If ever there were interiors that look like the well-loved fashion designs of Tory Burch—functional pieces that balance contemporary style and nostalgia for the past—they’re the ones designer Ashley Goforth imagined for a young family in the West University neighborhood of Houston. Beyond the house’s transitional-style architecture are charismatic rooms filled with geometric pattern, pops of brilliant color, sumptuous texture and whimsical form. There’s also no shortage of metallic accents, which, like the way Burch’s iconic gold medallion punctuates her signature ballet flats, give the spaces just the right amount of glamour. “My client wanted something stylish and classic,” Goforth says of the wife, who appreciates the fashion designer’s feminine yet edgy style. “So I mixed rich fabrics and accessories with contemporary art and a few antiques to give the spaces depth and personality.”
Goforth’s clients—a husband who works in finance and a wife who is a stay-at-home mom to three children—needed more living space but didn’t want to leave their beloved neighborhood. “West University is very child-friendly,” says the wife. “It has great parks and a well-respected public school district. Our last house here was our very first house, but we outgrew it with the addition of our youngest child, who’s now 5 years old.” So when the couple saw a sizable home under construction and for sale in the neighborhood, they jumped on it.
Once they had officially purchased the in-progress residence—conceived by residential designer Todd Rice of Rice Residential Design and constructed by builder Charles Kuck of Classic American Homes—the wife hired consultant Jennifer Frasier of Scott Frasier Homes to help her select the right interior finishes. “She encouraged me to do a palette that would be timeless,” says the wife. In the kitchen, Frasier used Carrara marble tile laid in a chevron pattern behind the stove and oversize subway tiles for the rest of the backsplash. There is also Carrara marble on the floors and a wall that acts as a backdrop for the freestanding tub in the master bathroom. Throughout the rest of the house, a medium coffee-colored stain enriches the traditional white-oak plank flooring.
Once the architecture was complete and the finishes were in place, the couple commissioned Goforth to expertly dress the interiors. She too had timelessness in mind. “I always want to do something that’s still going to look good in 20 years,” says the designer, who balanced classic elements with contemporary touches. “It’s traditional but a little edgy.” For the casual dining area, Goforth painted fanciful French antique chairs a bright white and applied a coat of lacquer, and she changed the seat cushion fabric from a floral print to a stripe. The designer then chose a zebra-patterned wool staircase runner for the entry, where she placed a French antique grandfather clock that was a wedding gift from the wife’s parents. She also hung a large antique gold mirror and applied a grass cloth woven with metallic strands to the walls of the powder room. “It gives the space personality and a sort of wrapped quality,” she says.
In the family room, Goforth outfitted the space with a custom ottoman that features a nickel-plated base and is covered with deep blue tufted mohair. An early-1900s painted French console sits across from the crisp white upholstery of the sofa and draperies edged with blue fretwork. For the dining room, the designer chose a massive round custom table with a brass-dipped base and surrounded it with chairs covered in leopard-print linen-velvet and cream-colored leather. “Here, the chandelier is a French antique,” Goforth notes. “It’s an aged piece that bestows history and weight to the space.”
However glamorous the interiors are, they’re also entirely practical. “My clients’ children range in age from 5 to 11,” Goforth says. “So I used fabrics that are durable and easily cleaned. I specialize in that since I have young children myself.” Therefore, the reupholstered chairs in the casual dining area are covered in striped vinyl, and the sofa and chair upholstery in the family room is made of a Sunbrella outdoor fabric. “The mohair on the ottoman is also treated,” says the wife. “You can spill and wipe it right off; it’s indestructible.”
In Goforth’s opinion, the artwork that hangs on the walls is a crucial component of a house’s overall presentation. “Houston has a great art scene with respected museums,” she says. “Art really gives an interior individuality.” Therefore, an oil on canvas by Hunt Slonem gives the living room a lyrical quality, while a textured abstract painting by Sandi Seltzer Bryant grounds the dining room. A more personal artwork by Charles Schorre—another gift from the wife’s parents—draws attention in the casual dining area. “It was theirs, and I’d always loved it,” says the wife. “Schorre had Parkinson’s disease, and the piece is a bold expression of life. It’s a reminder to relish my own life as well as the blessing of our health.”
Integral to the design was keeping a sense of balance: a quality that resulted in a lively mix of beautiful spaces. “These rooms are versatile and dynamic,” Goforth says. And her client couldn’t agree more. “This house is comfortable, yet there are pieces that have stories and there are pieces that are elegant,” the wife says. “It truly turned into what I wanted—feminine and classical, but with an edge. Ashley brings all of that to a home very easily.”