It's not everyday you get to see Austin apartment inspiration on the silver screen, but it was during a viewing of the hilarious documentary Winnebago Man, about Jack Rebney who became an internet sensation when footage of an RV sales tape gone horribly wrong went viral, that we spotted what would be our next house tour. Cozy, warm and with a healthy sense of humor, Ben and his girlfriend Louisa have done a stand-up job of creating a great-looking home in a tiny Austin apartment.
It was a rainy day when we went to shoot Ben's home. Located in a big, historical old house that's been split into several apartments, the University of Texas' campus, where Ben teaches film, can be seen from the windows. Walking into the home, we were bowled over with how much personality this place has. Older pieces of furniture mix with Ikea purchases to create just the right combination of old and new. Louisa and Ben are both big readers and writers, so their living room is filled with lots of books, as well as a nice-sized record collection. A warm lamp next to a big, oversized chair next to a shelf of books was calling our name on that rainy day, but alas, we had to remain professional and continue with our photo shoot. The living room isn't arranged quite the same way as it was in Winnebago Man, but the key elements that make the space so hip are still there.Our favorite element to this home is just how real, sensible and accessible it is; we felt immediately comfortable in this place (comfortable enough to take our wet-from-the-rain shoes off and pad around a stranger's home barefoot). We echoed the same sentiments that Ben says his friend often comment about the apartment: it feels like a tiny apartment in New York City rather than in Austin. As we mentioned, humor plays a big part in both Ben's life and his home. A delightful surprise is the large-scale photo of Ben from his high school football team hidden behind a closet door. Not to be the only one with an embarrassing photo around, Ben also framed and hung a photo of his girlfriend (who happens to be a world famous squash player) on the wall--though in a more conspicuous location. All over the place are spots of humor: mustaches on photos, plastic ears on mirrors and a shark toy guarding over the pots and pans. But the place is also practical. With two people sharing such a small apartment, it was necessary to get smart about storage, like raising the bed very high to store stuff underneath, utilizing hooks on doors, draping the yoga mats over a door and storing kitchen supplies in cabinets even when the doors don't quite close all the way.
My/Our style: Wooden and cozy.
Inspiration: Book-lined studies and used record stores.
Favorite Element: The big picture windows and the artwork made by our friends.
Biggest Challenge: All the corners.
What Friends Say: They say it feels like a NY or San Francisco apartment.
Biggest Embarrassment: The white walls.
Proudest DIY: The garden out front and the window boxes full of herbs.
Biggest Indulgence: Books.
Best advice: Lots of plants and flowers.
Furniture: Ikea, Off the Wall, Craigslist
Lighting: Low lighting, lots of dimmers
Window Treatments: Curtains in Bedroom Pier1, curtains in living room IKEA and Pottery Barn.
Paint: Old and white
Beds: Hand made wooden frame, mattress by Serta
Artwork: Ben Dowell, Thor Rinden, Samantha Krukowski, Taylor Holland, Shane Brown and many others
(Thanks, Ben and Louisa! And we wouldn't mention this if we didn't mean it--Winnebago Man was hilarious. We not only encourage you to check out a screening of the film in your city, we'd also feel remiss if we didn't mention that pre-sales of the DVD, which ship November 2nd, 2010, are available!)
Images: Adrienne Breaux
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