The color scheme for the rest of the kitchen is flipped: bright white cabinets with a black granite top. The backsplash is white 3x6 subway tile installed in a herringbone pattern. The stark white cabinets and backsplash are nicely broken up by stainless steel KitchenAid® appliances. I think going with stainless steel appliances instead of cabinet faced versions helped define the working spaces. The two glass cabinets flanking the sink were designed to display a beautiful collection of hand blown glass. This glass collection is also spread throughout the kitchen, giving off blasts of color and really bringing the whole thing together. I like the pendants hanging above the island and sink –– they provide a nice shiny touch that complements the stainless steel appliances. PS: The homeowners picked these out at Lighting, Inc. in 62

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

In what ways has the functionality of the kitchen improved for your clients? PS: There is definitely one main cook in this family so that aspect of the kitchen was really designed with his processes in mind. The range and pantry and ovens are grouped together so he has total freedom in that space without being isolated from the rest of the family. There is plenty of space for helpers, too. I could easily see two or three people prepping and cooking for a party while the kids finish up their homework at the island. The peninsula is a perfect place to serve family-style as it defines the area between the dining table and kitchen. What are some key design objectives to keep in mind when reconfiguring a highly used space like a kitchen? PS: Look for unused or unnecessary spaces. For example, if there is a hallway behind the kitchen, get rid of it. Consider how people will move around in the space. Try to avoid bottle necks and think about how two or more people might interact in a given area. If you’ve been living in the home, invite some friends over for a dinner party. Show them your plans and ask for their feedback. They might be able to help you identify problems that you have overlooked. What elements do you like most in this new kitchen? PS: I like the little accents of color and textures. The pendant lights, the vent hood, the glass collection, and lit display cabinets and the island create little vignettes that make a very large kitchen feel close and inviting. From start to finish, what are your favorite things about this space –– why does it work? PS: My favorite thing about this space is the people who live in it. There are a thousand designs that might have worked here. The design that works the best is the one that reflects the personalities, lifestyle and aspirations of the family. v Design Theory 512.879.1612 |


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GE Artistry Series

Electrolux Induction Cooktop

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Kitchen Revolution


The Biggest Kitchen Innovations of 2014 By Dana W. Todd

t’s pretty easy to define the characteristics of a 1970s kitchen: avocado green or harvest gold appliances; linoleum flooring; colorful, psychedelic wallpaper; dark wood-paneled cabinets; and a laminate countertop which held a Tupperware® canister set. In the last 40 years, kitchen appliances, accessories and materials have changed dramatically for the better. The greatest innovations, however, may be on the horizon for 2014 and into early 2015. Cabinetry Changes Open concept kitchens may be de rigueur today, but all that roominess doesn’t mean homeowners are wasteful with space. Double-tiered cutlery trays in drawers allow homeowners to push back the top tray to access storage for lesser used utensils, perhaps Grandma’s silver. Cabinet space that previously went unused now includes tilt-out drawer fronts and slits of space for storing cookie sheets in cabinetry lines from manufacturers such 64

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as Merillat®. Trash can pullouts contain back compartments for holding additional trash bags, enabling homeowners to keep supplies where they are used. Kitchen cabinetry is following the open layout trend of the rest of the house. Cabinets are losing their doors and opening up for displaying cookware and dishes as art. “Floating shelves are popular and fit well into the transitional and modern designs we see more of these days,” says Kelly Parrish Walker of Parrish and Company. Today’s manufacturing trends are in line with the findings of J.D. Power and Associates’ most recent annual survey that rates homeowners’ satisfaction with kitchen cabinets. The survey shows homeowners believe operational performance, such as smooth drawer slides and joinery sturdiness, are the most important considerations when choosing cabinetry. These practical concerns reflect the increase in the availability of soft close

drawers, which use adjustable hardware to prevent half-open or slammed doors and drawers, says Walker. Cabinetry innovations don’t stop there but literally include the kitchen sink. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, plumbing leaks account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted each year in an average household. That’s enough water to fill the backyard swimming pool or wash 270 loads of laundry. Manufacturers such as KraftMaid® and Merillat are adding CoreGuard™ in the interior of sink base cabinets to combat the common water-related problems associated with leaks under the sink. CoreGuard, an engineered polymer that coats the cabinet interior and resists stains and water damage due to pipe leakage, is ribbed to keep bottles and boxes out of harm’s way and slightly tilted so water flows toward the front of the cabinet to be detected faster for cleanup and repair. Besides innovation in functionality, manufacturers are making aesthetical improvements by opening up the range of possibilities for cabinet door inserts beyond glass to metal and fabric. KraftMaid, for example, supplies inserts in burlap and hammered bronze in its product lines. And paint is hot again, especially in shades of white and grey. Homeowners are not always choosing one color, but painting island cabinets in a different, but coordinating shade, with the surrounding cabinetry. “Some homeowners are using two colors on the same cabinets, one on the base cabinetry and another on the frame and doors,” says Walker. Appliance Advances Manufacturers are developing new appliance features that are functionally futuristic. Many appliances hitting the market this year and into 2015 are extremely low profile, without visible controls or handles. Most are made to blend into the cabinetry so as not to disturb the open concept look of most of today’s homes. Miele® is introducing the Knock2Open dishwasher feature later this year so its dishwashers will not have a protruding handle or exterior controls. The controls appear when someone taps the top of the countertop above the dishwasher; it opens with a double tap on the door. Wolf® is following suit, refreshing all of its appliance product lines. Jay Hershey, who specializes in appliances at Kiva Kitchen & Bath, says Wolf’s contemporary ovens, expected to be available in 2014 or 2015, will be missing handles and visible controls. They will appear when someone touches the appliance to use it. Walker says the newly launched Artistry™ Series from GE® provides a sleek, retro look with minimal lines, old school features such as an analog clock, and modern metal horizontal handles on all its appliances. Its straightforward design and basic black or white color choice is expected to be popular with Baby

Boomers who don’t want all the excessive bells and whistles technology brings to newer appliance lines. Hershey says new energy standards are encouraging refrigerator manufacturers to produce column-style refrigerator/freezer combinations because they are more energy efficient. Sleekness reigns in this appliance category, too, as manufacturers are reGE Café Series French Door moving visible grilles at the top that previously covered compressors and relocating them discreetly to the bottom of the refrigerators. Another GE product line, the Café Series French Door refrigerator, provides in-door hot water just as easily as ice and cold water — perfect for those who enjoy a cup of hot tea during the morning rush. More manufacturers are answering the consumer call for nugget ice and producing residential standalone ice makers for those who like the “Sonic®” type of ice. Hershey says his current best seller is by Scotsman® and fits easily under the counter. Just like refrigerators, dishwashers and ovens, manufacturers are designing sleeker cooktops that are flush with the countertop. Even gas ranges, with historically bulky grates, will be recessed deeper into the countertop so the grates are less obtrusive while still providing the control gourmet cooks love. Miele is introducing its offering in this product category in June. For even more control, Walker recommends an induction cooktop, such as the new model sold by Electrolux®. It boils water in less than 90 seconds through magnetic technology that works with special pots and pans, yet the remainder of the cooktop’s surface remains cool to the touch. Although induction cooktops are still relatively new in the residential marketplace, they provide an attractive safety feature for families with young children. On the oven front, Hershey predicts the end of self-cleaning ovens because their high temperatures can be damaging to electronic components. No need to cry just yet; he forecasts they will be replaced by steam ovens which avoid the baked-on messes of conventional dry heat ovens. Manufacturers such as Wolf have them on the market; Whirlpool®’s version is emerging. Whether choosing cabinetry, appliances or nifty gadgets, think sleek lines and practical functionality. These are the components of today’s well-designed modern kitchen. v KIVA Kitchen & Bath Austin: 512.454.4526 | San Antonio: 210.826.9652 Parrish & Co. Inc. Austin-Round Rock: 512.835.0937 | San Antonio: 830.980.9595 Downtown San Antonio: 210.255.1125 Urban Home Austin – San Antonio




Feng Shui

Kitchen Remodeling Guide


in Kitchens and Baths By Catrina Kendrick, Catrina’s Ranch Interiors


Follow these tips to help guide you through the process. • Get multiple bids. You will want to compare apples to apples, so be clear and specific in your specs. • Ask for references. Ask if anything went wrong – it’s not what went wrong, but how the crisis was resolved that matters. • Hire a good Designer. You can have top-of-the-line appliances, but if the space doesn’t work, you’ve wasted your money. • The biggest factor impacting the timeframe of any project is your schedule, your timing of decisions and the accessibility of your home to the contractors. The good news is, you should be able to recoup most of your costs at resale. The bad news: You have to pay for it now. v

am increasingly asked about the ancient art of Feng Shui and its influence in decorating the home. Many clients are now seeking professional advice on this subject and I am always pleased to answer their questions to the best of my ability. The beginning of the New Year is the perfect opportunity to bring these ideas to light. If Feng Shui brings health, happiness and abundance, then sign me up! The bedroom, bathroom and kitchen make up the Feng Shui triangle. Your kitchen is the part of your home that nourishes and sustains life. It is considered the most important room in your home, and its energy is associated with your health, family harmony, and the flow of wealth and abundance in your life. Let’s start out by reducing clutter in the kitchen. Go through your pantry and refrigerator, checking dates on everything and discarding all expired food. Don’t buy bulk items; fresh food is always best. Discard chipped, cracked or broken items; they are unlucky according to the art of Feng Shui. Most patterns of dishes can be found online at It’s always good advice to keep untidiness at bay and store gadgets that are seldom used. Leveled lighting, with lights above and below the cabinets, is welcoming and romantic. Living plants in the window, fresh flowers on the table, and a bowl of fruit all bring uplifting energy to your kitchen. Feng Shui for the bathroom is more difficult! We can’t all have baths in the Southwest area of the home! However, there are a few simple ideas which may prevent your luck from going down the drain! Place a mirror on the outside of bathroom doors. Toilet lids, drains and bathroom doors should always be closed when not in use. Use pottery accessories like vases and potted plants in the corners of the room. These are earth-like objects offering the natural solution for balancing the water energy there. Organization is a must. Store beauty products out-of-site and always keep counter surfaces clean. Open the windows whenever possible; if there is no window in the room, place a mirror over the toilet. Use gold-colored towels to attract abundance. Warm colors in bathroom décor help to balance dark, damp yin energies and are more soothing than stark whites or bright colors. This is a starter course on the fascinating ancient art of Feng Shui and its application in the kitchen and bathrooms. I have always loved using natural elements and earth toned pallets. I have never liked the toilet seat left up or a bed facing a bathroom door, so maybe there is something to it. Let’s give Feng Shui a second look and keep energy, wellbeing, wealth and abundance from floating out the door, or worse, down the drain! v

To find a professional remodeler or interior designer in Austin or San Antonio, visit: or

To design your custom spaces, call 830.755.6355 or visit

elodie Rougeau of Melodie Realty, Project & Design and Premier Partners Homes provides guidelines to help you determine the cost of a kitchen remodel, and tips to make it a comfortable process. We’ve all heard the nightmare stories related to home renovation. Follow this advice, and the only regret you will have after completion is that you didn’t do it sooner. Start by answering these questions. What are my needs and wants? What is the scope of the project? How much do I have to spend? Now, let’s talk about budgets. If the question is: How much will it cost to remodel my kitchen? Then the answer is simple: How much are you willing to invest? Use this example from the NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association), substituting the value of your home to help determine a realistic budget. Kitchen complete remodel: 11 to 22 percent of home value Home Value: $ 350,000 11% = $ 38,500 22% = $ 77,000 Breakdown: Cabinets = 35% Countertops = 15% Appliances = 20% Flooring = 10% Lighting = 5% Labor/Installation = 15% 2010-2011 Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs Value Report: • Midrange Major Kitchen Remodel = $ 56,753 • Midrange Minor Kitchen Remodel = $ 21,035 • Upscale Major Kitchen Remodel = $ 110,773 The above figures include cabinets, countertops, appliances, lighting, flooring, basic plumbing fixtures and installation of a 200-square-foot kitchen. Consider holding back 20 percent for additional items or unexpected construction issues that can come up.



Relaxation By Bill Evans, 2014 President, Austin Board of REALTORS®


or the last few years, the most popular — and value-adding — home designs have been those that place function over form. Today’s well-designed rooms serve multiple purposes, are easier to maintain and — in the case of bathrooms — add more rest and relaxation to homeowners’ lives. Here are a few ways you can give your bathroom a spaworthy upgrade: Personal Saunas and Steam Showers A walk-in shower can be converted to double as a steam room by enclosing the shower with glass and installing a small steam bath generator. Personal saunas, which can be built to size and are easy to maintain, are also growing in popularity. Heated Towel Racks and Drawers A literally hot item in bathroom décor in 2014, having warm towels ready on-demand is a simple endeavor. Self-heating stainless steel towel racks mount quickly to a wall, or cabinets can be retrofitted with warming towel drawers with internal thermometers for thermal cut-off. Heated Floors Looking to re-do your bathroom floor? Consider adding in a floor heating system. Heated floor systems work from a series of wires or hot water tubes directly under the tile, providing an even heat across the surface. With just a turn of the knob, gone are the days of cold tiles in the middle of the night. Multi-Head Showers Walk-in showers can be designed with any style and angle of shower head, but smart technology has given way to integrated systems with customizable settings for pressure and temperature for every shower head. With these additions, a relaxing day at the spa can be only a few feet away. How can you bring yours home? v

A Home of

Distinction Luxury Home Tour provides Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with much needed funds

This year, Seven Custom Homes was chosen as the featured builder of the 2014 Home of Distinction. This estate home is located in Belvedere, an exclusive gated community on Hamilton Pool Road in Austin which offers panoramic views of the Texas Hill Country. A public tour to raise funds for the

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will be held February 27 through March 16. The Homes of Distinction are built by the nation’s best builders across the country to showcase the latest and most innovative products, services and design trends, while benefitting a charity.


Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

About Belvedere on Hamilton Pool Road Populated with mature oaks and native grasses, Belvedere features one- to three-acre home sites with majestic views that overlook rolling hills, fishing ponds and trophy live oak trees. An 80-acre nature preserve meanders throughout the community, complete with natural ponds, hiking trails and scenic overlooks. There is a private amenity center and clubhouse with indoor/ outdoor social spaces, an outdoor grill and a lazy river pool. Known for its panoramic views and sweeping vistas, Belvedere is located 30 minutes west of downtown Austin and 10 minutes from the Hill Country Galleria in the award-winning Lake Travis School District. About the Home This magnificent 5,100-square-foot estate home includes four spacious bedrooms and four and one-half bathrooms, incorporating the leisure of Texas Hill Country living and the extravagance of state-of-the-art, contemporary design. The home’s design boasts handcrafted custom cabinetry and a professionally equipped kitchen with stainless steel appliances. The master suite is designed as a private sanctuary where you can pamper yourself in the luxurious, spa-inspired master bath, and includes access to the stunning outdoor recreational water area through the master spa’s sliding doors. Among the lush outdoors, you can work off the day’s stress in your resort-style, negative edge pool, then relax and unwind in your oversized spa. The outdoor entertainment area is also equipped with a professional grill and kitchen area. About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will use proceeds from the tour to support their mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer, funding lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, and providing free information and support services. About Seven Custom Homes Seven Custom Homes is a multi-award-winning, industry leading, high-end home builder in Texas. Their unique designs and finishes are stunning, detailed and awe-inspiring, and their philosophy is such that there is no such thing as a small detail. A beginning-to-end solution for homeowners incorporates architects, builders and interior designers to produce a home specifically tailored to each client while balancing function and form in a sustainable and energy efficient way.

Home of Distinction Tour Details Tours of this luxury home are February 27 through March 16, Thursdays through Saturdays from 10:00am – 5:00pm, and Sundays from noon – 5:00pm. Patrons may tour the home for a $10 admission fee. To visit Belvedere, take Highway 71 past the Hill Country Galleria and turn west on Hamilton Pool Road. Drive five miles to the gated entrance at Rollins Drive. v For more information, please visit Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


New Masters

Finding the Balance Between

Art and Science Oscar Saldivar: Metal Artist By Jackie Benton

The Jewel Chair looks like something from the pages of a storybook, with its individually tiny handforged pieces welded together to create a draped form that resembles handmade lace rather than stainless steel, while the whimsical pops of color provided by fused glass illuminated with LED lights create a delightful, magical effect.The Citrus Chandeliers have a life of their own as well, inspiring incredulous awe of the delicate balance struck between stainless steel and vibrant, tropical-colored fused glass. Oscar Saldivar’s colorful metal and mixed media creations exude a kind of magical realism, and those who know his signature style know to look for his expressive and poetic joy of life, movement and balance.


layfully twisting and turning, with the strength born of metal but tempered with the fragility of glass, and all balanced ever so beautifully, it’s easy to forget metal artist Saldivar’s creations are as grounded in scientific principle as they are in artistic passion. “I always calculate every single thing I do, every single thing I create,” Saldivar explains. “I have to calculate the weight of my pieces, how much material to use, and the strongest point of gravity, before I begin to create it. When you have organic movement on these large pieces, it’s so easy to make a mistake, and with too much movement, or something not quite balanced, it’s easy to design something

that will fail, especially when working with metal and glass sculptures. Even when you’re first dreaming of the design in the beginning, you have to be aware and do your dreaming with your feet on the ground, especially when working with metal. Metal is heavy, and if it’s not designed properly, it can easily tip over and hurt someone. The idea is to make art. It’s not supposed to be dangerous.” Saldivar’s creations feature the fine precision of a decadeslong practiced metal art master, but Saldivar himself is actually a relative newcomer to the arts scene, having only just started his metal art studio in San Antonio, two years ago. His first career choice, as a mechanical electrical engineer brought him much commercial success, winning promotions in position and salary Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


with each new job. But despite moving up the career ladder, Saldivar felt something was missing. Saldivar credits his wife, Estefania, as the muse who gently urged her husband to pursue a career in the arts when he decided to fill the void he felt with the creation of a new home business. And soon, he realized he could use his engineering skills in combination with his artistic ability to pursue his chosen career as a metal artist. “Ever since I was a kid, I have loved fire. When I started working with metal and glass, I didn’t notice the heat, I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel hot. I’m just working; concentrating.” Saldivar’s father, however, was less than enthusiastic about his son’s decision to give up a lucrative engineering career to become an artist. Saldivar smiles as he remembers his conversation with his father when he told him he wanted to work with metal. “My father was like, ‘No, you better calm down, and think twice.’ But I told him I was going to do this. The thing is, there’s no profession or career where you will make it successfully if you don’t spend time on it. But if you are there, trying and trying and you keep going, giving it your time and full attention and energy, one day you will succeed. In the beginning when you are not skilled, you will make mistakes, but you work past those mistakes. There is a hard time in everything, but you keep working.” Saldivar credits his ability to listen to and interpret his clients’ ideas for the commissioned work his studio receives. “When no one knows you, before any designers and artists ask you to collaborate on work with them, you have to ask yourself what you can do to differentiate yourself. In my case, I could visualize what they want, and deliver what they expect. It makes me grow and succeed as a business. I’m not the most famous metal artist, but I have work now, and I’m starting to be known and develop 72

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Saldivar collaborated with Gini Garcia of Garcia Art Glass, providing the metal work to her table designs and signature hand blown glass.

a reputation.” The artist’s studio now works with all types of metals — including stainless steel, copper and zinc — while developing exquisite custom work for their clients. Today, Saldivar realizes his decision to become a metal artist was the best choice he could have made with his life. “The intention is to be happy, and be happy with your work, not to look at your work and think, ‘I’m tired of seeing that piece.’” he says. “A new work is a new connection; a new history. And everything works together, interacts together, my career as an engineer and my love of science helps so much with what I create now. I love how everything comes together in the arts.” v Oscar Saldivar, Ferros Innovation, Inc. 210.379.9820 | 210.772.8022 Gini Garcia, Garcia Art Glass Studio: 210.354.4681 Gallery: 210.223.1400

Creating interiors that are sophisticated, simple, elegant and functional. 12118 Valliant, Suite 100 • San Antonio, Texas 78216

210.408.2870 •

Food n Design

Olive Oil:

Fresh, fragrant and fabulous By Mauri Elbel

Courtesy of Bella Vista Ranch

“Freshness is the number one most important thing about extra virgin olive oil,” he says. “Olive oil is a fresh product, and within the first year of the harvest, good olive oil has a fresh taste. There is a whole wheel of nuances in olive oils just like wines. But after that first year, it all disappears. It goes rancid and smells like stale peanuts, which is the smell most often associated with olive oils in North America,” Jeff Conarko.

Courtesy of Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars


eff Conarko passes around a tray of tiny tasting cups filled with premium olive oil, urging those of us gathered around the dinner table at Olive & June to sample a sip. The liquid smells fresh and grassy. Despite my expectations, it isn’t the slightest bit greasy or oily. The finish is clean on my palette –– it tastes fresh, ambrosial even, and I detect herbaceous notes with hints of fruit and a touch of spiciness. Given the option, I might order a glass to swirl alongside a few of the delicious olive oil-inspired dishes being brought out from the kitchen such as the formaggio, a house-made, warm burrata with caramelized sweet onion and fried garlic drizzled with Leccino-Alonso olive oil from Chile, or the antipasto, a ravioloni filled with cannellini beans, ricotta, soppresata and pecorino prepared with the Italian Blend from Australia’s Cobram Estate. Listening to Conarko, co-owner of Austin’s first premium olive oil tasting bar Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars which has grown to include three separate locations since opening its doors in 2009, I begin to understand why. 74

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Peruse the aisles of your local grocery store and you will have a difficult time finding an olive oil as fresh and fragrant as the ultra premium oils housed inside Con’ Olio’s stainless steel Fusti storage containers –– at any given time more than 50 varietals from all over the world are on tap. Conarko and his wife and business partner, Tabatha, advocate using olive oils within the year of the crush date (when the oil was actually pressed from the fruit). But unlike in Europe, they say you might have a tough time locating a crush date on the bottles stocked at U.S. grocery stores. “I took a picture of the most expensive bottle on the shelf which was priced at $50,” says Conarko of a recent local comparison. “It actually had a harvest date, which is rare, but the date was from 2010. The Europeans wouldn’t touch it. But we are selling it for a premium price. People don’t understand that we are being told the wrong things when it comes to extra virgin olive oil.” The Conarko’s are among a handful of certified olive oil sommeliers in North America, expert olive oil sensory evaluators by the oldest, most accredited olive oil tasting school in the world:

Organizzazione Nazionale Assaggiatori Olio Di Oliva located in Imperia, Italy. Through their taste-before-you-buy business, they strive to educate people on flavors and truths behind olive oils. For example, Conarko says the FDA doesn’t regulate olive oil because it is sterile but without that protection, there is a wide open market with a lot of fraud. “Fresh olive oil has so much more positive flavors to it –– it even smells green and grassy,” says Conarko. “As olive oil ages, it loses antioxidants, its aroma and flavor. Even the best olive oil in the world will lose these qualities after one year. It breaks down and separates and becomes greasy and oily.” At Con Olio, you can get a standard-sized bottle for under $20 –– the stores rotate their stock every six months based on the two main harvest seasons in the world. The fall crush season comes from Europe, but in the summertime, olive oils are sourced from areas with flip-flopped seasons like Australia, Peru, Argentina and Chile. But you don’t have to travel the world to find fresh olive oil and a wealth of local knowledge. The Texas Hill Country is becoming a burgeoning spot for olive orchards backed by pioneering entrepreneurs who are establishing firm roots in the industry. Here are a few places within driving distance where folks can go to sample locally produced and made olive oils, learn about the history of Texas olive oil and even take home a few olive trees to plant in their own backyards.

those who would like to join in the adventure of growing their own trees. “People often say it gets much too cold here or there aren’t enough chill hours,” says Winokur. “But olive trees require a very limited number of chill hours. The main problem we have is not for the cold –– it is more of a problem when we get to 71 degrees one day and then down to the 20s that same day or even the next day. We have learned a great deal –– primarily we manage to water extremely well, we also fertilize throughout the year with liquid seaweed which gives the trees a 5-degree edge in the cold.” Educational seminars, tastings and cooking classes help guests visiting the property learn about uses of olive oil, and its kitchen offers locally inspired lunches for those looking to make a day out of the visit. At Sandy Oaks, the tradition of using the bounty of the tree is employed –– they brine olives for the table, squeeze olives for oil, harvest leaves for tea and create a variety of olive oil and olive leaf based skin care products. “We harvest the leaves which make teas with twice the amount of antioxidants than green tea and 400 percent more Vitamin C than other sources of Vitamin C like orange juice,” she says. “We make our own skincare products out here, too, because antioxidants and Vitamin C are so important for repairing the skin. And we make an Olive Leaf Jelly which is delicious –– some people say it tastes like apple jelly or honey and it is just really nice.”

Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard

Texas Hill Country Olive Company

Courtesy of Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard

Did you know olive oil reduces cholesterol levels, prevents cardiac diseases, eases the pain of arthritis, helps with digestive disorders, slows the aging process and contains vitamins, essential fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants? These are just a few of the informational tidbits you might acquire on a visit to Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard, one of the first commercial olive orchards in Texas, located 20 minutes south of San Antonio in Elmendorf. While best known for its olive trees and oils, proprietor and owner Saundra Winokur, PhD, also educates visitors on the benefits and various uses of olive oil. “I had traveled a great deal and always seemed to end up in any country that grew olives, and gravitated toward the orchards,” says Winokur, a native Texan. “Many areas reminded me of Texas so when I moved back, I decided to start an olive orchard.” Today, Sandy Oaks’ main orchard covers a 40-acre tract of the ranch with 11,000 olive trees planted on the property and about 10,000 olive seedlings and shoots in the nursery for

Photo by Ray Don Tilley

Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Company, started by John Gambini and his brother-in-law, Rick Mensik in 2009, is located on 17 acres of land in Dripping Springs. It’s been a success, too –– Texas Hill Country Olive Company is the only certified organic orchard in the state and its Miller’s Blend was rated one of the top five oils produced in the country by the Wall Street Journal. The family-owned orchard features a Tuscan-inspired mill house, a state-of-the-art Italian olive press and a large tasting room. “When we started out, it was really about finding the right trees and what minerals we needed in the soil,” says manager Cara Gambini. “We have learned there are certain trees that really thrive in our soil such as the Arbequina olive tree and Mission olive tree, which is actually the only olive tree native to the United States.” Free tastings are available six days a week and private tours can be set up for large groups, allowing visitors to learn about Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


the olive industry in Texas and the varieties of olive trees that grow well here. For example, Gambini says many people do not realize that a pollinator tree such as the Pendolino tree should be planted nearby in order to pollinate flowering olive trees in the summer months and therefore produce a greater amount of fruit. “A common mistake is when people buy a single olive tree,” she adds. “You need to set it up properly, have the right soil and nutrients, and correctly prune the trees.” Those interested should attend Texas Hill Country Olive Company’s annual Olive, Wine and Food Festival on April 5, which will feature tastings, tree sales and education seminars. Bella Vista Ranch At Bella Vista Ranch, located in the Hill Country in Wimberley, you will find rows of producing olive trees, seasonal fruit and vegetables, a frantoio (olive pressing facility), a winery, tasting room and gift shop that sells 100 percent Texan olive oil. When Jack Dougherty, who grew up in the orchards of Santa Clara Valley, realized that the Texas Hill Country soil and weather possessed similar conditions to areas where olive trees grew, he thought he would try growing olives here. “That was the whole basis for this particular adventure,” says Dougherty, who also goes by The Olive Guy. “I was intrigued by the similarity of the places olive trees grew like Southern Europe, Spain, California and North Africa –– they have the same soil structure, native plants and topography as some parts of the Texas Hill Country. The question was why haven’t we done it?” In 1995 Dougherty decided he would be the first, and planted the olive trees and berry bushes on Bella Vista Ranch in 1998 before opening its olive oil facility in 2001. Eleven consecutive harvests later and Bella Vista now has about 1,200 trees with 16 different producing varieties. People who visit are greeted with a mature European-style orchard in Texas and they get to hear about the history of Texas olive oil while tasting it first-hand. “We now have an orchard like what we would see in some of these other olive oil producing regions,” says Dougherty. “I think there is a lot of romanticism involved with growing grapes and olives, and that romanticism detracts us from the technical issues we are faced with.” First of all, Texas has some very difficult weather: warm then instantly very cold. These dramatic temperature changes can do extensive damage to evergreens like the olive tree, he says. “The first thing is overcoming those obstacles –– get over them when they are young,” he says. “It is an intense issue and takes a lot of patience to do that. It will probably take a whole 76

Urban Home Austin – San Antonio

Courtesy of Bella Vista Ranch

generation to show people we can grow successful olive orchards in the state of Texas.” At Bella Vista, you can purchase olive trees to take home and plant –– while there is a risk, Dougherty says it can be done if you start with a small number and have time to take care of them. For a large producing orchard like Bella Vista, Dougherty says a ton of olives can make anywhere from 12 to 40 gallons of olive oil. “It’s very difficult to forecast,” he says. “We might have a good crop this year and we might not next year.” This past year, the orchard harvested during October and has been pressing oil on a daily basis ever since. Dougherty estimates they will probably sell out of their estate bottles by April or May. “We don’t aspire to be the largest producer in the state, but we do know we make exCourtesy of Bella Vista Ranch cellent, fresh, high quality olive oil,” he says. “You can actually look at this olive oil and look at the trees and say the olive oil came from those trees. The flavor of fresh olive oil is so different it is almost startling. It is a day trip to Italy without the $3,000 ticket and the 21 hour flight.” v Bella Vista Ranch 512.847.6514 | Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars 512.495.1559 | Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard 210.621.0044 | Texas Hill Country Olive Company 512.607.6512 |


new products

Kitchen & Bath

2 1

1. California Faucets introduces StyleDrain® Fleur, the new design from its award-winning series which features the timeless fleur-de-lis pattern. The stylish new addition to the StyleDrain® series revives the fleur-de-lis design to make a distinctive statement on the shower floor in a world dominated by basic, industrial-looking drains. California Faucets. 2. THG®-Paris, the leading French atelier for the luxury bath, announces Pétale de Cristal — the first collaboration with one of the most prestigious and recognized brands in fine French crystal, Baccarat. Created by THG designer extraordinaire, Pierre-Yves Rochon, this exquisite collection of bath fittings is inspired by the delicate lotus flower and bears the Baccarat imprint. Pétale de Cristal brings a crowning touch to the bath. THG®.



3. The Southhampton, designed by Michael S Smith for Mirror Image Home, is classical with a modern edge. It is framed in antiqued mirror and finished in Dutch brown. Mirror Image Home. 4. notNeutral has added Austin to their City Plate Collection. Landmarks noted on the plate include the Colorado River, the State Capital, Zilker Park, the Driskill Hotel®, SXSW music venues, the University of Texas and the Moody Theatre, the Bat Bridge and more. notNeutral.


5. Zeroll’s Ussentials collection is a line of 52 kitchen tools available in nine vibrant colors. All tools are ergonomically designed for enhanced comfort and performance in the kitchen. From ladles to spaghetti servers and more, Zeroll has a large variety of kitchen essentials in colors that will complement many kitchen décors. Zeroll. 800.USA.5000, ®

6. Your Smartphone and tablet can now make coffee. With a simple touch of your Smartphone or tablet, the TopBrewer brews your favorite coffee drink using freshly ground coffee beans. Scanomat. 7. The William Bounds Pep Art Salt & Pepper Grinders twin set in apple and turquoise offers functional art for your kitchen. Standing at 9.75 inches tall with a lacquer finish over wood, this exclusive mill crushes rather than grinds. Five Stripes.



Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


Fabulous n Finds

Wimberley By Julie Catalano

By Clay Ewing

By The Bridge Antiques

The Leaning Pear

Blanco River by Clay Ewing

Wimberley Glassworks

Jacob’s Well by Clay Ewing

From its iconic swimming hole to its breathtaking Hill Country vistas to an astonishing gathering of artists and artisans, Wimberley is one of those small towns that defies categorization. Eclectic, eccentric, even electric at times, the former 19th century trading post settlement-turned-gristmill was sold to Pleasant Wimberley in 1854 and his name stuck. The perfect day trip from Austin and San Antonio, Wimberley attracts visitors looking for a unique small town (pop. 2,600) experience — everyone and everything from walkers to writers, hikers and bikers, birders to brides to brewers to bed and breakfasts. Some say it’s like a Little Carmel. Others have dubbed it the Taos of Texas. We just call it wonderful. 78

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Blue Hole by Clay Ewing

The Great Outdoors

Cathy Moreman, Houston transplant and co-director of the Wimberley Chamber of Commerce, says of the area’s scenic beauty: “I love it. My house looks out on wildlife and trees, and when I drive I literally go over the river and through the woods. Coming from a big city, that’s my joy.” Co-director John Palumbo agrees. “When you’re trying to get away from the hassles of the world, come to Wimberley. It’s a nice, quiet little town.” Here are a few other places that will bring a smile.

as the oldest outdoor market (and second largest) in Texas, it’s awe-inspiring in its own way. Sponsored by the Wimberley Lions Club and held from 7am-4pm on the first Saturday every month from March to December, approximately 500 vendor booths bring shoppers and gawkers from everywhere to check out antiques, collectibles and about a billion other items. Enjoy food booths, live music, friendly folks, and bring comfortable shoes and an extra suitcase (or truck).

Blue Hole Regional Park

The Great Indoors 512.660.9111 If Wimberley is one of Texas’ treasures, then Blue Hole Regional Park is its crown jewel, earning that title by being the site of the quintessential swimming hole straight out of a movie scene, complete with tire swing over spring-fed Cypress Creek. With a children’s playscape, volleyball and basketball courts, walking and bicycle trails, amphitheater, camping and much more, there’s something for everyone on 126 acres of pure natural goodness. The award-winning, sustainable park is the focus of ongoing preservation by the nonprofit Friends of Blue Hole (, who also present their annual summertime three-day Blue Hole Concerts for the Park (

Jacob’s Well Natural Area

221 Woodacre Drive 512.847.5999 They call it the best-kept secret in Wimberley, but word is quickly spreading about one of the longest and deepest (120 feet) underwater caves in Texas that serve as the headwaters to Cypress Creek. You can get the scoop on the area’s storied past from knowledgeable docents who conduct public tours every Saturday at 10am, followed by one hour of optional swimming (limit 25 at a time). Free admission.

Market Days

601 FM 2325 Admittedly, this is a different kind of outdoor wonder, but

Market Days by Clay Ewing

For those to whom shopping and dining are indoor sports, Wimberley has good restaurants, quirky museums, and inviting shops on the town square and elsewhere. But here’s something you may not know: “Wimberley is a huge wedding destination,” says Rob Pitzer of Pitzer’s Fine Arts (Pitzersart. com). “We’ve had people from Russia, Australia, Europe, all over.” Nothing beats a bed and breakfast for small wedding parties, girlfriend getaways, anniversary celebrations and romantic vacations. The pet friendly Cypress Creek Cottages (, 512.847.5950), is right on the creek with 12 cabins and cottages, hot tubs and romance packages. The luxurious Creekhaven Inn (Creekhaveninn. com, 800.827.1913) offers an intimate wedding package and romantic getaway specials.

Wimberley Glassworks

6469 Ranch Road 12 San Marcos, 512.213.4148, 888.796.3962 Seven miles outside of Wimberley on the border of San Marcos, you’ll take in an eye-popping 6,500 square feet of handcrafted glass — vases, platters, glassware and art pieces. But their biggest draw (in addition to their Made in America policy) is their huge lighting selection of pendant lamps, shades and chandeliers. “Lighting is our niche market,” says marketing spokesperson Vanessa Horodecky. “Customers love it because they get to be part of the design process.” Glassblowing demos run six days a week and are free and open to the public.

Wimberley Fine Arts Center

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By the Bridge Antiques

14015 Ranch Road 12, 512.847.7165 “We’re so old fashioned we don’t have a website,” says Amanda Mora, who ‘s been co-running this quaint, quirky store with her mother Jill Jones — who is a Texas yodeling champion — for more than 10 years. “We sell a little bit of everything. A few lines from local artisans who do jewelry and accessories. We look for fun, functional antiques instead of the stuffy old sit-on-the-shelf things.” Artists frequently drop by to see if they can repurpose a find to incorporate into their art work. There’s no other spot in town like it, what with Amanda and Jill being well-known musicians in their own right (more on them below). “People come in our store just to hear what music we have playing. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve written the name of a song on a sales receipt.” Open Thursday through Monday 11-6pm; closed Tuesday Wednesday.

The Leaning Pear

111 River Road,, 512.847.7327 Their tagline is “Hill Country-inspired cuisine.” Owned and operated by native Texans Matthew and Rachel Buchanan, the eatery stays close to its roots with a philosophy of fresh, local, seasonal and sustainable food. Their web page entitled “Friends of the Pear” is a who’s who of local farms, farmers’ markets, bakeries and brewing companies that keep menu items like Chicken Fried Bandera Quail, Wild Boar Taquitos, and Pecan Crusted Drum peacefully coexisting with favorites like wood-fired pizza and inventive sandwiches.

The Art of Wimberley Amanda Mora Funny, loquacious, socially conscious, and immensely talented--her second album “Awaiting the Sound” has earned a double nomination at the upcoming 2014 Texas Music Awards — Amanda Mora is a singer/songwriter/musician with strong family and musical ties to the Texas Hill Country. Her parents are Jill Jones of musical trio 3 Hands High and her father is a

Amanda Mora Bike Tour


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prolific songwriter. A 2010 European concert tour took reducing the carbon footprint to new heights, with travel by ocean liner and then bicycling more than 6,000 miles. Audience members pedaled stationary bikes to power the generators for the shows. It was a “stripped down life,” she says, and one that she got used to. “I get my inspiration more from quiet than I do from hustle and bustle,” which makes Wimberley a perfect touchstone. “I travel a lot but I just keep coming back to my family and the land.” Check out her website for concert dates.

Second Saturday Gallery Trail “I think it’s just the natural beauty,” says Lynn Myers, trying to sum up the almost magnetic appeal that draws artists to Wimberley like moths to a flame. As an artist herself as part of the collaborative at the Wimberley Fine Arts Center (, 512.722.6015), she understands the appeal firsthand, remembering the day she first drove into Wimberley and said, this is it. Nine galleries in all participate in the Second Saturday Gallery Trail, where art lovers and collectors stroll from place to place fortified by wine and cheese. A possible public art project is in the works, where 20 6x4-foot fiberglass boots will be decorated by local artists. “We hope to have them ready by the big Fourth of July parade,” says Myers.

Carved Tree Art

Ino’z Brew & Chew, 14004 Ranch Road 12, 512.847.6060 Some call them totems. Tom Keyser, owner of Ino’z Brew & Chew (check out their Facebook page of the same name) prefers the term “carved tree art.” That’s how two giant dying cypress trees in Ino’z backyard achieved immortality at the other end of local artist Craig Johnson’s chainsaw. The first commemorates a subject near and dear to Keyser’s heart — a beloved goose called Duck Duck, a longtime occupant of the grounds who suddenly disappeared. “It’s a masterpiece,” says Keyser. “At the very top is a full-size goose with her wings spread.” The second features a hook ‘em hand and the “most realistic carving of a Longhorn steer head I’ve ever seen.” The project spurred Keyser to “look at other area trees that have died, and create a whole series of tree carvings in Wimberley.” Stay tuned. v For more info on places to stay, play, eat and shop, go to, 512.847.2201.

carved tree art


• Incredibly easy to install • Virtually eliminates weeds • Looks fantastic • Black or grey • Comes in 50 ft coils • Made in the USA


Push Pull Open Close

At last, a 21st century technology designed for a more efficient home storage solution and improved home value. Auto-Lad is a fully electronically controlled ladder. At the press of a button or of a remote, it’s advanced circuit board allows the electronic unlatching of the panel, its opening, extending and de-energizing of the electric motor when Auto-Lad is fully extended. Depressing the same push button or remote allows retracting of Auto-Lad and when fully retracted, the closure of the panel and it’s automatic re-latching followed by the de-energizing of the electric motor. For high reliability and safety of operation, Auto-Lad has no position sensors but will stop if an obstacle is in it’s way. While designed for a typical attic space, this structurally superior and sophisticated operating ladder can also be used to substitute stairs in a loft to add privacy and additional room space below. Call eLAIR ENTERPRISES, LLC today for more information about the Auto-Lad system.


To set an appointment call 512.694.7762 or


Austin NARI 512.997.NARI

Anchor Ventana 512.388.9400


Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery Austin: 512.445.51540 San Antonio: 210.344.3013

NARI San Antonio 210.348.6274

ASAP Windows and Siding 512.288.8354 BMC Window Center Austin: 512.977.7440 San Antonio: 210.494.8889

KIVA Kitchen & Bath Austin: 512.454.4526 / 800.856.4488 San Antonio: 210.826.9652 / 800.846.9652


Schroeder Carpet 512.462.1551


California Closets of the Texas Hill Country Austin: 512.441.6061 San Antonio: 210.829.1991


Trim-A-Slab 512.943.7655


KingWood Fine Cabinetry 830.990.0565 N House Design & Build 210.384.2588 Swanx 512.809.6226


eLair Enterprises, LLC 855.288.LAIR


Christopher Voss Inc. – Fourth Generation Iron Craftsman 210.843.4332


Catrina’s Ranch Interiors 830.755.6355 / 210.535.3070

Copenhagen Contemporary Furniture & Accessories San Antonio: 210.545.4366 Austin: 512.451.1233 Scott + Cooner Austin: 512.480.0436 Dallas: 214.748.9838


Urban Home Austin – San Antonio


Push Pull Open Close 512.694.7762


Foursquare Builders 512.944.4520 Kanga Room Systems 512.777.1383


CG&S Design-Build 512.444.1580

David Wilkes Builders 512.328.9888 Realty Restoration 512.454.1661


Home of Distinction


Bella Villa Design 512.443.3200

Morrison Austin: 512.219.8335 / 512.928.1110 San Antonio: 210.344.4436 / 210.349.7878 Parrish and Company San Antonio: 830.980.9595 Round Rock: 512.835.0937


Lights Fantastic 512.452.9511


Cozy Outdoor Escapes 210.276.0734


Artesian Pools 210.251.3211


Austin Board of Realtors Phyllis Browning Company 210.824.7878


Austintatious Blinds and Shutters 512.608.0302

Dawn Hearn Interior Design 512.930.0250

The Louver Shop Austin: 512.236.9706 San Antonio: 210.590.3956

Lori Caldwell Designs 210.408.2870

Texas Sun & Shade 512.402.0990


Factory Builder Stores Austin: 512.834.1442 San Antonio: 210.349.9333

Profile for Trisha Doucette

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Urban Home Austin-San Antonio February/March 2014

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Urban Home Austin-San Antonio February/March 2014