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Profile in Style | Chotsie Gregson & Willem Sypesteyn

Co-founders, Reworks

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Chotsie Gregson and Willem Sypesteyn moved to Austin from New Orleans to rebuild their lives in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Both Gregson and Sypestyn are natives of the Big Easy, with families going back four generations (their grandparents knew one another). "In many ways, Austin is almost the direct opposite of New Orleans," says Sypesteyn. "Where New Orleans wants to stay the same, Austin was exciting to us because it is so adventurous with regard to change."

Sypesteyn lived in Austin for a stint in the1970s, but for Gregson the move here was a leap into the unknown. When the couple first arrived, they collaborated on renovating real estate—Sypesteyn had worked as a high-end contractor in New ORleans for 30 years, so the venture felt natural. They found the Austin market saturated with people doing similar work, however, and decided that it was time to reinvent.

"To come here and be completely anonymous allowed me the opportunity to dig deep and learn who I was," says Gregson. She and Sypesteyn founded their company, Reworks, in the driveway of their former home in Rollingwood in the summer of 2010. The company blends their talents—his architectural background and her artistic talents—as well as her aptitude for business with his for architecture and design. "It's cheaper for someone to buy a lamp than a house," Sypesteyn comments wryly.

He and Gregson fabricate furniture, lighting, and other features for the home. They work together to hammer out concepts for pieces in preparation for executing them. They subcontract stonework and welding and some other specialized tasks, but for the most party they do the carpentry themselves. "Sometimes we agree and sometimes we disagree," Sypesteyn says, "but it's great to have each other's opinions."

Sypesteyn and Gregson have been together for eleven years. They met when she bought a house that he renovated in New Orleans, which she found surprising at every turn, each room interesting to her in some way. "We're together all the time," she says of their relationship now. He says that the business takes up "nearly every waking moment," though he seems to enjoy the demands of the job. "We realized what our passions were, and that's how Reworks came to be," adds Gregson.

With galleries in Houston and New Orleans, as well as steady business from interior designers and other clients, they didn't last long in the driveway studio. They soon settled into a larger space in South Austin—a workshop and repository for finished pieces and materials waiting to be used. "We needed to separate our studio from our home so that we wouldn't work all the time," laughs Gregson.

Still, Sypesteyn keeps an office at their home, and the house is chockfull of their beautiful, eclectic creations: an assortment of lamps and chandeliers that look as if they could have come from a span of hundreds of years; a beautiful, large-scale mirror framed with reclaimed barn wood; a side table made from an antique rabbit cage. In their own words: "We're surrounded by our inspiration."

Credits

Photography by Jessica Pages

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