Over the past decade, Austin, Texas has become of hotbed of culture, entertainment and commerce—growth that has also spurred a creative renaissance in the city’s hospitality industry. When the storied hotel Sheraton Austin at the Capital called for a renovation, Studio 11 Design stepped up to the challenge with a wealth of expertise and inspiration. Project manager Alison Schulze led the collaboration with Watermark Capital Partners, a real estate investment group, to create a space that is immersive, sophisticated and distinctly Austin.
With a neighborhood culture Schulze describes as, “rich in education, politics, entertainment and the arts,” the site of the Sheraton Austin, originally opened in 1986, was ripe with inspiration. The hotel’s redesign coincided with the revival of historic Waller Creek, an area primed to serve as an, “artery to connect and energize a city that was once divided.” Laced with bike trails, walking bridges and parks, the new development aims to attract both tourists and city natives.
Inside The Yard, the hotel’s casual-chic restaurant, guests are welcomed by a sleek, spacious bar. The space is equally suited for enjoying a sports game with a cold beer, or nestling into a tailored leather booth with a glass of bourbon. An impressive geometric installation hangs above the counter, presiding over the room with a symmetrical display of reclaimed wood, glowing white marble, and metallic brass blocks. The varied material choices reflect the diverse crowd, a mix of business travelers, Austin locals and tourists—all parties here to enjoy the same things: tasty fare, a vibrant atmosphere, and a little southern hospitality.
In true Austin form, neighborhood pride factored into the design process. The Studio 11 Design team searched for interesting local materials and vendors to enhance the space. Schulze shared they hoped to reinforce, “Austin’s pride in all things local and authentic,” while providing a true Austin experience for visitors. The converted “Overlander Airstream” food truck and life-sized “Howdy Y’all” sign add a dash of local flavor to The BackYARD, the outdoor extension of The Yard restaurant. These one-of-a-kind, whimsical elements are Schulze’s favorite part of the finished project.
While Austin is one of the most vibrant cities in the South, the glowing Texas sun (and consequential heat) poses a unique threat to outdoor furnishings. The Studio 11 Design team needed high-quality pieces that could withstand the warmest weather. For this challenge, they turned to Summer Classics Contract. The design team selected Sierra Lounge Chairs in an oyster grey finish, a forgiving and fade-resistant hue. Inspired by sedimentary layers seen in the desert landscape, the Sierra collection features intricately woven wicker contrasted with eco-friendly Resysta, a resistant material whose teak-like appearance attracted the Studio 11 Design team. Creamy seat cushions, striped bolster pillows, and rustic wooden tables complete The BackYARD lounge area.
Special care was taken to equip the outdoor space for year-round use. Umbrellas and architectural shading systems protect guests from direct summer sunlight, and fire pits add warmth to the outdoor terrace during the autumn and winter. On the coldest days, guests can still enjoy the view through expansive windows, a feature which seamlessly connects the indoor and outdoor spaces while flooding the restaurant with natural light.
If Austin is on your travel itinerary in 2018, be sure to visit The Yard at Waller Creek for southern comfort with a sophisticated edge. Follow along with Studio 11 Design on Instagram @studio11design_tx and online at www.studio11design.com.