Exotic Emphasis In Texas

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Exotic Emphasis

Inspired by his client's Middle Eastern roots, a designer updates an Austin residence with color and vitality.

Original Exterior Intact with Ivy

The original exterior of this renovated Austin home was kept intact and serves as a foundation for climbing fig ivy. The terra-cotta pots at the entry are filled with English topiary boxwoods.

Off-White Entry with Moroccan Rug and Pecan Floors

In the entry, designer Marcus Mohon paired a Moroccan rug with a sleek Ann Getty House Collection chair wearing white hair on hide from Edelman. The hand-scraped hickory-pecan floors here and throughout the house are from Boatright Hardwood Floors.

Updated Wet Bar

The designer breathed new life into an existing wet bar by painting the cabinets with Benjamin Moore’s Iron Mountain and replacing the existing countertop with soapstone from Decorum Architectural Stone in a wax finish, making it soft to the touch. The silver piece in the niche is from the homeowners’ collection.

Lounge with Chaise and Chandelier

The wife’s lounge pairs a Lee Industries chaise with a Dennis & Leen stool in Gretchen Bellinger eelskin. Hickory Chair seating flanks an Arteriors side table, while Circa Lighting floor lamps frame a mantel showcasing the owners’ art and accessories. Custom Coraggio sheers and a Dennis & Leen chandelier add feminine touches.

Custom Blue Banquette in the Breakfast Room

Mohon outfitted the breakfast room with a custom banquette he designed in a KnollTextiles Ultrasuede and Perennials fabric-covered cushions. The throw pillows and pendant light fixture are from Tazi Designs, Inc. in San Francisco; the blackened-pewter-and-glass sconces are from The Urban Electric Co.; and the walnut side table is Arteriors.

Barley-Twist Chairs with Plants and Art

The homeowners’ barley-twist chairs surround the breakfast room table, which has a hammered-iron base and steel top, by Marcus Mohon Interiors. The console and artwork are also from the homeowners’ collection.

Velvet Pillows and Silver Accessories in the Family Room

The family room sofa by Lee Industries wears a Castel acrylic-velvet slipcover and velvet pillows featuring the appliquéd Hortense design by William Yeoward. Hidden Sapphire paint by Benjamin Moore backs the built-in shelves, which are filled with silver pieces from the family’s collection.

Light Gray Kitchen with Dark Countertops and Island

Siglo Moderno barstools in Morbern vinyl pull up to the kitchen island topped with soapstone from Decorum Architectural Stone, situated beneath light fixtures from The Urban Electric Co. Cabinets from Elegant Custom Cabinets sport Hamilton Sinkler hardware, and Broesche Design fabricated the custom vent hood. The sink and faucet are Kallista.

Light Bathroom with Blue Adornments Above

In the master bathroom, a Belgian linen shade in fabric by John Saladino for Savel Inc. covers the Kolbe & Kolbe window from Grand Openings Inc., creating privacy near the Cheviot Products tub with Kallista hardware. The mosaic Carrara marble floor tile is from Decorum Architectural Stone, and the inlaid chair is from the homeowners’ collection. A light fixture by Liza Sherman injects color.

Cascading Draperies in the Master Bedroom

Fabricut draperies cascade behind the master bedroom’s custom Duralee fabric-clad headboard, overlooking Signoria bedding and throw pillows in fabric by Rose Tarlow Melrose House and Dessin Fournir’s Classic Cloth. Atop a rug from Madison Lily Rugs, custom-fabricated nightstands hold Circa Lighting lamps. The adjacent sitting area showcases a Lee Industries swivel armchair featuring Innovations vinyl.

Enhanced Yard with Japanese Yew and Pool

Landscape designer Ben Dozier enhanced the existing yard with Japanese Yew hedging around the pool by Johnson Custom Pools. The new covered patio with exposed steel beams accommodates a fiberglass Tulip-style table from LexMod and Bellini chairs from Design Within Reach. Just beyond, the slipcovered chair is from Lee Industries.

In the search for a new home, sometimes practicality takes precedence. As designer Marcus Mohon discovered when beginning a largely cosmetic makeover on a residence in Austin, it wasn’t the architecture that most attracted his clients—although they liked the flow and bones of the house—but rather its large grassy yard, where the couple’s two young boys could run wild. So although Mohon usually keys his design off the architecture, his initial goal for this project was instead to accommodate the homeowners’ young, active family. “The Moroccan overtones are a by-product of learning their tastes as our relationship developed along the way,” he explains. Says the wife: “I wanted something light-filled and colorful that also reflected my cultural background.” 

Mohon began by addressing the basics: replacing countertops, retiling bathrooms and covering every wall surface with his favorite Benjamin Moore Mountain Peak White. “It was the perfect color to unify the spaces in this large rambling house,” he says. Next, all agreed the kitchen, with its one narrow entry point and cramped work area, required reconfiguration. Mohon designed a new space that builder Brian Fuchs then executed, removing the upper cabinets on one side of the room and replacing an octagon-shaped island with an improved rectangular version. “The owners wanted everything to feel open,” the builder explains. “This included giving the kitchen more of a relationship with the family room.” To help achieve this, an existing arch was also eliminated to expand the opening between the two spaces. 

Concurrently, landscape designer Ben Dozier was making changes to the grounds, which he describes as a natural amphitheater surrounded by trees. “All the shade was on the perimeter, and there was a huge sunny area in the middle, which we softened by balancing the turf and garden areas and by planting more trees,” he says. “Now, it’s an inviting, welcoming area with plenty of room to play sports.” Dozier also collaborated with the pool designer and builder, Craig Johnson of Johnson Custom Pools, to ensure the pool was integrated with the master plan for the landscaping and exterior spaces.

Contemplating the wife’s desire to incorporate an international aesthetic into the design of the interiors, Mohon aimed to weave in Moroccan accents without going overboard. “The challenge was to keep the texture, geometry and mood without looking theatrical or contrived,” he says. An example is the pattern on the family room rug, which incorporates a geometrical illusion popular in the area but doesn’t hail from that region. In the breakfast room, however, a banquette wrapping two walls is a more authentic interpretation of Moroccan design. As Mohon—who has traveled to the exotic locale—explains, “In that part of the world, it is common to have seating surround an entire room, with a table pulled up to one side.” The table in this case, composed of cool, clean-lined steel, interjects an unexpected modern energy. “It has a dynamic quality that prevents the room from feeling too tongue-in-cheek,” Mohon says.

Throughout the house, the wife’s love of blue drove the color scheme. “It became the through-line,” Mohon says. The designer added accent pillows and rolling ottomans in the saturated hue to the family room, where he rounded out the palette with mismatched gray sofas and an upholstered armchair clad in deep plum. Everything syncs perfectly with the blue-backed built-in shelves supported by metal legs. “They are like a pair of étagères,” says Mohon, who designed the display and added silver pieces from the homeowners’ collection. Similar tones of blue and gray repeat in the master suite, featuring dark draperies with a subtle midnight teal cast that imbue the bedroom with a romantic and nomadic tent-like quality. 

Although there’s a momentary departure from the blue in the dining room, where two custom ottomans dressed in raspberry velvet add an unexpected surprise to the formal space, the blue through-line resurfaces across the hall on twin velvet chairs in what the homeowners have dubbed the “girl’s room.” The wife, who requested the personal sanctuary, explains, “I am the only woman in the house—even our dog is male—and I wanted one purely female space.” To accommodate her request, Mohon draped all the walls in her sanctuary in a wool sheer. “The curtains make it beguiling but still approachable,” he says, just as the gray cotton damask on the chaise is the perfect merger of comfort and elegance. 

In this space and throughout the home, the design subtly pays tribute to the wife’s heritage while also reflecting “the more casual nature of life in 21st-century Austin,” Mohon describes. Perhaps more important, the house also perfectly suits the homeowners, who enjoy and live in every space. Adds the designer: “It’s fresh, comfortable and young.” 

Mindy Pantiel

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