WRITTEN BY: Amy Smith
What would you call a wall of big screen televisions, a Texas Longhorn orange sofa, and a trio of trophy elk mounts? Home. Well, at least it is for the owner of our featured bayside condominium located in the prestigious Boardwalk community of South Padre Island, Texas. The designer of this newly reconfigured space set out to create a luxurious captain’s pad that truly reflects the lifestyle of its sportsman owner; taking a dated, boxed in condo, and transforming it into a showcase trophy; a bayside haven of elegance.
When this sportsman/fisherman homeowner called upon his designer to “trick out” his place, the response was a vivid articulation of the lifestyle of the owner and the introspection that re-emerges as expression by a skilled designer. Every detail has been attended to with intricate planning and the old layout has been reinvented to create a masterfully designed home with seaside ease of living and the comfort of luxury.
Travelers and home dwellers alike will appreciate this stunning redesign and décor transformation by Amanda Stephenson and her team (which includes husband Brett Stephenson’s notable innovative renovation) at Design Studio 2010 in Austin, Texas. Always starting with the client’s wishes because, according to Stephenson, “The design is about the client and always should be.”, Stephenson set out to bring the sea and sports to the comforts of home. With just three directives from her client: mount three massive trophy elk mounts, incorporate large screen TVs in several key rooms, and third, match the great room’s sofa color to the University of Texas Longhorn orange; she did just that.
Architecturally, there were challenges. To begin with, there were small spaces to reconstruct, concrete walls to deal with, and the owner was partial to a large wall of decorative wood. “Because of the location being contingent to hurricanes, all walls and ceiling are concrete. So this created challenges from rewiring electrical fixtures to hanging artwork and the elk mounts. We also were limited moving plumbing and electrical wires because of the concrete structure, so we had to embrace the concrete structure!” said Stephenson. Outdated fixtures and configurations were removed. Open slab staircases were inlaid and industrial glass half-walls were installed to create a Euro-open feel and introduce a natural flow to the entire interior that formerly resembled a condo and now feels like a ground-floor penthouse. It’s that stunning!
The design elements support the modern/traditional mix that gives the home its character. Marble, travertine, and touches of polished nickel are lovingly combined with glass, wood, and silky lush fabrics accentuating the relationship between the client’s personality and the signature tools of the designer. Precision selected and brilliantly coordinated textures reveal themselves at every turn and introduce interest points virtually throughout the home.
Custom soft good detailing with fine finishes and luxurious fabric is an area of expertise for Design Studio 2010. Silks and linens adorn windows, pillows, headboards and bedding. Touches of softness abound as the waves of the sea would grace the sides of a ship. Subtle nautical themes come together as unbelievable balance is achieved through integral planning of furniture placement, wall coverings and ceiling fixtures, all done with an intricate execution that inversely yields a livable, user friendly space espoused with ease and comfort.
Complimentary to the soft good detailing is the dazzling use of luxury tile. Formal design elements are found in nearly every room and produce stunning features specific to the bayside theme. Ingratiated with the luxury and the clean-lined livability of travertine, the floors of main rooms and traffic ways are very welcoming. For the travertine placement the designer “changed up tile sizing to create more interest and continuity”. Additionally, tile wraps the walls in a continuous stream to carry the eye around the space, subliminally welcoming you and extending the vision. Tile is also used ‘en masse’ to create the illusion that small spaces are larger and grander. Touches of mosaic add dimension.
Up the final staircase, at the very top, is the master floor. The plushness of wool carpet invites you into the master suite. Figuratively, it is like a lighthouse castle with grand scale furnishings and endowments. Its castle-esque magnitude and stateliness complete the home with triumphant elegance. The bed is a grand point of focus with a mass-sized custom headboard made of elephant hide from the client’s travels and adorned with French sconce lamps that in Stephenson’s words resemble “antlers with a silver-leaf finish”. Damask silk in stripe and tone on tone was chosen for the bedding fabric in greens, browns, and hints of Texas Longhorn orange. The Spanish Gothic night stands light from underneath for unique floor mood lighting in the night hours. The nightstands are set beneath antique window panes and entertain iron sculptured man and woman silhouette lamps. Overhead is a Bentwood chandelier that carries stately mood and ambiance to enhance the grandeur of the room. A long rustic sofa table holds the large flatscreen TV in this room, again effortlessly cast as a part of the decor. The details of the main furniture pieces are so integral and functional that minimal décor is needed to fulfill the scheme, allowing a place for everything and everything in its place a new dimension; where everything is functional, everything is beautiful.
To complete the Captain’s tour, we enter the master bath. This is more like encountering another room of the castle where a huge antique rustic finished period art carved wood door slides on a large iron slider. This period-art carved door creates dramatic effect and is a work of art in and of itself. A splurge, but a major point of interest, it delights the eye and exemplifies the magnificent theme of the room. Travertine vessel sinks adorn a glass top and silver-leaf finished vanity. To touch the heart of the home owner, this custom vanity table has secret drawers, that when opened, allow the placement of collectibles from travels to rest atop a polished rock collection under glass. Pieces of history engrace this specialized vanity table: polished rocks, fishing lures, and shells remind of the hope of life ahead and to honor memories of amazing adventures past.
Completing the tour so transported, so fulfilled, I left feeling tremendously uplifted and happily satiated by all the detail and subtle, indelible quality that was imparted. One forgets that this place was once a 1984 condo for it is now reinvented, re-vamped, re-encapsulated for a new creation feel. There is juxtaposition and creative balance, warmth, linear infusion, detail and textural interest at every turn. It’s contextual. It’s incorporated; it’s defragmented, unfussed with. Simple elegance defined, re-defined, finite and infinite, all at the same time.
As I departed this bayside condo on South Padre Island and headed back over the causeway on a sunny afternoon, the seascape came alive in my eyes. With the sunlight sparkling and shining on the water creating diamonds of the sea, I was impressed by how well the shades and tints of the sea were captured in the décor of the home I had just seen. The mosaic of colors was just the right mix, just as one would witness outside the door to the condo. The sparkling diamonds and white capped waves of the sea were captured in the thassos and glass tile, white accent pieces and even a faux fur pillow set against a back drop of deep sea blues and greens. The hues match the chroma of the water quite truly, and in a way, this would be true color. In essence, the décor lent itself to the beauty of bayside nature at its finest.