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It only took one month of being stuck inside during the pandemic last spring for vintage seller Tazeen Noor and her partner to realize their East Village one-bedroom was way too small. Having fallen in love with the inclusive nature of Austin, Texas, and the close proximity to Noor’s family, they decided to move there. The house they found, right on the city limits (yes, like the music festival), may have been over budget, but the abundance of south-facing light was something plant-loving Noor simply couldn’t ignore. 

No longer tied down by lease restrictions, Noor was thrilled that she could finally leave her mark on a home. She’s owned property before, in Philadelphia, but this was the first time there was real square footage to work with. “Immediately I was trying to find a way to take it from a builder-grade space to something that felt inviting and like us,” recalls Noor. 

Break the Fourth Wall

The kitchen and adjacent dining room, the most cookie-cutter spaces, were first on the upgrade list. Noor cooks almost every meal at home—she’s known for her tachin recipe—so not feeling isolated from her frequent guests was the first priority. Tearing out the floors, a wall of cabinets, and the too-skinny island opened up the room to the living room. 

Bulk Storage

The garden-style window frame above the sink almost doubled in depth, to 28 inches, adding much-needed extra sunlight. Noor also got a spot to display her dwarf Ming aralia tree (and extra sunlight to help it grow). With the upper cabinets completely cast aside, however, she was lacking storage for cooking essentials. Extending the back wall of lower cabinets by knocking through an old dry storage pantry meant all of Noor’s small appliances could easily fit. 

Set in Stone

The locally sourced Calacatta Viola marble countertops and backsplash are Noor’s pride and joy. With its funky burgundy and gray veining on such a large scale, the material was a risky choice (and a splurge), but she didn’t waver. “It had this sense of motion to it,” she says. “It’s a snapshot in time with what was going on in the stone.” 

Ground Rules

Grounding the dramatic stone was also important to Noor. While she may self-describe as eclectic, she has a minimalist side, too. A maroon zellige tile on the back of the island mirrors the marble’s hues, while brass footing along the cabinets adds a punch, not unlike what earrings do for an outfit. 

The abundance of greenery and natural textures in the dining area keep the kitchen from feeling too glam. Vintage rattan lighting and high-back bamboo dining chairs were bought from local seller Boldvntg. Noor envisions the space as a hub for community meetings, business brainstorms, and, of course, family gatherings over plates of tachin. “For me,” she says, “home is a safe place to land, but it also needs to be a launching pad.”