When a couple with young twins moved into their Austin home—a Texas Mediterranean west of the city, with views of the surrounding Hill Country—their hectic lives took over: The wife is an avid art collector and museum patron, while the husband has a career in commercial real estate. Balancing their demanding schedules with family life, the duo had little time to think about designing their house. A few years later, they were finally ready to dive in and contacted designer and longtime friend Mary Gilbert Korth to begin the process. “They’re two interesting, vibrant people,” Korth says about the couple. “She’s edgy and can appreciate a very wide variety of styles. He’s a well-traveled outdoorsman.”
The wife—whose mother is also an art collector—grew up in a modern house with clean, minimalist architecture. And although she still has an appreciation for that style, she yearned for a cozy, cocoon-like home.
“The wife loves having her kids bring their friends over to hang out, and she also likes to feed everybody,” Korth says. “She wanted the house to feel comfortable and didn’t want rooms that you’d have to stay out of or couldn’t fully enjoy.”
Throughout the home—originally built by Brian A. Bailey of Brian A. Bailey Homes—Korth chose a calm, neutral palette to better showcase the artwork. “In the living room, we used a beautiful old Oushak rug that plays off the soft, muted tone-on-tone colors,” says the designer. “We were going for serene—nothing too loud, bright or statement- making. This allowed the art collection to be the focal point.” Hence, the living room’s sofa, covered in a soothing gray velvet, and vintage cream-colored tufted armchairs from Area allow six lively works by Gottfried Honegger to shine.
A mix of Art Deco and edgy-traditional pieces, as well as French antiques, is also placed throughout the house. “The wife appreciates great design from all periods,” Korth says. “They’re educated, open-minded people who have seen much of the world and were receptive to new ideas and mixing unexpected elements.” Therefore, the couple’s mostly contemporary art collection is juxtaposed with down-filled custom upholstery pieces featuring soft and comfortable fabrics that beg one to curl up and read a book or just hang out. In the library, an existing sofa is the perfect cozy perch for relaxing, while the family room’s custom sofas and leather chair from David Sutherland mingle with vintage brass ottomans—all in front of a welcoming fireplace.
The husband also has an appreciation for wonderful old pieces with a sense of history. In a corner of the family room stands a piano that is a family heirloom, while in the library sits an old chest from Spain that was handed down from his great-grandparents. “It’s like a treasure chest from a pirate ship,” Korth says. “He didn’t know how to use it, so we had a carpenter make a Parsons base for it—as a stand—as a Father’s Day gift from his wife. That chest is extremely important to him, and he finally gets to have it on display.”
To give the kitchen a more inviting feel, the smaller round breakfast table was replaced with a cozy nook consisting of a long black walnut table— custom-made by Brian David Johnson—and cushy banquette seating. “It altered the whole vibe of that space,” Korth says. “Their kids, who are now teenagers, can come home with friends and eat comfortably. It is done in a faux leather, so you can spill anything on it and just wipe it off; it’s very durable.”
And that was the point: to create a home that reflected the couple’s love of art and great design yet was also comfortable enough for adults and kids alike. “Every room is quiet and elegant, but in a usable way—not too fancy,” Korth says. “So you can just sit back and exhale.”