What would Edwin Lutyens do?” is a question architect Virginia Kelsey, joined by interior designer Cathy Chapman, raised more than once during the renovation of a Houston house.
Invoking the spirit of the esteemed 20th-century British architect and her personal hero, Kelsey transformed a stone structure built in the 1990s into a meticulously crafted home worthy of the English countryside.
According to Kelsey, Lutyens was known for both his attention to materials and a willingness to mix design genres. Following his lead, she introduced a fireplace mantel from a French monastery in the great room and continued the oh la la with a carved antique fireplace surround and floors from a French chateau in the master bath.
The historic nods continue throughout the home with refined coffered ceilings in the great room and a rustic, vaulted ceiling in the morning room. The staircase features a balustrade intended to mimic Lutyens’ stair design at Great Dixter, the family home of British gardener Christopher Lloyd.
“There was talk about a metal staircase, but I felt the staircase had to balance out the heaviness of the rest of the house,” says Kelsey, who assembled a full-scale paper mock-up to make her point. “It’s what Lutyens would have done.”
To play up the architectural details, Chapman incorporated furnishings and antiques with global style, such as a set of carved Swedish chairs for the breakfast nook and 19th-century octagonal French mirrors for the hallways.
Today, the estate is not only reminiscent of an English country manor; it boasts a layout suitable to their clients’ modern lives.