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By Connie Dufner | Photo: Jill Broussard | February 1, 2017
A Highland Park redo transforms a staid traditional into a sleek retreat for a dad and his kids.
The challenge: Design a stylish, family-friendly home for a newly divorced dad with three active children. Make it chic enough for a commercial real estate executive who likes to entertain and indestructible enough for the under-10 set. Oh, and make it fitting for a new puppy.
Meredith Lamme and Brooke Wilbratte of The Décor House, Austin designers with 20 years of combined experience, took on the project. The result: a 4,200-square-foot Highland Park makeover that transformed a traditional house into a fully updated showplace that is “kid-friendly with a masculine edge,” says Wilbratte. A Dallas native who relocated to Austin years ago, she is co-owner with Lamme of the Austin-based firm they launched two years ago. “We never sacrificed the kids’ or dog’s comfort to make a design choice,” says Lamme, noting their client made the project easy. “He is a dream client, an amazing father and wonderful to work with.”
The evolution starts with the modern concrete walkway to an all-glass front door flanked by large front windows. Inside, a floor-length custom mirror, bolted to the wall, adorns the entry. (Pedestals and sleek florals will have to wait until those tiny feet know how to sidestep breakables.) To the right of the entry, a music room reveals a grand piano (the homeowner loves to play), a custom daybed, a Kelly Wearstler chair and statement Floral Graffiti wallpaper by Porter Teleo. The combination is fresh and accessible, not hold-your-breath-and-hope-nothing-breaks formal.
Colors are navy, white and gray throughout, with touches of brown, warm woods and mixed metals for texture and contrast. “Brooke and I love neutrals,” Lamme says. “We thought blue was a fantastic color.” While the interior design accommodates the engaged dad and his energetic charges, it is by no means a place where you’re likely to stumble over kid paraphernalia. The living room to the left of the entry has been dubbed “the lounge” and is the homeowner’s space, with a massive sofa to fit his tall frame, a wall-to-wall marble-topped bar and a Design Within Reach Cherner game table and chairs. The room is sophisticated enough for grown-ups but equally approachable for sprawling kids challenging dad to poker or board games.
The heart of family life is the kitchen, where a certificate from Le Cordon Bleu acknowledges the homeowner’s cooking skills. Also featured are white quartzite counters, Arteriors bar stools and oversize white pendants by Barbara Cosgrove. A custom dining table is accompanied by a banquette covered in Osborne & Little fabric, flanked by Jonathan Adler dining chairs and illuminated by the Arrow fixture from Apparatus.
There is no formal dining room; the homeowner rents tables and chairs for entertaining, and they fit nicely into the combo kitchen, breakfast room and den. Outside, a fully stocked guest house provides comfort and luxury for visitors, and the homeowner is designing an outdoor suite that will extend the easy family life and entertaining spaces beyond the interior.
In the master bedroom, the custom bed with Pindler fabric is dressed in Bellino bedding, with an Hermès blanket completing the ensemble. Custom Roman shades in Groundworks fabric with a David Hicks by Ashley Hicks print cover windows in the master and the secluded adjoining office.
The children’s rooms, each including a private bath, provide ample space for active pursuits, study and just being kids. One of the boys’ rooms features a wall-sized map, and the girl’s bathroom has a floor-to-ceiling monogrammed shower curtain that many a grown-up girl would envy.
Throughout the house, carefully chosen art—much of it by local artists, including Megan Adams Brooks, Kelly O’Neal, Alex Remington, John Holt Smith and Joanie White—complements the interior design. The effect is elegant with a shot of playfulness. “We were going for fabulous, masculine, sexy and kid-friendly,” says Wilbratte. “We also wanted to provide a place where he could have some pep in his step.”
A man cave, indeed.
Meredith Lamme and Brooke Wilbratte
The Décor House
Acrylic side tables in entry and music room
Light fixture in breakfast room
Bar stools in kitchen, fire screen and mirror in den
Floral arrangements throughout
Custom pieces throughout
Bedding in guest quarters, shelves in boy’s bedroom, rugs in office and master bedroom
Wallpaper in office and master bedroom
Truett Fine Carpet & Rugs
Custom rugs throughout
Lamps in office, sconces in master bedroom