Our Home Away from Home in Austin, Texas #2
Austin is cool. If you haven’t caught on yet, check out our stories so far.
So it was fitting then that our second ‘home away from home’ holiday rental in this laidback Texas city should be a funky retro house in Travis Heights, a leafy suburb of gentle slopes just a short stroll from the hipster shopping-cum-entertainment drag of South Congress Avenue.
A whitewashed, brick and weatherboard bungalow, with a sloped roof and double car port, typical of the modern International Style that first appeared in the 1950s and was popularised throughout the ’60s and ’70s, it reminded me a little of The Brady Bunch home.
The vintage style of the George Nelson-/1950s-inspired starburst-style wall clock, polished chrome arc floor lamp, and sculptured white plastic feature wall got me nostalgic for a past I’ve never known but now suddenly wanted… forget the cowboy boots and rock-star t-shirts, I was hoping I’d find Marsha Brady’s groovy get-ups in the walk-in wardrobe.
Fortunately, the modern amenities (iPod, flat screen television and DVD player), Scandinavian-style furnishings, sleek clean lines, and contemporary touches like palm leaves in vases in place of flowers and painted concrete floors (no shagpile carpets here!) brought me back to the present reality.
The whole place is light, bright and white, with a real summery feel to it that. While smaller than our first enormous Austin ‘home’, our Travis Heights bungalow has plenty of space. There are two good-sized bedrooms (ideal for two couples), one with a huge walk-in closet (empty of funky clothes unfortunately), a light-filled bathroom with stylish fittings (love the square-shaped shower-head and taps!), and a large open-plan living-dining area and kitchen. And the quality of sheets and towels throughout are beautiful.
The kitchen is brilliant too, with an excellent stove and big stainless steel fridge, coffee makers including an Italian espresso-maker (thank you very much!), and enough ceramic plates and glasses for casual entertaining.
The only downside is the lack of a dining table. There is only a high bar-style table with stools, which, if you like sit-down meals, is not ideal. We love entertaining and in each place we’ve stayed this year we’ve endeavoured to host our new friends. While Terence saw this as a challenge (you’ll find out what he cooked up soon enough!), we would have loved a dining table to host a proper sit-down dinner party. But then admittedly most visitors to Austin are probably going to be too busy seeing bands and eating tacos and BBQ at the myriad restaurants to entertain!
Outside on the wrap-around wooden deck, however, there is a round table that seats four, a couple of funky chairs for sitting back with some cold beers, and the ubiquitous big American barbecue for grilling up some Pork Butt. Gotta love these Texans!
Speaking of beer. Like a few of the thoughtful property owners we’ve come to appreciate on our travels, Dani and Joel Rasmussen, a designer and filmmaker respectively, not only provide essentials like toilet paper, soap, shampoo and conditioner, and basics condiments in the kitchen, but there was also a gigantic bottle of local boutique beer and a big packet of nuts to welcome us.
And if you’re not planning on hiring a car while you’re in Austin (though one is very handy), there are two very cool, orange cruiser bikes parked in the carport.
Like Rusty Irons, Dani and Joel are also a wealth of information, with plenty of tips on what to do and see, and where to eat and drink (they leave guests a great information pack with loads of helpful restaurant reviews), and with connections in the creative industries, they can advise on which bands to see and where to catch a movie. Naturally, we took advantage of their expertise. Watch this space.