The adage “great minds think alike” couldn’t be more evident than in the effortless way this art-filled Houston house came together. Having collaborated previously with designer Janet Gust, the homeowners enlisted her help once again in hopes of updating their residence to accommodate an ever-growing art collection while also giving the interiors a modern touch. “Our home is traditional in its architectural style and has a fairly basic layout,” says the wife. “Our goal was to make the best use of the space we have while also infusing a little more contemporary style—and Janet knew exactly what we wanted.”
The project began with fairly minor cosmetic tweaks like painting the walls and refinishing the floors before Gust, joined by builder Michael Russell, moved headlong into a larger overhaul of the interiors. Architect Dillon Kyle—with project manager Josh Canez—also came onboard to collaborate with Gust on creating a seamless connection between the indoors and the new exterior spaces. “The owners both spend a lot of time outdoors,” says Gust, “and extending the veranda gave them what now feels like an outdoor living room.”
Inside, the family room also took on a whole new life. Here, the fireplace received an updated façade and is now flanked by French doors replacing former built-in bookshelves, allowing sunlight to flood in and providing easy outdoor access. Meanwhile, Gust also brought in a new B&B Italia sofa configured to function as a tête-à-tête between the fireplace seating area and kitchen. “My main objective was to make this small rectangular room a family area that’s usable from both sides,” explains Gust. Now the once single-use space also invites guests located in the cooking area to settle in and visit before meals.
Gust also brought functionality to a homework room, another spot previously not utilized to its full potential. New built-in storage adds depth at one end opposite a vibrantly hued banquette on casters, which enable the room to easily transition from the two daughters’ study station to a serving space when the family entertains. French doors and chevron brick flooring seamlessly connect to the outdoor veranda, ensuring an easy flow of traffic. And in lieu of neutrals, Gust kept things interesting by blending bold colors and textures for a perfect balance throughout. An example is the Kyle Bunting rug she custom designed and layered over the brick floors. “I wanted something durable with an interesting shape that touched all corners of the room,” explains Gust. “It really does make a statement.”
Even spaces with the smallest of footprints enjoyed modern updates, including a former wet bar with doors that was transformed into a functional and stylish alcove just outside the homework room in the foyer. “During parties, it becomes a useful display area for food and flowers,” says Gust. Minjung Kim’s Hanji paper work, Building Forest, hangs against an Erica Wakerly metallic wallpaper, creating a striking backdrop above the alcove’s Charles Hollis Jones console.
In fact, around every corner hang eye-catching works of art—even in the kitchen. “As the most lived-in room, it should be designed not just with cabinets,” posits Gust, who replaced black granite with marble countertops and dated cabinetry with a wall now showcasing a realistic oil-on-linen by Leslie Parke entitled Janet’s Shelf. “It reminds me of my grandmother’s pressed glass and looks like it came right out of her cabinet,” says the wife, noting her family now enjoys cooking and dining together in the kitchen daily. Gust uses a special hanging technique “to create a floating effect so the art isn’t flat against the wall and stands out more,” she explains. Notable pieces elsewhere in the residence include Dan Christensen’s acrylic-on-canvas unifying the bold dining room palette, Raymond Hendler’s abstract acrylic-on-canvas anchoring the sitting room and a William Betts acrylic-on-canvas in the homework room, among many others.
But it’s not simply the works of art that had a huge impact on the outcome of this home’s interiors. Gust admits it was also the interesting details and carefully curated accessories that proved key to the project’s success. “Accessories are an integral part of the process,” the designer explains. “I call it phase three—when we select the ‘jewelry’ in the final stages.” In this case, finishing touches included a grouping of handmade decorative jars with oversized stoppers, selected to create a dynamic visual statement on the dining room table. Color-matched to nearby artwork, they were but the “icing on the cake” for the homeowners upon the completion of their stylishly modernized and functional family home. Notes the wife, “We spend a lot more time outside, we entertain more frequently and we are all together more as a family.”