Sleek and Sophisticated with a Touch of the Lone Star State
For Shae and Todd Whittaker, Texas roots run deep. Evidence of that heritage blends well with the sophisticated palate and contemporary style that radiates in every room of their far Northside suburban home.
Shae readily admits, “I’m a tomboy. I love to go hunting and fishing.”
Working with Amanda Digman, interior design consultant with Carla Royder Designs, Shae’s penchant for dramatic color and glamorous touches- coupled with her love of Texas – was immediately apparent as the two began the process of furniture and fabric selection.
“When I first met Shae, and we were discussing her style, I immediately fell in love because it was out of the box, girly and fun, said Amanda. “We continued to talk, and she described her style as ‘Elvis Chic’…. it was the coolest and most accurate description.”
A blended family with four children, two dogs, and two cats, The Whittaker clan makes good use of the light-filled rooms that open to a large covered patio and backyard that is kid-oriented.
After remodeling the patio space to better suit their needs, the seating and dining area offer a restive retreat with a fireplace for chilly south Texas evenings. Children’s playsets with monkey bars, spring horses, and even a carousel keep playtime entertaining. Shae collects vintage children’s playground pieces, the sturdy metal kind that has held up for generations.
It’s the dichotomy of design that makes the house a home, with vintage finds from Shae’s vast collection of glassware and items from her mother and grandmother that add authenticity set against very contemporary design.
Collecting glassware from the 50s and 60s with excursions to the Warrenton Antique Show – where more than 100,000 people arrive in rural Texas to shop twice a year in converted barns, dance halls, under tents, and in fields – has yielded some of her best finds. And inherited pieces add to Shae’s collection.
“Dishes that I use every day came from my grandmother,” Shae remarked. “I like to mix vintage pieces and more contemporary items.”
In a small space just off of the kitchen, Shae holds cherished items from her family. Once working in her grandfather’s silkscreen business, shelves are lined with mementos of time spent with him, including an advertising sign that he printed, bottles of glitter used to hand-embellish signage, and paintbrushes.
Resting beside those items that bring back cherished memories are a collection of cameras and photo equipment that Shae employs to create new memories with photos of her family. An accomplished photographer, images are displayed in the home – none with more pride than the images of Monroe, their four-year-old daughter.
Photos of mother and child, family portraits, and poses of Monroe at play are arranged along a hallway leading to the photogenic child’s bedroom. “I started an Instagram page for Monroe,” Shae said proudly. “It now has more than 10,000 followers.
Husband Todd allowed Shae full reign when it came to décor. The only thing that he requested was a comfortable recliner in the family room. He got it. Accompanying the chair is a massive tufted deep blue velvet sofa, “kind of like Elvis,” Shae said with a smile. A patterned leather rug from CB2 pulls the room together. Anchoring the great room is a three-tier glass and brass chandelier by Currey and Co.
“We needed something large and dramatic to hang overhead,” said Amanda. “ It was the only time her husband voiced his opinion – he loved his ceiling fan, but he’s such a good sport!”
The longhorn belonged to Shae, a gift from a gentleman in Helotes that owned the Helotes Café, where she once worked. He raised longhorns,” said Shae, “and he was like a dad to me.”
“I love how the mounted longhorn adds that unexpected touch of Texas to the space,” Amanda stated.
Shae’s office is far removed from the Texas tastes she exhibits elsewhere and satisfies her flair for the dramatic. “I love pink,” Shae confessed. And it is the center of attention in an office chair of hot pink velvet by Jessica Charles covered in Kasmir savor cherry fabric.
“The fringe on the drapes was my favorite part,” said Amanda. “So, when I pulled the Christian LaCroix fabric for the drapes, I knew it needed a little something extra and Shae being a Texas girl, like myself, what says extra more than fringe!” According to the designer, the fringe in the drapery world was too tailored to suit her needs. She sourced costume fringe, and it was the perfect companion for the drapes.
The wallpaper was Jungle chic by York. “I love the mix of the floral print with the different animal prints,” Amanda pointed out.
With the animal mounts and western images showcased throughout the living spaces complementing the animal prints in leopard and zebra, cowhide rugs, and shaggy-haired plush sofa pillows, any tall Texan would feel right at home even if a little “girly” Texas chic got into the mix.
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Family RoomSoaring ceiling height with balcony view from second floor looks down upon tufted blue velvet sofa centering the conversation and entertaining area. Longhorn steer mount, animal print and hair hide pillows and exotic natural shed horns contribute to the Texas mystique.
Artwork is Star from Leftbank Art. Hutch is Bernhardt. Zebra skin rug from Shae’s collection. Metal Lamps are Mercana.
Pendant lights illuminate the curing island bar of polished marble. Limestone range surround and tile backsplash are rustic charm.
Patterned white-fringed rug from Loloi sets the tone for pink, cream and gold tones of the dining room. Table is Taracea, art is from LeftBank and the vintage starburst wall clock belonged to Shae’s mother.
Natural light pours into the breakfast room where a brass mobile chandelier by West Elm punctuates the room. Chairs are West Elm and table is FourHands.
Hide on hair rug from Loloi. Christian LaCroix drapes with theatrical fringe pick up the colors in the over the top space that exudes Texas glam. Wallpaper is Jungle Chic by York mixing it up with floral and animal prints. Desk is Bernhardt and stays true to animal print theme with desk of lizard-patterned leather. Chandelier is "Rainforest by Currey and Co. Tiger print chairs are from Revelation.
Dramatic theatrical fringe borders the Christian LaCroix drapes, resting on a hot pink chair in Kasmir savor cherry fabric.
A profusion of peonies proliferate the powder room walls where a freestanding console sink with brushed brass fixtures and legs add elegance and style.
By John Bloodsworth
Photography by Al Rendon