Designer Spotlight Series: Chris McCray of McCray & Co.

We love working with Austin’s most creative and talented designers. One of our favorite creatives is Chris McCray of McCray & Co., a designer who has natural talent and a persistent salvaged DIY aesthetic. His creations are always fresh, soulful, and inspiring. We’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with him in the past, and we’re excited to spotlight him for this month’s Designer Spotlight Series. Without further ado, take a look at our interview with Chris!
Portrait photo by Ryann Ford http://ryannford.com

Portrait photo by Ryann Ford. Glasses design by Chris McCray.

1) What motivated you to become a designer?
Church. When I was growing up, I was required to sit through church every Sunday, every week of my life. As a rambunctious kid who would later be diagnosed with ADD, I was bored to tears. I would take a pencil and draw all over the church bulletin, copying down every architectural detail I could see in the place – every angle, every line, whatever I could think of to get me through the interminable 30-minute sermon. I guess it just sunk in.

 

2) How would you describe your work process, taking something from an idea to a fleshed-out, finished product? 
It usually starts with the flash of an image – something I see on the side of the road as I drive by, a picture that streaks across the screen on my laptop, or a thought that I have late at night before I go to sleep. Some of those things manifest into sketches, some of them collide with each other before making it onto paper, and a lot of them lay dormant until a later date. But once they make it onto paper, they become malleable ideas that continue to be layered upon until the design feels right, or it just gets too damn late.
I typically design furniture and spaces with a fabricator in mind, and a large part of my design process takes place in three dimensions. I have a personal belief that there are far more objects in existence than there really ought to be, and the act of simply specifying goods which were manufactured in and shipped from faraway lands is a practice that I try to avoid as much as possible. Working with local makers and existing/reclaimed materials becomes just as important as that original spark that caused me to put pencil to paper. Everything that I do is a collaboration, whether it’s with the client, the maker, the people who work with me in my office, or the materials themselves.
McCrayCo_Our-Lady
3) You collaborated with us on the Our Lady of Guadalupe sofa (above), which is a completely unique piece that includes a custom screen print and upcycled materials. Can you tell me a little bit about the piece? Where did you get the inspiration for it?
The Our Lady sofa was inspired by the client, who asked me to interpret Austin from a South Congress perspective. I’m a big fan of the work Federico Archuleta has done all over town, but one of my favorite pieces is the Lady of Guadalupe he did across the street from Guero’s. My favorite time to be on South Congress is when the Continental Club is sponsoring a hotrod show, which made me think about the old-school tuck and roll upholstery, done up in the bright, funky serape fabric that we see so often here in Austin. And then we skirted the whole thing in red cowhide because, hell, it’s Texas.
EATER_Ramen-Tatsu-Ya

Photo of Ramen Tsatsu-Ya by Spencer Selvidge, Eater Austin

4) Your company is pretty prolific, but you’re probably best known for designing some of Austin’s favorite restaurants, including Ramen Tatsu-Ya (above) and Lenoir (featured photo, taken by Ryann Ford). What is your design philosophy for creating memorable spaces? 
I think as designers, we are obligated to tell a story in the space. If it’s a good story, it’s memorable. And all good stories are unique. It’s all about storytelling.
5) How have you seen the landscape of Austin’s design change since you moved here in 2011?
I feel like when I arrived just a few short years ago, there were only a handful of people that were making what I consider to be thoughtful work. Now, with so much growth happening at such a fast pace, there’s interesting work going on all over the city. The bar has been raised on design and experience expectations to the point where we are now having conversations with clients about staff dress and the type of music that they’ll play. Not sure these were topics covered in design briefs here four and five years ago.
6) What would be your dream design project if you had an unlimited amount of money and time?
I hate the idea of having unlimited money and time. I truly believe that if that were the case, it would be an extremely hard project to take on. For me, design is about parameters and what can be done within those parameters. Without the parameters, it just feels hedonistic. But as far as my dream project goes, I’ve always wanted to work on a boutique hotel.
7) What can we expect from you and your business in the next year?
We’re really excited about what the next year has to bring. We’ve got a few more restaurants up our sleeves; can’t wait for those to be revealed as they move forward. We’ve got a few commercial clients that we’re working with on exciting projects. And we’re starting to venture more into the residential world here in Austin, which I really like. We’re also working on prototypes for a new furniture line called Mable. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a good year.
8) What have been three of your favorite projects?
McCrayCo_Lenoir-2

Photos of Lenoir by Jody Horton.

LENOIR
The first project that comes to mind is Lenoir because it’s the first project I worked on when I arrived in Austin. The materials we used to build out the space were scavenged, upcycled, or reclaimed. It was my only project at the time, so it allowed me the time to work on-site and get to know some great Austin makers, like Jesse Hartman, and Andy and Pearly Rihn.
McCrayCo_Rock-Star-House-1
McCrayCo_Rock-Star-House-2
ROCK STAR HOUSE
One of my favorite residential projects I’ve done was for a record producer and his wife, which started with a very simple design brief: make our house as colorful as the Simpson’s house, and make sure Godzilla is present in every room. As you can see by the photos, I think we accomplished these two tasks. Photos (above) by Lee Brauer.

 

TITO’S VODKA

 

Recently, we worked with the creative and marketing team at Tito’s Vodka to help them out with the design and build of their new offices. I got the chance to bring in and work alongside one of my favorite Austin makers, Adam Young of Old Crow Custom Works. The majority of our resources came from decommissioned bottling equipment, which we picked through and selected from the manufacturing graveyard out at the Tito’s plant, as well as pine planks that were salvaged from the devastating fires in Bastrop. One of my favorite details is that I got to work with a pinata maker over on Cesar Chavez to create three pinata chandeliers, using the copper foil that everyone’s familiar with from the Tito’s Vodka bottles.

 

McCrayCo_Titos-Pinatas

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Chris!


Fabric Shop Hop This Weekend

We’re at it again THIS WEEKEND! Visit Spruce and nine other fine fabric retailers for the semi-annual Fabric Shop Hop.

shop hop

We know who your are, that lovely customer who loves to come in and ooh and aah but never has a reason to pull the trigger. Well, here are your reasons:

20% off ALL FABRICS and WALLPAPERS

10% off ALL OTHER RETAIL

$50 off CLASS REGISTRATION FEE

Plus, make one of these adorable pincushion wristlets at our DIY station (while supplies last), and enter to win a FREE LAMPSHADE CLASS!

pincushion

Here’s what you missed at the last Fabric Shop Hop.

 


Spruce Upholstery Tip: Creating a Smooth Edge on Damaged Furniture

Sometimes the stripping process can take quite a toll on your furniture. Even the smallest of missing chunks will be noticeable when the fabric is pulled around the edge, especially when using a thinner fabric or a fabric with a sheen. In these scenarios, fear not! I have a very simple solution that will help you achieve a nice, smooth edge.

cardboard tackstrip1

Cardboard tack strip is a material we use for various things in upholstery. For today’s tip, I attach a strip of cardboard tack strip along the edge of the damaged side, creating a straight edge.

carboard tackstrip 2

Attach another piece of cardboard tack strip along the underside to add extra stability and structure.

smooth edge ready for upholstery

Two strips of cardboard and you are back in business. The simplest tips are always the best ones!


Inspiration of the Week: Pineapples!

You want to know what’s all the rage this summer? Pineapples!

Clarisa returned from Alt Summit (see post here) with reportage that pineapples are on trend! I’ve collected some of our fabric offerings that feature pineapples, or conjure ideas of  the juicy fruit in color or texture just for you, dear readers!

One of my favorites is the Manuel Canovas Jamaica print. This pattern comes in a few colorways and sports a giant pineapple along with other vibrant citrus, passionate fruits and luscious melons that connote everything SUMMER!

man can pineapple print
man can jamaica

Manuel Canovas Jamaica shown in three different color ways.

Wikipedia says that “in the Philippines the pineapple’s leaves are used to produce the textile fiber piña, employed as a component of wall paper and furnishings, amongst other uses.”  Fascinating! How apropos!

Though the pineapple belongs to the bromeliad family (think Spanish moss and certain rosette-forming desert succulents), I can’t help but include another print idea that is so connected in my psyche: the palm. This one’s thrown in to reinforce the summery theme!

I love this next one from Duralee’s  Jalene Kanani contract collection. This fabric is built to last and has a great organic repetition – just like the pineapple!

duralee pineapple weave

Duralee’s Twine in Goldenrod; pattern 90886-264.

The Design Connection offers a cool print that is all at once contemporary, Art Deco, and a bit organic! This one’s another super durable print, and it comes in several colors.

TDC fan print red

TDC’s Miami in Red and Yellow.

I found a bunch of sweet prints from Christopher Farr that don’t feature pineapples overtly but remind me of them! See a short list of great prints from the Christopher Farr Cloth line below! The first one I included is a sweet reminder of a pineapple’s golden interior flesh and ashy, bark-like, spiny exterior.

I really loosened up on the theme for this next pattern! I was thinking pineapples, pina coladas, and then… tiki! Here ’tis! A sweet pattern that shouts “Hawaii,” the adopted home of pineapples, swinging retro times and some frothy, fruity drinks! Mahalo!

happy flowers in berry blog

Christopher Farr Cloth’s Happy Flowers in Berry (large scale shown); love the style here! Sketchy and playful, and overall decidedly artsy! Gotta have that pineapple!

cloth africana

Christopher Farr Cloth’s Africana shown in five color ways.

This pattern I chose as a riff on the pineapple skin diamond pattern texture. I love how the drawn black lines lend further to the ideas of the pineapple texture – rough, a little pokey, natural… You get it, right?!

cloth africana 3

Christopher Farr Cloth’s Africana in Green.

cloth adras lemon

Christopher Farr Cloth’s Adras in Lemon. It’s all about color here!

If you’re in the mood this summer for a pineapple or two, we can fix you up!


Bench Auction to Support AIDS Services of Austin

We’re excited to participate in a special collaboration that’s kicking off a Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) event – Urban Picnic by Design (featuring picnic table set ups by 20 talented local designers) – held on September 11. Take a look at The Frank Bench! We’re auctioning this one-of-a-kind bench on our website, and all of the proceeds benefit AIDS Services of Austin!

Bench3The bench is a collaboration between Spruce, local interior designer Kelly LaPlante (who upholstered this beauty in our bench class using an Alexander McQueen-inspired velvet) and TreeHouse (which provided the industrial hairpin legs). It is named in memory of Kelly’s friend who battled AIDS for 34 years and passed away earlier this year.

Bid for the bench here! The auction expires at midnight, July 8.

DIFFA-Invite-1000x665-1

Alt Summit 2014: Highlights From My First Blogging Conference

When I first met Amanda, the very first conversation I had with her was about the awesomeness of Alt Summit. “If you’re into blogging, you should definitely go,” she said, after sharing some gems she learned about social media and SEO during her time at the conference in 2013 (which you might remember us blogging about here, here and here). Surprisingly, I had never heard of Alt Summit — once dubbed the “burning man of blogging” by the Huffington Post. Once I learned more about it, I knew it was something I had to experience! So, I packed my bags last week and headed off to Salt Lake City for a few days.

me taking notes

That’s me in the background, taking careful notes of what Susan Peterson of Freshly Picked had to say about her experience on Shark Tank! Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.

While I was at the conference (held at the exquisite Grand America Hotel), I met several wonderful bloggers, photographers, designers and entrepreneurs who inspire me to be the best marketer I possibly can. I learned the importance of collaborations, networking, creating effective marketing materials and using social media platforms, such as Pinterest, to their fullest. I’m still in the process of digesting all of the information I got out of the workshops, talks and networking events I attended. For now, I’ll leave you with a few highlights from this memorable experience.

Joy Cho of Oh Joy! started off the conference with an inspiring keynote speech about juggling work and being a wife and mother. She Joy ended with Thomas Jefferson’s quote, “If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”

Joy Cho of Oh Joy! started off the conference with an inspiring keynote speech about juggling work and being a wife and mother. Joy ended with Thomas Jefferson’s quote, “If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.” Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.

Winning an Oh Joy! for Target bowl

On top of the fact that Joy Cho of Oh Joy! was the opening keynote speaker, she “liked” our Instagram post of her. Call me a fangirl, but I was pretty excited.

See that Oh Joy! for Target bowl in the center of the table. It's mine!

See that cool Oh Joy! for Target bowl in the center of the table. It’s mine! Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.

Oh, and she gave away some cool serving bowls to a select few, and I was one of the lucky participants who won one. You made my day, Joy!

Someone asked Martha Stewart about making pie crust.

Martha Stewart was the keynote speaker this year, and we all had the pleasure of asking her questions. Several people asked Martha about her work-life balance, but one question was specifically about pies. Someone asked her if she uses butter, lard or vinegar in her crust. She responded by saying she uses butter for most sweet pies, lard for her meat pies and vinegar for a specific apple pie. There you have it, folks!

Martha Stewart was the conference's keynote speaker for the second day, and she was interviewed by Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom!

Martha Stewart was the conference’s keynote speaker for the second day, and she was interviewed by Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom! Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.

There was a Garden Party.

Alt Summit is a lot more than just workshops and lectures. It’s about having both a fun and beautiful experience. Thanks to generous donations from sponsors, such as Bing and MailChimp, the organizers were able to put together some fun parties, gorgeous flower arrangements and delicious food. Every detail – from the strategically decorated photo booths to the letterpress menu cards – was considered. The final event of the conference was an outdoor Garden Party, and Alt Summit went all out. There were mopeds people could pose on for photos, a croquet set-up, ribbons hanging from trees – and the majority of the participants were decked out in fabulous attire. Check out some photos from the event here.

The Garden Party was held in the courtyard of the Grand America Hotel.

The Garden Party was held in the courtyard of The Grand America Hotel. Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.

 

The best thing about Alt Summit is seeing so many stylish people together in one place. Here are a few of the attendees at the Garden Party, which concluded the conference.

The best thing about Alt Summit is seeing so many stylish people together in one place. Here are a few of the attendees at the Garden Party, which concluded the conference. Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.

Learning what’s hot right now

Apart from learning the trends in social media and blogging, I got a chance to see what’s hot in fashion and design. This is what’s trending with some of the most influential bloggers in the know: pineapples in design, Scandinavian braids in your hair, Pippet, jumpers with bold prints, ’70’s wavy hair, fluorescent colors, starting a stationery company, thick-rimmed glasses, gold, calligraphy, and food styling.

Take a look at some more photos from the conference!

After the first day, we were all invited to an outdoor party, equipped with food trucks and a DJ, at a park in downtown Salt Lake City. There were several dancer breaking along to the music, and some of the bloggers joined in the fun!

After the first day, we were all invited to an outdoor party, equipped with food trucks and a DJ, at a park in downtown Salt Lake City. There were several dancers breaking along to the music, and some of the bloggers joined in the fun! Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.

This is the Bing lounge. There were several lounges decorated by the participating sponsors, and attendees had the opportunity to get their portraits taken in front of the photo booths.

This is the Bing lounge. There were several lounges decorated by the participating sponsors, and attendees had the opportunity to get their portraits taken in front of the photo booths. Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.

The Honest Company donated several toiletries. They were arranged like this in the waiting area of the restroom, there for the taking!

The Honest Company donated several toiletries. They were arranged like this in the waiting area of the restroom! Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.

listening to how to put your editorial calendar together

All of the participants had a chance to pick up some tips about blogging from the pros in attendance. Here, I am learning about how to organize your editorial calendar. Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.

Some numbers from Alt Summit

Celebrity sightings: 2 (I saw actors Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell of Modern Family at Bar-X, which is owned by Burrell)

Attendees who participated in our blogging book tour last year: 3 (Jessica Angel of Oh So Antsy, Melissa Bahen of Lulu the Baker, and Jeran McConnel of Oleander and Palm).

Hours Susan Petersen of Freshly Picked sleeps every night: 5-6

Susan Peterson is my hero! She had several great tips for entrepreneurs, including giving yourself a "warrior name" to help you during challenging circumstances. Her warrior name is Beyonce!

Susan Peterson is my hero! As the owner of a company that’s now worth a million dollars, she had several great tips for entrepreneurs, including giving yourself a “warrior name” to help you during challenging circumstances. Her warrior name is Beyonce! Photo Credit: Justin Hackworth.

Books Martha Stewart has produced: 85

Minutes the average person spends on Pinterest: 15 per day

handmadecharlotte

Rachel Faucett (left) co-founded Handmade Charlotte with her husband. She has five kids, tons of energy and great ideas and is wildly entertaining. I want to be her best friend! I’m applauding her (on the right). Next to me is my new friend Sean Timberlake, a food writer and a blogger specializing in canning and preserving. Check out his blog Punk Domestics! Photo credit: Justin Hackworth Photography.

The best time to post on Pinterest is on Friday, 3 to 7 p.m. EST! Thanks for the great tips Rachel Faucett (Handmade Charlotte) and Alex Evjen (Ave Styles)!

The best time to post on Pinterest is on Friday, 3 to 7 p.m. EST! Thanks for the great tips Rachel Faucett (Handmade Charlotte) and Alex Evjen (Ave Styles)!

Cards collected: 43

Times people said, “there are a lot of people from Austin here!”: 4 (Local creatives Anna Kamburis of Demi + Olive, Miranda Anderson of One Little Minute, and Nycia Emerson of Inspired Events and Designs were also in attendance!)

photo 5b

Me and Hillary Walker, the Dallas/Fort Worth blogger of Our Style Stories, in front of Eva’s Bakery. I had the best quiche in my life at Eva’s!

If you have any questions about Alt Summit, feel free to leave us a comment – or tweet us @spruceathome!


Amanda’s Favorite Deals of the Week

With all the late-night feedings, I find myself surfing the web a lot more than usual. The first few months of motherhood were filled with online shopping for baby clothes. But now that Lilee is fully outfitted to 24 months, I’ve decided to be more productive and philanthropic with my lactation time. So, here ya’ go. Straight from my rocking chair to your computer, my top five deals of the week.

deals of the week

1. Outdoor Egg Chair, $249.99 at Pier 1 imports. Hanging from the oak trees by my pool, please!

2. Floral Landscape Bedding, $12.90-$89.90 at Zara Home. Don’t have a bed for these? Use the fabric for lampshades, throw pillows, or even a roman shade.

3. Woven Top Table, $29.99 at Urban Outfitters. Add a glass top for extra durability. You can afford to at $29!

4. Map Wall Mural, $99.95 at Anthropologie. Hang this wall mural and chart your travel adventures.

5. Agate Handle Set, $24.99 at West Elm. These come in individual knobs, too. Love these for a mid-century credenza.

 

 


Spruce Upholstery Tip: Create Your Own Welt Cord Stick

Sometimes we work on projects that require miles of welt cord. Making a welt cord stick can help you quickly draw your welt cord on fabric. Let me show you how!

measure 1.5 inches

We use Masonite to make our welt cord sticks because it is durable, light, and doesn’t splinter. You can easily find Masonite at your local hardware store. The welt cord stick should measure 1.5″ wide. The length can vary, but I recommend using the full width of a 48″-wide Masonite board.

weltcord half inch tailIf you are wondering why 1.5″ is the width of the welt cord stick, it’s because once the fabric is wrapped around the welt cord, you are left with a 1/2″ tail. This is handy for sewing the welt cord on cushions or pillows since 1/2″ is the standard seam allowance. Lining up the edge of the tail to the edge of the fabric it’s sewn to makes it easy to keep a consistent seam allowance.

create your own weltcord stick with masoniteUse a table saw or a jigsaw to cut on the drawn line.

trace weltcord stripsWith your perfectly-sized welt cord stick, you can quickly trace both sides of the stick to draw out your pieces of welt cord instead of measuring lines 1.5″ apart.

 

trace double welt cordThis welt cord stick can also be used to draw double welt cord. As you might expect, double welt cord calls for a 3″ width. This is achieved by flipping over the stick once, which will double the width.

Do yourself a favor and make one of these pronto. You will feel like a welt cord pro. Do you have any upholstery tips? Share your secrets in our comment section!


Before and Afters: Summer is Here!

Summer’s here!

What are your plans this summer? Perhaps an upholstery project, as the blazing heat drives you to spend more time indoors? Or will you revamp your backyard and porch seat cushions so you can sit comfortably under your misters, sipping a cold one? Our late spring clients have done just that. Be inspired by these summer-ready makeovers – unofficially themed “cool in the pool”!

See our first revamp below: a sandy beige set of chairs gets excellent! Before…

Nicholson before blog

After! The Robert Allen textile chosen has a Native American and Ikat/Mid-Eastern flair. This fabric is at once on-trend, but also dimensional enough to be a lasting anchor in the interior. ¡Que padre!

Our next before-and-after features a covetable vintage find from 1stdibs.coms, one of those websites I have to actively stay away from. I could grow old scrolling through furniture and accessories!

See before: an adorable child-size Art Deco-style rocking chair.

Askins rocker before blog

Askins rocker after blog

Askins rocker after 2 blog

Customer provided their own material – a durable and chic blue cream flame stitch.

Tah-Dah! What a treat for our client’s lucky child!

Our next project: a contemporary recliner transforms from makeshift to proper.

Lallo before blog

Lallo after blog

Fabric shown is Duralee 90885-260.

Wow! This chair is now elevated by the fabric. Something about this chair, the shape of the chair coupled with the fabric, makes me love this redo!

Next, a family heirloom enjoys a reprise. Before: dusty, crusty, and rusty.

Scruggs rocker before blog

After: true blue!

For this precious old rocker, springs were retied, all padding was replaced (per usual unless specified), and a traditional-with-a-twist textile was chosen to give it new life. Here’s to 100 more years!

Another makeover, another success! Here, a tired divan seeks help from Spruce.

Wright sofa before blog

After! A steely cool grey velvet is chosen for the next round.

Wright after blog

Kravet’s grey velvet # 32565-52 was used for reupholstery.

Pert and perky – this sofa is totally refreshed!

Next: a deflated biscuit-tufted sofa.

Plume before blog

After:  totally tubular! Puffed, stuffed, so buff!

Plume after blog

Plume after blog 2

This piece was covered in the customer’s own material, a nubby mid-century style texture in deep lake blue.

 

Consider this last before and after the inflatable pool toy of the bunch! We have a screen shot of the piece below in its original state. Our young clients are egg chair collectors! Before: white fiberglass frame with a brown velour.

maldonado before blog

Maldonado after (2)

Fabric used is Kravet 31754-6.

After: Holy Moly! Our hip, young, collector clients employed Austin Paintworks for the fly paint job, and we lovingly reupholstered it after the hard part was done! Best ever!

We hope you’re inspired to use us in hydrating your thirsty upholstery! Let us know how we can help make your summer excellent!

 

 

 

 


Designer Spotlight Series: Jill May

This month, we turn our spotlight on Jill May, the woman behind Jill May Interiors — a full service residential interior decorating and design firm based here in Austin, Texas. We love Jill’s traditional meets modern sensibility, and we were happy that she took the time to collaborate with us for our series highlighting some of our favorite local designers.
A dining area Jill decorated in real life.

A dining area decorated by Jill May Interiors.

How did you end up becoming an interior designer? What led you to that path?

In 1998, while living in Beijing, I started Red Door Antiques. I sourced antique furniture, architectural pieces, accessories and contemporary art throughout China and wholesaled the pieces to high-end furniture and design showrooms throughout the United States. On occasion, while in China, people would ask me to decorate their offices and residences with my pieces. Then when I moved to Austin in 2002, a Red Door Antiques customer asked me to help design and decorate the new condo she was building. I’ve been decorating my heart out ever since.

What’s a decorative piece every person should own in his or her home?

Something that is meaningful to the person. For me, it’s a statue that my husband and I got on a trip we took to Peru right after we got engaged, a collection of 1920s picture frames that my dad got me when I turned 13, and a Honora Jacob painting that I bought for my husband for his 40th birthday. A home should tell the story of the people who live in it, and layering interesting and meaningful pieces into the house is the key to that. I have a weakness for great art. In Austin, one of my favorite galleries is Wally Workman. She represents some amazing artists, such as Ian Shults and Joyce Howell.

A breakfast area designed by Jill May.

A breakfast area designed by Jill May Interiors.

What are you favorite interior design trends for Spring? 

I’m loving the new Kelly Wearstler fabrics for 2014. They’re bold and subtle at the same time, and the color palette is incredible!

What can we expect to see from you in the upcoming year?

I’m obsessed with overdyed rugs, and I’m crossing my fingers that I have a client that will share my obsession! I’m planning a fall trip to New York City, and ABC Carpet and Home is definitely on the agenda – hopefully by then I’ll have a client who wants me to buy one of these gorgeous rugs for them.

A sitting room area design by Jill May.

A sitting room designed by Jill May Interiors. The pillows and chairs are by Spruce!

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

I love modern, traditional and everything in between. My personal design aesthetic is a pretty eclectic mix. For example, a living room would consist of a well-constructed American made sofa made by Lee Industries, an oversized modern piece of art and accessories acquired both from antique shops and West Elm!

Apart from showcasing examples of her styling, we presented Jill with a creative challenge. We asked Jill to curate two spaces using pieces from Spruce as well as other home goods. She created an entryway and a sunroom.  Let us know what you think in the comments section!

In this sunroom (above), I paired this fabulous sofa, pillow and chairs from Spruce with a vintage milk glass Murano chandelier and French school charts from Shop by Brown in Houston.

Thank you for taking the time to collaborate with us, Jill!


The Sprucettes’ Favorite Recipes for Summer

One thing you’ll notice when we have lunch in the break room is all of our meals are completely different. Amanda and Katherine will eat a sandwich (Katherine’s with chips and Amanda’s with gluten-free bread), Clar will have a wrap from Wheatsville Co-op or a perhaps a baked potato, and I’ll usually bring a stir-fry or curry from the night before to pop in the microwave. What we share in common is we’re passionate about food. We love it when people bring us delicious snacks (hint, hint) or when Katherine brings in her confections to share — which are always fantastic. This got me thinking about sharing our favorite recipes for summer.

If you try any of these at home, let us know how they turn out by leaving a comment! Bon appétit!

Amanda: Governor’s Mansion Summer Peach Tea Punch

peach tea recipe

In the hottest months of the year, all I want to do is cool off with a frosty beverage. This is the yummiest tea I’ve ever tasted! Perfect for a summer party or sippin’ on the back porch, you’ll make this again and again. Add 30 oz. of liquor to convert it into an equally decadent cocktail. I can see why this made it into Southern Living’s Best Recipes magazine!

Clar: Pan Con Tomate

pan con tomate
I’ve lately been binging on Anthony Bourdain’s travel and food reportage. This simple breakfast staple (pan con tomate) seen during his episode of Parts Unknown in Spain is one of my favorites.
Slice rustic bread and then slather it with flavorful and strong olive oil. Bake or toast it, and then roast some garlic in the oven at the same time. Meanwhile, shred firm ripe tomatoes on a grater, and toss the skins into the compost pile. Strain the tomato puree (and drink the juice!) Salt and pepper the tomato pulp and spread on warm bread with roasted garlic. Breakfast is served – buen provecho!
I love the satisfying and filling effect of warm bread paired with the freshest bright cool tomatoes. Great light summer breakfast or anytime for a tapas-style snack!

Katherine: Lemon Butter Cake

lemon butter cake Spruce Blog

It should not be a surprise that I am contributing a dessert for this installment of favorite summer recipes. I do not remember how I came across the recipe for this lemon butter cake, but I sure am glad that I did. I justify this confection as summer worthy because of its fresh citrusy flavor, and it can be served chilled.

For the cake

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (heaping)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest of two lemons

For the cream cheese filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9″ springform pan.

Filling:  In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high to high speed for about 5 minutes, until smooth and creamy.

Add confectioners’ sugar and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and beat until completely combined. Add butter, both extracts and lemon zest. Beat until completely combined.

Cake: In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in melted butter, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon zest until combined. Do not overmix.

Pour batter evenly into springform pan. Carefully pour filling mixture evenly over the cake batter until it’s about 1/2 inch from the edge of the pan. (The filling should cover all but the outer 1/2 inch, at which point the cake batter will be visible.)

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake has puffed up and a toothpick inserted near the edge of the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove springform sides and allow to cool on rack for 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator and chill completely before serving.

Serve chilled, with a little sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.

Clarisa: Guacamole and Homemade Tortilla Chips

guacamole

People say I make good guacamole, so it’s become my go-to when it comes to whipping up something quick and easy to serve at parties. The secret to good guac is not to overcomplicate it. Growing up, my mom would make this classic Tex-Mex dip by mixing pico de gallo with mashed up avocados. It was pretty good, especially because she always made fresh tortilla chips, but I think I’ve refined it by focusing on just a few key ingredients. Simple is better, right?

I apply a simple ratio that will help you make this appetizer for any number of people. Simply use 1 Hass avocado per 2 people. So, if you plan on having 6 people over, use 3 avocados. For every avocado, you should have 1/4  small scallion (chopped), 2 tablespoons of cilantro (shredded) and 1 lime (juiced). Cut and peel the avocados and mash them with a fork or masher. I usually keep the consistency a little chunky. Blend in the scallions, cilantro and lime juice and then add Kosher salt to taste.

Homemade tortilla chips are the perfect partner for guacamole and are quite easy to make. Simply stack a few corn tortillas on a cutting board and cut them into wedges with a sharp knife, much like how you’d cut a pizza. You’ll get 4-8 chips per tortilla, depending on your preferred size chip. Fry them in a deep fryer or in a pan with vegetable oil set on medium. As soon as the chips start to shrink and turn color, remove them with a slotted spoon and set them on a plate covered with a few paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Wait until they cool and crisp before dippin’!


CRAVE Event Sparks Creativity

It’s been a little over a week since Spruce hosted its first CRAVEfuel event, and I’m still buzzing with positive energy. I sat down with four other speakers and 40+ attendees to discuss the ins and outs of creativity and how it affects our businesses and daily lives. Austin’s CRAVE hostess Andrea Genevieve asked, “What does creativity mean to you?” Such a broad question received so many specific and completely unique responses from the panelists. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the evening.

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Left to Right: Jessica Sanders, Maura Ambrose, Natalie Davis, Chelsea Fullerton, Amanda Brown. Photo of Mel Cole of Cole Collective

“Don’t be afraid to make ugly things.” -Chelsea Fullerton of Go Forth Creative

“You have to be a hustler. We’re all hustlers up here.” -Natalie Davis of Canoe in response to what it takes to run a successful business

“My favorite quilt is the next one I make.” - Maura Ambrose of Folk Fibers

“Creativity is about making people feel something.” - Jessica Sanders of drink.well.

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Photo by Mel Cole of Cole Collective.

Conversation ensued to reveal a crowd full of sharp, witty, and beautiful entrepreneurial ladies. Jewelry and graphic designers, photographers, makers and shakers of Austin were all in attendance. I found myself completely engrossed by every person’s perspective. So many times I’ve attended “Kumbaya” meetings only to find my mind aimlessly wandering as speakers went off on their unrelated or dead-end tangents. I can honestly say, I was completely engaged for the entire CRAVE event. Thank you all for bringing your positive energy, open minds, and friendly personalities!

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Strange Fruit Public Relations gals Stef Shapira and Mary Mickel. Photo by Mel Cole of Cole Collective.

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L to R: Katherine Baronet, Meredith Carmichael, Amanda Brown. Photo by Mel Cole of Cole Collective.

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Photo by Mel Cole of Cole Collective.

Check out the CRAVE website to attend more events or contact Andrea Genevieve for more information. Special thanks to the amazing Sprucettes for organizing, cleaning, hostessing, and promoting the event, Andrea Genevieve, Mel Cole of Cole Collective for the photographs, and the charming panel of speakers (Chelsea Fullerton of Go Forth Creative, Natalie Davis of Canoe, Maura Ambrose of Folk Fibers, and Jessica Sanders of drink.well).