I am a nationally known writer and producer whose areas of specialty are architecture, kitchen design, and food. Like many of my literary colleagues, I got my start at Texas Monthly magazine where I was a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. For three of those years I was the managing editor of TM’s lifestyle magazine, Domain, which focused on interior design and architecture—it was then that I realized that what I really wanted to do was write about houses and why people choose to live the way they do. I was also the founding editor of the Texas Monthly website before joining the New York-based shelter magazine Metropolitan Home in 2001. Met Home was already my favorite magazine—it was far ahead of its time, searching out and publishing the best modern architecture all over the country. During my 14 years there I wrote about houses and gardens and produced many of the features photographed in Texas. I have also written and produced articles for Elle Decor, Architectural Digest, Dwell, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Living, Western Interiors, Traditional Home, Veranda, Country Home, and many other publications.
Writing books offers me another platform for sharing my thoughts: I am the author of a number of books, including Santa Fe Modern, Texas Made/Texas Modern, Marfa Modern, Hocker Landscapes, The Big Texas Steak House Cookbook, and The Mansion on Turtle Creek Cookbook. No library, kitchen, coffee table, or nightstand—including my own–is complete without them. I am currently working on a book about Aspen.
In 2012, the Texas Society of Architects recognized my 25 years of writing and producing by presenting me with the prestigious John G. Flowers award for the promotion of architecture in the media. My body of work is archived at The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University, and in 2023 I was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters
Why I Write
There’s an intangible element that lifts writing to another level, and that’s the ability to say what you need to say in a revelatory way. I love writing about domestic life—what we eat, where we live, why we live there, how we decorate—it’s the architecture of life.
My fascination with place—and with making a place—was powerful, even before it occurred to me to write about either the fascination or the physical space. As a child I was enthralled with a game I devised, which I called “Apartment.” (Later in my official career I spent 14 wonderful years working for Metropolitan Home magazine, originally called Apartment Life—my youthful imaginings prepared me well). Though I offered my favorite pastime to family and friends, there were no takers in the elaborate construction process that involved emptying one of my bedroom closets, establishing a long wall comprised of a blue metal doll’s bed frame balanced on its side plus a few boxes and my toy stove. The arrangement extended perpendicular to the closet door, creating a gracious enclosure perfect as both courtyard and living room. What started as a 3 x 4 closet magically became a lifestyle. It was the only evidence I needed that my (and by extension all ) surroundings could be custom-fit for beauty and function. The preverbal obsession has since been articulated—not by my becoming an architect, but by my becoming a writer whose topic is architecture.
I have been a journalist since 1981 when I started working at Texas Monthly magazine–there I reported on general interest stories that included topics ranging from KKK cross burnings to athletics to health. Now I write almost exclusively about architecture. My goal remains the same, no matter the topic: To convey a point of view concisely and to report accurately.
My wish has always been to entice readers into accepting what I believe is a conspicuous truth: That life needn’t be a dismal negotiation with the ordinary. The corollary is that it’s far preferable to ally oneself with widely available elements that support experiencing life in a happier way. Proportion, light, texture, earthly and celestial context—they are portals to possibility. Those possibilities are what I am passionate about; they are my reason for endlessly explaining why the space you make for yourself and for others is so important. In some way or other, this bundle of beliefs is what I am always writing about. My absolute certainty of the value of that bundle of beliefs is now and will always be the reason I write.