an austin family’s bold, bright space
Published Nov 2, 2015 5:00 AM
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text by SHANI SILVER
photography by MIA BAXTER SMAIL
If you love color and live in Texas (first of all–love you), then Sarah Wittenbraker, owner of Sarah Wittenbraker Interiors, is absolutely the person you should call to corral your space into something spectacular. Any designer can show off a project, but Sarah’s sharing with us something a bit more personal–her own home! Living with her family in Austin, Texas, Sarah has crafted a home full of color, detail, texture, and design elements so engaging to the eye that we don’t know where to look–or what to love–first.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN AESTHETIC? Inspired, colorful and collected. Mixed, not matched.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PARK OF THIS (PERSONAL!) DESIGN PROJECT? Unlike with client projects, I had no true plan. Once I got over the initial paralysis of facing myself as a client (torture!), I just had fun watching each gut decision unfold. So the fact that colors fell into place somewhat cohesively was a miracle.
I LOVE YOUR USE OF DARK WALLS. ANY DESIGNER TIPS FOR HOW TO MAKE THOSE WORK? The dark walls were a spontaneous decision made when the painters arrived. I sort of panicked at the thought of more “warm white,” so I jumped to the other end of the spectrum. As for advice: commit fully and then contrast! Paint the whole room instead of just an accent wall, then allow the dark paint to be a backdrop for fresh drapery and artwork.
ANY ADVICE FOR SOMEONE LOOKING TO INCORPORATE A LOT MORE COLOR INTO THEIR HOME? Don’t be shy. As we all know, paint packs the biggest punch. If you’re skittish, pick a smaller room or nook and do all walls (even ceilings) with a super saturated color or wallpaper. Dining rooms, small offices and powder rooms beg for this kind of drama.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL FAVORITE PIECE IN THE HOME? My favorite pieces are the ones with some soul. My grandmother’s mirror hangs in our entry, and my husband’s granny’s chairs are in our living room – now in hot pink tweed.
DO YOU THINK WHERE YOU LIVE HAS HAD AN INFLUENCE ON YOUR DESIGN PREFERENCES? Absolutely! I was raised in Dallas in a traditional home, and my mom is a whiz at layering fabrics (of course, a bit more cabbage roses and checks). I have spent my adult life in New York and Austin gaining more appreciation for the edgy, organic and irreverent sides of design. I think all aspects are reflected in my style and sensibility: bold and contemporary, but rooted in tradition.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OF THIS DESIGN PROCESS? Probably redoing the original 1950s bathrooms. Powder baths are the perfect place to take risks. Oh, and watching my husband come home to black walls that day was pretty entertaining.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE? Isn’t it always budget?! I also found the open floorpan a challenge: You start pulling that string in the living room, and it unravels the dining, family, entry, kitchen….next thing you know you’re redoing the kids’ bath and recovering a dog bed.
ARE THERE DESIGN ELEMENTS FROM THIS SPACE THAT OUR READERS SHOULD TRY AT HOME? Specifically: Delegate a jumping off point, whether it’s a fabric, wallpaper or piece of art that you love. For me, it was the Penguin wallpaper in my powder bath. Then pull colors from it in upholstery pieces and accent fabrics…without being too matchy, of course. Follow your gut, not trends. Remember: your house is a home, not a showroom. Have fun!