A few Saturday’s ago, my husband Justin and I arrived at Amna and Creede’s East Austin home, a familiar palace of friendship for us that has been the scene of so many cherished gatherings over the years. This day happened to be one of those perfect Austin Spring ones, where the weather is even more delicious because you know that in no time it will have vanished, replaced by our endless Summer.

Stepping through their Yves Klein Blue front door, there is an array of thoughtful details to discover at every turn. The sum of these parts, despite being so meticulous, is a space that exudes ease and escape. During this visit, I styled Amna in a few recent MBS looks, while Justin photographed and Creede prepared food. Later, we all sat down for one of Creede & Amna’s essential spreads, seated outside in their enchanted courtyard washed in late afternoon light.

Read on for my conversation with Amna as we discuss home design, work/life balance, her inspiring approach to food, and more.

— MB

what's your name, where you are from?

My name is Amna. I've moved around a lot my whole life, so I always hesitate whenever someone asks me where I'm from. I've lived in the mountain west, the midwest, on the east coast, and even spent a glorious 5 years in Malta (which feels the most like home of any place I've lived!). But Austin has been home for 9 years now, which is officially the longest I've ever lived in one place.

How did entertaining and fostering connection become so central to your home’s design?

When Creede and I were designing our house we really tried to pull in inspiration from our travels. We wanted our house to be a sanctuary and to always feel like vacation. Equally important to us was being able to share the space with the people we love. The quantity of space wasn't as important as the quality, so our downstairs living area is actually quite compact. It is designed for cooking and entertaining, two of our favorite pastimes. Our dining table is really the focus of that space.

Outside we wanted to it be evocative of a walled courtyard, a refuge from the outside world. We've done most of the work ourselves and it's been a real labor of love. We did all the landscaping and over time added the pool, fire pit and outdoor dining table so that regardless of season we can gather outdoors with friends. It feels like our own version of The Secret Garden.

" Outside we wanted to it be evocative of a walled courtyard, a refuge from the outside world."

What is your formula for the perfect late afternoon spread?

I try not to put pressure on myself when creating a spread. It's always best when it comes together spontaneously. The secret is keeping a pantry and bar stocked with things you love - bonus points if they're pretty and remind you of vacation. For us it's tinned fish, potato chips, good cheese, fresh baked bread, sardines in the freezer (for grilling over the fire pit). A white port and tonic or ice cold bottle of crisp white wine is always welcome in the summer. I've also perfected the formula for my version of a perfect martini and am always ready to shake one up when called for. I'd be remiss if I didn't give a big shout out here to Salt and Time and Austin Shaker for making it easy to do. And icing on the cake of course is being able to share all that with friends, whether planned ahead or out of the blue. 

the perfect late afternoon spread :

"tinned fish, potato chips, good cheese, fresh baked bread, sardines in the freezer (for grilling over the fire pit). A white port and tonic or ice cold bottle of crisp white wine is always welcome in the summer."

I recently heard the quote “use the weekends to build the life that you want rather than recovering from the life that you have” — does that resonate for you, and if so, why?

 

Oh my, I really feel this one. Just being a human in the world right now is stressful, and I can easily get overwhelmed, especially when it feels like there is so much bad news going around. For the longest time it felt like I was slogging through the week and then trying to cram in as much as I could on the weekends, I think in an effort to make it feel meaningful. But I ended up feeling like I was drowning all week, and the weekends felt like just enough time to gasp a lungful of air before I was sucked down again. I knew it wasn't sustainable but I really struggled to find a path out of it.

The big turnaround for me came during that first summer of the pandemic. It felt like the whole world slowed down during those months, and I was able to truly begin to appreciate all the things I had to be grateful for - my job, my health, the health and safety of my family. For Creede and I our home really became our sanctuary, in a way that we had intended from the beginning but never quite realized. We were so focused externally, but now we had no choice but to look inwards. Since we couldn't go on vacation we tried to recreate our favorite vacation memories at home, mostly what we ate and drank. We expanded our cookbook collection and really leaned into making new things. I planted flowers for the first time and tried my hand at a vegetable garden. Now weekends are gloriously lazy, with usually very little planned. Morning crosswords and coffee in bed, a little yard work, a trip to the grocery store or book store, lazing around the pool in the summer. And as things have eased open we welcomed friends back into our house for long lazy dinners, which has been the greatest gift. More often than not these days the weekends end with me feeling rested and fulfilled. 

"More often than not these days the weekends end with me feeling rested and fulfilled. "