What is a designer to do when they’re brought into a remodel that already has great design and stunning architectural features? That is precisely the conundrum designer Blair Burton faced when taking on this Austin home. In this remodel, Blair chose not to tear down and start from scratch just for the sake of doing so. She believed she could give her client a uniquely new space while embracing its old design, and that’s just what she did. Take a peek at the beautiful photos by Molly Culver and let us know what you think.
From the designer… This refined, rustic home was previously owned by a couple who clearly had a great sense of style. When our client acquired it, she was at a juncture in her life where she needed a getaway. Her desire was to make this home her everyday retreat. In many respects, Angelwylde was already made for this kind of purpose. While located in the heart of Westlake in the middle of energetic Austin, the home was situated on a heavily-treed lot such that within seconds of rounding the first bend of the driveway, all neighborhood structures vanished entirely from view. So the question became for us, how do we follow through on that experience?
This home already contained substantial architectural elements such as its heavy reclaimed beams that, while eye-catching and beautiful, needed to be softened. You might even say, in terms of our client’s purposes of “getting away”, they needed to be “relaxed.” To accomplish this we gave great care to the textures and finishes we chose. We used gentle fabrics, plush sofas, linen drapes, wool rugs, and other soft finishes and embellishments to build attractive contrasts to these “life of the party” architectural features.
A good example of this is the stunning marbled vent hood and backsplash in the kitchen. When I first saw this element, I loved it. But left to its own, it threatened to overwhelm the experience of the kitchen. In some respects, there is no distracting from an element like this. We chose instead to build contrast by raising the intrigue of the things around it. The rugs have their own contrasts, age, texture, complex patterns, and rich colors. The gold-finished hardware and plumbing both offset and accent the blacks and whites of the marble. The cabinets that otherwise might sit in the background instead come along for the ride with their own depth of color. And the painting opposite the vent hood remembers its rustic surroundings while still ringing with vibrant color to balance out a lateral view of the kitchen. The net effect is a room that still features the beautiful marble without letting it overpower the experience of the kitchen. In this type of work, we are placing a worthy array of courtiers around the Queen. And now she looks all the more stunning in her palace, doesn’t she?
The most essential challenge every designer faces with a pre-existing home is the question: “What do we do with what is already here?” One of the most valuable skills we can thus bring to a remodel is the ability to take what is present and either enhance it, accent it, or when necessary obscure it. The more we excel at these subtle skills, the more we can conserve and refocus the client’s budget away from costly and time-sucking structural rebuilds. It takes both creativity and a certain measure of humility to play this role. We are not there to put our signature stamp on anything. Rather, we are in the business of hiding the errors of others and accentuating their greatness, while always keeping our client’s unique needs at the forefront of everything we do.