For two busy doctors with active young boys, New York-based designer Jennifer Beek Hunter crafted a home with rooms as serene as they are kid-friendly, using a classic-with-a-twist palette of blue and white and a modern medley of granny-chic florals.
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When New York-based interior designer Jennifer Beek Hunter began refreshing a client’s traditional home in Austin, in a way, she was coming home. After all, before she kicked off her design career in New York—scoring an enviable internship with the iconic Albert Hadley, and then, on his recommendation, earning a masters degree in American Fine and Decorative Arts from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art—Hunter lived in Austin while getting her architecture degree from the University of Texas. Plus, the clients—husband-and-wife doctors with four- and six-year-old boys— happened to be old friends.
The young family had just moved into a new house, and they were looking to lighten up living and dining rooms, which were darker and more “Texas ranch-y” than their taste. “Because they’re both busy doctors, they really needed a light and calming space to come home to. But it also had to work with the boys inevitably racing around the rooms and jumping on the couches,” says Hunter.
Together, they came up with a plan to brighten the rooms with tailored upholstery in soft pastels, plenty of white paint, and faceted mirrors to reflect all that Texas sunshine. The wife fell in love with Schumacher’s Boughton House fabric in Porcelain, and the floral chintz inspired the color scheme that runs throughout the house. “They loved the combination of blue and white, which is also a nod to having a house full of boys,” says Hunter. “But we chose our blues through a more feminine lens and added pops of the wife’s favorite color, blush pink.” The mix of blue-and-white fabrics, trims, and wallcoverings reads like a modern take on Delftware.
In the living room, Hunter ended up using Boughton House chintz in two ways: While pillows on the sofas showcase the explosion of blooms, Hunter cleverly re-positioned the fabric when upholstering the chairs, putting the floral pattern at the sides and creating a wide, white stripe down the middle. The all-white walls, mantle and sofas lend the chairs a more contemporary crispness.
Antique and vintage ceramics that the couple collected on their travels, a pale pastel Persian rug, and Schumacher’s Lange Glazed Linen curtains in Delft blue echo the color scheme. To make sure everything could stand up to daily life with two active young boys, Hunter opted for durability, using an indoor-outdoor fabric on the sofas and covering pillows in a stain-repellant performance velvet with indoor-outdoor tape trim. A burled-wood coffee table and a classic mid-century–style chandelier balance out the feminine elements in the room.
In the dining room, blue hues shift towards cerulean. To keep the antique rug and French wood dining room table that the wife inherited from her grandmother from feeling too formal, Hunter added a playful floral chandelier and contemporary looped-back chairs upholstered in a watermelon-pink performance velvet that make the whole room feel fresh.
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We wanted to learn more about Hunter, so we had the up-and-coming designer answer some of our most pressing questions about her design work, favorite local haunts, and current inspirations.
What’s part of your daily routine that you positively can’t miss? I’m sure everyone says this, but morning coffee!
The most sage advice you’ve received: Do what you’re afraid to do.
The most magical place on Earth: I adore the colors and vibrancy of the Amalfi Coast.
Favorite thing to look at: Stumbling on something unexpected, whether it’s a secret alleyway, a place you happen upon when traveling, or a little spot you didn’t know existed in your own backyard.
Go-to flower: Dahlias. They remind me of my wedding.
Book currently on your nightstand: Christopher Spitzmiller’s new book, A Year at Clove Brook Farm.
Best studio jams: With two young kids at home, I feel like all I listen to is Kidz Bop! But for myself, lately I’m craving more classical music. There’s so much “noise” out there in the world right now, and classical music calms me.
Color Crush: A very fresh green I think of as “meadow.”
Best spot to hang in your hometown: Bemelmans Bar.
Most prized possession: A vintage watch from London that my grandfather gave me when I started my business. He was a real estate developer, and kind of a self-taught architect. He’s the one who inspired me to take this career path. I always wear it when I have a big interview or meeting — it’s my good luck charm!
Biggest pet peeve: When people break the rules before they learn the rules. Mr. Hadley taught me that you’ve got to understand the history of design before you can put your own spin on it.