As one of the country’s best antique festivals opens once again, interior designer Kristen Nix is on the hunt.
Kristen Nix enjoying the sunshine and bounty in her “chic cowgirl” finery. PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTEN NIX INTERIORS
Anyone can see the spark behind interior designer Kristen Nix’s eyes at the mere mention of the Round Top Antiques Festival. The largest of its kind in the country, “The Show” stretches over 11 miles on both sides of Texas State Highway 237, only a 90-minute drive from her Austin-based firm, Kristen Nix Interiors. “Everybody looks forward to it,” she says, while her bevy of beautiful project managers nods in acknowledgment. “There’s such a culture around it: cowboys and cowgirls, the Texas weather. There’s such a romance around the Ralph Lauren Americana feel. It’s just a happy, good vibe.”
Since its inception in 1968, the fair has become so much more than booth aft er booth of vintage finds—now it is a highly coveted destination for the nation’s top designers, celebrities, influencers and A-listers. “You just don’t know what you’ll run into,” says Nix, who has personally spotted interior design icons Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Suzanne Kasler and Kelly Wearstler. Though the most heavily attended shows already took place in March and October, with attendance numbers climbing well into the hundreds of thousands, the upcoming Winter Fair, happening January 19 through 22, gives local designers a chance to spend more time perusing and discovering what vendors are sourcing. During the fall and spring shows, Nix says she barely gets to chat with anyone outside her team, especially in the precious minutes aft er the much-ballyhooed Marburger Farm Antique Show tent opens. “You’ve got to get there early,” she says. “If I can, I put a sticker on something I want, and a lot of the vendors know me, so they’re like, ‘It’s crazy right now—come back in 30 minutes. I already saw your stickers. You’re good.’”
Miron Crosby’s new Sally Pecan boot. MIRON CROSBY BOOT PHOTO BY CHASE HALL
Rooker, Hermes, Jenni Chester and Nix gear up for opening day of Marburger Farm Antique Show. PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTEN NIX INTERIORS
Testing one-of-a-kind finds for comfort. PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTEN NIX INTERIORS
Through the years, Nix has learned to rely on her instincts since her clients are not always readily available for quick purchasing decisions. “There’s an element of trust,” she explains. “I can’t go walk around for the next hour and think something’s going to be there when I return, right? It just doesn’t work that way.” And, she adds, “The good stuff isn’t always served on a platter.” Nix started going to Round Top before opening her firm in Houston in 2011. “It started out as girls’ trips,” she explains. “I used to buy a belt for myself or something.
Now we’re coming home with an embarrassing amount of stuff .” In the past, she has found gems, including a 130-inch dining table for an Austin homeowner, an oval mirror wrapped with antlers that ended up in a client’s Montana ski lodge, and a sculpture by American artist and architect James Wines that she enjoys in her own home. And while she can be swayed by the sight of something truly unexpected (and the occasional piece of vintage turquoise jewelry), Nix says she primarily hunts for her clients’ needs. “We definitely have ‘a look,’” she explains. “Our hallmark is a very muted palette and tailored elements. It’s more weighted on texture and mixing old and new.”
Allison Carter, Kelli Hermes, Nix and Grayson Rooker. PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTEN NIX INTERIORS
Nix found all these accessories at Round Top. PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTEN NIX INTERIORS
“OUR HALLMARK IS A VERY MUTED PALETTE AND TAILORED ELEMENTS. IT’S MORE WEIGHTED ON TEXTURE AND MIXING OLD AND NEW.” -KRISTEN NIX
The designer says no trip to Round Top is complete without a taste of Lulu’s radiatore cacio e pepe. PHOTO COURTESY OF KRISTEN NIX INTERIORS
Over the years, she has learned some valuable lessons, also, like “cash is king,” boot-wearing is a nonnegotiable, and tote bags trump satchels. Plus, she says she always brings a tape measure and tries to note booth locations on photos she takes of items under consideration. One thing the Festival will never be, however, is a chore: “I feel like the day we leave, we’re all like, ‘We’re so lucky to work in this profession.’ Round Top brings in so many people who share the same passion. It’s such a fun perk of the job, you know?”