By Ashley Steel
Austin, Texas is a city so fundamentally cool that some 110 people move here daily. The allure of this city — founded upon the enigmatic, but magnetic motto, “Keep Austin Weird,” is cause for the rapid acquisition and growth of such major events as SXSW, Formula 1’s US Grand Prix and the ACL Music Festival. No longer stuck in obscurity, Austin is a destination city. It’s the place people come to be inspired, to see and experience the intangible elements of wonder, surprise, originality and ambiguity — the “it” pulse of the moment.
And so, Austin seemed like the obvious choice to start my search for home décor inspiration. Not surprisingly, I found what I was looking for in the aptly named Remedy Bar & Lounge, a place where industrial design collided onto the new home landscape and got my design wheels turning. Here’s what I discovered:
The Remedy Bar & Lounge
It does — as any good décor should — draw the visitor in, before revealing itself. A storied wallpaper boldly adheres to the foyer, its golden sheen delightfully attractive as it casts you into the sitting area.
It doesn’t stand on pretense; this is not another touristy gimmick or trendy cottage-turned-bar. It feels a lot like home in the familiar sense and that’s the idea, says owner Claire Bensimon, who wanted to create a space in which people could unwind. But it’s not your “no shoes, no shirt, no problem” level of familiarity, says Bensimon, who wanted to offer a more upscale alternative to sitting in the backyard in your flip-flops. This space excels at the urbane. “I’m a proud Texan” she says, “but when you’re in a city you should … not have to worry about getting mud on your shoes.”
Moving behind the rich, dimpled couches and hand-crank metal tables, the body of the bar recedes into minimalism. Oversized mirrors spark introverted contemplation and a backlit bar highlights the reclaimed wood and copper-colored runner, while casting a charming light through glass containers of fruit infused liquors. Simplistic bar stools of wood and metal stand neatly side by side, beneath the cover of a dramatic vaulted ceiling.
But form never sacrifices for function at the Remedy where mixed materials provide ample visual interest, despite the otherwise slim-profile. “There isn’t a lot of clutter” says Bensimon. It’s her way of putting people at ease, so they can put their day behind them. “This isn’t a place to come watch TV because we don’t have any!” Bensimon zealously explains. The name Remedy works on a lot of levels, but in one sense, it’s definitely the solution for unplugging and retreating from a hectic, well-lived life.
Though the Remedy’s downtown location comes with old, turn-of-the-century architecture, Bensimon is capitalizing on some new trends, namely, sustainability. “Sustainability is important to me” she says. It helped inform her decision to use natural LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified linoleum surfaces — made from materials like linseed oil, pine resin, wood flour and limestone dust — not to be confused with sheet vinyl. “We also used reclaimed wood where we could,” she says, citing red oak from the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Ky., and Longleaf pine from an old Texas cotton plantation.
With the help of New York-based architect and designer Larry Bowne, Bensimon was able to articulate her vision for the uniquely Austin space, with a dash of New York sensibility. Together the team’s distinct metropolitan influences created the sophisticated space you see today. “Imagine a pharmacist around 1910 who’s had a bit too much of his own special remedy,” says Bensimon, “He would know he was in the future, but would see some things that would look just familiar enough to make him want to grab a stool and stick around.”
Have you been searching for ways to bring industrial style into your own home? Check out this slideshow with suggestions on how to make industrial design look inviting and chic: