Interior designer Christina Simon of Mark Ashby Design says this lakefront home, located in Austin, Texas, feels a world apart from the Lone Star State. “It almost feels as if you’re on Lake Como. You’d have no idea you’re in Texas,” she says. “When we renovated the house, we were completely influenced by the lake and did anything we could to maximize the beautiful views and landscape.  So, we played mostly with light and windows and editing decor so that the view is the hero.”

The house was previously dark and dreary—almost a Tuscan-style property with lots of yellow tones, terracotta, and ironwork. “We kept with the beautiful, tiled roof and played up the archways so that the house read more ‘Santa Barbara beach house’ with fresher colors, light airy selections, and glowing plaster walls.” One thing they did away with was the many fireplaces. “It was as if it was a mountain home built in the heart of Texas,” Christina recalls. “Given the heat in Austin and that the ginormous fireplaces were oversized and blocking the views, we were able to remove some of them so that the house read more like a summer house vs. a winter home.”

The clients, a busy family with kids and a huge, loving dog, wanted to make better use of the space. “They are both Iron Man participants and train for athletic events, often as a whole family, so they needed us to program the house and spaces so that they could work together as well as hang out and relax as well as be inspired to get in the water or work out,” Christina shares. The design team opened the space up, connecting the living and dining room into one area. “This is such a grand space and we filled it with the comfiest furniture to beckon you in.  The fabulous sofa/chair fabric is Holly Hunt Great Outdoors, so it’s an outdoor fabric that can withstand the indoor-outdoor access to the lake.” Of course, the landscape was considered here as well. “We had fun posting mirrors up opposite the lake, so you get lake views from every direction.”

Instead of gutting the kitchen, they added new countertops and freshened things up with a bit of paint and new hardware. “It is the heart of the home, and it is very warm and tactile.  Perfect for entertaining and 100% not fussy,” the designer says. In an adjacent powder room, they went with inky plaster and brought in unique textures and art. The family loves to travel the globe, and it was a priority to include their collection of artifacts. “They add color, texture and a story that reminds them of all the wonderful people and artisans they have met in their travels.  Also, the home serves as an easy space for entertaining the fundraisers they have for their foundation.” (They do conservation work in Africa.) 

The renovation took about a year, but they all consider it a work in progress as the family continues to travel and collect more decor to reflect their personalities, which may be best showcase in the office. Christina laughs: “Who has a saddle in their office? Also: who is the boss? Bruce Springsteen. Coolest. Office. Ever. For one of the coolest clients we know.”