Maggie Goen Buckley

By Jenn Rose Smith
Austin interior designer Maggie Goen

Maggie Goen Buckley is one of those people with truly enviable taste. Every time I’m lucky enough to be invited into her home, I leave feeling inspired to make my own space more fun. (You may remember Maggie and Patrick’s unbelievable wedding weekend in San Miguel I wrote about last year.) That said, I was beyond excited when she agreed to let us into her charming 1920’s bungalow in Travis Heights for an intimate dinner party with friends. She has a natural gift for interiors, and after ten years in the landscape architecture field Maggie is finally transitioning into interior design (after plenty of prodding from friends such as myself.) “I’m inspired by the challenge of combining art and design to create spaces for clients that cater to their taste and vision,” she says. “Thoughtful design can truly influence quality of life, and finding the best solution in each unique situation is what fuels my passion for the practice. I’m naturally drawn to color, pattern, and texture, and hope to bring a spectrum of imagination and creativity to the world of interiors.” Read on to see how Maggie’s love of color (and her affinity for Mexican textiles) makes her dinner parties so much fun.

photographed by jessica attie


Your entertaining style in 5 words or fewer:

Imperfect, Impromptu, Authentic, Colorful, Memorable

The inspiration for tonight’s gathering:

To bring together great friends and celebrate the fall season.

Your home decor style:

Our home is definitely a work in progress and I’m constantly editing, so stylistically it’s a bit all over the place.  Throughout the house we have a bold and colorful palette against white walls and a wild mix of patterns thrown in. Antiques are mixed with found objects and a handful of modern pieces. Lots of artwork with lots of good stories and framed drawings from my nieces and nephews.  It’s clean, modern, and quirky with an underlying simplicity.

What’s on the menu?

I’m keeping it (mostly) local and seasonal, picking up many of the vegetables from Johnson’s Backyard Garden:

  • Local cheeses from Antonelli’s, Easy Tiger Bread, and Tupelo Honey from Orchard Pond Organics.
  • Arugula Salad with Beets, Goat cheese, and toasted Marcona Almonds.
  • Roasted Butternut Squash with Farro, Garlic, and Herbs
  • Green Beans Gremolata
  • Branzino – baked and stuffed with lemons, salt, and pepper
  • Spiced Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate Bark

One of your most memorable nights of hosting guests:

I’d have to say the night my husband and I got engaged. I didn’t realize we’d be hosting a party, but he planned a surprise party at our house with our closest friends and some family. Just about everyone stayed from 6pm until 3am, it was so much fun.

Your must-have entertaining tools:

Champagne, candlelight, good tunes, fresh flowers, and my husband Patrick. He’s the real cook in the household!

The one entertaining rule you never break:

I try not to take hosting too seriously. If it becomes too stressful what fun is it for anyone? We have a lot of last minute gatherings at our house, so one of my soft “rules” is to keep the fridge and bar stocked with wine, cheeses, etc. to allow for those spontaneous moments.

Your signature entertaining dish:

I mostly enjoy assembling cheese boards and creating desserts. I approach both like an art composition.

I like to select the cheeses depending on the alcohol I’ll be serving. Desserts are usually seasonal and due to the warm temps in Austin I have been making a lot of crisps. Tonight I’m making a spiced chocolate mousse with coconut cream and chocolate bark, adding in some fall flavors. 

What scares you (if anything) about entertaining?

Two things:

People arriving early. (something I know too well coming from the south)

People leaving early.

I typically like to spice up the guest list  and this can be risky when guests don’t gel as I imagined. It’s so refreshing to leave a party feeling energized, whether it’s meeting new friends, learning something new, admiring unique decor, or delicious food. I only hope people leave my house with that feeling.

Your perfect dinner party playlist:

The playlist is definitely a crucial part of any dinner and varies depending on the group and occasion. If it’s a Saturday, it’s got to be Twine Time! Even since Paul Ray passed, one of my favorite playlists is the Saturday night set on KUTX. For tonight, I’ll play everything from Bowie to Otis to Bruno Mars to Tribe Called Quest. We also have an abundance of instruments around the house that usually come into play after dinner, depending on our guests.

Who’s on the guest list:

I invited a handful of girlfriends for tonight’s dinner to celebrate the fall season and decompress after such a stressful election season. I’m lucky to have so many wonderful, creative and talented friends in Austin who also know how to let loose. One guest replied asking if pants and bras were optional for tonight’s dinner, so it sounds like the mood has already been set! We’re all in different places in our lives, from being single, married, mothers, entrepreneurs, and business owners, which keeps things interesting. We enjoy exchanging stories, ideas,  and advice.

One of the best meals of your life that you’ll never forget:

Oh I have so many! Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal was an incredible meal and a special night. So many factors can influence an experience, and, on this particular night, the weather, our table, service, and fabulous mix of familiar and new flavors combined to create a lasting memory that I’ll never forget.

Rules to live by when it comes to good table conversation:

No rules! I know politics are typically faux pas, but I try to create an environment that encourages healthy and intelligent debate surrounding politics and all other local and global issues.

Always in your fridge:

Black and Blue cold brew coffee (it’s magical!), Red Wine, and Dark Chocolate.

Your dream dinner party guests:

Michelle Obama.

Michelle is a true inspiration, what she’s doing to battle childhood obesity, campaigning for healthier food in schools, and pushing education, she is such a vibrant and graceful woman. I’d love to cook her a meal and chat one on one!

If Michelle is busy, I’d like to have Alice Waters, Massimo Bottura, Iris Apfel, and Larry David!

Your standard hostess outfit:

It’s usually the last thing I think about, but I typically go with something simple and comfortable, fun jewelry and bare feet.

The taste you’re always craving:

Dark Chocolate, with some good quality salt. The staff at Central Market are always giving me the best tips and have recently turned me onto this Hawaiian red sea salt. It pairs well with sweets and gives a splash of color on desserts too.

Finish this sentence: “It’s not a party without…”