photographed by kate lesueur
There’s a saying going around Austin right now that “100 people move here every single day.” While we haven’t exactly taken the time to fact-check that stat, it certainly feels true, and Forbes magazine has just named Austin the 2nd fastest growing city in America. With so many talented young people unpacking their boxes here, it’s getting harder and harder to stand out from the crowd. But Nikisha and Carl Brunson have taken Austin by storm in less than a year and half — he’s an interactive designer and director and she’s the blogger, vlogger, (and one incredible head of hair) behind Urban Bush Babes. From the moment we discovered Nikisha’s painfully cool instagram account (along with 10K other people), we’ve been dying to meet this buzz couple and get an inside look at their mod spartan home in North West Austin. We lucked out and scored an invite from the two for lunch — what we found was an envy-inducing kitchen, the best mac and cheese we’ve ever tasted, and a couple who are completely beautiful… inside and out.
Wow. We’re dying over your plant-filled breakfast nook. You must have a green thumb!
I always dreamed of having a bunch of plants in my house once I became a homeowner. I’ve been working on my green thumb because it’s always been brown, and surprisingly none of my plants have died and it’s been a year. I guess reading articles on how to care for certain plants is paying off!
Your standard hostess outfit:
I usually wear anything black, comfy, and stylish.
We love these little wildflower bouquets for each place setting. Which flowers did you use?
I love the look of wild flowers, so I chose Blue Eryngium, Focus, Limonium Misty Blue, and tied it with twine for my mini arrangements. I purchased them from Central Market.
Who are you dream dinner guests?
Tracy Ellis Ross, Michael Cera, Natalie Portman, Karen O (The Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Donald Glover (Childish Gambino), Thom Yorke, Santi Gold, along with my friends and family. And Francis Chan!
Your current favorite color palette for parties:
Tone on tone whites, antique wood, and wild flowers to pull in some green and deep wine colors.
We’re kind of obsessed with your dining room table. Where did you score it?
I’m obsessed with French antique pieces and it took me a long time to hunt the perfect table down. I scored it on Ebay and went to pick it up in Dallas.
Tell us a bit about your Jamaican heritage and what it means to you:
My mother is Scottish/ English and my father is Jamaican. Although my father didn’t raise me my mom incorporated a lot of the culture including the cooking into my childhood. It’s been wonderful to pass that culture on to our son and share it with others. I’ve visited different parts of Jamaica as a teenager. When I was younger I believed a lot of my identity was in my heritage, but as I have gotten older I’ve come to know my identity is in Christ alone. He transcends heritage, race, and culture.
The restaurant meal you’ll never forget:
Dinner with my husband at a Japanese Restaurant called Sansei in Maui Hawaii. The food was incredible.
Your entertaining style in 5 words or less:
Casual, creative, fun, and eclectic.
The taste you’re always craving:
I’m always craving seafood (mostly shrimp).
What (if anything) scares you about entertaining?
My guests not enjoying the food and not feeling comfortable.
Your kitchen is seriously beautiful — did you and Carl design it? Or did you just hit the jackpot when you were house hunting?
I realized during our house hunt that I would have to design my own dream kitchen because everyone has different interior design taste. We gutted the whole kitchen and redesigned it.
Your perfect dinner party playlist:
I always end up asking my husband Carl to help me because my musical taste is all over the place and I need someone to help reign me in so it’s more of a cohesive mood. Right now, we’re really into Chromatics, Jamie XX, Caribou, and Little Dragon.
Nikisha offered guests Red Stripe beer and her special Hibiscus Ginger Tea, the perfect compliments to a comfort food lunch.
Always in your fridge:
Cilantro, thyme, scallions, garlic, fresh ginger, a variety of berries, and grapes are always in the fridge.
Nikisha wowed guests with her signature Jerk Chicken, a classic Jamaican dish. Read Nikisha’s recipe for Jamaican Jerk Chicken Marinade here.
Guests enjoyed a kale and romain salad with homemade garlic croutons and cashew ranch dressing.
Any rules to live by for good table conversation?
I love to find out how my loved ones are doing and what they’re up to, even if they are new people I’m meeting. So I like to ask questions and listen. It’s always great to be a good listener. I also like to tell funny stories to make my guests laugh.
We really love this shot of you guys saying grace at the table. In all of our Entertaining With stories, no one has ever done this before.
It’s very important to us as a Christian family to pray and give thanks to God. He has blessed us with more than we could have ever asked for and He is the very foundation on which our lives, marriage, and family is built. Prayer is one of the ways we can express how thankful we are for His Grace and love.
Your baked mac and cheese is to die for. Tell us what you love about serving this signature dish:
You just can’t ever go wrong with some classic southern baked Mac and cheese. It’s comfort food and it’s always a hit!
Read Nikisha’s baked mac and cheese recipe here.
How did you and Carl meet and how long have you lived in Austin?
He went to the University of Miami with my friends and we were introduced to each other when he moved to NYC. We’ve lived in Austin for about a year and a half. We’re originally from NYC but lived in Virginia for a year before moving to Austin.
Tell us a few of your favorite food and drink spots in town:
Bufalina, DK Sushi, Whisler’s, and Mohawk. The list is still growing because there are a lot of spots I’m still dying to check out…
You guys seem like you’ve made friends fast here in Austin.
We love our friends very much! I believe that friends are the family you get to choose.
Where did you find your amazing antique flatware?
I hunt and gather for antiques all the time! I found my flatware at the Antique Mall here in Austin. It’s one of my favorite spots! It’s huge!!!
The entertaining rule you rarely break:
I always like to serve dessert and everyone must laugh while hanging out at my house, so I almost always go into comedian mode.
Do you or Carl have a sweet tooth?
Both myself and my son Jaden have a sweet tooth. My husband doesn’t, but does enjoy the occasional dessert, especially if it has apples in it! I’m always trying out new recipes for healthy desserts so I can keep the sweets in check with our healthy lifestyle.
Thank you Carl and Nikisha for giving us a peek into your lovely space! And for a taste of some delicious Jamaican flavors… we’ll be back for seconds.
follow nikisha on instagram here: @nikishabrunson