HACIENDA CULTURE

BY JOANNE XU | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

Natividad Rios never expected to stumble across another perfect location for Rios Interiors, his bustling furniture and interior design studio, when he did. In fact, as with all things that are truly meant to be, the story of how Rios moved into his Fort Worth showroom was purely and perfectly coincidental.

It began like many other Texas nights, warm and still, except for a brief tease of wind every so often. Rios was comfortably enjoying a hearty meal at a local steakhouse when, out of the corner of his eye, he caught the words “for sale” on the side of a building. Rios, whose company had recently outgrown its then-headquarters at the Dallas Farmers Market, immediately contacted the realtor on the sign and worked out the details. The space was elegantly rustic, blanketed with “Old West” history, and had just enough Southern charm—it would be perfect with his capable touch.

Since then, the Rios Interiors showroom has proudly stood in the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards, a neighborhood treasure to residents and visitors alike. His interior company and showroom boasts 20,000 square feet of originally designed hacienda and old-world-inspired furniture pieces, many of which are exclusively sold at the Fort Worth showroom. Rios Interiors also offers a full range of interior services, including an in-house craftsman’s workshop for on-thespot customization, in-home interior design services and more.

Each customer comes in search of the same thing: a personalized touch to make their house feel more like home, and Rios delivers just that. Starting on the showroom floor, clients are welcome to peruse freely and leisurely as they browse the bountiful collection of handcrafted solid wood, highly original furniture pieces. Touches of leather, hand-forged iron and reclaimed weathered board, Rios’ signature specialties, lend a classic touch of luxury to the cozy-feeling pieces.

Much like the showroom’s structural personality, Rios’ furniture is even more beautiful up close. Its uniqueness lies within the details—the perfectly smooth curve of a rustic wooden headboard, the intentional ruggedness of worn-in leather upholstery. Every last element in his designs is purposefully nuanced to fully capture the hacienda, old-world or ranch lifestyle. Rios seems to build his furniture with the artistic vision of a sculptor and the emotion of a family man. What’s more, the company offers customization capabilities on nearly three-quarters of all the designs found on its stockroom floor, to add just a bit more personalization to the already carefully curated collection.

Hacienda culture is rich with communities of vibrant individuals whose love for celebrating those around them is larger than life. The same is true of Rios’ passion for serving others, which he pours into his clientele. Centralized in the cultural hub of North Texas, Rios and his team encounter individuals from the local area and international destinations alike; each of them receives the same attentiveness, care and compassion as the next. Those close to the Rios Interiors team note that the founder never feels like his job is finished, that there is always something more that he can do to improve the next patron’s experience. “Rios stays inspired by his clients. He designs current and new furniture based on what he hopes will speak to them,” says Carla Marley Ballinger, Rios Interiors’ general manager and interior designer.

When Rios first began chasing this passion project, he was armed simply with $3,000, his love of design and the faith he held in himself. Today, his passion is his driving force. He has accomplished a small part of his dream and is excited about what the future will hold. There is an air of liveliness that, oddly, puts one at peace in Rios Interiors, as if one interaction with the spirited individuals on Rios’ team is enough for their passion for interior design to become contagious. Rios and his team’s enthusiasm is humbling, and it’s clear that these are simply people chasing what they love to do best—manifesting the hacienda lifestyle through furniture design.

That, in itself, is an admirable way of life.

Joanne Xu is a part-time freelance writer and blogger living in Austin.