Three Roommates Foster Creativity in a Stylish, Cozy Austin Rental Home

published May 27, 2019
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(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Name: Sara Barge, Shelby Goodwin, and Stephanie Gutierrez of Foster ATX
Location: Austin, Texas
Size: 1,344 square feet
Years lived in: 2 years, renting

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After a five-week backpacking trip, Sara, Stephanie, and Shelby left Europe exhilarated by all they’d seen and done. At the time, they were convinced that kind of joy, excitement, passion for life—it was temporary. It was associated with long train rides, waking up in a new country every other day, meeting new faces, and immersing yourself into new cultures with no worries and no responsibilities. While yes, that was one type of unparalleled joy, it didn’t have to end there.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

It was on the plane ride over when the idea of Foster sparked. The ladies eventually all moved to Austin, Texas and decided to live together as well. In this home, they foster ideas, talent, and dreams.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Foster ATX curates intimate pop-up dinners, concerts and (cultural/artistic) experiences in unique spaces. Foster collaborates with chefs, artists, musicians, and brands to craft moments that are unexpected, moving, and original. Their work is two fold—hosting communal events while also functioning as a private event design + production studio. Whether its an intimate dinner in a leather studio or a stripped-back concert in an unassuming warehouse, Foster aims to bring the community together in an authentic and meaningful way.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Since Foster ATX came to life about two years ago, they’ve curated 80+ events, collaborated with some of the most talented creatives, brought back magic to house shows, and shared rich stories around the dinner table. And, it’s just the beginning. This is the stylish home

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Sara Barge (SB): Relaxed, homey, storied, lived in, and layered.

SG: Minimal, cozy, natural tones + mixed textures.

Shelby Goodwine (SMG): Peaceful tones, a mix of mid-century modern and vintage design elements, a focus on energy, flow and light

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Inspiration: SB: Traveling and seeing design in different countries and cities around the world. It’s impossible not to be inspired when you’re immersed in a new culture—so taking those bits and pieces of inspiration from a country home with you is always special.

SG: Travel—your soul is filled with inspiration when you wander through the streets of a foreign place and take note of all the textures, unique combinations of colors and patterns, and really take note of the emotions they evoke. When you walk into a room, the design—the lighting—the smells—it stirs something within you. Think of how you want to feel when your in your home, let the pieces tell that story.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

SMG: Natural light—discovering the light patterns in your space and designing flow and placement around that. At about 4pm everyday, the sun shines through my bedroom window and hits a royal blue glass vase so beautifully, It always reminds me to take a moment and relax.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Favorite Element: SB: the accents of wood throughout the house. I lucked out with floor to ceiling wood in my own bedroom, and waking up to the light playing on the wood will forever be my safe space. I love the old light fixtures as well, which are original to the house and add a little vintage charm.

The extra front door—guests mistakenly knock on this one all the time. (Image credit: Minette Hand)

SG: When lights + neutrals are met with dinstic pieces of wood, overflowing in greenery and subtle pops of colors. My nook in my room is my little oasis—the natural light and airness of it allows me to let out a sigh of relief and wake with a clear mind.

SMG: The old-fashioned door bell, when you spin it and it lets off the most elegant charm. Oh, and our backyard treehouse.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Biggest Challenge: SB: Keeping the laundry hallway clean with 3 gals doing laundry. It’s more or less in the kitchen, and can create quite an eyesore if we don’t stay on top of it.

The girls have a floor to ceiling storage wall of decor and props for their business, Foster ATX. (Image credit: Minette Hand)

SG: Keeping up with all the dust that an old home builds up. I’ve never been accustomed to dusting frequently, but between the old bones, the wood floors and the small nooks and crannies, you have to adapt to new cleaning regimens.

SMG: What they said 😉

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

What Friends Say: SB: That our home is just as much their home. We pretty much have an open door policy at our house and when we aren’t hosting our own events around town, we genuinely love to host here at our home. For some reason, you just can’t beat being barefoot and giving a friend a hug when they walk through the door.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

SG: Our place is a gathering place—there’s this spirit that just draws people near, and brings people together. Whether they’re walking in for the first time, or the hundredth time, people feel this sense of comfort here. They let out a sigh of relief and just allow themselves to be. It’s pretty magical.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

SMG: We host pretty great house parties. Together the three of us have created such an eclectic group of friends and house parties give us an excuse to bring everyone together. We create an atmosphere that encourages people to linger, meet new friends and drink a lot of mezcal and red wine.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Biggest Embarrassment: SB: Probably the lack of landscaping in the front of the house. We don’t own it so we don’t really have our say in adding in shrubs and greenery to the house, but man, do I daydream about what it could be with a little love. Also, what I would give for a privacy fence in our backyard.

(Image credit: Rui Nakata)

SG: Keeping our kitchen floors clean. Though it’s one of the most charming elements in our home, it comes with a price. It’s something you have to stay on top of day in and day out.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

SMG: Weeds in our backyard. Though they often bloom into flowers, they can get out of hand.

Proudest DIY: SB: Probably the dining room table + bench. I built it in my dads woodshop in GA right before we moved—we had a photo shoot for Foster planned in Atlanta to get some photos for our website we were launching, and we needed a table for friends to sit around and enjoy a communal dinner. Problem was we realized a little too late we didn’t have a table for the shoot, so we had very few options in such a short turnaround. Growing up, I spent the weekends watching my dad build just about anything and everything out in his woodshop at the back of our house. He passed away when I was 18, so although I never got to learn from him directly, he instilled in me an appreciation of craftsmanship and a do-it-yourself attitude.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

So when I realized we needed a table for our first Foster photo shoot, I called up my dads best friend and he met me at Home Depot. That afternoon in the woodshop, he taught me how to work all of my dads tools as we swapped stories about our favorite guy. We knocked it out in that one night as my mom cooked us dinner in the house – and it was just a really surreal moment of realizing I was probably living out exactly what my dad would have considered his perfect kind of night.

I’ll never forget driving the table up to Atlanta the next day in our old pick-up truck, stopping mid-drive to unload it, stain it and let it dry at my best friends farm, and then loading it back up and continuing on to the photo shoot. I’m pretty sure there was also some stain touch-ups at the photo shoot as well, but we got it done. I honestly never expected it to still be our table 3 years in, but somehow she is still standing (even if she creaks now and then) and that makes me proud.

Stephanie’s light-filled bedroom. (Image credit: Minette Hand)

SG: Genuinely proud of everything our girl Sara can effortlessly create. One day I went into her room and expressed how I desperately needed a little side table by my bed to put my coffee on in the mornings. The next day I come home to this simple, yet beautiful corner pocket that perfectly fit. She never ceases to amaze me.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

SMG: Forever grateful for Sara for inspiring a newfound love for DIY projects. I’ve always wanted a hairpin Indian style table to use as a desk in my bedroom and about a week later I walk into my room and she built it for me in an afternoon! She recently inspired my to buy my own drill and toolkit.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Biggest Indulgence: SB: Rugs—I get weak in the knees for a good rug. Also, anything old and weathered that looks like it has a good story. There are few things that I love more than a good estate sale, and I’ve had a lot of incredible luck at sales here in Austin. The thrill of the chase and preserving something old and loved. That gets me.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

SG: Honestly, books. I can’t get enough of them, and they now just double as a place for me to escape, and decor in my space. I love the collection of them, and how it makes my room feel more like a home. That, of course, and my records.

SMG: Vintage knick-knacks—whether it be a small trinket box from the vintage market in Mexico City or a crystal goblet from Goodwill, these will forever remain my favorite design touches and gifts.

A small board of instax pictures documents family and friends they’ve both worked with and hosted. (Image credit: Minette Hand)

Best Advice: SB: Take your time in decorating your home. My favorite thing is collecting pieces that each have a story behind it. There is no need to rush into buying everything for your home at once—get the bare necessities (a table, couch, chairs, etc.) but then leave room for you to find the special pieces to layer in and add depth over time. Also, style is objective. There is not necessarily a right or wrong way to do things. Just do something that gives you pause and a smile, and don’t overthink it.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

SG: Collect items that are meaningful to you, or that tell a story. When I look around my space and notice the vintage compass my brother bought me for graduation, or a sketch of my travels in Portgual, I am filled with gratitude, nostalgia and joy. Fill your home with these pieces, let it be a collection of where you’ve been, who you are and where you’re going. Your space should inspire + encourage you, and you should make it somewhere where you genuinely want to be, and can’t help but lose track of time.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

SMG: Create a neutral canvas to allow the space for new finds you pick up along the way and for an ever-changing design mood.

Dream Sources: SB: Honestly Round Top is about as dreamy as it comes. It’s a lot to take in, but after a few trips you start to figure it out and find your favorite vendors. Eneby Home being at the very top of the Round Top dream list.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

SG: I’m a sucker for exploring boutique hotels around the world. Every city or country I visit I am intentional about diving into them and soaking in their design—taking note of every little detail and the way they are able to evoke this intentionally curated style.

It’s the \bathroom (Image credit: Minette Hand)

SMG: The more time I spend in Texas then more I find myself drawn to Texan design and architecture—while designing a new space you’ll find me browsing Hotel Saint Celica instagram and the Modern Marfa coffee table book. I’ve also recently taken up studying and practicing the art of feng shui and how it translates to home design and decor. I suggest starting with the book, Decorating with the Five Elements of Feng Shui.

Stephanie says of her bedroom: \My (Image credit: Minette Hand)

More photos:

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(Image credit: Minette Hand)



Stocksund sofa – Ikea

Tyler Armchair – Four Hands chair, can also be found here

Wicker tray – Ikea, the top of a wicker basket // similar shape here but in wood

Jute Rug – Ikea

Beige Mid-Century Chair – Refurbished from sb’s moms college furniture in the 70s

Theater benches – Roundtop find

Old dictionary – Roundtop find

Side table – Refurbished from sb family barn

Rice Grinder side table – Loot Finer Goods

olive dashes pillow – Loot Finer Goods

diamond kuba cloth – Loot Finer Goods

maze kuba cloth – Loot Finer Goods

kuba cloth lumbar – Loot Finer Goods

Velvet pillows – handmade / DIY

Coffee table ottoman – craigslist find

scully tripod lamp – Loot Finer Goods

Art in gallery wall – some DIY, the rest estate sale finds


Table – DIY, handmade before we moved to TX

Chairs – garage sale finds

Bar Cart – Target

Lightboard – estate sale score from an archaeologist

Chalkboard – DIY


Daybed – World Market (no longer in stock)

Coffee Table – frame from estate sale and DIY upholstered top from a roundtop rug

Chairs – Estate Sale find

Jute Ottomans – Ikea

Jute Rug – Ikea (no longer on website)


Ceramics on open shelf – Maya Blu Ceramics

Cutting board + hand carved hand – Watchman Woodworks (local) by Dave Massman

Plant baskets – Ikea

SB Room

Linen Bedspread – West Elm

Rug – TJ maxx (not in store)

Bench – DIY

Corner Shelves – DIY

Stool – refurbished from my mom in the 60s

Art Easel – Antique find

Steph Room

Linen bedspread – Anthropologie

Desk – DIY top, Ikea sawhorse legs

Rug – Ebay purchase

Wooden Triangle above bed – DIY

Kilim pillow – Roundtop

Shelby Bedroom

Bed frame – Target

Linen Duvet – West Elm

Gallery Wall frames – Michaels

Floor desk – DIY we made for an event – hairpin legs from amazon

Theater benches – Roundtop

Thanks, ladies!

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