Text: Margaret Zainey Roux
Photos: Michael Hunter
A bit of nailhead here, a tad of tape trim there. In design, it’s the little details that make the biggest impact, according to Ashley Goforth.
“I describe my style as classic with a kick, and the kick comes from the details,” says the Houston-based interior designer. “I’m all about building elegant rooms founded on traditional design principles, but I like to tailor elements—the leading edge of a drape or the flange of a pillow—so that the look complements the bones of the home and the personalities of its owners.”
For her clients’ new residence in Houston’s Briargrove neighborhood, Goforth crafted one-of-a-kind appointments that echo the unique architectural backdrop composed by architect Ryan Gordon. With its old bayou brick facade and sweeping two-story verandas, the exterior is reminiscent of the Acadian style that was popular in the area in the mid-nineteenth century.
Inside, white oak floors, arched case openings, and towering 10-foot ceilings set the framework for spacious rooms that brim with bespoke details. On the dining room ceiling, for instance, delicate molding is painstakingly applied in a fretwork pattern with clipped corners that highlight the room’s octagonal shape.
Embellishments like the Greek key tape that hugs the edge of the silk taffeta drapes and the basketweave embroidery on the backs of the Louis XVI dining chairs round-out the geometric mix. Clean lines and sharp angles also make their mark on the kitchen’s Shaker-style cabinet fronts and the mantel-style range hood.
Although slightly modified, the motif is carried out in banding on the window valance and Roman shade, and the nailhead around the counter stools. The study’s glossy blue paneled walls and coffered ceiling offer further proof that it is hip to be square. Neutral grasscloth between the boxed beams adds texture to the space. The juxtaposition between the vibrant hue’s lacquer-like luster and nubby natural fiber heightens visual and tactile interest.
“Some think that paints and wallcoverings are the real heavy hitters when it comes to bringing color and life into a room, but texture also plays a major role,” says Goforth. “Paint finishes that are sleek or, on the other hand, distressed, give a room a multidimensional quality that cannot be achieved with a standard finish. The same goes for wallcoverings. Whether they are made from paper, natural fiber, or fabric, those that feel good tend to look even better and speak volumes, especially among a muted palette.”
Rooms wrapped in soft whites and creams sprinkled with pale blues, greens, and blushes satisfy the homeowners’ love for light-hearted spaces and reflect their laid-back lifestyle. Rough-hewn beams, coupled with a mix of handsome wood tones and worn leathers, work like anchors to bring the lofty color scheme down to earth.
“I believe that every home needs a little patina,” says Goforth. “Whether it comes from an architectural element or a family antique, there is something to be said for pieces that have aged gracefully or evoke a sense of history.”