TRIBEZA's Interiors Tour 2016

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.

This is a self-guided, self-paced tour. All homes will be open from 10:30am-4:30pm on Saturday, January 23rd. Tickets are $20 in advance (and $25 day of) and can be purchased here.

Click below for an Interiors Tour map!


Allison Crawford Design

From Wall Street to Westlake, this design pro has made her mark.

Allison Crawford’s career has had a decidedly interesting trajectory. After graduation from Southern Methodist University, Crawford landed a job working on Wall Street. Unhappy and creatively unfulfilled in her marketing gig, she enrolled at New York University to study design. After moving to Austin, she renovated her first home in 2005.

Since then, her business has grown thanks to a close-knit community and referrals from previous jobs. Says the designer, “I’ve actually moved to Austin three times. Opportunities take me to other cities, but I always come back to this vibrant city! I love the diversity and the support of creative entrepreneurs.”

What is your personal design philosophy?

I believe a space should tell a story. While working with clients, I try to get to know them and infuse the space with their personal story.

Where, what or to whom do you turn for inspiration?

I’m always inspired during my travel experiences, whether it’s a quick getaway to Tulum or an adventure trip through Myanmar. Throughout my travels across all continents, I’ve found inspiration from local artists, textiles, architecture and museums. I like to bring back something special from each trip that reminds me of the experience like street art or handmade candles. On a trip to Morocco, I carefully carried a gorgeous metal with camel bone mirror through Africa and Europe. After having it at home for a few months, I accidently dropped it and it was damaged, but the mirror, even with its imperfections, tells a story (or two).

What would people be surprised to find in your home?

A messy bed. I’m obsessed with low maintenance, perfectly imperfect beds right now. My black and white linen sheets are always wrinkled, but the bed is super easy to make… It’s effortlessly chic.

Share a few favorite elements from your project featured on the TRIBEZA Interiors Tour:

I’m not afraid to take risks and make bold, unusual choices. You’ll find traditional prints by Peter Max and Norman Rockwell next to contemporary, bright abstracts and modern black and white photography. I like to support Texas artists and recently commissioned a colorful abstract from Jerry Cabrera for my entryway to set the mood for the whole house.


Meredith Ellis

It’s been a whirlwind year for Meredith Ellis.

Design has long been a part of Meredith Ellis’ life. Growing up in the Texas Hill Country, Ellis was “raised in the business.” Says the designer, “My mother was an interior designer in Texas for 30 plus years, so you can say it’s in my blood.” Though she has lived in Colorado, San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, Ellis eventually returned to Texas in 2010 to raise her family — and build her business. “We wanted to be near family, in a place that was laid back, outdoorsy, beautiful, but at the same time emerging,” she explains. Like Austin, Ellis’ business has also grown thanks to her penchant for timeless design and an incredible pedigree. In addition to her work as an in-demand interior designer, Ellis also recently opened JAMES, a showroom in the heart of downtown’s Design District.


What is your personal design philosophy?

Decorate for the way you live. I firmly believe in creating a home that represents you.

Where, what or to whom do you turn for inspiration?

Obviously nothing beats travel for true culture and inspiration, but these days I find a lot of inspiration on Instagram. I love photographer Miguel Flores-Vianna and Ashley Hicks’ feeds. I live vicariously through their travels, and constantly find inspiration in the photos of aging castles, ornate palaces and ancient textiles.

Share a few favorite elements from your project featured on the TRIBEZA Interiors Tour:

That is hard to choose! This has been such a fun project because my client, Lisa [Womack], and I clicked immediately. Not to mention she came to the project with a fabulous collection of antiques, art and accessories.

Lisa has a fabulous Cape Buffalo mount that her husband’s grandmother shot in Botswana when she was in her 70s. She had mounted it above the fireplace in the living room, [but] … there seemed to be a void surrounding the piece — it needed more prominence. I took the existing fireplace, surrounded it with additional paneling, added an antique mirror above the mantle and then built a custom frame around the mirror. The Cape Buffalo was then mounted on the mirror. It was a bit of an undertaking, and at times there was a lot of nail biting. But in the end, it proved that it was needed. It was an example in trusting my gut.

Lisa and I gelled so much and had so much fun, that when she heard of my long-time dream of opening a high-end design showroom she said she wanted to be involved. She’s now one of the partners in JAMES.


Butter Lutz Interiors

Showcasing her third home in as many years, Amy Lutz returns to the tour with another Tarrytown gem.

After interior designer Amy Lutz graduated from Abilene Christian University with a degree in fashion merchandising, she quickly garnered a reputation for creating stunning visual displays. “I realized I had a knack for visual displays which lead me to start my own business in golf merchandising,” says Lutz. “I did buying and visual merchandising for several golf pro shops in the Dallas-Fort Worth area until I took the head buying position at Austin Country Club in late 2000.” For the past 15 years, Lutz has been working with clients to craft beautiful — yet functional — interiors.

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What is your personal design philosophy?

My personal design philosophy is truly a balancing act. A designer’s job is never just about the pretty stuff. Over time, I have learned the importance of wearing different “hats” throughout the design process. In addition to leading a creative vision to execution, a designer also is an accountant, a project manager, a problem solver, an installer, and even a relationship counselor.

Where, what or to whom do you turn for inspiration?

I am inspired by so many different things — pretty much everything that you can see, touch and feel. I typically start my process with a pattern, a pop of something special and go from there.

What would people be surprised to find in your home?

In my personal home, there are lots of interesting finds, but my favorite things are the original pieces of art from some of our best friends. My husband has given [the art] to me as gifts for special occasions. They have meaning for me and I love to see them everyday.

Share a few favorite elements from your project featured on the TRIBEZA Interiors Tour:

This project has many unique wall treatments. The powder bath has a stunning charcoal sequin wallcovering and their daughter’s bedroom has a playful Indian motif with elephant paper from local designer Katie Kime. There is also a wall of glass in the back with the 15-foot steel dining window flanked by sliders on either side.

We tried to make sure that almost everything in the home had a story, history and a purpose, all the while realizing that this 3500 square feet had to function effortlessly for a family with small children. While that was a tricky task, the end result is what makes us good at what we do; this house works for them using every square inch for an intended purpose while being a beautiful showpiece for family and friends to enjoy.


Katie Kime

It’s Katie Kime’s Austin, we’re just living in it.

Over the past six months, designer Katie Kime completed renovations on her Rollingwood home, got married and opened her flagship retail location on Lamar Boulevard. Kime, whose design sensibilities are a mix of bright patterns, traditional forms and high-low is branching beyond design and into a bona fide lifestyle brand. In addition to wallpaper, furniture and home accessories, fans of the Katie Kime aesthetic can also get apparel (she recently partnered with MOD Fitness to launch a workout line), stationery and more.


Tell us about your background and education:

I grew up in North Carolina and went to Duke. I studied visual arts there which was a 10 medium major, meaning from drawing to painting to color theory to screen printing, I had to show a certain level of competence in [all of those] mediums. After college, I worked with a large commercial interior firm in Atlanta [called] Rule, Joy, Trammell + Rubio but my most useful learning really came from just trying new things in hope of figuring them out. Sewing, photography, Photoshop, painting, these were all things I did on my own, or with mentors, and they have all been beneficial to my career.

What is your personal design philosophy?

There are no rules. I really go with my gut even if it’s not textbook. Pairing things a lot of people wouldn’t is what most people seem to know me for.

Why Austin versus another city?

I was actually between Austin and Nashville as cities I could imagine moving to and settling down in. I chose Austin because I felt the design scene and growth projected in the city could foster my design career better than Nashville.

Where or to whom do you turn for inspiration?

David Hicks and Dorothy Draper are huge sources of inspiration for me.

What would people be surprised to find in your home?

High mixed with low. I love a bargain and am not afraid to pair an Ikea hack with a higher end custom piece.

Share a few favorite elements from your project featured on the TRIBEZA Interiors Tour:

While in most areas I added my own flair and signature style, I also compromised with my husband. My closet and the guest house - these are the main two areas where I didn’t have to consult or negotiate with [anyone].


Turnstyle Design

Growing up between Belgium and the U.S., interior designer Lieve Saether was raised by an artistic family who emphasized the importance of “boundary-less thinking on art, space, and everyday objects.”

Says the designer, “The art of not only beauty, but quality, craftsmanship and origin have always been essential to me. As an art history and fine arts major studying at University in Brussels, in a way it was inevitable that I became an interior designer.” Along with her husband and two children, Saether moved to Austin in 2007 where she launched Turnstyle Design.


What is your personal design philosophy?

Make it you and make it last. Our company name Turnstyle was specifically chosen to communicate our belief that things are just things until they are shifted to fit the user. For me, our homes are the places in which we should feel most like ourselves.

Where, what or to whom do you turn for inspiration?

Like anyone I am inspired by the many wonderful things around, but for me ... I gravitate toward the home’s [original era], and how it might have originally felt in its heyday. I like to ensure some part of that remains in the finished product even if in a subtle way. Be that in furniture or in the room’s architectural details, or in the way the space will be used going forward. My preference, most often, is for a house to keep a part of its soul that way.

What would people be surprised to find in your home?

Despite our choice to have a grown up home, we’ve had a rope swing hanging from our loft in the living room. (As one can imagine, that got a ton of wear!) We’ve created and adapted large scale permanent art pieces with our kids and the neighborhood children, and we generally love displaying family-created projects in an elevated way. Why shouldn’t your child’s finger paint art be properly matted and framed in the living room? It’s the imperfections on the dining table and the YouTube crafts that end up on the entry console that keep us living in the moment.

Share a few favorite elements from your project featured on the TRIBEZA Interiors Tour:

This project was about giving the family a design plan to understand what they couldn’t at first articulate by themselves. [The clients] are open to ideas and where things come from, so the fact that we’ve now established their individual stamp is a big part of what I love about this project — or any project we do for that matter. More specifically though, this home has some great references to 1930’s designer William Haines (an American actor and interior designer my client has long admired). The references are subtle, but direct, so I’ll let readers see if they can spot them while they are on the tour!


Urbanspace Interiors

Modern meets cool at these east side ‘mini-hotels’

Urbanspace Interiors’ Merrill Alley and Shannon Stott-Sosa were both destined to be designers. “I come from architect/ designer parents so you could say the love of design is in my blood,” says Alley. It’s a sentiment Stott-Sosa echos: “My father is a carpenter, so I grew up around houses under construction.” After graduating from the University of Kansas and Texas State University, respectively, Alley and Stott-Sosa forged careers that eventually brought them to Urbanspace, one of Austin’s premier real estate and interior design firms. This year, Urbanspace is featuring two east side properties that showcase the firm’s modern-meets-chic aesthetic.

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What is your personal design philosophy?

Merrill Alley: Whether commercial or residential, I believe a space has to have a personality that reflects its inhabitants.

Where, what or to whom do you turn for inspiration?

Merrill Alley and Shannon Stott-Sosa: Most consistently we are inspired by the interesting/ unique/ fun loving clients we have the privilege of designing for. In addition to our clients, a ton of our inspiration comes directly from the product lines represented in our showroom. Most of our lines are European, [and feature] designers that bring innovation and cool unexpected elements to furniture design. For example, the queen of design: Patricia Urquiola. No one can mix and create patterns, colors and textures like her.

What would people be surprised to find in your home?

Alley: An absurd number of plants.

Stott-Sosa: Not sure if anyone would really be surprised because I’m a bit of a ‘curator,’ but I’m most proud of my rather large display of Texas collector plates.

Share a few favorite elements from your project featured on the TRIBEZA Interiors Tour:

Alley: I particularly love the master bedroom and bathrooms in these homes.

Stott-Sosa: Since these are typically used as mini-hotels, we were able to create an experience out of the design, going bold with wallpaper, tile and furniture. Though, I know that everyone would be totally open to a ‘Treat Yo’self’ neon sign in their living room.


3 Fold Design Studio

Fusing form and function with family-friendly, Page Gandy invites us into her Westwood abode.

Page Gandy has always had a passion for design. “I always loved architecture and design and, in fact, in my high school yearbook I [said I] aspired to be an interior designer,” says Gandy. At her design firm, 3 Fold Design Studio, Gandy creates projects with a penchant for sustainability and an emphasis on collaborative design.

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What is your personal design philosophy?

My design philosophy revolves around the sometimes competing ideas of simplicity and individuality. [I focus on] allowing an ease of living rooted in a functional origin with an appreciation for the things that truly matter, packaged in a creative, unique space that defines the client’s overall aesthetic.

Where, what or to whom do you turn for inspiration?

I love materials - tile, wallpaper, wood, fabric.

Why did you launch your studio in Austin versus another city?

My husband is from DC, we met in Houston and lived in Atlanta for several years. He got a job opportunity in Austin when I was approaching graduation [from the Art Institute of Atlanta]. We moved on a whim, not knowing much about the city except people said it was “cool.” We have not regretted the decision in the 10 years since.

What would people be surprised to find in your home?

I have two young boys, so our house is truly kid friendly. Every material and piece of furniture has been “kid-tested.” We usually have a soccer game going on in the living room, our back patio can be taken over as a roller hockey rink, and some sort of car/train/Lego track seems to always be in the middle of it all.

Share a few favorite elements from your project featured on the TRIBEZA Interiors Tour:

I have a bit of a tile obsession and had a lot of fun picking out tile for my house. I also love the back window wall. Before, [there was a] single set of French doors and huge fireplace that cut out the view to the backyard. Comparing [the original design] to the current wall of windows and sliding doors, I am still amazed at the transformation.


Photography by Chelsea Laine Francis


This is a self-guided, self-paced tour. All homes will be open from 10:30am-4:30pm on Saturday, January 23rd. Tickets are $20 in advance (and $25 day of) and can be purchased here.

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