The owners wanted this house to be fun,” says designer Ashley Goforth of renovating her longtime Houston clients’ new home, “with bright and colorful rooms, yet neutral tones on the larger furnishings for flexibility.” So that’s precisely the approach Goforth decided to take–and since she had collaborated with the couple on three of their previous homes, their friendship helped everything to effortlessly fall into place. When the couple–who had been on the hunt for a larger home but did not want to leave their neighborhood–first learned this residence was going on the market, they jumped at the opportunity to take a look at it.
Located just a few streets over from their prior address, and with all the extra square footage they would need for their three young daughters, it was a perfect fit. “Ashley was the first person I called after we bought our home,” recalls the wife. “She’s so good at really thinking things through before making big decisions.”
Goforth’s practical approach paid off for the clients when she determined the Tudor-style house would require only minor construction work. With builders Eric Finn and Jim Hardwick of Master Key Builders LLC also onboard, Goforth remodeled the kitchen with new plumbing, countertops, light fixtures and hardware. She also prioritized lightening the interiors, “which were originally very dark with lots of wood,” Goforth explains, by coating the walls with white paint for a fresh and airy feel while adding color strategically through art and accessories. “Since using color was a big departure for the owners compared to their previous residences,” the designer notes, “we created a neutral-hued zone in the center of the house to serve as a visual breather between each space.” This decision helped bring a sense of sophistication and continuity as well.
The idea to use a different palette in each room was sparked by a photo the wife spotted in a magazine. “She was the most vocal about using color,” Goforth explains, “and had torn out a picture of the multicolor fabric we decided to use on pillows in the living room.” The image also inspired the hot-pink fabric on the vintage chairs in the living room, as well as the lacquered teal built-in cabinets in the family room and the show-stopping Clarence House Tibet Print wallpaper in a powder room. Goforth kept the rugs and the primary pieces subtle, including the Oushak rug in the family room, the sofas and chaises in the main living spaces, and the armoire in the master bedroom.
With the new palette came new furnishings either selected or made specifically for this house–whether a traditional antique piece, custom design or more contemporary silhouette, such as a Jonathan Adler accent table–as well as furnishings repurposed from the family’s previous homes. “We tried to make sense of the existing furniture in its new surroundings,” Goforth explains. For instance, a table in the living room–flanked by antique fauteuils the owners acquired three homes ago–once served as the family’s dining table, while the armoire in the master bedroom formerly provided storage in a breakfast nook. “Through the years, Ashley has helped me acquire some amazing finds,” says the wife. “She has a great eye, whether she’s scouring local shops or the fields at the Original Round Top Antiques Fair.”
Goforth also advised the couple as they grew their art collection, which they started years ago with two treasured paintings by a favorite artist, Chris Andrews. “I love having them as centerpieces of our home,” the wife says. “I want to feel a connection with our art rather than buy it simply to fill a space.” This rule applies to all of the couple’s new acquisitions as well, including a favorite three-dimensional rice-paper work by Zhuang Hong Yi, “which looks different from every angle,” notes the wife. “When we have guests, our daughters walk them by this piece to see how it changes.” Other recent additions include paintings by Hunt Slonem and Robert Rea.
The process of carefully selecting furnishings, accessories and art resulted in a home that is both deeply personal and a refreshing change for the owners, who once shied away from anything too daring. Stressing the importance of relationships, Goforth credits her clients for having the confidence to trust their designer wholeheartedly in making bolder decisions for their interiors. “She likes to be involved,” Goforth observes, “but has complete faith in the process.” As for the owners, going out on a limb with more color and pattern was a welcome adjustment for their family. “Our last home was very monochromatic, beautiful and soft,” the wife says. “But this is such a happy place.”