Chanel’s Laid Back Downtown Loft

It’s a colorful boho paradise.

By Camille Styles
Chanel Dror's Austin Loft

As longtime readers of the site know, Chanel was the first person to join me in making Camille Styles a team rather than a solo project, and the two of us frequently laugh over the way both of our styles have evolved over the last eight years. It’s been inspiring to see her grow from a bright-eyed college grad into a chic and (she’ll kill me for saying this) sophisticated woman, and there are few people on the planet whose personal taste I trust more than Chanel’s. She and her now-husband Eric found their downtown Austin loft space a few years ago, and have slowly and thoughtfully transformed it into a home that truly reflects the way they work, play, love, and entertain. I’ve been begging her to share it on the site for ages, and though she swears it’ll never be “done,” here it finally is.

photos by Molly Culver 

Tell us about your home: How long have you lived here? How did you find it?

We’ve lived in our loft for just over 4 years. I always felt discouraged by the lack of beautiful and interesting spaces to live in Downtown Austin — there are mostly just overpriced cookie-cutter high-rises — so when I stumbled upon this building, I was instantly fixated. Since it used to be the Texas State Department of Health, it’s full of character and industrial details, and with just 38 units, it feels small and secretive too. This unit became available to rent at just the right time, so we scooped it up knowing it would be the perfect place for Eric and I to co-habitate for the first time!

Our dining space is made up of a thrifted solid wood expandable dining table, and 6 spindle-back dining chairs, which I found on Craigslist for $6 a piece (!!) and then had painted black.

pictured: glass vase from target; glass pitcher from west elm; armoire from ikea

What was the design inspiration for your home?

It took a while to figure out the right way to decorate this space, and though I originally thought that keeping things mostly-white and neutral was the answer, it turned out the real inspiration struck when I started falling in love with color. Specifically, warm colors, like red, orange, yellow, pink, browns and tans. When I started being more purposeful with my purchases and sticking to a palette instead of buying impulsively, things began to come together.

You may recognize Chanel’s workspace from the dramatic before-and-after we shared last year. See the full makeover here!

pictured: table lamp from west elm; artwork by mia baxter

pictured: heirloom wood desk; leather tray from noah marion

Who are your dream house guests?

Since we have no room for house guests, some of my favorite times in this apartment have been when we cram way too many friends in here slumber-party style. Two on the couch, two on an air mattress, luggage strewn everywhere and virtually no floor space to walk around makes my heart full. The more friends, the better.

What is your biggest design challenge for the space?

One of the biggest challenges was working with our large single-room floor plan. I went through a lot of trial-and-error to figure out the best way to arrange furniture and fill wall space, which is tricky when your dining room, living room and bedroom are all one space.

Like every other design-loving renter out there would agree, another hard part of decorating this apartment was doing so within the existing design. I have so many ideas about how the space could be improved with just a few small renovations, but of course, doing those things is off the table. Plus, knowing that this isn’t a forever home has kept me from investing in much needed pieces like a new sofa and new dining table.

This show stopping leather lounge chair is another one of Chanel’s thrifted rehab projects. See the before and after here!

What’s your favorite way to relax at home?

Saturday morning. Windows open. Music playing. Incense burning. Drinking coffee and cooking breakfast together.

pictured: watercolor by kelly colchin; drawing by ricardo jaen; glass vase from target

pictured: black coffee table from pottery barn (similar here); leather tray from noah marion

What’s your favorite spot in the house?

The daybed tucked into the corner of the apartment is everyone’s favorite spot. Whether the sun is pouring in or it’s storming outside, there is no better feeling than curling up in this nook with a book or a laptop or a dog, having the music and some incense going, and just chillennn.

pictured: shag rug by alyson fox

pictured: carved wood daybed from urban outfittersvelvet daybed cushion from urban outfitters; seagrass storage ottoman from urban outfitters

What’s your number one interior design tip?

Buy vintage. In my opinion, when you buy exclusively new furniture from big box retailers, the space will always feel cold and unoriginal. And because of their amazing quality, antique and mid-century pieces almost always look good, no matter how you combine them.

Click here to see how Chanel made over this antique armoire.

Around the corned is Chanel and Eric’s bedroom area, where a low platform bed adds to the loft’s lounge-like, industrial vibe.

pictured: kennedy armchair; barclay arc sconce from pottery barn; bedding from kip&co

What are your favorite design resources?

I’m a Craigslist addict. If you’re short on funds but long on patience, there’s really no better way to score amazing vintage or antique pieces. Ebay and yard sales for rugs, big box stores sparingly for simple staples, and Urban Outfitters for having fun with trends.

Locally, I love The Antique Mall, Nannie Inez and Noah Marion for unexpected decor details.

I love that the different seating areas in our house inspire intimate conversation, so even though the apartment is one big space, there are plenty of places for guests to tuck away and have privacy. There’s nothing I love more than looking over at this little bistro nook and finding two friends talking over a glass of wine or a smoke. It’s also a great perch to people watch from while drinking your morning coffee.

I crafted this table by taking the marble top off of another furniture piece I found on Craigslist, and attaching it to this iron base I found online. The bentwood chairs are both thrifted.

Describe your home in 5 words or less.

Relaxed, Fun, Thrifted, Party Pad