Killy Scheer Keeps Things Playfully Sophisticated In A Historic Home

When architect Christopher Sanders and legal mediator Hannah Temple bought the stately residence in the city’s affluent Hemphill Park neighborhood, they asked Killy Scheer, whose namesake firm is based in Austin, to transform it into a place where they could elegantly entertain, yet where their 16-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son could have a whole lot of fun.

“It was important to them to have a beautiful house that they could live in without having rooms roped off,” Scheer notes. The house, which includes an apartment over the two-car garage, is anything but a museum.

Originally a two-story duplex, it had been converted to single-family use by a previous owner, who installed a grand staircase to unite the two units. “We only had six weeks from closing to move-in day,” Scheer describes.

“Much of our design attention was focused on the kids’ rooms, which strongly reflect their personalities.”

The daughter is an accomplished equestrian, and to make her room special, Scheer papered the walls in a shimmering silver pattern that features leaping horses, then added other accents, including pillows and artwork, that spotlight her affection for the aloof animals. In the son’s room, Scheer brought in an aspect of adventure by papering one wall with a map of the world. The children’s iron beds – the daughter’s is turquoise; the son’s is fire-engine red – are family heirlooms that link memories from one generation to the next.

Scheer kept the palette of the home mostly neutral – several of the rooms feature original shiplap walls that are painted gray and ceilings that are painted white – then layered in comfort and color.

Bright orange, which is the color of the double-sink vanity that was in the primary suite when the family bought the home, is one predominant accent that blurs the boundary between parents and children, strengthening family ties. It shows up to great effect in the staid dining room, where an electric-orange, 1970s tube-light fixture illuminates the simple, Shaker-style wooden table; in the powder room; in an office; and in the children’s games room, where the toys, in various shapes of orange, are arranged on pegboard like artworks.

Turquoise, which the family used in its previous home, is another touchpoint: It defines the seriously stocked bookcase in Temple’s office in the guest apartment, the soft, velvet pillows of the primary suite and the little- boy-blue woodwork of the son’s bedroom.

Elegance plays out in private spaces, as well as in the public rooms. Perhaps the most sophisticated room in the house is the luxurious dressing room/walk-in closet in the primary suite. The space, which had been a bedroom, is a secret oasis. To give it an air of indulgent opulence, Scheer covered the walls and ceiling with an Anaglypta-style wallpaper, a three-dimensional treatment with an elaborate design that dates to Victorian times, then illuminated the space with an antique chandelier that had hung over the couple’s dining table in a previous residence.

The closet is appointed with a contemporary metal shelving system installed by the previous owners and accented by a hand-woven, hand-knotted wool pouf sitting atop a custom base that’s designed for putting on and taking off shoes. It’s balanced by the whimsy of the powder room, which, in homage to the family’s fondness for reading, is papered in a pattern of classic paperback novels, stacked one on top of the other, library-fashion.

“Homes should truly reflect the people living in them, as this one does,” Scheer notes. “Not everything should be bright and shiny and new. There should be pieces that reflect the history and memories of the people who inhabit them. That way, the home, like this one, will be timeless and will always feel fresh and new and grow with the family.”

Photography by Ryann Ford.

For more like this Austin home from Killy Scheer, be sure to check out this graphic Soho loft.

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