Two Hills Studio

Fine Lighting and Decorative Metal Work

By Angela Rabke
photos by Angela Calo and Two Hills Studio

If you’ve spent much time in the Hill Country, there is a good chance that you’ve seen the work of the artisans at Two Hills Studios. This small, locally owned business has been creating custom fine lighting and decorative metalwork for both individuals and businesses since 1987.

Examples of the studio’s handiwork can be spotted all over the state, including at the Metropolitan Cinema in Austin, the Smith Chapel at Riverbend Church, the Speakeasy Club, and the Alamo Quarry Cinema in San Antonio not to mention dozens and dozens of private residences in Texas and beyond.

In the current era of catalogs and online shopping, clients appreciate knowing that their lighting and metalwork are one-of-a-kind. Every single piece that Two Hills creates is essentially custom, as it’s made-to-order in their on-site workshop. Over the course of the company’s 31 years, they’ve perfected a menu of nearly 65o products, each of which can be further tailored to their customer’s preferences.

“We really like to help clients identify what best suits their needs and their space. We always make sure that what they want is buildable and works within the space, that the finishes are suitable for the environment—it’s a very comprehensive service,” owner Scott Gross shares

We really like to help clients identify what best suits their needs and their space. We always make sure that what they want is buildable and works within the space, that the finishes are suitable for the environment it’s a very comprehensive service.
Scott Gross

Gross recently purchased the business and studio from its founder, Britt Medford.

“Britt was an architect with his own practice, and as he worked with clients, he really recognized the need for handcrafted fixtures that he couldn’t find anywhere else,” Scott said. “He started doing it by himself, and the business expanded until he turned his attention to Two Hills full time.”

Today the business includes twelve employees, with the majority of the team creating unique pieces in the 8,000-square-foot workshop. And while the Two Hills crew often caters to designers and builders, they also work directly with homeowners. The shop is located on a busy stretch of South Lamar in Austin, where they have been located since 1994, Scott said. They see plenty of walk-in customers in their showroom, although Scott prefers appointments so that each (potential) client can get his full attention.

“We don’t maintain an inventory, because we have so many easily customizable fixtures, but we do have a showroom with plenty of examples of our work. And all of our fixtures are handmade on-site by our craftspeople. We’re always delighted to show off our production space to everyone who comes by the studio.”

Those clients vary greatly in terms of aesthetic preference, and the team prefers it that way. “We are flexible,” Scott said. “We’re known for Craftsman or hill country-style work, but our projects runs the gamut from whimsical to contemporary, and the challenge of something new is especially exciting. We love our designs, but also appreciate and recognize that everyone has their own aesthetic.”

This openness allows the team to create fixtures and details that fit each client’s needs with precision, and in a way that other architectural details may not, Scott said. “Lighting is such an effective and cost-efficient way to express style. There is so much that you can do with it…you can often tell that the fixtures were selected by the homeowner, even when it is clear that they didn’t necessarily design the space,” he said. “For us, it isn’t about putting the Two Hills stamp on a space, rather, it’s about putting your stamp on it.”

The 6- to 8-week wait is a bit longer than ordering from a big box catalog, and well worth it. “We often make clients ‘for life,’ and we’ve had many, many long-time clients who’ve purchased fixtures from us in one home only to come back 10-15 years later to buy again for their new home,” Scott said.

Light is, after all, what we think of when we think of home: a warm, familiar, and recognizable beacon.