"I believe in blending styles and centuries to mix it up and get the best of both worlds,” says interior designer Katie Stassi-Scott of the Houston home she fashioned for owners Ally and Korsh Jafarnia and their three children. When the couple began searching for a new space in 2008—after a hurricane damaged their former ranch-style house—they realized they wanted something more modern with plenty of light. They also needed it to be kid-friendly yet elegant enough for entertaining: an easy feat for Scott’s adept mix-master skills.
“We have a high-traffic house,” says Ally, who tapped architect Ken Newberry and builder Christopher Sims to create the new structure. The result: a soft, contemporary style that Newberry describes as a blend of French country and American estate-style architecture. “The traditional, understated exterior belies the fresh interior finishes, which take full advantage of the ample natural light,” says Sims.
A myriad of wide windows, vaulted ceilings in the breakfast room and master bedroom, and faintly arched doorways and family room niches or “eyebrow arches,” as the architect refers to them, “soften the hard lines of the modern design of the home and bring in more traditional shapes.” The floor plan encourages circulation, and each room serves a purpose or what Newberry describes as a magnet that pulls people into the spaces.
Answering her clients’ request for a stylish yet family-friendly home, Scott’s distinct blend of furnishings places period pieces that offset more contemporary elements and add a touch of history. Tall, shapely candleholders with a patina lend an air of antiquity to the contemporary living room, while an organic Murano glass chandelier hovers above Art Deco-style chairs and a glass-topped table in the dining room. With her eclectic mix of classic pieces in fresh styles and fabrics, the designer keeps the aesthetic of the house both sophisticated and casual.
For the color scheme, Ally envisioned copious amounts of blues and grays throughout. Scott fulfilled this requirement yet catered it to the family’s more energetic disposition. “I envisioned something that better matched their personality: vibrant and spirited yet with a contrast of more sophisticated tones,” says the designer. The outcome is a palette dominated by varying blues, grays and neutrals with bold shots of color, which not only add a youthful jolt, but, when used on upholstery, also help modernize the more traditional pieces.
An example of this pairing can be seen in the living room, where Scott reupholstered a French canape´—purchased in New Orleans—in brilliant delphinium blue; it’s now the focal point of the space. The canape´’s cashmere fabric adds yet another texture to the room, which includes silk draperies and a brass-and-glass vintage coffee table. Even the walls and ceilings are clad in subtly pigmented plaster—blue-gray here and in the dining room; soft white for the family room and throughout the first floor. “I love when a client requests plaster,” says Scott. “It makes everything else so beautiful.”
Scouring her three favorite places for furnishings—Houston, New Orleans and California—as well as online at 1stdibs, Scott says that when starting a room, she begins with a piece “that presses on my heart. If that’s an antique, I need to look at things that are more modern to help balance it out.” The family room’s antique Louis XVI-style daybed cloaked in black velvet, for example, looks right at home with a custom iron-and-glass coffee table from Peck & Company.
The house has been abuzz with activity since the family moved in. The kids love sitting at the kitchen’s long countertop with friends, the adults open up their house for casual dinners, and even the grounds are put to good use with Korsh coaching sports in the backyard. Says Ally, “If I had to do it over, I wouldn’t change a single thing.”