Old and New: A Texas Designer Mixes Modern and Retro

HGTV Magazine gives you an up-close look at a house decked out with contemporary buys—but made unique with vintage finds.

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October 04, 2018

Allison with her papillon, Pierre

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

Allison with her papillon, Pierre

Texas designer Allison Crawford has a thing for unique contemporary furniture. She’s also a dogged hunter with a knack for spotting vintage booty. Put them together and what do you get? “A house that’s unlike any other in the neighborhood!” says Allison. “I don’t like to stick with one time period—there are too many things to love.”

Her any-decade-goes attitude came in handy when she bought a 1940s 2,500-square-foot cottage in Austin. It needed a reno and some updates, along with an infusion of pieces that played to its age but looked fresh.

Allison had the house repainted a custom taupe color.

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

Allison had the house repainted a custom taupe color.

After opening up the living spaces and redoing the kitchen and bathrooms, Allison stalked thrift shops, antiques malls, resale sites, and social media for vintage finds with spunk—choosing carefully, she said, “so my house wouldn’t feel like one big cluttered thrift store.” Once she’d gathered enough treasures, she turned to modern stores (CB2 is a fave) for choice new pieces, including a sectional for the living room and a gold-toned bed frame for her master bedroom. Her scores may span the decades, but they fit like they were meant to be together. “When you blend old and new,” Allison says, “you get a look that’s one-of-a-kind and totally your own.”

Living Room

Allison’s first buys here: two 1970s wood consoles—one under the TV, one under the window—from Room Service Vintage, a favorite Austin haunt. “Vintage furniture is really well-made—and it’s really heavy!” she says. “It took three guys to move the console under the TV.” For max seating, Allison went modern. “Today’s sofas have deeper seats than vintage ones, so they’re way more comfortable,” she says. She chose an off-white sectional from CB2. An antique zebra hide, a gift from her dad, sits under a glass coffee table, also from Room Service Vintage.

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

NEW: A painting by Texas artist Tracey Harris (back left)

NEW: A gold-painted resin stump table from Arteriors Home (far right)

OLD: A 1970s pale burl wood console (back center)

OLD: A 1960s black C table (front left)

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

NEW: A cool acrylic ghost chair from Overstock

New: A laquered Jonathan Adler desk

OLD: A framed 1990s circus-pattern Hermès scarf


Allison didn’t have to look far for inspiration: She bought the pretty chandelier years ago from a Dallas vintage shop and put it in storage, waiting for just the right place to hang it. Found! In awe of its hue (she calls it “rosé”), she commissioned a vibrant abstract painting from Texas artist Jerry Cabrera to display nearby. White-on-white zebra-esque wallpaper (Folded by Flat Vernacular) is more interesting than plain white paint, and the super-sleek table doesn’t distract from the bold pieces around it.

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

NEW: An acrylic console table from Overstock (center)

OLD: A 1970s tiered Lucite chandelier from a vintage store (above)

Dining Room

Like other rooms in the home, this one has something old, something new, and some old things made new. The 1970s burl wood Parsons table—the one Allison calls “the best table on earth”—looks contemporary next to tubular chrome-based seats designed by Jerry Johnson. When she found them, at two vintage stores in Texas, some were mustard yellow and some were maroon. She redid them in gray-blue. A vintage glass Murano chandelier from Room Service Vintage and a bar cart from a Dallas antiques mall are pure dining-room glam.

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

NEW: A commissioned painting of a matador cape by Texas artist Jerry Cabrera (back left)

OLD: A 1970s brass and chrome bar cart (far left)

OLD: Tubular chairs from the ’70s re-covered in Sunbrella fabric (far right)


Traditional elements—original oak floors refinished in a warm brown, and custom Shaker-style cabinetry—nod to the home’s old soul. The gray-and-white-veined quartzite countertops and backsplash, darker gray quartz from Silestone on the island, and polished-nickel pulls from myknobs.com are all 2018-chic. The blue barstools punch up an otherwise neutral space. “The navy color is classic, but the shiny brass legs make them eye-catching,” Allison says.

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

NEW: Brass-finish globe pendants from Circa Lighting (ceiling)

NEW: Velvet upholstered barstools from Scout Design Studio (center)

OLD: A 1970s Ming-style chair repainted and reupholstered in a Nate Berkus fabric (back right)

Guest Bedroom

The second Allison spotted a set of two-tiered mid-century nightstands on Craigslist, she knew they had showpiece potential. So she scooped ’em up and painted them olive green (Courtyard by Sherwin-Williams). An industrial-style iron bed has a retro feel, but it’s brand-new from One Kings Lane. An unexpectedly great complement to the light fixture with asymmetrical cutouts: a 1960s Picasso-like painting from a local art dealer. The peppy orange bedding is from ZigZagZurich.

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

NEW: A black iron light by Arteriors Home (ceiling)

OLD: Repainted 1960s nightstands (right)

Guest Bedroom

Since this room gets lots of sun, Allison wanted to keep the mood bright and happy. The teal-and-white-papered accent wall (Crescent by Kelly Wearstler) resembles a wide-open sky. “I love that the pattern has the same shape as the old arched mirror I hauled back from Morocco,” she says. She piled the bed with other mementos from abroad: pillows picked up from Myanmar and Turkey. “They look cheerful and feel special, since they remind me of places I’ve been,” she says.

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

NEW: A hot pink acrylic blanket scored during a trip to Mexico City (bed)

OLD: 1970s oak nightstands with block details (bedside)

OLD: A mirror from an antiques shop in Morocco (back right)

Master Bedroom

It’s all sorts of dramatic and glitzy—a style Allison calls “ ’80s glam pop princess.” A glimmery bed frame from CB2 holds court in front of a wall of metallic grass cloth by Ralph Lauren. “It’s harder to find fun vintage bed frames in king size, since older beds tended to be smaller,” Allison says. She went full-on flashy with two disco-fab 1970s mirror-front nightstands—a steal at only $25 each from vintage store Again & Again.

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

NEW: Matching lamps from HomeGoods (bedside)

NEW: A bed frame with golden trim from CB2

OLD: 1970s mirror-front nightstands (bedside)

OLD: A vintage bench upholstered in zebra-print cowhide (far right)

Master Bathroom

Allison converted a spare bedroom into a giant master bath with a spa-like feel. She topped the crisp white cabinets (painted Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore) with gray quartzite, and added pulls made of acrylic and polished nickel from myknobs.com. Above the tub, Allison hung a pretty print she got from an excellent source: “My favorite place to shop is my mom’s house,” she says.

Photo by: David Tsay

David Tsay

OLD: A Parisian print Allison got from her mom (back wall)

See more of Allison's designs on Instagram:

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