Jan Buchholz, Staff Writer, Austin Business Journal
Terah Kelley — recognized as one of "12 Designers to Watch in 2012" by the — is the new senior associate at Sixthriver Architects in Austin. She'll focus on hospitality and corporate interior design, bringing a wealth of experience from her previous position at Cooper Carry in Atlanta. I asked her about growing up, picking the field of interior design as a career, finding sources of inspirations and why she chose Austin and Sixthriver for the next chapter in life.
Where did you grow up? In New Orleans. It was an unconventional childhood to say the least but I wouldn't change it if I could. I love returning to visit as a tourist now. The Faubourg Marigny and Uptown neighborhoods are a must every time.
Why interior design? Oddly enough, I was that kid sitting up in bed drawing sections of high rises and building floorplans. I have always been creative and that was one of my hobbies when at home alone.
Why University of Southern Mississippi? I like change. Growing up in New Orleans the majority of my peers were attending Louisiana State University and I wanted to start fresh, meet new people, and see new places. I heard great things about the school and practically without even setting foot on campus, I made my decision. Southern Miss was also accredited in interior design.
Why commercial interiors rather than residential? I determined early on that I was more interested in commercial work. I was more interested in designing hospitality and corporate spaces, than someone's home. In addition, I honestly felt that working for a one- or two-person client would be more difficult. Little did I know that I would now be working on projects with 25- to 30-person committees! I am not quite sure I was clear on that little addition.
Why start your career in Atlanta? My parents grew up in Atlanta and I have always had family there. Visiting frequently and seeing all the rolling hills and lush greenery, I knew I would move there after college.
How did Austin happen? I wasn't even looking to move and actually loved Atlanta. However, I knew a recruiter for years and after trying many times for me to make a move in my own city, she presented Sixthriver to me. The job description was everything I wanted and I even felt it was written for me. I pondered on it for a good two months before committing, as this would not be an easy move. After meeting (Sixthriver President Rollie Roessner) and the team — and after seeing Austin for the first time — I knew it was the right decision. I now love this city. Austin feels like home.
How have you gotten immersed in Austin culture? My husband and I live in Clarksville and we enjoy the proximity to the greenbelt and (Lady Bird Lake). The walkable restaurants and shopping is so nice. We have owned a kayak for years and can now actually use it on a regular basis. I love to see so many Austinites utilizing the outdoors. It's inspiring! Our neighborhood is so relaxing, inviting and enjoyable. I also love the Second Street District, Rainey Street and have found some great restaurants on the east side, too. I love the casual food truck culture. I attended the East Austin Studio Tour and was inspired by what I saw. I have a lot more to see and need to explore the local galleries and museums.
What are the most dramatic differences between Atlanta and Austin? The Austin industry is smaller than Atlanta, yet I believe the people might be friendlier and more approachable. During my three months here, I have met some amazing people within the design and real estate industries. When I moved I immediately transferred my Commercial Real Estate Women membership from Atlanta and will be the 2015 membership co-chair here. I also joined the Real Estate Council of Austin and look forward to getting more involved!
How is your home designed? My home is modern, yet warm, with a mix of reclaimed woods, translucent dining chairs, textural upholsteries and bold, colorful artwork. I am working on my artwork collection and incorporating Southwestern elements now. My search is on for local Texas artists