Thursday, January 6, 2011

Good Design in the Hill Country - Fern Santini, Mell Lawrence

Examples of the work of Austin, Texas designer, Fern Santini, have long been in my inspiration files.

I have found that my attraction to certain houses or rooms in different magazines over the years has a definite pattern - usually not conscious -  of being drawn to the work of the same designers and architects, over and over again.
 This is certainly the case with Fern Santini.

I look back over my tear pages from various magazines over time, and there are a handful of architects and interior designers that continue to surface.
While perusing her current website for her design company, Abode, I read this quote and it speaks volumes to me.........  exactly what I believe the basis of good design should be:

"We draw on art and architecture for inspiration, but understanding how a client lives – and understanding how a client wants to live – is the basis for our work."


"Respect for tradition and history are crucial elements in our philosophy, but we also believe that rules are meant to be broken."

 The diversity of Fern's work can be seen on her website, reflecting, I think, the differences in her clients' tastes and lifestyles.
This urban townhouse in Austin is a great backdrop for the owner's collection of large paintings.

I was drawn immediately to this room by the huge magnolia painting by Texas artist, David Bates. Magnolias are one of his favorite subjects and this one is spectacular! I also love how it hangs over the sofa,
 strong and bold, and lovely.

What a great tub, and look how the sconces almost echo the shape.
 Really pretty form, I think.

Simple and handsome, the eye is drawn to the painting above the bed.
Very nice.

The sculptural staircase maximizes storage and has bookshelves lining the wall all the way up.Notice the open niche for the piece of pottery.

                                        All Photos of Austin townhouse from       

Love the size of this kitchen. It looks like there is ample workspace with cabinetry that is attractive and classic, with clean lines. I love kitchens that blend in with the rest of the house, and of course, as everything else is in this house, the kitchen design is subtle and chic, setting off yet another large painting.

Another Austin favorite is architect, Mell Lawrence. It's no secret that I love Texas contemporary design, and am a bit obsessed with a certain number of architects whose styles are similar, but each also distinctly their own.


                 Fern Santini was the designer for the interior of this beautiful hill country home, designed by Mell Lawrence.

Don't you just love it when those great minds and eyes collaborate?

                                            Classic long porch lined with rocking chairs..........



Love the indoor/outdoor connection.


The design of the house incorporates natural light in every room.

             All  Photos of Mell Lawrence house  

There are so many features of this bathroom that I just love!  I am crazy about the hanging lights here, and the double trough sink is so great looking. I love the walls of horizontal boards, the wall mounted faucets, and the big soaking tub. Oh, and the natural light, always love that.
Move me right in.

     I am feeling the urge to write more about my love for Texas modern architecture, so stay tuned!





  1. As always, your taste is amazing. And I have torn some of these same pages out of mags. The last house is one of my all time favorites!

  2. You know I love any post about modern architecture- ready for more!

  3. Love your blog! I saw where you commented on the "love where you live" blog about oriental rugs. I'm with you, I'm not giving up my persian rugs for love, money or graphic trendy rugs, not now or ever. It did my heart good reading that someone else found orientals to be timeless.

  4. Great post! Love all these Texas modern houses. Thanks for writing about them.

  5. Beautiful! I love modern country. These houses have a grounded, natural appeal, not overdone or fussy. Perfect for the rough and tumble life in the Texas Hill Country but with a sophistication and knowledge of the world beyond!

  6. I found myself really paying attention to the details in the rooms you presented in this post to look for color themes, balance form and juxtaposition. I appreciate when you point out elements of design that make the room composition excellent versus merely successful too. Also, just wanted to let you know that I reposted one of your earlier photos on my blog with a link to the original source in your post. It's a longtime favorite of mine and just wanted to share with the tiny handful of folks who are gracious enough to read my humble blog. So, hope you don't mind. Thanks so much Ann! Also, we went to a very interesting auction last night. Apparently lots of antique dealers stocking up their supply for Round Top. The man sitting next to me purchased a flawlessly adorable china hutch for $110. Yes, I said one hundred ten. He will probably sell it for 10x or more. Have a great weekend :)

  7. LOVE Texas modern architecure - Keep writing, sister!

  8. I love living in Texas and I love that you can look at those spaces and know they must be in Texas.

  9. Great talents in Texas...gorgeous!!

  10. fern is amazing! i have had the honor and joy of touring the mell lawrence house! it's every bit as fabulous as the pictures show + a tiny bit more! that house belongs to her sister and is in round top...did you say that and i missed it? anyway, our mother's are old and dear friends, they went to high school togther! and mom has actually stayed there a few times...for that i'm a tiny big jealous!

    see you at the barn!

  11. I love that last bathroom, industrial but completely awesome.

  12. I love that almost all of those rooms are so streamlined. clean and simple. Love it! I just awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award!
    Lila Ferraro

  13. hi Ann!
    yes I remember seeing, and being drawn to Fern's designs in the past. Funny how names stay with you...
    okay- I want to know how that staircase passed code in the 5th photo! (can you tell what I'm dealing with at present;) I love the horizontal banding on the island in the kitchen in the 6th photo- great detail. And, so happy to hear that you like the horizontal boards, as except for the barn room itself, the whole barn will have horizontal boards!
    oh, and love that spider chandelier in the dinging room- very tres cool!

    I was thinking about you just the other day and wondering if you daughter decided on Maine for college?! hope so;)

    happy weekend!

  14. I've seen Fern's work in design mags and she's great.
    Love the modern hill country house.

  15. Hi HCH!! I wanted to stop by and let you know that you won the VSA key chain giveaway on my blog!! Please send me your address so I can get this beauty in the mail! xo

  16. Beautiful images...the first bath is amazing!!

  17. HI Anne....
    I sent you a "stylish blog" award on my post today:




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