Peter Tunney’s artwork Lonely No More greets guests in the entry of this Houston residence. “And that is exactly how my client wants you to feel the minute you walk through the door: happy, hopeful and completely at home,” says designer Ashley Goforth. It is fair to say that the interior designer can express her client’s sentiment with absolute confidence, having collaborated with her on the design of five houses over the past 18 years. Each one of their projects has been distinct, and this one proved no different. “Having a home that is welcoming, warm and approachable was important,” Goforth explains. “We wanted to create a family-friendly, uplifting environment while also maintaining a luxurious and edited feel.”
Except for a few special pieces of art, Mies van der Rohe daybed and grand 19th-century Louis XVI-style mirror, Goforth curated an entirely new collection of furniture and accessories to reflect the owner’s vision. And she conjured a soothing color palette comprising shades of milky whites and faint neutrals. While the designer is known in local circles as the “Queen of Color,” her foray into neutrals this time around was spot on thanks to her expert use of texture. “It was about creating an ethereal experience,” Goforth notes. “My client loves the idea of airy spaces that make you feel as if you’re floating through clouds as you move from room to room. At the same time, she wanted interiors that feel cozy and cuddle her like a blanket.” Nodding to the owner’s flair for high fashion, Goforth brought these dreams to life with help from couture fabrics in the form of silk draperies, wool rugs and both mohair- and bouclé-upholstered furnishings. Dressmaker details such as tufting, French pleats and bullion fringe add more depth amidst the monochrome layers.
Working from the outside in, architect Kelly Cusimano established a framework that perfectly reflects what the client had envisioned. Turning to classic materials like brick, timber and slate, the architect designed the home in an English style with a contemporary L-shape configuration to take full advantage of its corner lot. Alongside his project architect, Luis Salcedo, as well as builder DJ Palmore, he set the structure back from the tree-lined street for ultimate privacy. This had the added advantage of providing unparalleled views of the property—and plantings by landscape designer Fadi Hlayhel—from the wraparound glass galleries and expansive banks of windows flooding spaces with natural light. “The play on wall versus glass juxtaposes traditional, planned spaces with the unexpected, giving the house soul,” Cusimano says. “The furniture and decor selections take it one step further by enhancing the understated interior architecture so it feels richer and more inviting without overwhelming it.”
Flooring throughout the home comprising quartersawn white oak with a natural waxed finish, along with polished book-matched marble slabs in the welcoming entry, lays the groundwork for spaces that are light but still convey substance. Goforth thoughtfully devised furniture plans that reiterate this beautiful balance by integrating simple yet shapely tables, chairs and case pieces. Examples include a set of one-of-a-kind barrel-back dining room chairs upholstered in a tonal cut-velvet with clipped-corner arms and rounded tripod-style legs. These pair with another masterful piece: a rough-edge Costa Rican Parota wood-slab table the designer had fabricated locally. Meanwhile, she also sourced pieces like the study’s solid reclaimed elm desk with chunky arched legs and a commanding 1940s Scandinavian oak credenza situated in the family room. A smattering of additional antique and vintage selections including a marble coffee table and nubby vintage chairs in the living room instill a sense of permanence, suggesting a collected-over-time aesthetic.
Goforth firmly believes in the transcendent power of antiques like these. “No matter how modern the house, one single piece—a Danish desk chair, Biedermeier table, Directoire commode—is all you really need in order to bring in character and history,” the designer says. “Something from the past should be present in every room if you want to make the home feel lived in, loved and grounded.”