During one particularly blustery and brutal New York City winter, Paige Gaines’ husband, Colby, suggested moving their family to his native Texas. Paige agreed, but with several conditions, one being that she could enlist the help of designer Dan Mazzarini. The couple first connected with Mazzarini after purchasing a tear-down on 1½ acres up North—and his execution of their new house from the ground up on that property earned their trust 10 times over. “For our Austin home, I wanted him to have the final say in everything—carte blanche,” says Paige.
So, when the time came to hunt for real estate in the Texas capital, it was Mazzarini who toured potential homes with Paige, with the pair landing on a Spanish Colonial-style residence with a Santa Barbara-esque stucco exterior and tile roof. “I call it Texas by way of California,” says Mazzarini, whose firm spearheaded the renovation, with builder Becky Fuller brought on to implement the changes. “Becky has such finesse and understanding of the big picture,” notes Mazzarini, “and was amazing at recreating finishes like the detailed wall treatments and flooring we matched.” Rounding out Mazzarini’s team were lead designer Sarah Peterson Major, design architect Jesse Held and designer Christian Caldwell. And to ensure their ideas were executed with precision, Patrick Mackie of 787 Design Studio served as architect of record.
Perhaps most ambitious of those ideas was the renovation of the kitchen, which formerly occupied a much smaller footprint and lacked a connection to the main living spaces. “It was a fraction of the size and very closed off, and that’s just not how this family lives,” says Mazzarini. “We opened everything up, so it became a hive of activity for the couple’s three busy kids.” The design team also added a larger island situated perpendicular to the previous one, creating more space for cabinetry and casual family dining, and extended the Jerusalem tile floors by sourcing authentic new ones from Israel. Inserting rustic wood beams into the ceiling imparted a sense of history while helping demarcate the kitchen from the adjoining spaces, including a spacious pantry and warmly inviting family room.
The family room is located in the home’s turret, which also houses the upstairs master bathroom and closet, both of which proved additional ambitious undertakings for Mazzarini, Fuller and her superintendent, Mike Lawrence. “We gutted the master bathroom and closet down to the studs and made sense of them,” Mazzarini says. “It was a real lemons-to-lemonade situation.” They maximized square footage in the master bathroom with a luxurious walk-in shower and an improved his-and-her vanity and makeup area, while also carving out a spacious master closet, which features custom-made cabinetry perfectly curved around the room’s perimeter.
For every new piece Mazzarini selected for the interiors, form had to follow function. “With our kids, we needed everything to be comfortable and livable,” Paige explains. Mazzarini rendered each space in pen and marker with accompanying descriptions to present to his clients for feedback before making any purchases. And the result has a “shaken-out casualness,” Mazzarini says, achieved using a neutral palette that nods to his past work for Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors. As with the creamy master bedroom’s iron canopy bed, elements of black throughout keep the scheme feeling grounded. “I think of it as a stroke of eyeliner taking it from ethereal to graphic and crisp,” he notes.
A black-and-white photograph by Thom Jackson in Colby’s office is another example and also speaks to the impressive collection of art Mazzarini curated for the couple—including a painting by Isabel Bigelow and a round sculpture by Kevin Kegler over the family room fireplace. An array of etchings, small oil paintings and a Dutch-inspired mirror made the transition from the family’s previous house. In installing them, Mazzarini took the tenets of styling into account, opting to lean rather than hang many for a more livable feel. “I thought out the home in a cinematic way,” he explains. “As interiors experts, I consider us set designers for the owners’ life.”
The combined living-and-dining space created in lieu of a formal dining room has become one such setting for this family. With a vibe that’s “somewhere between cocktails and casual,” Mazzarini describes, it underscores a freewheeling lifestyle that invites the family to kick off their new cowboy boots and relax. “Taking pretense out of the equation allowed the owners to feel at home,” Mazzarini says. “It’s not just about living, but living well.”