Austin Modern Homes Tour 2017 | 5 Things to Know about 2800 San Juan

The Austin architectural landscape is as diverse as they come — from traditional homes to Tuscan villas in & around the Lake, from mid-century modern homes to French chateaus, but the ones making waves are the clean lines with both aesthetic & sustainable sensibilities. This weekend, brace yourself for another awe-inspiring Austin Modern Homes Tour.

Living Room 2800 San Juan Austin

Last Thursday, I met with the Design-Build team for one of the projects featured in the tour, 2800 San Juan. It’s easy to be intimidated by award-winning & internationally acclaimed architects but Thomas {Bercy} & Sasha of Bercy Chen Studio is as Austin-friendly as they come. The site visit was both enlightening as it was educational. If you are attending {and you better!}, you must make it a point to check out the property. Here are 5 Things to Know about the Property:

1/ There are 2 homes built opposite each other, each one symmetrical in plan and design but the other one rotated at 90 degrees.

2/ The homes are built for outdoor living. There are open vistas bleeding to a view of the neighboring house creating a “borrowed” and Zen-like landscape as well as the rest of the hill country on the horizon. Which really begs the question, aren’t we all intertwined and interconnected? If you didn’t notice, I was getting a tad political there for a second.

3/ They built a contrast between the upstairs & the downstairs, case in point, there is dark stained concrete floors downstairs & upstairs are white {and bleached some more} oak floors. Walls are thinner upstairs {look for the indention} than downstairs. According to Sasha, “we want the downstairs to read as a carved out piece so we decided to go with a thicker material on the lower level so it would read as a block that was being carved out with the courtyards.”

A mix of materials, Corten Steel + Stucco Base & bleached, white oak floors {no it's not a typo}

A mix of materials, Corten Steel + Stucco Base & bleached, white oak floors {no it’s not a typo}

4/ There is beauty in imperfection. Look for their take on Wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetics of the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The oxidation of Corten steel to the stucco base creates an imperfection that’s impermanent & incomplete, continually evolving and yes, imperfectly perfect!

5/ The mix of materials is a study of different cultures. The structure itself is a take on the artistry & sculptures of Mexican artist, Yazpik — thick stucco base at the bottom, thin Corten steels for the top. The outdoor living space upstairs has Brazilian Massaranduba floors unmistakable for it’s rich red hue. The perforated steel inspired by Moroccan shapes & cutouts. The cabinets are European. White oak floors are so Scandinavian & the Lueder limestone in the bathrooms, well, it’s from Lueder, Texas. Of course, there’s the Japanese influence {wabi-sabi} and the Zen-like courtyards. Look also for the beautiful Walnut kitchen cabinet doors, custom made in Austin. So, I would say that’s 6 cultures all together, 7 if you consider the Texan culture as distinct {and it is, right?}.

Walnut Kitchen Cabinet Doors 2800 San Juan Austin

Photos by Andrea Calo

Thank you so much Sasha & Thomas!

Architecture is more than meets the eye, guys! When you go on the tour, step into the minds of the architects, feel the materials, look for inspiration and revel in the beauty that Modern Architecture in Austin has to offer.

Peek inside Austin’s most coveted contemporary homes and explore throughout: 

3201 Sunny Lane, Austin, TX 78731 (Riverside Homes LLC)

1207 E. 13th Street, Austin, TX 78702 (Verde Builders Custom Homes)

1705 Collier Street, Austin, TX 78704 (Studio Momentum Architects)*

2111 De Verne Street, Austin, TX 78704 (Barley|Pfeiffer Architecture)*

2804 S. 4th Street, Austin, TX 78704 (Bercy Chen Studio LP)*

2003 De Verne Street, Austin, TX 78704 (Steve Zagorski Architect)

4911 Timberline Drive, Austin, TX 78746 (Bade Stageberg Cox)

1606 Salina Street, Austin, TX 78702 (Newcastle Homes)

1608 Salina Street, Austin, TX 78702 (Newcastle Homes)

3306 Lakeside Drive, Austin, TX 78723 (Thurman Homes)^

2800 San Juan Drive, Austin, TX 78733 (The Value of Architecture, Bercy Chen Studio LP)*^

5111 Crestway Drive, Austin, TX 78731 (Grey Raven LLC)^

2207 Townes Lane, Austin, TX 78703 (Winn Wittman Architecture)*^

Get your map and get your tix HERE >>>. And because I’m feeling extra generous, get $5 off with this discount code, MAUREEN2017.

Shaping the Conversation | Women in Architecture – Austin

If there is one profession I’m intimidated yet utterly respectful & enthusiastic about is the field of architecture. I believe that it is so amazing that everyday, the genius of architects shape our physical environment & the way we live meeting both our functional needs and an outlet for creative expression. states, “At a deeper level, architecture provides an expression of human civilization at a fixed point in time, which endures as a monument for study by future generations.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy Dunnam Tita, chair of AIA Austin’s newest committee, Women in Architecture regarding the role of women architects in Austin & beyond. Their inaugural three-week event, Shape the Conversation, started February 8th & will continue through March 2nd

The Exhibit on 2nd St. District | Photo Credit: Andrea Calo

The Exhibit on 2nd St. District | Photo Credit: Andrea Calo

1/ What do you think is the importance of addressing gender disparity {if you think there is one} in architecture?

There have been a number of well done, national surveys conducted in the last few years that point to the same conclusions.  The conclusions are not exactly the same for women as minorities.  For women, there is actually a fairly equitable number of women and men graduating from architecture schools.  The disparity occurs in actual licensure, career advancement, and pay equity.  For minorities, the disparity starts earlier, in the lower diversity of students both entering and graduating from architecture schools.

As a profession, we will be made stronger when we address the root sources of these numbers, which include some of the same causes we see in other professions: unintended bias, a profession with a higher ratio of hours in the office, lack of flexibility, plus a high reliance on recent project and technical credentials that make it hard to re-enter after taking time off for children.

The Early Career Leadership Program, currently in development at AIA Austin, is intended to address many of these issues for both women and men.

2/ What would you like to see change in the future?

What I hope happens in our profession is that talent, hard work, creativity and problem solving skills are more equally recognized. Those qualities in women need to be recognized and rewarded, closing the gap in disparities in advancement and compensation between men and women. 

Opening Celebration of Women in Architecture "Shape the Conversation" | Photo Credit: Atelier Wong

Opening Celebration of Women in Architecture “Shape the Conversation” | Photo Credit: Atelier Wong

3/ Who are your inspiration as far as “Women in architecture”?

Everyone involved in the Women in Architecture exhibits and events series in Austin has said that we have been each other’s greatest inspiration.  From the Fellows —  like Heather McKinney, Elizabeth Danze, Emily Little, and Donna Carter who have shared their stories of Women in Architecture in Austin in the early to mid 1980s — to the students, early career women involved, and all of the others in between.  It has been an incredible treat to spend time working side by side, hearing one another’s stories and inspirations.  We feel like we are sharing the work of many hands to raise the boat for everyone.

4/ How do you think Austin architecture is evolving?

Architecture is at a “both/and” point in Austin.  We are so fortunate to have a rich and broad maker culture here that extends way beyond just “making music.”  This allows us to reinforce “place” with an authenticity that tells us where things came from and provide a granular texture that has always been a part of Austin.  At the same time, Austin is very comfortable advancing as a high-tech center, and we are getting new influences every day.  This is allowing us to become more nationally relevant and economically sustainable. 

One thing that is evident from the exhibit is that women are a huge part of this evolution.  The talent in this city is touching all scales and aspects of design from city planning, landscape design, to important buildings and homes, with all types of clients.

I can’t think of a better time to be a part of Austin’s architecture and design community!

Photo Credit: Atelier Wong

Photo Credit: Atelier Wong


Thank you for an insightful Q & A Wendy! The list of events & exhibits are below or check out the link here. Austin, let us support the people shaping our very own world.

Women in Architecture: Shape the Conversation

February 8 Opening Dialog & AIA Austin Reception

Featured Guest Speaker Amale Andraos (Dean of Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation)

Jessen Auditorium, UT School of Architecture // 5:00PM

Open to the public. 

Women in Architecture: National Outlook, Local Stories Exhibit Opens

Goldsmith Hall, UT School of Architecture // 11:00AM to 6:00PM

Open to the public.

February 9 – Lunchtime Panels and Conversations

March 2 Various Austin Architecture Firms

Open to the public; RSVP and see full list of panels here.

February 10 Women in Architecture: 1850 to the Future Exhibit Opens

249 W. 2nd Street // 11:00AM to 6:00PM

Open to the public.

Women in Architecture: Shaping Austin Exhibit Opens

249 W. 2nd Street // 11:00AM to 6:00PM

Open to the public.

AIA Austin Women in Architecture Opening Party

Featured Guest Speaker Wendy Davis (Former Texas Senator)

Live Music Performance by Sarah Sharp Trio

249 W. 2nd Street // 6:30PM

Open to the public, RSVP to; Press, RSVP to

February 14 AIA Austin Speaker Series Lunch

Featured Guest Speaker Melissa Murphy (Founder and Chief Communication Coach, The Pitch Academy)

Mercury Hall // 11:30AM to 1:00PM

Purchase tickets here.

*15 Students, $30 AIA Austin Members, $40 Non-Members & At Door 

10 Contemporary Hallway Sconces

Hi friends! Folks, I know we’re so inundated with everything about the election, polls & politics. November 8th is almost here…before we get to the sconces, don’t forget to vote. Get to the polls before the 8th or on the 8th. Whatever day, time, just do it & get ‘er done!

Anywho, I’ve been sourcing hallways sconces for a couple of clients & man oh man, there’s so many gorgeous options out there. I like wall sconces in hallways but particularly right at the doorway, it’s like creating a red carpet feel at the start of a hall. I mean, nothing says you are fabulous than some lights as you enter right? So here are 10 contemporary hallway sconce options:


1/ Trapeze 2/ Cora 3/ Agnes 4/ Delta 5/ Pillar Offset 6/ Tassel 7/ Seed 8/ Vibia 9/ Pris 10/ CounterBalance

I have so many favorites! Check out the progress of some of my projects on Insta!

A Q & A with the Founders of POP Austin


On a hot Fall Austin day last week, I met the coolest couple. Self-proclaimed “chic global citizens with good haircuts,” they are that & more! I met Steve & Lana Carlson, founders of POP Austin in their hip East Austin headquarters filled with both contemporary & classic art. From oil paintings curated & collected by Steve’s grandfather, Dr. Scott Schubach to contemporary art {Lana’s choice} by Beb Deum  & collaborations by Bleikh & Serebryakova as well as the mind-provoking work of Micky Hoogendijk peppered with “Hollywood glitz but tempered with deep personal tragedy.”

Not only was I so lucky to have an art tour but I got to know more about them & what’s in store for POP Austin International Art Show this year.

1/ How did POP Austin International Art show come about?

The story is as inspiring as you may expect. A chance meeting in Paris between Lana, an art enthusiast who was just involved in the production of Pop Asia & Steve Carlson who was then doing a music documentary led to both a personal collaboration {they are now married!} & an art movement. According to Steve, the venture came from a desire to create something different than the humdrum ways of state museum exhibitions & traditional galleries. They aimed for an “event & an exhibition,” one that focus “more on the experience” & have a flow rather than one that feels too “commercial & compartmentalized.”

I couldn’t help but ask of course, why set roots in Austin? It sounded like an easy choice for both of them. Lana stated that the city is just growing & Steve added that Austin is has definitely become a destination city with a fascinating spirit. The show also helps to level the playing field between Austin artists & others who has attained commercial success, from LA to New York, Paris to Beijing.


Austin Contemporary Artists {clockwise from top}: an art installation by Beili Liu, Lollypop Girls by Denise Prince, a gilded tumbleweed by Bale Creek Allen

2/ How do you curate or vet the artists or work to include in the show?

Coming up with a theme is mind-boggling with all the interesting art they are exposed to — from visiting art exhibits all over the world to whispers from other art curators, dealers & enthusiasts. This year is all about “Street Art meets Pop Art” or “Modern Pop Art.” It’s contemporary, it’s current, it’s alive and continually evolving. If last year’s Illumination — architectural installations meets art & technology in a hypnotic party of ethereal kinetic light {that’s a mouthful!} — astounded you, this year is about that and more. From graffitis that’s shaping cultural discourses to commissioned ones that evoke the pulse of the times —- street art is inevitably an integral part of contemporary art.

Last year’s Illumination was hypnotic & kinetic.

3/ Do you plan to expand into a multi-city event?

The clear answer from both of them is “No,” well at least not at this time. The allegiance to Austin is resounding. They built it and they came {and more will come} & I for one am loving it.

4/ What new trends are you seeing in the pop art world?

They see digital screens, light and other forms of technology applied in art but the most interesting is Chinese contemporary art. China of course is an economic superpower but their influence is now transcending towards what is mainstream & an expression of the times.


The art of Yang Na reminds me of Keane’s Big Eyes {right} & could Feng Zhengjie’s Chinese Portrait {left} series be the new Warhol Marilyn Monroe pop art?

Here are the details of this can’t miss show:

Where: Fair Market 1100 East 5th Street Austin, TX 78702

When: October 13-16, 2016

13th ///// An exclusive Collector Preview to support The Texas Cultural Trust’s Arts & Digital Literacy Initiative in partnership with The University of Texas at Austin

14th ///// A screening and after-party for “Wall Writers”, a feature-length documentary about graffiti in its innocence

15th /////  In conjunction with the THINKERY, Nonotak Studio will be featured showcasing art that merges architecture and sculpture to create light and sound installations, POP Talks

16th ///// POP Talks, an educational & engagement series

This year, POP Austin’s Virtual Showroom will also be unveiled. Buy your tickets HERE >>>>

Just like Steve stated, appreciating & buying art should be a celebration, I hope to see you at the event & celebration!

Q & A : Choosing Paint Colors

I had an eventful past two weeks! Amazing vacation with my daughter to Italy & Morocco … details later! I’d like to share with you a little Q & A with Wayfair on Choosing Paint Colors.

Paint can set the tone for a room before you’ve even added the furnishings or decor—making it all the more important to choose the right color. No one understands this better than our May Designer of the Month, Maureen Stevens. Lucky for us, she shared all of her paint knowledge and experience, as well as some of her favorite hues, to help tackle some of the most cumbersome dilemmas.

What Matters When Buying Paint?

I keep these three things in mind when shopping for paint:

1. Quality. Many people think all paint is the same, but it’s not. Paying a little more goes a long way. Quality paint provides better coverage and a depth of color that makes your walls come to life.

2. Eco-friendly and non-toxic. Look for a paint that has no VOCs (volatile organic compounds). By doing so, you are helping the planet and keeping you and your family safe.

3. Vibrancy. There is nothing more disappointing than a paint color that dries dull and uninteresting. If the name of the paint is bright red, it should be bright red!

How Does Color Change Mood?

If you want a relaxing space, then go for different shades of the same color that are more or less tone on tone, such as a room done in creams and whites. If you prefer a bolder look that packs a punch, then consider contrasting colors in brighter hues, such as an orange and blue color scheme.

What About White? Black?

White is so versatile, it can be used in pretty much any kind of space—but there’s more to white than just one shade. Go for ivories in traditional spaces, bright whites for modern rooms, and whites with warmer tones for a cottage look. They’re also perfect for wide open spaces. On the flip side, I prefer darker colors in small spaces. Some people think that would make a space feel smaller, but it really creates a dramatic mood. I also like it in bedrooms since dark rooms are best for sleep. Black is so sophisticated & so luxurious in high gloss!

Both of these rooms are painted the same color, but because of the light in the space and the furnishings, the left one looks cooler and the right one reads warmer.


It’s all about the undertone when selecting a paint color. Be sure to take samples home and look at them during different times of the day to see how they read in your space. Maybe that gray-white really is the way to go!

Accent, or Not?

I’m not usually a fan of accent walls, as I think it makes a space feel choppy, although I do think there are spaces where it works. If you decide to do an accent color, make sure it feels cohesive with the other elements in the room. Since you are making this the focal point, everything else in the space should pack a punch too.

However, I do like the idea of accenting features in the room. Architectural moldings are traditionally painted white, but try going in the opposite direction and paint them in a glossy black or dark navy. You can also paint ceiling medallions an ultra-bright color amidst a sea of white ceilings or try playing up crown moldings by painting a line around them as a sort of frame.

Go-To Sherwin Williams Colors?

I have a wide array of favorite Sherwin-Williams paint colors, from neutrals to pastels, muted to bold; here a few of them.

Have an amazingly positive week everyone!

Decoding Joybird Fabrics

To all Mid-Century Modern enthusiasts, Joybird is the online promise land for affordable mid-century modern seating. All the hip styles you want, lifetime warranty & an unheard of 365-day policy. There must be a catch right? Well, from my experience, none. I’ve placed orders from them for clients & the customer service is top-notch as well as the craftsmanship. But why-oh-why must there be 20 different types of fabrics that seem to all look alike but really not. I would like to help you by decoding their fabrics. For the people who believes simple is beautiful, I categorized them into 3 parent categories:

1/ Lux: Their version of luxurious & refined where the weave is smaller creating a look that’s more sophisticated, plush & soft. Mid-century modern is utterly casual but lux fabrics ups the ante a bit.

2/ Mid: Moderately lux, moderately casual; it’s their in-between. Think herringbones, tweeds, weaves & textures you can never go wrong with.

3/ Casual: Think funky & hip, bold & colorful & just a lot of fun. It’s for the bachelors & bachelorettes, it’s for the game room & family room, it’s for your teenager’s space, it’s for the man-cave.

Joybird Fabrics

Sometimes too many options can be dizzying. Of course, do not take my word for it, you can always get fabric swatches from them. Smell them, touch them, put them against your skin, sooner or later one will heed the call for your seating yearnings. And for those with little kiddos & lovable pets, they do have these performance fabrics:

pet friendly fabric joybird

If you’re more traditional, check out my post on Decoding Restoration Hardware fabrics.

5 Fab Friday Finds | 5 Storage Styles for Nursery & Kid’s Rooms

Ok, first, that is a very long title. And it’s been an extremely long week too! I am a Mom of an almost two-year old. The terrible two’s is not a myth, it is unquestionably real; and though this is not my first foray into motherhood, I don’t quite remember my little girl now a teenager to be as messy as my baby boy is right now. And as a designer, I obsess about things being neat, tidied up & in their right place. Alas, this notion is not realistic. So. my advice? Embrace the mess, it’s ok to let it linger then later, pick up & put them in stylish storage baskets & bins for when guests or your mother-in-law comes, or when you just want to get in touch with your sane self again.

Here are 5 Storage Styles for Nursery & Kid’s Rooms:

Storage styles for nursery and kid's rooms

1. Coastal or Cottage: For a clean, crisp style 1 / 2 / 3

2. Industrial: For a Rustic Feel 1 / 2 / 3

3. Fun & Colorful: For a Vibrant & Cheerful Space 1 / 2 / 3

4. Dainty: For the Princess of the House 1 / 2 / 3

5. Modern Nordic: Minimalist 1 / 2 / 3

Happy weekend everyone!

Where to Find Affordable Art

I spend a lot of my time finding the finds for clients. I’m telling you, furniture shopping is a breeze if you compare it to finding the right art. For one, it is so subjective {what you find beautiful, your clients may completely abhor} & it has to be cohesive or complementary to the color palette established & oh yeah, the feel & look has to be just right. and the all-important price, especially if there’s a specific budget in mind.
Here are some great websites to find affordable art!


Offers a wide array of original art in different mediums and at different price points.

Curated original art with some pieces at less than $500.

Mostly reproductions but you can get art in several size & even framing options.
Find vintage to handmade art from artists around the world.
Curated art from savvy pickers from modern to vintage art.
From Photography art to Mixed Media to Framed Textiles and Posters.
Offers trendy pieces and known for their art on Fashion and Typography.

Check out the works of the local artists in your area or even student’s work at your local university & college. In Austin, check out the artists from the EAST AUSTIN STUDIO TOUR & the WEST AUSTIN STUDIO TOUR.


Happy curating & remember, to have walls that’s full of life, Art is the answer.

5 Fab Friday Finds : Embroidered Wallpaper

I go gaga for intricate details & in design, texture is that oh-so important element that gives a treatment, finish or a space more depth. I’m a big fan of hand painted wallpaper of course, case in point here, but now I’m all about embroidered wallpaper. Obviously, you can’t touch & feel my favorite ones below but close your eyes & ran your fingers through the embroidery, please!

Embroidered Wallpaper

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Custhom available at Supply Showroom in Austin.

Anybody wants one in their space?

Design Board | Cognac & Cement

Did you have a firework-filled July 4th? Did you don your best red, white & blue ensemble? Ours was low-key except for a trek to a drive-through Safari.

I do design boards for almost every client. This one was a contender for a bachelor pad at the Seaholm Residences here in Austin, but alas, another design board won for this project {turns out the client is more bold & loves color rather than ultra-masculine notes & muted colors}. I totally love this one, I guess because I’ve been doing traditional & more feminine spaces lately. This one is colder & minimalist but totally awesome! Everything would be in masculine browns, cognac specifically which is all about glamour & refinement, cement grays in hides & finishes, dashes of marble white.

Gray Cognac Leather Design


1/ Sectional : Volo at Nest Modern

2/ Wallpaper: Romeo Carrara from Fschumacher

3/ Coffee Table: Zaine Nesting Tables at Palette & Parlor

4/ Area Rug: Hide Patchwork Area Rug from Wayfair

5/ Counter Stools: Acrylic & Hide Stools by Zentique

6/ Lighting Pendant: Crimp Bar Pendant by Studio A

I can see ultra avant garde art everywhere, like horses with balloon heads , oh & maybe other animals, a whole safari! Happy 1st week of July everyone!