"My grandmother used to say she couldn’t even move a lamp in her house without my noticing,” Kim Lewis, the petite and high energy designer who just moved back to Austin after a successful design career in LA, says, from her South Austin bungalow. “From art and painting to dance, I found early on in life that creativity was my outlet. Anywhere I can create is my happy space,” she says. When she was studying journalism and marketing at Texas A&M, she often found herself being drawn to the architecture building but stuck to her degree plan. After a short stint working for an ad agency in Austin, she found a more perfect fit as the Marketing Director of Four Hands. It was at the High Point Furniture Market in the Four Hands showroom that she met one of the producers for ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover. After she worked on a project with them that involved Four Hands furniture in one of the houses on the show, the Executive Producer asked her to join the interior design team. Then, life became a whirlwind as she spent seven years designing over 150 homes in 46 states. Lewis oversaw the entire design team of almost 25 designers and carpenters and her role was to make each home unique to the family. “I call it ‘character driven design.’ We met some fascinating people across this country. I wanted to use design to tell their stories,” she says. “Each week, we had to out do ourselves. I'll never forget in Season 8 (2011), the producers in Hollywood sat across from me at a table and told me the future of this show (averaging 12-17 millions viewers over the years) depended on the design team I was leading…No pressure.” After leaving the show, Lewis started her own design business in LA, where she designed spaces for clients like Tiffani Amber Thiessen that was featured in House Beautiful and Jewel and Ty Murray which was profiled in InStyle. Now back in Austin, we can’t wait to see what the designer whose fitting motto is “Little Lady, Big Ideas” does next. She is ready to return to her roots—“When you grow up wearing boots, you'll jump feet first into anything!” For more information on Lewis, visit kimlewsidesigns.com.
I spent the last eight years in LA, and wanting to be with family brought me back to Austin earlier this year, but honestly my heart never really left Texas. I'm at a place in life where I need to put down some roots…a girl can have roots and wings, right? Austin has this genuinely creative, quirky, kind, and empowering spirit as a city. My soul must be surrounded by creativity, so this place just makes sense.
One of the craziest projects we did was to install a 25-foot section of a Southwest Airlines plane fuselage into a home. The Cocoa Beach, FL .- based family flew back and forth to Haiti for missions with their small plane. The dad's passion was flying, so my idea was to use the fuselage as the entry hall to the home. The other side (inside of the plane) became "First-Class Seating" in the dining room of the kitchen. I'll never forget making that phone call. The Southwest rep on the other end said, ‘You need a what!?’ My response: "Yes, that's what I said... we need a 25-foot section of a retired plane to put in a house...Can you do it?”
They said on the show that we built the houses in seven days? Not true. We built them in five days. We worked off a 120-hour schedule. One of our biggest tricks? Builders pre-panelized the walls for framing.
My boots, paint deck, tape measure, camera, sketch pad. Remember the scene in Up in the Air where he pulls out all of his travel rewards cards for hotels, airlines, car rentals? Well, that’s what my wallet looked like. Traveling became my norm, which is why I started calling myself the Vagabond Designer.
Most beautiful: Santorini, Greece; most exotic: Marrakesh, Morocco; most recently: Thailand
Personally, I love eclectic pieces in modern settings, with a bit of rustic texture.
White. It's the base of everything. After that, I'm a bold color person. There's a psychology in color, so it depends on what I want the space to evoke. Let's put it this way, I'm not afraid of color. I especially love colorful textiles from around the world.
I believe design can change lives. I saw it every day on Extreme Home Makeover. On my last episode with them, I met a non-profit that ended up taking me to Ghana, West Africa, where we built a therapeutic art center for children who have been rescued from slavery on Lake Volta. In this space, kids can heal through creativity. That's what I love about design. Picasso said "Every child was born as an artist...the problem is how do we remain one when we grow up." Design gives us the opportunity to imagine, and imagination is key to our existence.
by Joanna Steblay
As the warm weather begins to set in and patio parties hit our calendars, we can’t help but embrace that summertime has returned to Austin. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be celebrating the return of the season with decadent ice cream, healthy smoothies and icy cocktails from your favorite local spots.
For those days when it’s too hot to venture out, we went to Austin’s sweet treat professionals and compiled the ultimate collection of DIY recipes to make from your home. Click through the galleries below to learn how to make everything icy and sweet, from poptails for date night to ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party.more
The spring edition of the Renegade Craft Fair returns for its seventh year in Austin May 14-15 at Fair Market. With over 125 makers on the roster, the scene is sure to be bustling with local artisans and DIYers slinging their unique, one-of-a-kind wares. In addition to great shopping, the RCF offers activities, special showcases and plenty of food and drink options for visitors. This year, celebrate your hard work shopping with a snack from Burro Cheese Kitchen and Lucky Lab Coffee Co. before commemorating the afternoon with some snapshots from Magnolia Photo Booth Co. But before...more
by James Ruiz
Inspired by the beautiful outdoor living spaces featured in our May feature The Space Between, we went window shopping and found some great outdoor furniture and accessories to liven up your outdoor patio, porch and pool. Flip through the galleries below to see how you can add a pop of color and style to your outdoor hideaway.more
Hundreds of people are moving to Austin each day, and downtown is one of the major hubs of growth for the city. Local real estate expert Jude Galligan discusses smart urban growth and what to expect this year as the skyline continues to evolve.
Your blog keeps Austin updated on the latest news in downtown. What is the most exciting development happening right now?
From my point of view, the most exciting development is the Waller Creek District Master Plan. Decades in the making, this transformative project came to life after designers competed for the contract. It is finally coming to downtown, bringing an imaginative chain of parks,...more
by James Ruiz
As you flip through the pages of our February Love Issue, one thing you’ll notice is the beautiful blooms that pop up throughout the magazine. We got some major googly eyes for the bouquets featured in our "Real Weddings" features, and earmarked the TRIBEZA Wedding Guide for even more Pinterest-worthy petals.
Instead of letting all that inspiration go to waste, we tried our hand at flower arranging to see what we could create. Since we consider ourselves floral design novices, we asked a few top designers...more