If you haven’t heard of interior designer Ann Lowe Edgerton, you probably will soon. She’s a young Austin designer on the rise, has received accolades for her work on Contigo, and the photos of her family’s river house in Llano she designed have been a hit on Pinterest! She has her finger on the pulse of what’s current in terms of design, blending natural and earthy elements with refined minimalism. Her design aesthetic is a high/low, Cali meets Mexico, bohemian vibe that’s pretty hot right now (thank you for the verbage, Clar). We are big fan-girls who love working with her, so we wanted to touch base with her on what she’s been working on for this month’s Designer Spotlight. Also, all of you Pinterest lovers are going to dig this: We asked her to guest-pin some elements for a room, mixing pieces by Spruce with her own coveted home decor. She said she was thinking of her dream studio in mind. “Big, airy, desert-y.”
Where are you from and how did you become a designer and a stylist?
I am from Midland, Texas. I grew up doing musical theater and singing in choirs and was not aware visual arts was something I was interested in until I went away to Santa Barbara for college. Going from the West Texas desert to the Santa Barbara coast was something that certainly shaped my visual life. I like the combination of desert materials (stucco, dusty colors, bone, light leather) and vibrant plant life. After getting my bachelor’s degree in Studio Art, I moved back to Texas and focused my interests on food. I thought my love of what the earth produces and visual arts would come together somehow through food. After trying my hand at catering, I soon realized the physical demands outweighed the creative aspect of it. Right around this time I got to know Ben Edgerton, now my husband. I somehow convinced him it was a good idea to let me design his new restaurant Contigo. My family was building a river house on the Llano River at this time, and they generously let me take the reigns on the design. From then on I was completely obsessed with interiors.
What’s your decorating style?
Every project I do has its own life; the colors are different, the purpose is unique, etc. But with each space, I aim to create a certain “feel.” I do this by using natural materials, lots of one-of-a-kind items, nothing too trendy. I want all of my clients to be content with their space for a very long time. I would like the ideas and items I add to their lives to enhance it deeply – not just for a moment while it’s in style.
You have a blog called my friends’ homes. What inspired you to start it, and what do you look for when you’re taking photos?
I have always preferred film to digital, so when I scored this old Yashika T4 I knew I wanted to use it for more than just party pictures. I have a lot of very creative and inspiring friends and I often feel like their homes are better than any other places I’ve been. The uninhibited arrangements, the stories things hold. Design magazines are amazing, but I know how much money and work goes into creating that look. I am almost more inspired by the way people actually live. So, as an excuse to peak around in people’s homes, I invented this blog.
How would you describe your business?
I began my business by doing a lot of very low-cost, quick home consultations. I believe that everyone, no matter what their budget, should be able to afford a space where they feel at home and are proud of. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to work on more involved projects, I still like to keep this reign on my ideas of what things are worth. Yes, any designer can go to showrooms and buy all of the most expensive items, but then you are left with a store-bought atmosphere. I love quality but I love it mixed with well-worn, unique custom items.
I would say my business is very personal. I like to get to know clients to truly understand how we can create a unique atmosphere for their lives.
Tell me more about your involvement with Contigo.
Ben was brave enough to let me design Contigo even though I had never worked on a project (of that scale). What I think is wonderful about Contigo is neither of us really knew what we were doing. I had an idea. I drew it, and then Ben made it happen. We weren’t shopping at huge restaurant stores or showrooms. We didn’t have a team of architects and designers. We had to make most of the ideas we had because there was nowhere to buy what we wanted. It was super raw and fun. Three years after Contigo opened, we fell in love and got married! It’s fun to know how much that space has meant to both of us.
The ranch is based off of Ben’s family ranch in South Texas, Contigo Ranch. We took a trip down there to do some research and get some styling ideas. Andrew Wiseheart (co-owner and chef) cooked some absolutely amazing food, and we messed around with ideas. The South Texas landscape – mesquite, prickly pear, grasses, dusty roads – was a big inspiration for us. I wanted the Austin space to feel related but not the same. We used the same color palate but experimented with the shapes. Instead of curly iron we did straight. Instead of nail heads on leather we used director’s chair-style backs. Donald Judd’s desert minimal style was a big influence, as well.
What projects are you working on currently?
I am wrapping up a redo of the old La Zona Rosa downtown. A company called PGi is using it as creative offices and a film studio.
I am working on the offices of thirteen23 on Congress Avenue. Their space used to be a woman’s department store. The old brick walls and huge arched windows are so good to work with.
I have the privilege of working on Ben and Andrew’s new restaurant concept (Gardner) with another designer, Charyl Coleman, and the incredible Burton Baldridge team opening in the fall!
I also have a group of wonderful home clients who I enjoy spending time with.
Where are some of your favorite places to look for furniture and style elements to use in your work?
I love vintage – anywhere I can find it. There are some amazing gems around town. I am a fan of the classics so I frequent Design Within Reach often. I also love Spruce! You all have the most amazing and unique selection of fabric, bound to make any old item totally perfect.
Aww shucks, Ann! Thank you for collaborating with us! We love the pins, too! Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Photo of Ann by Michael A. Muller.