Decorating a new home usually results in an endless list of questions. But for many, a major challenge is finding the right pieces of art for each and every room. For one art collector couple in Austin, who worked with Ashby Collective on their five-bedroom and four-and-a-half bathroom Tudor-style abode, that proved especially true.
“Whenever we’ve tried to buy a piece for a space, it never goes in that intended spot, for whatever reason,” explains the wife, who’s been collecting in earnest with her husband for 10 years. “That’s been the fun part of it: One piece may arrive, but then five have to move.” With that scenario in mind, instead of planning on the artworks staying fixed, the couple opted to design the home so that artworks could be continually swapped—without resulting in ensuing chaos.
“Anytime I work with collectors who are in the middle of their collecting years, I try not to create a colorstory or put an art light up that doesn’t allow for art sizes to change,” says Christina Simon, principal designer of Ashby Collective (formerly known as Mark Ashby Design), who’s spent five years working on the home. “I focus on giving them the maximum amount of possibility.” For this space, the couple also teamed up with art advisor Anne Bruder to keep abreast of works that they might not cross paths with in Texas. “They’re a joy to work with because they have an insatiable appetite to learn about art,” Bruder states.
The couple’s more-is-more attitude toward decorating made the elasticity of the art collection easier to put into practice. Throughout the house, bold wallpapers, rich upholstery, and dense rugs are employed to create a space that is both cozy and sophisticated, personality-filled and impressive. “I knew from the very beginning that they adored pattern and wallpapers—on day one they showed up with stacks of wallpapers that they loved,” Simon says.
The home’s many wallpapers include a park-like Schumacher mural in the guest room, which was designed “to feel like a getaway,” as the wife describes it; a Gucci heron print in the pool bathroom; and a Pierre Frey pattern in the powder bathroom. “Every room has a gazillion textures. It’s how they all work together that really makes it stunning and beautiful,” the wife states.
Although neither of the homeowners are originally from Austin, they’ve lived in the city for 11 years. They therefore wanted their abode to speak to the city’s artistic spirit and the atmosphere of their neighborhood—the historic Old Enfield district. The couple were drawn to the 1930s structure because of its original elements, like the unique millwork that construction company Burnish & Plumb carefully restored. Another scene-stealing element is the den’s original geometric tiling, which was restored thanks to replacement tiles made from the nearly 100-year-old mold that the factory happened to have still.
Beyond these more aesthetic restorations, the home did require some larger structural changes, overseen by architect Clayton Korte, to make it more suitable for modern life. Upstairs, two separate bathrooms were reconfigured to create one sumptuous bath that centers on a fireplace placed opposite a deep soak tub. For one of the adobe’s most dramatic moments, an additional staircase was removed to make room for a pantry accessible via a hidden door downstairs. This added area allows for subtle separation between the dining room and kitchen. Its wood millwork feels in line with the home’s age—that aforementioned hidden door is just the cherry on top.
“The element of surprise is a big theme throughout the house,” Simon explains. “Each element had to either be charming, unexpected, or both. If we nailed it, we got them both.”