On a slightly overcast morning, on the last day of July, I sat down with interior designer, Alyssa Rome to discuss design trends, life in Austin, and her company Studio Krewe Design. As Rome mentions on her website, studiokrewedesign.com, a “krewe” is a “an organization or association that stages a parade or other event for a carnival celebration.” As a proud LSU graduate, Alyssa has many joyful memories of Mardi Gras festivities. Now, Rome uses these memories as fuel for her design work as she sets the stage for celebration in ordinary spaces.
You’re fairly new to Austin, what brought you to Austin and what made you declare the ATX as your “forever home”?
My husband and I moved here about 3 years ago. We didn’t really move here for any particular reason. We both loved Austin, and were living back in East Texas when we decided [to move]. We were actually renovating his parents’ ranch house when I decided to go to nursing school for some crazy reason. I had some kinds quarter life crisis; that was short-lived though. Anyway, we were out there in his truck leaving the house, and we just were chatting about where we were gonna live next and I said, “How about Austin?” and he goes “okay!”
So, he just agreed, just like that?
Yep, that was that. He found a job working at a music management company, and actually moved down before I did. I was trying to find a job at an interior design firm, but I didn’t find anything right off the bat. I actually was going to nanny. I felt really bad about this, but the couple hired me to nanny their son, and the next day I found out I got a job at an interior design firm. So, I was like “I’m so sorry!”
And, where was that?
It was at Butter Lutz Interiors. They’re up in Tarrytown.
Ok, so now you have your own company, Studio Krewe Design. When did you start your own firm?
I started it last year. I guess officially in May, and that was sort-of a…I dunno. I wasn’t totally happy where I was at. I loved the designer I worked for… it was just me and her, that was the company. I was doing a lot of the design work, and just sort of feeling like I was ready to be more independent. But, since it was just me and her, and it was her business, everything was still hers. I was ready to have my own designs, my own clients. My mom is an interior designer and she’s been on her own for 15 years, wait no, it’s probably been more like 20 years. She was like I’ll help you get started. So, that was that. I don’t think I could have done it without her.
So, it sounds like your mom really inspired you to lead a career in interior design, probably from a young age.
Oh yeah, yeah.
So you’ve had bouts where you thought about doing other things. I think I read somewhere that you said you wanted to work with animals at some point, maybe in a veterinary capacity, and then you mentioned nursing school, and then ultimately you came back to interior design.
Yeah, I had always dabbled in interior design. I had worked with her growing up, and I always enjoyed it. But, it’s that feeling of not wanting to do what your parents do.
But, here you are, following in your mom’s footsteps, and you sound like you’re loving it.
Yes, I love it. It’s the perfect balance of an artistic release and also problem solving, and working with people.
Do you remember your first design project?
My first solo project, or my first…?
Sure, or even working with your mom for the first time, back when you were a kid
I remember the first time she asked for my help. I was back in high school and she was looking at fabrics for draperies and she was like, “do you like this one or this one?” She just had two fabrics, and I was like, “I really like this one better”, and she was like, “yeah you’re right”, and I was like yeahhhh!
That’s awesome. What was your first solo design project?
That would be Eleve Cosmetics. Well, that wasn’t the first one I completed because it took forever to actually complete it, but they were the first client to hire me.
Gotcha, how long did it take?
We started working on it last summer, and they opened this spring. So, almost a year.
Wonderful, What’s the style of Eleve?
It’s very girly.
Of course, it’s a cosmetic store
Yes, it’s a cosmetics store and a champagne and wine bar. It was such a fun project. It’s definitely transitional. They have two large big blue velvet chesterfield sofas in there and some gold accents, and lots of fun prints and wall paper and tile.
I love that, did you draw inspiration from their product design in any way or what do you think really inspired you in that space?
A little bit. A lot of it was just gauging their personality and what they love. But, they were also super easy. Everything I showed them they loved.
Well you must have just had a great sense of design and understood their taste and had good intuition.
Well thanks, I tried. It’s definitely a lot of my personal style in there too which made it fun.
What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer? And the most rewarding one?
I think the most frustrating aspect is when people don’t listen to me- in a nut shell. I always try to have my clients’ best interests at heart. I’m not going to tell you to spend a ton of money on something that I don’t think is worth it. Or, I’m not going to come up with a design that isn’t feasible or isn’t going to look good. I think the only time the frustration really occurs is when people have a hard time visualizing things. A lot of times this frustrates me, which I obviously don’t let my clients see. You just have to think of different ways to show them and explain to them - this is what it’s going to look like, and it’s going to look awesome! That’s kinda what’s hard. You have to build rapport with your clients, build trust, and get to know them. Which I always do. Once you form that relationship, it gets a bit easier to you know, get them to listen to you.
And the most rewarding?
When I get to see a vision come to life. Like with Eleve. I mean I designed that place from the ground up. It was my vision, and it was just so cool to see that come to life. Now, that it’s like a working functioning business. I don’t know it’s just pretty cool.
Absolutely, and after so long too.
Yeah, for a while there it was like “is this even real???” “Is this ever going to happen?”
What’s your favorite new design trend?
Design trend? Well, I do love wall paper. I think everybody should wallpaper their powder bath. I think it’s such a fun way to add interest to a space and texture. I love grass cloth wall paper. One of the projects I did was a guest bedroom, and we did a grass cloth accent wall behind the bed. It had bluish tones, and I thought it was so pretty. It added some really cool texture and warmth.
Is there any style or trend that you wish would just completely disappear?
I’m personally not a fan of the minimalist look, but I know a lot of people are. I don’t like to walk into a space and feel like it’s sterile, it kinda freaks me out.
What places inspire you?
I love how much nature there is in Austin. If I’m having a stressful day, I’ll take my littlest dog down to the creek, and just look around at the beauty. It inspires me, and allows me to get centered again.
Ok, so this is a personal question of mine. I’ve had this come up. We touched on having disagreements with clients earlier. So this is a disagreement I had with a client of mine. How do you feel about rugs over carpet?
It depends on the carpet
And the rug
If it’s a very low pile carpet, and a neutral tone, and that’s your only option, then I think its ok. But, I wouldn’t purposely put carpet down and then a rug on top of it.
What’s one thing you think everyone should have in their home? It doesn’t necessarily have to be design related…
Dogs! No, I’m just kidding. A piece of art that you love.
Yes, that’s something I really need.
The piece of art we have in our entry is my favorite piece of art in our whole house, and it’s this painting by an artist I love that my husband got for me as a wedding president. He surprised me with it the night of our rehearsal dinner.
That’s something that I feel you shouldn’t rush into purchasing. It’s something that you have to find that’s right and it calls to you.
Yeah I have a cardinal. His name is Spartacus, he bangs into the window all day every day. Anyway…locally what are some your favorite spots to shop for home decor items?
A lot of it depends on budget. I do love all the vintage spots. I’ve been incorporating a lot of vintage pieces into my work lately. Uptown Modern, that’s a really cool mid-century place. Revival Vintage… let’s see I’m blanking on the others now. You’re putting me on the spot. But, you can follow a lot of them on Instagram and see what’s new. They’ll post new items daily, so I’ll check and see if there is anything I have to have. Sometimes, I even buy unique pieces and then I’ll store them in my garage so when the right project comes along I have the perfect piece.
If you are only going to splurge on one item for the home, what should it be?
Probably upholstrery… the sofa. Because you can buy a cheap sofa, but then you’re just going to have to keep buying cheap sofas every couple years. Especially if you have kids, or pets or whatever. So, I always tell my clients it’s better to just put down the money now. Buy a sturdy sofa that’s going to last you twenty years, and it’s going to be worth the investment.
That’s interesting. I’ve actually been wanting to take upholstery classes.
Oh that sounds fun! I’ll do it with you.
What differentiates you from other interior designers?
I can’t say this about all designers. But, I think that there are some designers out there that are doing it for different reasons. I would say that I definitely have a lot of heart into this. I know designers that markup 20% across the board, no matter what. They will charge you this price, if you can’t afford it too bad. It means more to me to make the client happy, and to make our vision, our project come to life, than to make a ton of money on a project.
Alyssa Rome lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Chris, and her three dogs Roux, Riley, and Chunk. She works with both residential and commercial clients to bring simple spaces into aesthetically pleasing works of art. If you are interested in learning more about Alyssa, and Studio Krewe, please visit studiokrewedesign.com
It’s HOT, HOT, HOT right now. With temperatures in the triple digits, the idea of jumping into a pool sounds absolutely glorious. But, does having a pool make your home more desirable to buyers? If you install a pool, will you recoup your investment? Does being able to make a splash really result in extra cash?
In 2017, homes in the greater Austin area with a pool had a median sales price of just under $550K. In comparison, homes without a pool had a median sales price of just under $300K. Looking at these stats, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that homes with a pool sell for more money than those without. In the luxury market, this is especially true. 2017 home sales in the 78746 zip code, which covers the greater Westlake area, showed that homes with a pool sold for almost half a million more than those without a pool. When you look at more moderately priced neighborhoods, the economic value of a pool is less extreme. In the south Austin zip code of 78745, homes without a pool had a median sales price of $300K in 2017. Those properties that allow owners to cannonball at their leisure show a median sales price of $350K.
Slightly less than 10% of homes sold in 2017 had a pool, and it doesn’t seem like people have been adding pools to their homes either. This percentage has remained relatively constant over the past ten years. Maybe, this is because a basic pool will start at around 25K. Start adding decking, waterfalls, and a hot tub and that number can easily reach 60K.
In reality, deciding to install a pool is a complex decision. First of all, you need to consider how long you will stay in your home. In order to break even on a pool investment, you will likely need to live in your home for at least 10 years. However, you also want to consider the lifestyle implications. Is having a place to relax after a long day in 103 degree weather important to you? Are pool parties with all of your family and friends going to add value to your life. Will being able to go for a quick swim save your sanity?
Lastly, you want to consider the characteristics of your property. Is your home located in an affluent neighborhood where pools are considered the norm? If so, you will most likely recoup your investment more quickly. Is your lot large enough for a pool? Does the general topography lend way to a perfect place for a pool.
All in all, having a pool this time of year is awesome. But, deciding if your home should have a pool or if you should just crash the neighbors is a personal decision. Dip your toes in the water before you plunge.
If you’re just sick of the heat and ready for a home with a pool, take a look at these Austin area home with pools.
If you’re preparing to put your home on the market, you are probably staying busy cleaning, de-cluttering, and starting to pack. You may also find time slipping away from you as you spend hours perusing Zillow searching for your dream home. However, have you even thought about gathering these important documents? By taking the time to locate the following items will make selling your home much easier. After all, you don’t want to find yourself unpacking box after box looking for that overstuffed home folder when you have a ready buyer prepared to purchase your home. So, do yourself a favor and gather these docs now; you’ll thank me later.
When you purchased your home, you likely obtained a survey for the property. If you haven’t made many structural changes to the footprint of your home, and it hasn’t been five decades since you purchased the property, you can likely still use the survey when you sell the property. When a buyer submits an offer on your home, they can select to use the existing survey or opt for a new survey. If you have an existing, reliable survey, it’s unlikely the buyer will ask you to purchase a new one. A new survey will cost at least a few hundred dollars, so do yourself a favor and find that survey today. It’s important to make sure the survey has the surveyors seal; however, you don’t have to have the original copy.
2. Floor plans
If you have existing floor plans for your home, find them. A prospective buyer may have different needs than you, and may want to alter the home to fit those needs. Floor plans make it easier for buyers to make an informed decision about the costs of remodeling. Floor plans also save buyers time and you the inconvenience of allowing them back into your home to take measurements. With a floor plan, a buyer can easily start imaging how their furniture would fit in your home.
3. Repair receipts
Did you install a new roof a few years ago? How about HVAC work? These big ticket items are often areas of interest to prospective buyers. If you can provide documentation that a new roof was installed just last year, buyers will find your home more appealing knowing they won’t have to incur roof repair costs in the near future. It’s also good to document bids for repairs you didn’t make. Maybe you thought about adding an external propane tank so you could install a gas stove but you never did. Buyers may similarly express interest in installing a gas stove, and this bid could be the last piece propelling them to put an offer in on your home.
4. Loan Statement
This one is muy importante! In order to determine how much you should list your home for, and to assess if an offer is acceptable to you, you must know how much money you have in the home. You likely receive a monthly statement from your loan provider and it will state the loan payoff amount. Keep this number in the back of your mind as you prepare to sell your home.
5. Utility Bills
Buyers often want to know about utility costs. This is another piece of the puzzle that makes up their monthly living costs. If you can provide documentation for your utility costs (especially if they are low) it will make it easier for a buyer to commit to your home. If you can find your statements for electric, water, gas, and trash for the last 12 months. You or your agent, can then average the costs to provide an estimate to prospective buyers.
6. Manuals and Warranties
If you kept all your manuals for your appliances, good for you! A buyer will find these documents helpful and you can put them all in an envelope with a pretty little bow to deliver to them at closing. Warranties will work in your favor, if they are transferable. Remember that fictitious roof repair I alluded to earlier. New roofs usually have a one-time transferable warranty attached to them. So if something happens to the roof after you sell the home, the new buyers will still be protected by the contractor’s warranty.
For other great tips on getting ready to sell your home take a look at these posts:
Prioritizing Upgrades When Preparing to Sell Your Home
Increasing Your Home's Value
Prepping Your Home Now to Net the Most Money on Your Austin Home Sale
If you’re thinking about selling your Austin area home, contact me today.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.