Finding Design Inspiration in Miami


Earlier this summer Mia and I popped over to Miami for a few days for some fresh design inspiration. I’ve always admired the way Miami’s social scene pairs big city sophistication with a casual beachy vibe and I wanted to return to see how this interplay could translate to home design. Our favorite take-aways include juxtaposing sleek minimalism with vibrant colors, using tapestries in novel ways and mixing prints in mosaic tiles to create an eclectic look. Read on for how we put our modern ranch spin on these ideas in our new collections and for some of my favorite diversions from our hunt (if you find yourself with a spare day or two in this fabulous city).

Miami’s Design District

Miami’s Design District has really hit its stride recently, collecting the roster of luxury retail brands one would expect in a premier shopping destination but retaining the artsy authenticity of the former warehouse district.   We arrived early for a gallery party so we would have time to shop. I had my eye out for some new killer heels (seriously, Austin, can’t we get at least one decent shoe resource?). Maybe since my husband and I are currently building a new house I kept getting drawn instead to the home designer showrooms. With the likes of Christian Liaigre, Bulthaup, Armani Casa, Waterworks and more concentrated among a few walkeable blocks the District can justly make for an efficient fly-in trip to flesh out a build or remodel project. I had just finished pulling tear sheets for some fresh glass tile patterns for Coco’s bathroom at Ann Sacks when I noticed an ombre pattern of turquoise to white mosaic tiles that stopped me in my tracks – perfect for the wetbar backsplash.. We moved onto the Boffi kitchen and bath showroom, noting the retractable cabinet doors that would work for our kitchen appliance garage and the kind of bathtub that could convince even a busy mom to carve out time for a soak. 


Wynwood Arts District

Just a few blocks southwest of the Miami Design District is the Wynwood Arts District, whose bright graffiti installations are also visible from I-195 en route from the mainland to Miami Beach. The myriad galleries and trendy stores occupying the former warehouse spaces play host to a serious art scene but the street art on the Wynwood Walls and gardens are just as compelling (and free to wander).   The only caveat is taxis are a little hard to find in the area so planning transportation in advance is a good idea.

Wynwood walls


Maison & Objet Americas

2015 marked the first year in which the legendary Maison + Objet show took its show on the road and Miami Beach hosted the Americas segment.   The line-up of participating brands was a tiny fraction of those represented at the Paris show and many had yet to establish any distribution synergies for the North American market. The coolest line we had to order on the spot for HACIENDA was Into Concrete. Their scultupral corvi concrete wine cooler is on my short list of gift suggestions for corporate clients and couples.  In addition, we’re keeping our eye on a clean-lined wood furnishings company out of Belgium called Ethnicraft.

Maison Y Objets

At HACIENDA we don’t order a ton from trade shows because we develop so much product ourselves or with local partners but we do use venues such as these to draw inspiration. As I marveled at some of the lighting installations from Serip that resembled vines dangling with crystals, Mia and I could not help but wonder about the DIY possibilities of mixing materials and natural shapes to come up with some new artistic lighting pieces. Thus was born the idea to work with a local artisan to design a new capsule collection of signature, original lighting pieces for HACIENDA (this is currently in the R&D phase so stay tuned). I also browse every single fragrance and body care line for ideas for our own line. When I set out to start HACIENDA, I thought I would just find a line I liked and stock it. We only launched our own line of body care out of our insistence on believing in the absolute quality of every single ingredient and packaging component, and I am always trying to learn more about where we can take the line.


Design Notes and Our Collection

Miami Beach is developing so rapidly it has eclipsed mid century modern into a post modern wave that is severe but still liveable through the use of natural elements and color. How to warm up floor to ceiling windows and cool, concrete floors without detracting from a view? Vibrant cement tiles and interesting tapestries make an impression without over-shaddowing a clean-line look. I loved the use of mismatched cement tiles in the garden at the Delano and poolside at Hyde Beach Club. Mia and I could not get over the simple genius of Phillippe Starck’s use of tapestries at the SLS Miami Beach – both in lieu of headboards as bedroom décor and as retractable sun shades on the veranda at the hotel restaurant. Lower commitment than the usual accent wall of paint or wallpaper with even more punch from the texture. Serious food for thought (hint – Bunglo’s watercolor print curtains can work for so much more than the shower – did we mention they just launched via an exclusive trunk show at HACIENDA Austin?). Shay Spaniola, Bunglo’s founder and creative director, was the first to like our Wynwood graffiti instagram post, and reached out to us about working on a line of mixed print pillows together. We love it when it all comes together with our favorite local collaborators.

Miami 6


We may not have the ocean views in Austin but we do embrace a love of casual entertaining and outdoor living in our collection. In a nod to Miami’s grown up but playful cocktail scene we are pleased to present a new line of shagreen cocktail shakers and other accessories by Augousti Stevenson that just arrived from Paris. Finally, the art deco skyline of South Beach inspired this season’s color pallete of our cabana towels: mint green, turquoise and bright yellow. We produced a limited run of these bamboo beauties that are large and soft enough to use as throws so get them before they’re gone. Finally, the flexible seating in the lobby of my favorite Miami hotel, Soho Beach House convinced me of our need for some swivel club chairs that are comfortable enough for lounging but not too large to be pulled up to a small table – perfect for downtown condo living. We’re working on some custom Kim Salmela pieces now and are at your service to help design something that will work for your space.

Miami 7



Mia and I stayed at the SLS Hotel Miami Beach because it was within walking distance of the M&O Americas show and it was still under construction the last time I had been to Miami so I was curious to see the final product. We liked the Philippe Starck room designs, particularly the tapestry headboards, but the rooms in the old tower were tiny. So if a prime lower Miami Beach location is not essential I still think there is no rival to Soho Beach House up a bit further north. When traveling with the kids I usually stay there, or in an apartment at the Fountainbleau next door and then just walk over for lunch at Cecconi’s. The Betsy, down in prime South Beach, is also a good spot right in the middle of the old art deco Ocean Drive buildings and across from the beach-front playground. Staying at the SLS or somewhere sceney like the Delano close by puts this area within range of a morning walk down the beach boardwalk / walkway. Either way, an immediate plunge into the Atlantic is always my first order of business to get in a Miami state of mind and happily Mia was totally on board to join me. My go-to Miami look consists of a fun Melissa Odabash dress or caftan that can pretty much work for a cover-up, day or even night look – packing made simple.

Miami 1

The Bazaar by Jose Andres at the SLS is a fun dining experience for friends of a group because of the whimsical range of sharable tapas dishes. We also enjoyed breakfast there on the outdoor patio (I had eggs with avocado and plantain chips). While there is always a buzzy new restaurant to try in Miami, if I had time for just one day I would go back to my classics, which are coincidentally both Italian – Casa Tua for dinner, and Cecconi’s at Soho Beach House for lunch because really, I have no problem eating burrata at every meal. A conveniently walkable loop for a single evening in South Beach for me would start with a mojito at the Delano, continue to dinner at Casa Tua, and end up with a little music and dancing at Hyde Beach Club.


On this trip I replaced the family trek to Jungle Island, a favorite of my kids, with an afternoon strolling through downtown Miami’s emerging art scenes: Wynwood Arts District, and the Miami Design District. I would rather peruse the new boutiques popping up in Wynwood than Lincoln Road any day, with the one very important exception of Alchemist, which is possibly the coolest concept store in Miami. The Herzog & de Meuron designed showroom perched on the fifth floor of the parking garage above the Lincoln Road mall is as striking as the collection of conceptual designer wares displayed like pieces of art. I picked up an Isabel Mirant skirt and laser cut leather Alaïa sandals. For a blend of classic and trendy fashion for women and men, The Webster is still the best bet in South Beach. I found myself more taken with the actual deco building than the bright accessories inside that were a little too much for me, but it is certainly worth a look.


Of course, there’s really very little reason one would need to stray from the spectacular white sand beaches that are so wide in Miami that they never feel crowded. The light blue ocean is so clear and warm that it beckons you in, whether just for a dip or for a sail. A Cuban coffee and a stroll or bike ride along the beach promenade can really make one start doing the calculations of a second home on the beach, a totally unoriginal thought, as evidenced by all the building and remodeling happening all over, even downtown. Luckily, it’s not too much of a trek to pop in for a quick weekend fix.

Miami 5

West Texas Road Trip

Highlights: Marfa, Star party at McDonald Observatory, the Gage Hotel in Marathon, Big Bend, and wild horses on the Texas – Utah border

Telluride, Colorado is just as spectacular in the summer as it is in the winter. Even if you are not escaping the Texas heat the red rock cliffs, year-round snow-capped peaks and mesas covered in wildflowers and grazing elk set the perfect backdrop for an artsy and active summer adventure. Rather than fly in and out like we used to do from New York this year we opted for a road trip from Austin. My goals were to see as much of the spectacular Southwest along the way (picking up inspiration for HACIENDA, of course) and to give my kids, Jack and Coco, some type of appreciation of what lies between our two homes, including the vast and spectacular open spaces we so crave in our everyday city lives.

A straight shot from HACIENDA Austin in downtown Austin, TX to Telluride is 1,000 miles, taking one through either Lubbock or Amarillo in Texas to Albuquerque in NM, up to Durango in Colorado and on into Telluride’s Mountain Village. That drive might sound insane to an East Coaster but given the scale of the West it’s actually pretty reasonable considering driving assists in the acclimation process to the alpine environment if spread out over a couple of days. Mountain Village lies at ~9,000 feet elevation and that can hit you – adults worse than children – but a stopover in the ~7,000 mountains of New Mexico is a nice buffer.

I, of course, rarely take the easy rIMG_4272oute (ever) and so I mapped out a bit more intricate path, spread over a few more days and covering even more territory: heading from Austin to Marfa, then down to Big Bend National Park, then to Santa Fe, NM, out to the Navajo reservation in the Four Corners area and finally onto Telluride, CO. Really any one of these segments would make for an awesome summer trip and only an extremist like me would probably do them all…with five year old twins in tow…so I will separate the travelogue into more manageable bite size pieces that could each individually work over a long weekend.

My one flash of brilliance that made this trip a fun family adventure instead of one of those tortuous, “never again” road trips was to splurge on a one-way car rental of a large SUV with a third row of seats. This allowed the kids to spread out when they wanted and also allowed us all to enjoy the journey all the more because we knew we were going to fly home at the end. It can be expensive or even impossible to find a one-way rental that covers a huge span of territory but combining two rentals (Austin – Santa Fe and Santa Fe – Telluride) solved the riddle.

West Texas Road Trip

For anyone looking to discover some spectacularly wide, open spaces, simply head West. Six hours due west of Austin leads to some of the most starkly beautiful land and star-filled skies left on this planet, still with true Texas hospitality and adventure to be found. As with all HACIENDA journeys my goal is to seek fresh inspiration for the modern ranch lifestyle, embracing nature, simplicity and luxury. This trip offered the bonus of a healthy dose of family bonding like only a road trip can!


Operating in the desigIMG_0004n world in Austin, I had heard quite a bit about Marfa and so that was my initial focal point for our West Texas road trip. We drove ~450 miles from Austin straight to Marfa (through Fredericksburg and Fort Stockton), arriving in the late afternoon. Fresh into our adventure we stared in awe as the hill country faded into vast, desert plains. It is not hard to see the hipster appeal of modern art set against the stark landscape and I did indulge in some wanderlust about HACIENDA Marfa…what could be more modern ranch than Donald Judd’s minimalist concrete cubes set against the stark open plains?

Add in buzz-worthy restaurants (some of which are food trucks) and it did feel to me like a mix of Austin and Brooklyn transplanted to the West TX desert. My friend, Danielle, owner of, recommended Cochineal for dinner (sophisticated cuisine in an intimately casual setting, started by NY transplants). Some of the other options called out in the NY Times blog “Wanderlust: Marfa” had an air of “too cool for school” for my taste and would not have been remarkable other than their mere existence in such a remote place. An exception was a charming bakery and café called Buns ‘N Roses, where the owner, Debbie, graciously joined us at our table to chat about our visit. As it turns out Debbie is also a member of the faculty at UT Austin, albeit stationed at the McDonald Observatory by Fort Davis. We chatted about the “star party” and decided to give it a try. When Debbie heard we were headed out to Big Bend she admonished us to be prepared with supplies and insisted on sending us off with a care package of brownies because “you never know what will be available down there.” It did make me wonder what we were heading into when a woman from Marfa seemed worried about us going that far off the grid…but that actually convinced me to cut short our time in Marfa to dedicate more time to Big Bend. After all, the kids were not really digging Marfa and we all wanted some good West Texas adventure.

The next time I go to Marfa it will have to be a girl’s trip or a solo design inspiration trip (and on a weekend as the town closes down Mon-Wed, at least in the summer). In the meantime, the best visual design blog I have read about Marfa is by my designer friend, Kim Lewis.

McDonald Observatory Star Party

Since I tend to straddle the line between ambitious and delusional I decided to tackle #11 on the Texas Monthly Bucket List by kicking off our adventure with a Star Party at McDonald Observatory after a long drive and full day in Marfa. The challenge of doing this with young children is in the summer the sun sets very late in the Western corner of the central time zone and so the program does not even get started until 9:45PM because it takes about 40 minutes after the sun has set for human eyes to adjust to the total darkness of the remote location so that the full multitude of stars become visible. Yes, the song is true about those stars deep in the heart of Texas (and the higher altitude also made it chilly at night, even in June but we stayed cozy wrapped in HACIENDA throws /cabana towels). We did not get much further into the prepared remarks than locating the Big Dipper when Jack started getting restless sitting still. I would have loved to listen to more but recognizing it was late we ducked out of the program to view the telescopes before losing the kids. Wow, am I glad we did that! Not only did we all get to see Saturn and Jupiter, but we did so without waiting in lines that quickly piled up at the end of the remarks (while we were already on our way to the car). Had we waited there is no way the kids could have lasted until their turns came up for a peek and we would not have been treated to the mini astrology lessons we received at each telescope by virtue of being the only ones viewing at the time. Truly, it was an awesome experience and really ginned us up for our West Texas adventure.



There are other campsite options in and around the Fort Davis area but I was looking for something with a little more style so we opted for the Gage Hotel in Marathon, where we booked a double bedroom in the Captain Shepard House for the night. The drive to Marathon from Fort Davis felt long in the dark of night and we did not even think to mind what looked like a shared bathroom at the end of the upstairs hallway as we carried the sleeping kids from the car and promptly zonked out ourselves. In the morning I learned I was the only one of the four of us to hear the train pass through town (the train tracks run right next to main street, Marathon) what seemed like hourly through the night. All the driving had caught up to Ken so the kids and I crept out of our room to explore the Captain’s House while he slept.   We discovered we were the only ones in the house so we were free to take in the wild taxidermy and charming porches looking out to the charming town at our leisure (and co-opt the shower in the hall bathroom without concern for privacy).


I found the simplicity of Marathon to be quite charming with just the right amount of sophistication and no hint of pretension.   The town is the closest gateway to Big Bend National Park (~40 miles South on I-385), making it a perfectly viable home base for those who want to make day trips into the park and come home to a fine meal at the 12 Gage restaurant.   We arrived too late at night to try it but the menu in the lobby looked fantastic. I love that the only grocery store in town, at least that I saw, was a French grocery store stocked with my kind of picnic supplies: wine, cheese, pastries, fruit, and ice cream. As we were settling our bill the ladies at the front desk kept marveling at Coco’s Melissa Odabash tunic with pom pom trim she was wearing as a dress with her leopard print cowgirl boots. The girl can carry a look even with her “I’m not ready to be awake yet face” and yes, we carry Melissa Odabash for women and girls at HACIENDA.


Unfortunately the Gage does not offer breakfast but the very friendly hotel staff pointed us to a little diner just up the road for some perfectly spicy migas and breakfast tacos. We sat at a sidewalk table and what was so cool to see was the small stretch of main street was bustling with locals and tourists alike stopping for their morning coffee. Obviously the proximity to Big Bend helps sustain the area but it was nice to see the balance between historic character (anchored by the Gage) without a trace of that sad “seen better days” look of some rural Western towns. This stretch of “Main Street” was actually a commercial stretch of Highway 90, and across the road was nothing but the railroad tracks and the frontier. It was strikingly beautiful and beckoned exploration so after breakfast we piled into the car and set out for Big Bend.


Big Bend

IMG_0032The timely feature in Texas Monthly on Big Bend helped convince our friends, Jill and Michael Ford, not to let us “out Texan” them by checking this treasure off our bucket list and so they agreed to brave the drive in their truck with their nine year old twin boys, Grant and Garrett, to explore the park with us. This trip was basically going to serve as all of our initiation to the true Texas frontier so Jill and I decided to make Latijas Golf and Spa Resort our home base for our Big Bend adventure because Jill and I will probably always choose glamping over real camping. For less than $400 per night we could launch as many day hikes or rafting trips as we wanted and still come back to an improbably modern apartment in a property full of amenities set on spectacularly beautiful grounds (an obvious product of bubble era financing). Had we more time or come in the peak season (not during Daylight Savings Time) we would have loved to partake in a cowboy shooting range or a family evening wagon picnic up to a nearby mesa near the launch of the Commanche Pass for cook-out under the stars. Lajitas Resort also boasts a large equestrian center and a beautiful golf course. While we were there Roger Clemens and his entourage, which included Josh Beckett, seemed to be making the golf-pool-bar-restaurant circuit and Michael and Ken made fools of themselves gawking and fawning. Michael and Garrett brought their mountain bikes along and there was plenty of terrain available for hiking and biking right frojJDTp5mM2-9kyMHXUFzB8JpNyyA4CCfTcis3FdctepUm Lajitas without even entering Big Bend.

If you are camping or even doing serious day trips in Big Bend it is best to bring food and supplies with you (or you can stock up in Marathon or Marfa and our room at Lajitas had a full sized refrigerator in the kitchen to store items) because there is not much beyond gas station convenience stores down by Lajitas or in Big Bend. We loaded up our YETI cooler with fresh fruit, plenty of ice, our Marfa brownies, a few bottles of rosé and a corkscrew and felt prepared. The Ford family was driving in straight from Austin but we had a head start, spending the previous night at The Gage Hotel in Marathon so we got in a pretty full day in the park before meeting up with them for dinner.

Our first stop was the Panther Junction Visitor Center, which is a 67-mile straight shot south of Marathon on I-385. We paid our park entrance fee ($20 per vehicle, good for a week) and picked up Junior Ranger field guide books for the kids. Like me, my kids love a project and relished the scavenger hunt activities in the guides and prospect of an end of trip “quiz” from the park ranger to receive junior ranger patches at the end of our trip. The 3-D model of the park in the visitor center offered a helpful overview of our options: hiking or climbing in the Chisos mountains, full day river rafting, scenic driving tours or hiking through canyons to the Rio Grande river bed. The canyon hikes seemed the best option for our group so I made a mental note to confer with Jill after dinnIMG_4319er. Usually I am a meticulous planner but I forced myself to be flexible for this road trip to make some decisions on the fly.

Through pure luck with our timing before even leaving the visitor center the kids got an up close view of some huge dinosaur fossils that were uncovered near-by and were waiting out behind the lodge to be set up into an exhibit. Looking at the stark landscape it honestly would not have surprised me to see some Jurassic period creature cut a path across the hills.


We hopped back in the car and drove to the Chisos Visitor Center, which is the launching point for the Window Hike. The easy loop is a short, flat loop with a huge view at the mid-point through the Chisos Basin (the gap in the hills forms the window and a very long view). This is a perfect walk for young kids and those with limited mobility right in the heart of Big Bend. It is also possible to hike another few miles down into the basin from this point. Our kids got excited seeing the “watch out for bears and mountain lion signs” even though of course, the chances of seeing any were quite rare (at least in the daytime in the summer).


We hiked around a bit more in the Chisos Basin and found a picnic spot where we enjoy a late lunch overlooking the striped cliffs bearing silent witness to millions of years of volcanic activity and erosion. Careful not to overdo it with the kids on day one like I am prone to do, we called it an early day and set out in the car for Lajitas. Along the forty mile drive west to Lajitas we counted road runners and checked off all of the uniquely desert-adapted Big Bend fauna called out in the junior field guides. My personal favorite were the ocotillo and I made a mental note to see if we could find some of those to create a living fence around our Angelwylde property back in Austin.

We met up with the Fords at Lajitas and enjoyed a nice dinner (I had a filet of beef with avocado and an eye-wateringly spicy green chili sauce – awesome) while the kids ran around the grassy garden by the restaurant. After dinner the guys headed to the sports bar to watch a game and Jill, Coco and I retreated to our room to map out our plan for the next day. Coco made notes in her summer travel journal about seeing Saturn and hiking in Big Bend and by the time she finished illustrating her entries Jill and I settled on the Santa Elena canyon for the group adventure and called it a night.


After breakfast we loaded up the cooler and headed out to the Santa Elena Canyon. From Lajitas we elected to take the unpaved Old Maverick Road for a change of pace and along the way spotted jackrabbits and several road runners. We parked our trucks in the lot near the canyon overlook tailhead, grabbed our HACIENDA essential towels and water bottles and headed out on the short, sandy hike to the river.   The Rio Grande river level was low during our visit, casting the canyon walls in an even more imposing light. Even before mid-day the sun was heating up quickly so we all quickly ditched our shoes to wade into the water. The water in Terlingua Creek was clear and shallow enough to display a colorful array of river rocks – enough to keep a budding geologist like Coco consumed for the day. The boys waded in a bit further to the opening of the Rio Grande, where they opted for a nice, warm mud bath instead of continuing the hiking trail through the canyon to the main part of the Rio Grande.



I started the hike in my bare feet, did not get very far that way, and decided to turn back to play in the water with the kids. After we all had enough we walked back to the parking lot (it is a short enough walk to piggy back a tired kiddo on the way back, as I did).

We opted for a paved road out of the Santa Elena canyon – the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which includes several striking vistas and passes some old homestead properties. We stopped for a picnic at the Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff, a striking red-rock box canyon. The twins were not up for the relatively easy 0.5 mile hike into the canyon here in the mid-day heat so we had to settle for a view close to the turn-off point and a tailgate-style picnic.

After lunch we detoured slightly to return to the Panther Junction Visitor Center. In the car Jack and Coco finished off their remaining assignments and were calling out ocotillos and flowering yuccas (both new species to us but prevalent in Big Bend) and desperately hoping for a javelina sighting. The Ranger at the station patiently reviewed their work and inquired about their explorations in the park before approving awarding the twins official Big Bend junior ranger badges.


The next morning at Lajitas we reunited with the Fords for one more hike. A portion of the historic Comanche Trail intersects right near Lajitas so our goal was to make it at least to some trail marking in a morning hike. We must have gone off course because we never did find it, but I very much appreciated Jill’s advice to savor the moment anyway of all of us together, outside and unplugged without a plan.

On our final day in the Big Bend area we parted ways with the Fords, who were planning to make it to the Boquillas Canyon area more or less on their way back to Austin. But since we were continuing on our road trip to Santa Fe we opted instead to keep moving west, exploring Big Bend Ranch State Park, which stretches for 50 miles along FM170 between Lajitas and Presidio.   Most of the road winds along the Rio Grande River, with views of Mexico on one side and the vast Texas desert on the other. We stopped to stretch our legs at the Closed Canyon trail, which was completely deserted, like the rest of this stretch. I started to think this might be the better-kept secret way to explore the Rio Grande valley without the crowds of Big Bend National Park (which were light in early June anyway). Perhaps next time, we trailer the horses to Lajitas (or arrange trail rides from the Lajitas Equestrian Center) and then head West…

After passing through Marfa again and the infamous “Prada Marfa” installation in Valentine, TX, I looked out the window and snapped a picture of the desolate rail tracks to send my father in North Carolina, captioning it “I have 400 more miles of this today” (en route to Santa Fe).IMG_4338

“Fabulous. Enjoy it, “ he responded. Sometimes it takes a jaded East Coaster to appreciate the open space. I know I fell a little more in love with Texas on this journey. But one more sight really put me over the edge – the sight of wild horses near the Utah border! Ken did not understand why I was yelling at him to stop the car. “What, horses?” he said, somewhat wearily (aware we had many more hours of driving to go that day). He knows I not only have my own horses at home (or near my home, in Spicewood, hence the inspiration for one of HACIENDA’s signature fragrances), but also I grew up around the wild Spanish Mustangs in Corolla on the North Carolina Outer Banks. However, I have never encountered them in Texas before! I don’t care how many times one can see animals on ranches or zoos – there is no comparison to seeing them in their natural habitats in the wild. There was no ranch in sight and the herd appeared to be a family unit, complete with yearlings and a couple of young foals lying in the grass. When I stepped out of the car to admire them (still from several hundred yards away) the adult horses formed a protective circle around the young ones. It was a magical moment to witness and perfectly capped off my first Texas road trip.








Makers Event


HACIENDA Celebrates Austin Makers 

Thursday, May 21th 6pm – 8pm

We invite you to join us for an evening celebrating the Austin artisans who partner with us to create our unique collection.  RSVP to .

Paris Journal

UntitledPart design blog and part travel log: my journal of sharing a sublime sourcing trip to Paris with my daughter, Coco.   

Highlights include perusing the antique markets, attending the iconic design show Maison + Objet, and creating precious family moments in the spectacularly beautiful city.

Moving from New York to Austin a year and a half ago to launch HACIENDA has been wonderful for our family, but we do miss city life from time to time.   Roughly six months after our launch the store was on solid footing, permitting me to resume my travels in search of fresh design inspiration. The January Maison + Objet home décor show was the main purpose of my trip, as I hoped to discover some new European brands that I could bring exclusively to Austin for HACIENDA.

What made this trip one of the most special of my life was I was able to share it with my five year old daughter, Coco. One of the benefits of my thirteen year career in finance was it afforded me the opportunity to travel the world, some alone (riding an elephant in Thailand on a quick jaunt after a business trip to Hong Kong felt a little lonely) and some with my accommodating husband, Ken (no plumbing in Rwanda, or captive on an arctic train in Hudson Bay? Sure – let’s try it…). Ken and I continued traveling with our twins after they were born, but it was hard and we just kept telling ourselves that somehow these efforts were making little impressions on them along the way to make them more interesting and socially aware people, and meanwhile we all returned home exhausted from what inevitably turned into kid-centric trips. For this trip to Paris I decided to bring just Coco in an effort to do real design scouting and not make it all about the twins, and also to spend some real time with just Coco as I had never done since the twins were born. Jack was equally thrilled to embark on his own fishing trip in Florida with Ken and Jack’s beloved grandparents (and promises of a mommy-Jack trip the next time around). He gloated about packing swimming trunks and sunglasses while Coco, a warm weather girl if ever there was one, quietly insisted she did not mind the cold and readied for her Cinderella moment in France.


Untitled1Day 1: Arrival

We flew through New York and connected with Jackie, Coco’s former nanny, in JFK. She had graciously agreed to travel with us to let me attend the Maison show, share some girl time with us in Paris and to squeeze in a little delayed honeymoon with her new husband, Jordan, who was set to meet her in Paris in a few days. Coco and I would then be on our own for the last few days of our trip. Fortunately the kids are comfortable on planes and we enjoyed an easy overnight flight.

We took the metro to our apartment in the seventh arrondissement, rented through One Fine Stay. I chose the 7th because I was most familiar with that neighborhood, having stayed there with friends on a prior visit and felt like the residential area’s wide boulevards, beautiful shops and markets and relatively central location in the footsteps of the Eiffel Tower would be the ideal home base.

We roused ourselves after a quick rest to venture out. It was too cold that evening to wander leisurely through the neighborhood so we headed straight to Café du Marché for our first meal, which is sort of a tradition of mine when in Paris anyway since my husband and I dined there on our first trip to the city together. I ordered confit du canard and ‘la meme chose’ for Coco. It was a perfectly casual but quintessentially French first meal and seemed to put her at ease that I was telling her the truth when I promised her she would love French food. After all, the girl would live on bread, crepes, fish and poultry if she could.


Untitled3We shopped the lovely produce vendors along Rue Cler to stock up one some provisions – a huge advantage of staying in an actual apartment rather than a hotel. I loved returning to the quaint urban concept of specialty artisanal shops (bakery, butcher, cheese shop, fruit vendor, wine, etc. – all lined up in a stretch of two blocks on Rue Cler) and managed to make all my purchases speaking only in French, prompting Coco to ask me to teach her some. We watched a sweet animated film set in France called Ernest and Celestine back at home and tried to get some sleep and adjust to the time zone.


Day 2: Antique Shopping at Marché aux Puces

I love layering in some antiques to a generally modern design pallet and for me, the largest flea market in Europe is a must-see. True, I remember being heart-broken when an 18th century marble table I bought at the market years ago arrived shattered in my NY apartment, but now with several trans-Atlantic HACIENDA shipments under my belt I was determined to give it another try. I also recall the trek from the Paris city center to Clignancourt being a little sketchy so I was very happy to discover the advice in the blog: A Girl’s Guide to Paris to access the market from the quieter back end at the Girabaldi metro stop, a much more pleasant option with Coco en tow.

My first find was for my home, not the store (it seems to happen that way…), an over the mantle mirror circa 1860 from a stunning shop located directly to the right of the Serpette market entrance. Lila, the shop’s proprietor, specializes in beautiful mantles, mirrors and chandeliers. The price was high so we kept looking but now I had mirrors on the brain. Wonderful, another huge, expensive item to ship via ocean freight with an enormous potential to break! Next we discovered a salvage studio turning old French doors into mirrored panels. A bit of negotiation later and two sets of door pairs were marked with stickers, soon to be en route to HACIENDA Austin. I started spotting mantelpiece mirrors all over, and at €700 compared to €2,500, but Jackie agreed not as beautiful as Lila’s…”Why all this looking at mirrors?” Coco starts to protest – fair enough. We divert to look at vintage fashion: sparkly flapper style dresses, lace hats and vintage wedding veils. Coco selects a pair of vintage rhinestone hairpins and pays with the Euros she had brought in her own little purse (discovered in a drawer in my closet at home, left over from last year’s trip to Spain).

Untitled7Time for lunch. Lila directed us to Ma Cocotte, a modern brasserie designed by Phillippe Starck surprisingly plopped right next to the Paul Bert section of the flea market. The roasted chicken au jus with a mason jar of pureed potato served as the perfect refresher.

After lunch Coco found the perfect jewelry box to hold her hair clips, fashioned from an angel wing shell rimmed in brass with a little clasp. She even managed a little bargain on that purchase and concluded with a polite “merci madame.”

Refueled and energized by her finds, Coco is now bubbling – “Let’s go shop mama! Jackie, you need those elephants, come on, let’s go!” We peruse vintage Goyard steamer trunks and copper pots and I find myself wondering if our new laundry room should have a vintage standing sink…but try to stay on task for HACIENDA.


Untitled8Ultimately I feel called back to Lila’s shop for that mirror and we come to an agreement – dealer to dealer – with mutual hopes of future HACIENDA orders from Lila and her exquisite finds. If it were just me I could shop that market all day but one thing I have learned traveling with twins, even it is was just one this time, is to quit while ahead. So I carried Coco back to the metro station and we rode back to the Left Bank, intending to freshen up a bit and then head out for dinner. But shortly before 7PM Coco turns to me and says “OK mama, let’s get me in my pj’s and off to bed.” Jackie and I look at each other and tell her we were thinking of dinner first and she tries to be a good sport – “OK then, dinner, then bed…” Not wanting to push our luck we decide to stay in and dive into our provisions of wine, cheese, bread and chocolate mousse. After all, what more could we want?



Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 9.34.26 AM

Day 3: Fancy Hotel Breakfast and Eiffel TowerUntitled9

I find multi-course tasting menus to be too much for kids, especially considering all the lovely neighborhood brasserie options for lunch and dinner, but to show them the “fancy” side of Paris breakfast is a perfect opportunity to go opulent. We splurged on a decadent breakfast at Le Cinq in the Four Seasons George V hotel. Ken and I have stayed at that hotel before and I knew Coco would love the regal setting. Coco’s hot chocolate, with its own tray of accouterments, was itself a work of art.

I , of course, had to try the ouefs bénédictine – perfection. We could not finish all the crepes, pastries and fruit we ordered but risked being tacky and asked to pack it all up to take back to the flat for later. We both loved the tea service and resolved to start building a tea set of our own with one cup and saucer from each trip. Maybe the giant red bears in the George V lobby were left over from Christmas but I had to take a picture because Jack would have loved to see them.

Untitled11Coco and I were both struggling with colds and so I missed one of my “must do” agenda items – shopping at Montainge Market on Avenue Montaigne near the George V. Mid-late January is the Soldes (sales) time in Paris and an excellent time to shop, not to mention that this year the dollar was gaining on the Euro by the day. Previously during January soldes I found a cashmere YSL blazer and knee-high Alaïa boots at Montaigne Market so that shows just how ill we felt to skip it as we walked across the bridge over the Seine back to the 7th, passing right by the princess Diana memorial torch. Jackie carried her HACIENDA backpack!

Jackie met up with Jordan, her jet-lagged husband, at our apartment and they left to find their own pad in the neighboring Saint-Germain area and to rest. Feeling superior for already being on Paris time, Coco was ready to get going again so we decided to climb the Eiffel Tower.








Untitled13The New Yorker in me did not want to wait in line to buy elevator tickets so Coco hopped on my back and I started piggy backing her up the stairs. Coco heard me coughing and wanted to hop off. She ended up walking the last ten or so flights herself and was proud that she did some of the actual climbing. We took a selfie at the top and celebrated our summit by purchasing a purple blingy eiffel tower from a nearby souvenier shop and having a quiet dinner at a local cafe. We stopped at a pharmacie for some cold medicine for both of us and called it a night, snuggling together in bed. I couldn’t help but remember our last year in New York, after Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to our neighborhood and little three year old Coco wanted to help by walking some of the 25 stories to our Tribeca apartment. The girl is a trooper.

After she nodded off I jotted down some notes from the excellent New York Times Travel Guide for Kids for the next day, when Jackie and Jordan would take Coco while I attended Maison + Objet.


Day 4: Maison + Objet / Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle

I only allocated one day to attend this massive show so I mapped out a game plan ahead of time to be efficient, targeting primarily bedding, jewelry and lighting (three categories we are looking to expand at HACIENDA). I found some good candidates, mostly from vendors that lacked U.S. distribution. As I have learned that can make purchases erratic and expensive but some products are worth the effort to give HACIENDA a unique collection.

There were almost too many beautiful linen lines to consider, but I liked the simplicity of a line out of Barcelona called mikmax. All of the hand-made jewelry looked so delicate and refined – a nice compliment to our existing bold pieces. I’m always a sucker for minimalist Danish pottery, so Hübsch was an intriguing new find. I also spent some time with a rug purveyor who claimed to supply “all of the grand bazaar in Istanbul.” That claim seemed a little dubious but we did talk about experimenting with some vintage and custom pieces. Some of the point of attending Maison is not just about ordering right away but about seeing new trends in designs and fantasy vignettes. I stopped to marvel at the Missoni and Christian Lacroix colorful displays – not really right for HACIENDA but simply gorgeous. Two conceptual lines that actually could work for HACIENDA (or, again, for my new home…) included Sophie Mallebranche woven metal tapestries, custom made in Paris, and SERIP, an innovative line of custom lighting out of Portugal. I also kept my eyes open for novel display concepts that would work well at HACIENDA. Lots of follow up is in order.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 10.41.48 AMWhile I was away Jackie and Jordan took Coco to the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle and the nearby Menagerie, a nineteenth century zoo inside the Jardin des Plantes. The zoo had some unique animals, including snow leopard twins and a clouded leopard, but the museum was by far the bigger draw for everyone.

Jackie bravely used to take the twins on the subway to NY’s Museum of Natural History from the time they were barely walking. That was always a special place for our family and when Jackie reported that the Parisian version of the natural history museum was even better I was sad to have missed it. Highlights included a hall of evolution, where the animals were lined up in the center of the hall rather than staged in individual scenes behind glass like the NY version and a multi-story simulated indoor rainstorm, which was the first thing Coco could not wait to tell Jack about when we returned.

We capped off the day all together by having dinner at a classic Saint Germain café – Les Deux Magots, a place once frequented by Picasso and Hemingway. While it might be a bit of a predictable tourist spot we had another lovely and classic French meal. We parted after 9PM to let the newlyweds have some alone time but Coco was not ready for bed. When she is “on” my little peanut is not one to leave a party early and I had to corral her, skipping and singing, into a taxi, whereupon she promptly fell asleep.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 9.34.52 AM


Day 5: Sightseeing and Shopping in the Right Bank

While I love and miss my Jack Brody, one of the lovely benefits of traveling with just Coco is (without him to wake her) she sleeps in past 9 o’clock, allowing me to tend to work, make some tea and shower. She is also perfectly happy with a croissant and some strawberries for breakfast. This morning I learned of a large HACIENDA order placed by HGTV for a design challenge home – exciting stuff! Since yesterday was basically an all work day I let Coco set the morning’s agenda and she picked The Carousel in the Tuileries Garden, a lovely park dating back to the sixteenth century situated between the Louvre Museum and the Place du Concorde. Maybe it was because it was a cold day in January or perhaps it was because at that very moment Chanel was hosting its couture show in the nearby Carrousel du Louvre (sigh…maybe next time…) but Coco was the only rider.

merrygoroundCoco loved the delicate French music and stayed faithful to the horse that most closely resembled her gray and white pony at home. Nearby she pleaded with me to buy a carousel-replica music box, which overall is her favorite memento of this trip and still puts her to bed every night.

Next we strolled along the Rue Saint-Honoré, stopping to shop at Goyard, Vanessa Bruno and Laudrée for chocolates. While in the 1st arrondissment we stopped in at the Paris tourist office to buy a museum pass so we could skip the line at the Louvre (or any other museum if we felt ambitious enough to visit more).

Children are free at most Paris museums but €42 for an adult two day pass felt like a worthwhile option for the lines and prospects of rainy days ahead. We then took a short taxi ride west to explore the winding, medieval streets of the Marais neighborhood (Paris’s 3rd arrondisment).

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 10.38.50 AMIn addition to some of the more trendy boutiques and art galleries in Paris the Marais also contains historically Jewish areas and we paused to pay our respects to victims of recent attacks.

Usually I like to wander around interesting neighborhoods without an agenda but before Coco started to fade I wanted to make sure to hit merci, a philanthropy-minded lifestyle concept store on Boulevard Beaumarchais opened in 2009 by the founders of the Bonpoint brand. Wow, am I glad we bothered with the taxi over there – I now have a major design crush on this emporium for everything from fashion to tabletop, bedding and even gourmet food.

Entering into the hollowed out atrium in the remodeled nineteenth century building elevated the presentation of various tschotchkes laid out on tables, kind of like an updated version of Colette.   The real draws for me were the street-savy fashions, eclectic homewares and simple pallette of linen bedding around the corner to the back and upstairs. We picked up some delicate jewelry pieces for Jackie and some friends from home.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 9.35.03 AM

After merci we found ourselves in between normal meal times so we stopped in at a creperie for two classic nutella versions, which we enjoyed in the nearby and exquisitely beautiful Place des Vosges. Two metro stops and a reasonable schlep with packages home put us both in the mood for a rest. I asked Coco if she felt like venturing out for dinner that night or if I should run out to bring something back? With very little hesitation she waved her hand dismissively, offering “Oh, mama, let’s just have chocolate mousse.” We’re in Paris, after all so nutrition be darned – I really love that girl.


monalisaDay 6: The Louvre, Notre Dame, a meeting with R&Y Augousti and a fabulous, intimate dinner

 The forecast called for rain so we ear-marked the day for some indoor classics. We met Jackie and Jordan at the Louvre in the morning and breezed in thanks to the museum pass. The underground medieval portion of the museum building and the Egyptian artifacts captured our interest. The obligatory Mona Lisa was less impressive to our untrained eyes. We made our way through the Italian paintings (Coco wondered why painters nearly exclusively seemed to paint Jesus) and paused behind the throng of tourists with selfie sticks working their way toward the masterpiece. After a communal shrug we did a bit of a cursory pass through the Greek wing, pausing to admire Aphrodite, and left Jackie and Jordan to stroll through at their leisure.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 10.24.29 AM

At Notre Dame we were on a mission to spot one of the thorns from Jesus Christ’s crucifixion crown, rumored to be in the Treasury. We think we may have seen it but are not sure. I had an even harder time trying delicately to reconcile the ornately luxe Catholic artifacts to my daughter’s Methodist reference of a more unadorned view of Christianity, but the razzle dazzle girl part of her marveled at the jeweled pieces nonetheless.

late afternoonWe walked over to the Saint Germain neighborhood for lunch at the touristy Café de Flore. Those not traveling with kids might want to try the small plates at L’Avant Comptoir but I tend to shy away from “tough tables to get” when I’m with my kids – there are too many wonderful neighborhood gems that I find simply perfect. Coco took a break from her “go-to” duck and tried soft-boiled eggs. She usually won’t eat eggs so this showed me just how much she was trying to keep an open mind and step into Parisian life. Well, my mentioning there would be bread for dipping probably helped. Success! Soft boiled eggs can now join our at home repertoire and we decided to keep our eyes open for some cute little egg holders to take home. I got seriously side-tracked while in a pharmacy getting some cough medicine for both of us and walked out with enough fabulous lotions and potions that I committed to break my cardinal rule of travel and actually check a bag on our return. For those so inclined, Gwenyth Paltrow’s Goop did a rundown on some of their picks awhile back.

 Near the Luxembourg Gardens we did follow suggestions to try the chocolat chaud at Angelina’s. This exceedingly rich confection is closer in consistency to a melted chocolate bar than an actual beverage. We brought it home with us and noticed it cooled to a semi-solid state.

Late that afternoon I imposed on Jackie one last time to watch Coco so I could meet with Yiouri Augousti, proprietor of the R&Y Augousti brand at his Paris showroom, located at the corner of Rue du Bac and Rue de Commaille, also in the 7th arrondissment. Side-bar: if you are in the left bank and want to shop along a less touristy stretch of beautiful small boutiques, you can’t find a better stretch than Rue du Bac.

We had recently received our first delivery of R&Y furniture and accessories at the HACIENDA Austin boutique after a considerable delay, which had me slightly nervous about the brand. Yiouri could not have been more gracious, not only in regards to our orders, but also in offering general advice to me as a new retailer concerning how to approach ordering from Europe. He even suggested some new possible brands to consider for HACIENDA. I suppose it is true in all lines of business that a personal connection can make all the difference and this was no exception.

At left: Mr. Augousti, seated next to the shagreen breakfast table we carry at HACIENDA.

 Walking back from the meeting along Rue du Bac I had to stop and pinch myself that I was really in Paris, building new relationships and sourcing for HACIENDA, and even better, getting to share this incredible experience with my daughter. This was my dream and after all the work of launching HACIENDA here we are!

bistrotI rejoined our group at Bistrot Le P’tit Troquet, one of those picture-perfect Parisian neighborhood restaurants with only a handful of tables. We enjoyed the best meal of our trip, a leisurely three course dinner with wine (at a bargain prix fixe price). As we strolled “home” along the now-familiar boulevards of the 7th I allowed myself to fantasize about this sort of a life. Coco might have been thinking the same thing because she asked me, “Mama, why don’t you speak French at home like you do here so I can learn?”

“Oh, because my French is not truly fluent, sweetheart”, I began. When I suggested I could start speaking Spanish at home if she wanted to learn another language and that was easier to reinforce at home in Texas, she demurred: “I just like French better.”

Day 7: Le Bon Marché / La Grand Epicerie

Coco and I met up with Jackie and Jordan at La Grand Epicerie on Rue du Bac to wish them bon voyage and then we proceeded to shop through most of the rainy day. La Grand Epicerie is a slice of heaven for even an uncommitted gourmand. The market section on the ground floor resembled the beautiful presentation of artisanal delicacies a la Dean and Deluca in New York (but nicer) and in the grand proportions of a large Whole Foods. I had to stop and marvel at an entire wall of butter selections, fancy teas and jams and even eggs displayed for individual selection, some with feathers still attached. We bought some supplies to cook our last meals in Paris at home.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 9.35.22 AM

Upstairs we found Le Creuset egg cups and a horse-shaped silicone cake mold that Coco insists we will use for every future birthday and marveled at the la cornue test kitchen.

day6Next we walked next door to Le Bon Marché department store and picked up a few more items, including a magnetic wolf puzzle for Jack in their excellent toy department. Coco talked me into a new dress but I did pull her away from the jewelry cases.

At the suggestion of Mr. Augousti we enjoyed a lovely meal at La Table, a bistro in the upper levels of La Grand Epicerie. Coco was set to order duck when the waiter suggested a children’s offering: roasted chicken with béarnaise sauce and haricots verts. I just love that even the children’s menu is sophisticated.

We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping our way through the Left Bank, including Jacadi for Coco (an old favorite from NY but cheaper in Paris, especially with the sliding Euro.) Checking a bag for sure.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 10.26.27 AMAt last we found a perfect porcelain tea cup and saucer painted with dragonflies and butterflies on Rue Grenelle, close to our flat. One last glance at the Eiffel Tower, lit up for the night and we headed in for the night.

Our last dinner consisted of all the major food groups: bread, cheese, butter, ham and chocolate mousse.


Day 8: Departure

Coco opted to stay in bed while I ran out to Rue Cler for some cherries and fresh croissants but she still admonished me in a groggy voice: “Don’t get distracted; we have to leave for the airport today.”

Over breakfast Coco reached out to squeeze my hand. I thanked her for being such a perfect travel companion, sick and all. I told her it was honestly one of the best trips of my whole life and I was so happy to share it with her. I asked her if, despite the January weather she was able to appreciate the beauty of Paris and she assured me she did.

“Maybe if we come back someday in a different season” I began, when she cut me off with a wave of her hand: “Oh mama, we’re coming back!” Smile.

day8One last glance at the Eiffel Tower and we were on our way to the Metro, heading back to the airport with all our purchases and fond memories of our first ever girls’ trip.

She may not remember this trip when she is older but in the moment there was something about this age of five that made Coco mature enough to appreciate Paris on a tangible level and roll with the time change and language barrier like a seasoned traveler.   It was amazing how much more impactful this trip was to her than Spain even one year before. And so I return home feeling validated about taking on the challenge of traveling with kids on a work trip, energized about all the adventures ahead we will share.






Valentine’s Wine Tasting

Valentine's Wine TastingIt’s Not Too Late for Love! 

Friday, February 13th 5pm – 8pm

Don’t let Valentine’s Day sneak up on you! Join us for a local wine tasting with Westcave Cellars Winery while you shop our new jewelry and accessory lines. RSVP to .

Deck the District

HOLIDAY WINDOW WALKHoliday Window Walk  Saturday December 6th

1:00 pm – 7:00 pm   Student Design Competition ($5000 in scholarships to be rewarded!) Featuring local music, carolers, and Santa Claus in the District! Stop by HACIENDA and see our beautiful student-designed window display while you enjoy some holiday treats. 

2nd St District Costume Crawl

Sunday, October 26 2014

Why wait until Halloween to wear your costume?  Join us for 2nd Street District’s Costume Crawl (for kids AND Pets) !

2pm – 3pm  We will kick-off the fun with a kids in-store Halloween “Pre-Party” with crafts, games, and snacks!

3pm – 5pm  Afterwards, we’ll all go trick or treating at participating 2nd Street Distict shops!

Kid’s Corner Event


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ages 3-10

3:00 – 5:00 pm

Parents, is your child a budding artist? A future architect? The next great inventor? We’re hosting  our very first Tegu (magnetic wooden blocks) Building Party and they are invited! Stop by  anytime between 3-5 pm for some milk and cookies as your kids work on their gravity defying  masterpieces!