“You can’t simply go to a store and come home with rooms that look like this,” says designer Jennifer Fisher of her client’s Austin residence. “It requires years of collecting and understanding your own loves and likes.” That appreciation for sentiment, and perhaps even a little nostalgia, is what strengthened the bond between Fisher and homeowner Cat Prince, a longtime friend and collaborator. “She’s a collector, and it’s important to her to be surrounded by her things,” Fisher continues. So when it came time to begin work on this existing home, the designer’s goal was to simply let her client’s unique character shine.
Working with builder Rusty Bannerman, Fisher and Cat—an experienced home-renovator in her own right—took a gentle approach to refreshing the midcentury structure’s interiors. “Cat wasn’t looking to overhaul the house. She wanted to keep its integrity, but modernize it,” Fisher explains. While previous owners had updated the abode over the years, this project for Cat and her husband, Rudy, largely included refurbishing floors, repainting, refreshing bathrooms and changing doors and trim where necessary. They also widened the door from the kitchen into the dining room, but otherwise left the rooms virtually untouched. Furnishing them is where the fun really began.
“The house is filled with things I’ve gathered along the way. I keep recycling and repurposing,” says the client, pointing to a pair of ottomans purchased two decades ago that she has since reupholstered, one in an eye-catching leopard print and the other in velvet. “And I bought the Lucite stool two houses ago for a dressing table, but here it’s in the entry,” she adds. Artworks, too, have been collected over the years, including a Paco Felici bird painting in the dining room found in Houston, and numerous works by friends and family or even of her own. “I like what I like,” the owner says unapologetically. “I also love to buy when I travel, so a few pieces were splurges from galleries in places like Marfa, New Orleans, Barcelona and more.” There are new additions, too, including a large wire sculpture that Fisher nabbed in Round Top just before she spotted celebrity designer Kelly Wearstler eyeing it.
Also new to the home is a custom Kyle Bunting rug for the dining room. “Cat has always been a fan of Missoni, so we discussed colors and created a custom pattern,” says Fisher. “I always ask clients about their favorite hotels, what they like to wear, and the psychology and that ‘getting to know you’ conversation helps me make better decisions about what they’re drawn to.” Noticing that the dining room’s light fixture was off-center from the table, Fisher also immediately remembered a cantilevered chandelier she had seen at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. Placed over a table surrounded by a vintage set of chairs, the Rosie Li design perfectly balances the ceiling space. And as luck would have it, a sideboard that came with the house nicely rounds out the eclectic mix.
Other furnishings harmonized just as serendipitously, including a pair of lamps in the main bedroom that also came with the abode. Remaining open to ideas allowed both Fisher and her client to fully embrace surprises like this, including the black chinoiserie secretary desk from Uptown Modern that found a spot in the bedroom. While the duo had planned to fill that space with a different piece, and originally envisioned the secretary for the living room, “we changed the plan and moved it to the bedroom,” notes Fisher, explaining they painted the existing nightstands to match. “Collecting and honing help tell a story and make the design interesting.”
“I have to love where I live,” chimes the homeowner, who has also resided in London, Manhattan and San Francisco. “Making our homes is my creative outlet.” This time around, her collaboration with Fisher resulted in spaces—some intimate, others more spacious—that are ideal for putting her signature imaginative flair on display, especially when the music-loving family hosts jam sessions with guests. These occasions are even easier now thanks to outdoor living spaces ideal for relaxing, be it with a dip in the pool or watching the sunset. Adds the client: “This is a feel-good house, a wonderful house in which to be creative—and I knew Jennifer could be creative with me.”