The Grand Tour

This 1950s Austin Bungalow Is a Sophisticated Slant on Pink

It’s a jewel box where pastels shine the brightest
The front entrance is punctuated by luminous glass panes set in steel powdercoated doors by Humphreys Ironworks....
The front entrance is punctuated by luminous glass panes set in steel powder-coated doors by Humphreys Ironworks. Hans-Agne Jakobsson's Mini Tratten polished copper outdoor sconces add a metallic sheen to the setting.

Interior designer Taylor Clouse is a big believer in the power of manifestation. So much so that when she was tasked with remodeling a tired 1950s bungalow in Austin’s historic Clarksville neighborhood a few years ago, she planted crystals in the walls to conjure an energy of growth and harmony. “Our inspiration began with the idea of living inside a jewel box. The crystals really helped drive home this origin myth,” says Taylor, founder and principal of Austin-based interior design studio Love County Interiors and Design, who collaborated with builder Jon Williams for the rebuild. The idea of creating a warm, welcoming sanctuary was particularly significant: The homeowner, a nutritionist with a practice of her own, had just moved from Los Angeles to Austin and was looking to make this her forever home. All the more, then, was the need to make it feel special.

The living room, dining room, and kitchen were reoriented to create an open-plan layout, with steel casework and a marble threshold demarcating the spaces. “Because it’s on top of a hill, the living room enjoys unfettered views over the treetops,” says Taylor. The armchairs are vintage finds, reupholstered in shearling, while the vintage burl coffee table was sourced on 1stDibs. A Rivet side table and a 9602 floor lamp by Paavo Tynell from Design Within Reach sit to the left of the custom sofa. A photo collage by Kelly O’Connor, titled Plunge Pool (Earl Levy’s Castle by Slim Aarons), graces the wall.

A vintage stacked cone chandelier from Glustin Luminaires appears to levitate in one corner of the living room, cutting a sculptural juxtaposition against the eight-foot-high ceiling. The console is from BDDW. A Saddle leather ottoman and a Bzippy oval scallop vase, both from Garza Marfa, inject a psychedelic pop of color.

When Taylor took up the design reins, she already had a starting point. The homeowner had worked with stylist Leaia Felder to envisage an initial aesthetic—one that was light and airy, with a decidedly refined femininity. “Together, they had made some preliminary selections that really set the tone for the project,” Taylor shares. But there was still much to be contemplated. Designer and client were keen on achieving a soft, hyper-feminine aesthetic, but with a sophisticated slant. Which meant, amongst other things, dialing up the pink through elevated materials and forms. What followed was a pastel palooza. Fairy-wing-toned marble penny tiles went up in the bathrooms, while the dining room gained a dusty rose marble table. Some walls were enlivened in a spun-sugar-hued plaster, whereas others, as in the primary suite, were painted a coral tone to reflect the warmth of the sunrise and sunset. Likewise, hard materials like steel were hushed in a cream powder coat. “We set out to keep the space soft and elevated, and packed as much of her personality, luxurious details, and comfort as we could into the house’s small footprint,” reflects Taylor, who had the original pine floor refinished and restored to its former glory.

An oval Rosso Portogallo Y-Shaped Base marble dining table, together with a set of vintage chairs by Edward Wormley for Dunbar, serve as the crowning glory of the dining room. The console is a vintage novelty, while the pink Murano mushroom lamp was sourced on Chairish. A brass mirror by Luigi Fontana, sourced from Gallery Rath, basks under the glow of Collier Webb’s Articulated picture light. A painting by Paul Lee enhances the hallway.

There were no rules when it came to decor. In a bid to simultaneously contrast and complement the home’s history, Taylor balanced the furniture, lighting, and accents with à la mode pieces and vintage finds. Deeming no detail too small, she also added cream steel casings between rooms and espoused a similar approach with the material palette, carrying a mix of cherry wood cabinetry, Viola and Calacatta rose gold marble, and cream powder-coated steel doors and casings throughout the house.

The kitchen is a soothing vision in ebony and ivory. Among its hallmarks are a built-in coffee bar, Wolf paneled appliances, and distinctive squiggle pulls by Sabourin Costes. The designer softened the cabinetry with curved edges and gave the counters a similarly rounded bullnose effect. The faucet, a beautiful almond color, was custom-finished by Studio Ore, via J&L Hardware in Austin, to match the steel elements. The custom floating shelf and bar stools are by Humphreys Ironworks and Blend Interiors respectively. A pair of Leasowe V.1 chandeliers by Urban Electric beautifully halo the pink Moroccan tribal runner beneath. The vases are from Helle Mardahl’s Bon Bon range.

As a nutritionist, the homeowner laid particular emphasis on a spacious and functional kitchen—a hard ask, considering the original layout was rather pinched for space. Thus, a plan was born to reorient the kitchen and add a skylight, to welcome more space and more light—all without drastically changing the historic exterior. “An emphasis on details and flow between spaces makes the house feel more luxe than the square footage would suggest,” avers Taylor.

The primary suite—comprising the primary bedroom, dressing room, bath, and office—occupies the eastern side of the house, and was created by merging two smaller rooms and a small bathroom. In the bedroom, a cast bronze artwork by Davina Semo, titled Relic, flanks the bed, while Conner O’Leary’s Vase and Frame enlivens the adjacent wall. Pink Twin 2.0 sconces by SkLO and a Moon flush-mount fixture by Blackman Cruz composes the lighting scheme. Drapes tailored from ZAK+FOX’s Tail of Heaven fabric glow in the sunlight. A vintage Kars rug underpins the Como bed by Dmitriy & Co.

Come sundown, the primary bedroom gleams like a jewel box. An onyx mushroom lamp by Amelia Tarbet sits atop a green multi-leg cabinet by Jaime Hayon, sourced from 1stDibs. A crimson Saddle Leather armchair by Garza Marfa occupies one corner, and a 1950s live edge stool from France, the other.

As she recalls, the biggest design challenge was working around the existing floor plan and original features of the 1950s bungalow. “Our goal was to achieve an open and expansive feel, while still maintaining cozy nooks,” notes the designer. It was a sleight of hand she was able to pull off with some creative thinking, including installing brass and marble thresholds that would distinguish one space from another, while still allowing the eye to soak in a full view through the floor-to-ceiling doors.

An extension of the primary bathroom, the dressing room features a custom cherry wardrobe and a vintage Triedri Murano chandelier. An Anaconda Cut-Velvet Bottomon by House of Hackney foregrounds the peach-toned wall mirror, offering a welcome perch during dress-ups.

The primary bathroom brims with vintage details in the way of midcentury burl mirrors by Thomasville, unlacquered brass sconces, custom pink plaster walls, and a pink marble penny-tiled floor. The powder-coated shower door and cased opening with brass hardware are both by Humphreys Ironworks. The custom cherry-veneered cabinetry and plumbing are by Jon Williams and Studio Ore respectively.

The home is a place of meaningful halves: It’s characterful yet cozy, small yet abundant, and still entirely whole. It’s one that will no doubt serve its occupants well for many years to come.

The office breathes an old-world air, thanks to built-in cherry cabinetry by Jon Williams, and a vintage travertine desk and chair inherited from the homeowner’s grandmother. The latter was stripped of peeling paint and now wears a Matam Basket Straw fabric by Rose Tarlow. A series of eight artworks by Benjamin Edmiston takes prominence under a pair of Leo spotlights by Allied Maker. “We curated a mix of emerging and established artists, many with a connection to Austin or Texas,” says Taylor, who sourced the works from Austin-based Martha’s and Houston-based David Shelton Gallery. The desk lamp is the Roswell design by Collier Web.

Riveting yet restrained, the guest bedroom stars a custom Garza Marfa Saddle leather headboard paired with a bed frame by local craftsman Jon Davison. On either side are white Bole sconces by Workstead that serve as a solid counterpoint to the mirrored nightstands and vintage Kars rug below.

Another view of the guest bedroom, where a Tera table lamp by Ceramicah and a painting by Calhan Hale share space on a desk by Jon Williams.

The powder bathroom holds a mirror to the kitchen by way of pristine marble countertops and marble rails. The wainscoting and floor are characterized by white penny tiles, balanced in scale by a vintage David Marshall Deco Revival mirror.

Adjoining the al fresco dining space is a garden with a breezy seating area. A custom butter yellow concrete dining table is surrounded by built-in bench seating and a collection of soft green metal work chairs by LRNCE. Cushions are sheathed in a Chelsea Square weave by Perennials Fabrics.