Go An Insider’s Visit to Round Top
I’ve been standing outside the doors to the Round Top Antiques Fair for 30 minutes, but if you’re not here before the doors open, you’ll miss your chance on the best items. I’ve been coming to Round Top since I was a little girl, when my mother, aunt, and I would drive over from Louisiana. Since those early days, Round Top, just an hour and 15 minutes outside of Austin, has evolved from a flea market into a European antiques fair, with big-name dealers coming in from all around the world to sell their rare collectibles.
With two other designers from Ken Fulk, I’m looking for original artwork and unique objects to bring the Commodore Perry Estate to life and make a stay in each room its own unforgettable experience. With 49 suites, each a different configuration, that’s a lot of original artwork! No small feat, especially when we want each suite to have a distinct style to it that makes one feel they’re staying in an artfully curated salon. Last spring, my favorite find was eight delicate floral paintings—each oval shape beautifully framed—that will go in Lutie’s, the garden restaurant just off of the Mansion named for Commodore Perry’s wife.
The gates clang open and we weave our way through the frenzy of other buyers—booths can sell out in literally thirty minutes—greeting vendors I’ve become close with over the years. One is Nashville-based Eneby Home, where I recently purchased a pair of deep-green deco-style club chairs—it was truly loved at first sight—that will be placed back-to-back in the sitting room of the Mansion. Another is Old World Antieks run by wife and husband Amy and Brian Kleinwachter, who literally grew up in his mother’s antique stores. I’ve purchased a few traditional European antiques from them to mix with the predominantly 1950’s modern Italian style furnishings in the Mansion. Again, I’ve been coming to Round Top for decades, so I know where to shop for the best!
We finally make it to the back of Barn A, where the booth for MAPS and ART is located. Run by a lovely husband-and-wife team, MAPS and ART is exactly what it sounds like: A Houston-based art gallery that specializes in antique prints and vintage maps. I remember from a previous visit that they had a crate stacked with French and Italian design books—students’ sketchbooks filled with exquisite renderings of fashion designs, abstract nudes, modern architecture. Fingers crossed, they’re still here…
We’re in luck. The other designers and I sit in a corner of the booth and divvy up the books, poring over the hand-drawn charcoal and pencil sketches. Pages and pages of the exquisite original artwork. We buy them all.
Later, back in our studio, we’ll select 175 prints and cut them out from the books to be mounted and framed. We’ll then hang gallery-style vignettes in each suite. No two alike, but all unified by a theme of one-of-a-kind beauty and luxury design—like the Commodore Perry Mansion that houses them.
These artists, previously unrecognized, will at long last have their work showcased in the most optimal of settings. Just as the mansion that the Commodore and Lutie built-in 1928 has undergone renovations to be celebrated anew, so, too, will these drawings.
Our team has been poring over Commodore Perry floor plans for months, creating concept boards for an interior that is not just beautiful but will tell the story of the hotel itself. A story of great style, independence, and sui generis. These mini-salons in each suite will do just that. Now where was that set of Italian black-and-gold Italian dining chairs…