I first met the now Austin, Texas-based interior designer Meredith Ellis through my dear friend, LA-based interior designer Leslie Hunt Johnson of LLH Interiors. Leslie has worked for the late interior designer Mark Hampton and Scott Snyder, and Meredith honed her design skills at Bunny Williams and later at Michael S. Smith. I admire and love both of their design sensibilities, since they are rooted in traditional design and create fresh, very "now" interiors. I got to spend time with both designers recently when I was out in LA this past May, for La Cienega Design Quarter's Legends of La Cienega. Meredith mentioned she was opening a design store in Austin, Texas. Well, I love a good design store, especially one that has a distinct point of view. She shared her just-opened James Showroom and design office with Stylebeat, and I got an early look at the graciously appointed shop, decorated like a home, filled with an edited mix of lovely antiques, custom chairs and sofas, block-printed and hard-to-find special textile brands Pintura Studio, Ferrick Mason, Clare Frost and more, alongside Bunny Williams Home furniture and Colleen and Company lighting. Keeping traditional and classical design alive and well, the bungalow brings big city chic to a city that welcomes and fosters uniqueness. Central Texas, get ready for this elegant new addition.
Why now was a good time to open a store?
There is such a need for design resources in Texas. We are home to many of the fastest growing cities in the country. The population of Austin is exploding. People are moving here from all over, and bringing their love of items that were only available at showrooms on the East or West Coast. I wanted to help fill that void and bring amazing resources to not just Austin, but the entire state, as we are centrally located and people are always traveling here for events like ACL, SXSW, Formula One, or UT football games.
What can shoppers expect to find?
Each room has it own unique feel, but the hub of the showroom is the fabric room where you will find large fabric wings and wallpaper boards on display. We want people touch the fabrics, take them off the hooks, and lay them across the tables, sofas, and ottomans to get the true feel for how they will look. We offer standard trade discounts, but also sell at retail to the public.
Now that you are open, what's next?
We just opened at the end of July, but the feedback has been amazing. We are already looking at adding a some new vendors to our lineup. We just announced Walter•G and are excited to be adding Studio Four NYC fabrics, wallpapers, and rugs to the JAMES family in the coming weeks. We are also looking to expand our own services … possibly adding more items to our upholstery lineup. And we want to become a hub for the design community in Austin & Texas by hosting parties, book signings and events that bring designers and design enthusiasts together to share their ideas and passions.
The entrance to James at 1411 West 6th Street, which is also home to Meredith Ellis Design.
Visitors are greeted by a room outfitted entirely of lattice. How chic! A new take on the garden room as entrance hall.
Another view of the entrance with a center table, done in a cream and green color palette
A sitting room where everything is for purchase. Meredith has things party ready, with a bar in a tray on an antique chest.
I like they way she layers ethnic fabric pillows on a pink printed sofa and mixes in a striped rug with dark walls painted in her signature color, Newburg Green from Benjamin Moore
Irving and Morrison lighting imported from London next to the tray bar
The design office has a fun mural wallpaper and old farm table for a desk, where clients can meet with the designer
Not one to shy away from color, the kitchen is a wonderful shade of the palest petal pink that pairs well with they grey blue she chose for the cabinetry