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Helen Thompson | Photo: Colleen Duffley | April 9, 2013
Dixie Chicks’ Martie Maguire’s house in the hills of Austin is a contrast of tonalities.
Considering all the days fiddler and vocalist Martie Maguire has been on the road in her lifetime, it’s no wonder that she’s in love with the idea of home. Fortunately for Maguire, home is more than just her physical address in Austin. When she’s with her family she feels she’s at home, too. Maguire often travels with her three daughters, and, of course, with her sister, singer and instrumentalist Emily Robison. Together they are two-thirds of the alternative country band the Dixie Chicks.
Touring actually does have its perks: “The beauty of being on the road with Emily,” says Maguire, “is that we get to go shopping together!” And Maguire doesn’t mean they are looking for clothes, even though she’s definitely got the knack for dressing up. The lanky blonde is drop-dead gorgeous in jeans, a long cashmere sweater, and a pair of come-hither heels—a look she’s devastatingly skilled at pulling off. Or when her left brain is going full throttle you can expect something wilder, like a see-through gold lamè coat and black platforms. But Robison and Maguire share another kind of obsession—shopping for home décor. “We have similar tastes,” says Maguire, who can’t get enough of midcentury modern with some vintage pieces tossed into the mix.
Maguire’s Austin house is filled with her finds. As is her recording studio, also on the property, which she designed herself. A white Saarinen table accompanied by tulip chairs is a pert spot for a conference or dinner with band members; the plush carpet makes the work setting seem downright homey. “It was really necessary that I have my own recording studio,” she says. “Especially when my children were young—I could go in and feed them or take care of them if they were sick.” Having your own recording studio comes in handy anyway. Maguire and Robison are singing duets again in their new side band, the Court Yard Hounds. Their new single, “Sunshine,” comes out in April, to be followed by an as-yet-unnamed CD in July, both recorded in her studio.
When it was time to renovate the main house, Maguire sought the help of Austin interior designer Joel Mozersky (there’s that sister connection again: Mozersky decorated Robison’s sleek and light-filled loft built in a 1930s former candy factory in San Antonio). “I love Joel,” says Maguire, “because he’s not always pushing big-name designers. He’ll dig around in obscure places and bring back something great.” Mozersky’s got a keen eye for midcentury chandeliers, and the cheerful Las Vegas-meets-a-stalagmite interpretation in the master bedroom is a fine example. The white faux bois breakfast table in the kitchen is another piece that will always bring a smile, even to the grumpiest sleepyhead. And that’s important, because Maguire puts her children first. Her commitment was the reason she also asked Mozersky to design her tour bus just after she’d given birth to the now-8-year-old twins. “We couldn’t leave the babies at home, so we brought them with us,” explains Maguire. Mozersky even created built-in cribs. Although Maguire no longer needs the bus, it found another home with singers Diana Krall and Elvis Costello, who just had twins.
It was through Mozersky that Maguire discovered Austin stores she continues to frequent. “I love to drive up Burnet Road,” she says. A favorite stop on this funky north Austin strip is Uptown Modern where Maguire spotted a Lucite table and four chairs she quickly purchased.
She also loves Mercury Design Studio, Steve Shuck and Bobby Johns’ stylicious home decor and design services shop in the Second Street Design District. “It’s really great during the holidays,” raves Maguire, “because they have tables full of affordable gifts like little leather pouches.” Also on her rave list is Howl, where fearless home fashion is the credo of owner and designer Barry Jelinski. He is the master of weird and wonderful cabinets, consoles, shelves and tables.
The hunt is everything, though, in Maguire’s search for that perfect piece of furniture. She reveals the strategy she and Robison rely on: “We ask somebody who looks cool if there’s a good place in town to shop.” Ideally, the cool person’s answer will lead the sisters to an entire street or district, such as the West Village or the Meatpacking District in New York. “That way we can poke around a lot of places at once.” Maguire splits her time between New York, where she has an apartment in Chelsea, Los Angeles and Austin. In L.A., she loves to linger in Room Service (now called the Mod Shop) and is grateful that their website is good so she can look for great finds anytime, anywhere. “They change their inventory frequently,” says the fan of the store’s refurbished midcentury furniture. “And they have an extensive selection of new pillows.” When Maguire was renovating her crisp chocolate brown and white kitchen in Austin she haunted Heath Ceramics, a company in L.A. and San Francisco that specializes in those zippy geometric ceramic tiles that never go out of style. “I love them,” she says longingly, perhaps thinking it might be time to renovate a house again.
And, in truth, the opportunity may arise. Maguire has put her Austin nine-bedroom, nine-bathroom, seven-acre compound—complete with horse stables, the recording studio, guest houses and the main house—on the market. She’s recently divorced and thinks it may be time to simplify to a less-complicated place. Her former husband, Gareth Maguire, was good at maintaining the property, but Maguire admits she’s not as enthusiastic. “I just don’t want to know about the septic pump,” she says with a laugh. In the meantime, Maguire will be touring with the Dixie Chicks in Canada this summer. Who knows what kind of interior design stores are just waiting to be discovered in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, or in Craven, Saskatchewan? And, in the meantime Maguire continues to add to the ever-growing collection of favorite photos that she’s torn from shelter magazines. Just in case.