Text: Tiffany Adams
Photos: Chris Luker
Sit down with Ann Wolf, and the Texas-based designer will tell you she was greatly influenced by her East Coast upbringing. Raised in Manhattan, she and her husband have lived in the Lone Star State for three decades, but her roots remain evident in her designs. “I think I bring an East Coast sensibility to my work. I’m always really inspired by American furnishings, and I love to mix pattern and color.”
It was this blend that prompted a young Houston family to hire her when they undertook a new build in the city’s Memorial neighborhood. “The wife knew she wanted a traditional house, and she was set on my aesthetic,” Wolf says. Early on in the home’s drawing phase, the designer came on board alongside the late architect Reagan Miller. “I think if a designer has input on the plans, there’s always a better outcome,” Wolf says, noting she enjoys considering details like window and outlet placement to make a home function at its peak.
“I LIKE TO MIX MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNISHINGS INTO TRADITIONAL DESIGNS BECAUSE I THINK THE MIX IS INTERESTING AND FRESH.”
Of course these practical considerations proved useful, but being involved from the start also allowed her to get a sense of how the clients live day to day as well as what brings them joy and comfort. For example, to give the family—which includes four young children—more time together in the early evenings, she suggested dual islands in the kitchen. Parents can do prepwork and cook at one, while the kids complete homework and art projects at the other. “The kitchen is really the heartbeat of the house, especially for a young family, and this allows them to be together,” Wolf says.
The home does more than simply function well, it appears to draw you in as you travel throughout its spaces, all of which have layer upon layer of interest. “I love room-by-room discovery to create continuity,” Wolf says, noting how features play off one another to keep visual interest piqued. For example, a collection of antique Delft pottery seen in the kitchen’s bookcases ties into the blue, yellow, and green palette of the family room seen just beyond its shelves. “I helped them build collections of art and pottery to make it feel layered from the start,” the designer says. “I love fabrics and consider myself a print-driven designer, so the rug in the family room also played off the backsplash in the kitchen,” she adds. Upstairs, the kids’ spaces were tailored to their likings with vivid patterns that manifested in the children’s choice colors of yellow, blue, and hot pink. “I had a lot of fun in the kids’ rooms,” Wolf says, noting they adhere to this continuous whole-home approach.
Aside from creating a flow, Wolf adds visual appeal with a juxtaposition of pieces. “I like to mix mid-century modern furnishings into traditional designs because I think the mix is interesting and fresh,” Wolf says. This is evident in the entry, where a 1950s table stands out against the heavy molding and paneling that is iconic of classic architecture. Similarly, a Victorian wicker chair and ottoman covered with antique textiles feel at home next to a contemporary work by Alexander Calder seen over the mantel. “We worked with an art consultant to find pieces that are true to the client,” Wolf says of the numerous paintings, sculptures, and photographs, all of which lend a personal touch to the design.