By Kim Katopodis
Turning into the Agave neighborhood instantly dispels the east side’s reputation as the hipster capital of Austin. At the base of a small hill, the multi-storied, multi-colored modern homes seemingly pop up out of nowhere. Belying the trend of bright exteriors (a modern home trend of the last decade), Carly Uson, a PR powerhouse, has a different take on “modern.” Uson and her husband, Jason, bought their home almost a decade ago and while they loved the space and openness of their home, they knew changing the bright orange and green paint colors was the first thing they needed to do.
“Where this is liveable, rustic modern, previously it was just very straight lines, very simple, very minimal, but very bright,” says Uson. “I always err on the neutral side these days.”
The Usons’ home is light and bright with floor-to-ceiling windows on almost every wall of the main floor. Soft but modern touches combine with industrial elements in the architecture that create a disarming juxtaposition to the exterior.
“[My style] is modern rustic with touches of luxe and texture. I like some little sexy spots here and there,” explains Uson as she describes the first of many changes they made to the home. “I try to anchor the house with black and white, but I don’t want to go over the top because I don’t want to go too mod. And I don’t want it to feel too feminine so my husband feels displaced.”
A unique feature of the house is a freestanding metal pipe wall. Located in the middle of the den and open to the stairs that scale the center of the house, the pipe is currently causing a stalemate between Carly and Jason.
“My husband and I are in a debate about [the pipe installation],” she laughs. “He loves it — it was a selling point for him. I like it too, I think it’s super cool and I think it brings in that raw, industrial look, but I would like to pull them out and just put glass, which would look so beautiful. But he’s fighting me on that.”
The L-shaped sectional in the den carries out the neutral trend throughout the house but is more about utility than style, a fact which Uson offers no apologies for. “We have two big dogs and I like a glamour look, but I don’t like things that are too fussy so it’s not liveable. I like the dogs to be able to jump on the couch so I err on the side of cozy,” she explains.
Uson’s love of her animals might be one of the overriding themes in her home. From the bronze placard by the doorbell imploring rescue workers to save their dogs, to wall art on every floor, it’s clear this is a home where man and dog are equal. In addition to a gold framed portrait of their pitbull wearing a necktie in the guest bedroom upstairs, the Usons have paid homage to a special canine named Posey (whose name Uson wears in gold around her neck) in the sitting area of the master.
“We had this heart print, and the day Posey, our female rotty passed,” remembers Uson, barely holding back tears, “we took her paw and dipped it in some paint and pressed it on top on the heart. I just cherish that.”
This year, Uson says she is exploring new passions she’s always had, but never pursued. “Design has always been something I love, and I’m even doing some design consulting with a company right now,” she says. As for the future, Uson says she’s looking forward to new endeavors. “In January, I’m launching a lifestyle site which will be home decor, lifestyle, fashion, food. I’ve already changed my Instagram to the site’s name, ‘This Felicity,’ which is my grandmother’s name and means ‘happiness.’ It will be a lifestyle site that focuses on the things most lifestyle sites do, but instead of an emphasis on entertaining guests, it will be more on design and decor.”
She wants the site to focus on the neighborhood she has come to know in Agave, and the continually changing nature of the city. “I’ve been doing lifestyle for the last 10 years or so now,” she concludes. “I’m just segueing into a new chapter.”
“Who buys a house for one party?” Chelle Neff muses, surveying her light filled living room in the University Hills neighborhood in East Austin.
Perhaps a couple whose home decor includes a subtle scattering of skulls around every corner.
“One reason we loved this house is because we’re really into Halloween and every year we have a party and when we saw this, we said, ‘This is perfect for the party,’” Neff remembers.
Neff, the owner of Urban Betty Salon, and her husband, David, a business consultant, moved into their open concept ranch style home two years ago while planning a wedding and weathering two dog surgeries.
The walls on the main floor of the Neff house are fleeced with posters from both David and Chelle’s collections prior to getting married, which happened right around the same time they moved into the house.
“We’re both real big into music so we pay homage to that with these rock posters. David already had some, and I had mine so it really all came together nicely,” Neff says.
And then there are the skulls. You don’t notice how many there are at first, but they haunt the house in subtle ways: Southwestern-style skull art in the den, an anatomical skeleton poster above the mantle, glass bottles flanking the refrigerator, four framed prints masquerading as a headboard in the master bedroom.
Neff’s interior style at home combines estate and garage sale gems, thrift and antique store finds, treasures from high-end furniture stores, design centers and found items. (One dining room chair was even rescued from the curb and rehabbed through the magic of YouTube videos.)
One personal touch the couple added was a wood pallet wall in the dining room, adding a rustic feel to the otherwise vintage rock vibe of the space. A tin, turquoise “weird” sign that Chelle had custom made for David lights up the hearth where a fire would usually be. “We didn’t know if we should hang it on the wall or what, but one day the lady who cleans my house just put it there to get it out of the way and it just hit us that it should be in there. It fits perfectly,” laughs Neff.
Her personal interior style overflows to the professional at Urban Betty, which recently added eight more chairs (which, Neff says, almost felt like opening a second location) during a recent renovation.
“At Urban Betty I mix new things with old things so half of our mirrors were bought at estate sales or garage sales, I found some stuff at Austin City-Wide Garage Sale,” she explains. “The couch at Urban Betty is from Salvation Army; my little chair [at home] is from Goodwill — it was only $25! I was going there for Halloween decorations and I saw it and said, ‘That chair is amazing, I have to have it.’”
This mix-and-match philosophy was part of the reason Chelle and David’s created the Austin Weird Homes Tour. A conversation after the Modern Homes Tour a few years ago inspired the Neffs to seek out a “weird” homes tour to add to their repertoire. When they couldn’t find one, they were perplexed.
“That’s the epitome of Austin, why wouldn’t they have that? I said, ‘’Well, that’s a bummer,’ and about a week later, David said, ‘We should do it,’” Neff recalls. “So the seed was planted and about a year later, we had the first Austin Weird Homes Tour.”
Ten percent of the proceeds from the Weird Homes Tour go to charity each year, another passion the Neffs share. In fact, an antique chest from the post office Chelle’s grandparents owned in Throckmorton, Texas showcases trophies and plaques both Neffs have received in recognition of the charitable work they do within the Austin community. It’s an important part of the couple’s ethos, and something that influences many aspects of their work. “The last two years [proceeds from the Tour went to] Caritas, which provides housing for refugees,” explains Neff. “We want something that ties in to the home tour, so there’s a couple more in town we’re looking at, too.”
By Katie Friel
TRIBEZA Interiors Tour presented by TreeHouse returns for a third fabulous year on Saturday, January 23rd.
In this issue, meet the designers and take a sneak peek into the beautiful homes featured on this year’s tour. Here, they share where they turn for inspiration, their personal philosophies and tell us the surprising design elements featured in their own homes.
By James Ruiz
Austin’s architectural vocabulary varies wildly and defies definition. Neighborhoods are composed of picturesque Craftsman bungalows with verdant gardens sitting next to xeriscaped, ultramodern cathedrals of glass and concrete. But the city’s diverse approach to the architectural language of line, shape and form parallels our interest in the color, texture and light of a home’s interior.
To serve this wide spectrum of taste, many...more
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