Anyone seeking clues about the residents of a century-old Craftsman-style San Antonio residence need only reference their art collection. A Donald Roller Wilson painting signals whimsy in the living room, a geometric Robert Kelly work over a fireplace speaks to a sense of order, and a custom Analy Diego vector illustration of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the family room indicates style, class and more than a touch of glamour. According to designer Ashley Goforth, the latter is a pinpoint description of the wife. “She gives off a movie-star vibe when she enters a room,” Goforth describes. “My client knows what she likes and has the sophistication and confidence to pull off anything.”
And while the lady of the house does admire Jackie O, she also has a strong allegiance to former First Lady Laura Bush, for whom she served as senior advisor for seven years in the White House. “The former First Lady is a historic preservation advocate, and I learned so much not only from watching her update and preserve portions of the White House but also from visiting historic buildings worldwide with her,” she recalls. “My husband and I were both able to appreciate this home’s details and see its potential and weren’t afraid to tackle such a large project.”
Despite its condition at purchase, the 1914 structure’s arts and crafts bones, its prominence, location and grandness were all immediate draws for both the wife and her husband, a former pro golfer turned commercial real estate developer. What the residence lacked in the basics—such as landscaping, modern plumbing and central heat—it more than made up for with its authentic historic details coupled with sizable main living spaces. “It was a historic landmark,” says Goforth, “and the bookshelves, window seats and wood flooring were all still there.” The designer did, however, encourage a “paint it white” philosophy early on in the project. “Everything was classic in nature, but the brown was dark and overwhelming,” she says. The decision to paint created a fresh backdrop while retaining the home’s sense of history.
But the blank canvas didn’t last long. Citing pink, lavender, green and orange as their colors of choice, the couple sought upbeat interiors with an urban edge that didn’t skimp on the fun factor. “We work hard and we’re disciplined, but it’s important to have a good time,” the wife says. “Color and vibrancy are an expression of who we are as a couple.”
Goforth took the established palette and ran with it. She began with a restrained approach in the living room, where white sofas, a marble-topped coffee table and a pair of gold-framed fauteuil chairs speak to the space’s formality while raspberry velvet and animal-print accents hint at what is to come. “Animal prints give a room instant style, and I treat them as neutrals,” says the designer, who repeated the orange tones of the tiger and leopard motifs throughout to add warmth as needed.
Things begin to percolate in the sun room-turned-dining room, thanks to reproduction Louis XVI-style chairs upholstered in a lively chartreuse, velvet-like fabric that sports a single stripe detail down the back, and a pair of old-world crystal chandeliers, all of which help to balance the clean-lined zebrawood dining table. “I love how Ashley synthesizes traditional and contemporary elements,” says the wife. A merging of the two styles appears yet again on the wood flooring painted with a geometric pattern.
The term “jewel box” comes to mind in the stylishly compact kitchen, brought to life with the help of hardware and plumbing consultant Leland Stone. Here, opting for two sets of Sub-Zero drawers in lieu of an upright fridge saved a window, while a unique set of doors and upper cabinets feature a circle motif with inlaid brass in reference to historic designs. The white lacquer cabinets, satin brass metal hardware and a stainless steel vent hood covered with painted wood trimmed with classic brass banding further elevate the space. “Even the kitchen is glamorous,” notes Goforth.
The Technicolor ambience heats up in the tailored family room. Here, under Jackie O’s watchful eye, the luxurious purple cotton-velvet sofas topped with cashmere bolster pillows are perfectly constrained by tufts and tucks. Indeed, you won’t find any skirts or wrinkles in this well-appointed space. Says Goforth, “Everything is tight and upholstered to the ground.”
The bold colors and tailored touches repeat in the master bedroom, where a tufted white bed is an oasis of calm amid an ordered set of lively accent pillows. But that mix is to be expected. “There is definitely a feeling of balance and structure in the house, which we love,” says the wife, “but it’s also a haven where we can relax and be ourselves—and have lots of parties and fun.”