For a couple’s weekend house deep in the hills of Austin, designer Meg Lonergan eschewed rustic themes and woodsy tropes, opting instead to create an elegant retreat with playful nods to the homeowners’ personalities. “They both went to the University of Texas,” says Lonergan. “They go to many football games in the fall, entertain family and friends, and love getting out of the big city to relax in a quiet environment.” Though the project began straightforward enough, it quickly turned into more than she had bargained for. AD PRO sat down with Lonergan to get the story.
What’s the difference between designing a weekend house and a main residence?
We were able to be a bit more playful and relaxed in the decor. The homeowner had picked out a hilarious wallpaper for the powder room: Flavor Paper’s Brooklyn Toile. We found an antique sink, a mirror, and some bargain sconces in the same color to finish the look. That toile is the perfect party trick for guests. When you look closely, you can find Biggie Smalls drawn into the design.
Sounds like a fun client. What else did they have you do?
We had quite an extensive renovation. Of course, when you start peeling down walls, the dominoes fall. We discovered the house needed to be re-stuccoed; there were many windows to replace; and the lowered ceiling in the kitchen created a lot of restraints in terms of what we could do with lighting. Needless to say, the scope increased. It was challenging working on this kind of renovation from out of town. We only visited once or twice before the installation. We had a great partner in builder Burnish & Plumb, whose aesthetic we really trusted.
A powder room featuring Brooklyn Toile wallpaper by Flavor Paper |
Long-distance projects are tough because things can be lost in translation. Did you have any instances where that was the case?
We had one big miscommunication with the builder toward the end of the project. Four of us arrived with a massive truck filled to the brim; we were under the impression that the house would be finished, cleaned, and ready for us to install. When we walked in, the paint was wet and the floors were filthy. We weren’t turning around, though. We got on our hands and knees and made it happen.
It doesn’t get much worse than that, right?
Actually, Hurricane Harvey was also headed right for Rockport the next day. We were so relieved we pulled off the install, but were desperate to get back to avoid the path of the storm. It was a whole day of chaos and uncertainty. We felt like we were the only ones on the highway to Houston that night. I ended up evacuating at 1:00 a.m. It took me weeks to recover from the roller coaster of it all. But the house was gorgeous, and the family stayed up there during the whole ordeal. We had sheets on the beds and rugs on the floor ready for them to go.
Given the circumstances, they probably appreciated the extra effort.
We are working on their Houston home now, so yes.