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Helen Thompson | Photo: Paul Bardagjy, Lionel Morrison, Fran Brennan, Patrick Wong and Jill Hunter | July 9, 2013
It’s no accident that some rooms dazzle more than others. Here, designers divulge their secrets (hint: great art doesn’t hurt).
A loft in the historic King William District of San Antonio is in a former glass factory renovated by San Antonio’s Poteet Architects and FAB Architecture in Austin. Everything was painted white, including the high-gloss lacquered floor to diffuse light in all ways possible, while the existing pine framing overhead and industrial sash windows were kept for texture. Crisp drywall finish on the walls shows off the owners’ art collection.
Dallas architect Lionel Morrison’s unmistakable signature is his high-style, all-white houses. This one is no exception. Says Morrison: “This is basically a front porch, but the double height gives the space grandeur. The approach into the house is orchestrated with a path and a 90-degree turn, so that the house is revealed to the visitor in stages. The lights inset into the limestone floor extend into the foyer, as if to invite a visitor inside. Thanks to interior up-lights, the room glows like an enticing jewel box.”
A client with an extensive collection of pop art was the perfect fit for Houston designer Laura Umansky, whose retail collection reflects her adventurous attitude toward style. Awkward spaces created by structural columns became places to display freestanding art, while all-white walls are the backdrop for shocks of red. A colorfully striped Kyle Bunting rug makes the narrow room seem more generously proportioned.Wraparound windows are left uncovered to accentuate that this 17th floor aerie is floating in its own world high above Houston.
Houston designer Ann Wolf is a master of nuance; a few subtle gestures turn a traditional dining room in River Oaks into an inspired environment for her clients’ cutting-edge collection of modern art. The gray-blue color of the grass cloth wallpaper is as elusive as a shadow and mysteriously complementary behind a painting or drawing. Velvet upholstery on the George Cameron Nash dining chairs and the grass cloth bestow vibrancy. Lack of ornamentation, especially in conjunction with texture, creates an intensified environment for art. The juxtaposition of formal and contemporary adds magic to an elegant space.
Architect Mell Lawrence and interior designer Fern Santini invigorated a Victorian mansion with industrial modern verve, especially obvious in the master bathroom that takes up space formerly inhabited by the attic. A skylight around the original chimney bathes the room in soft and wonderful light. The space feels like a secret retreat, thanks to a ceiling that follows the original roofline. The subtle, earthy hue of the chimney brick, the new shower tiles and the semitransparent Benjamin Moore stain on the poplar wall boards create an ambient glow that flatters both the room and anyone in it.