Every spring, the ladybugs showed up. They covered the walls of a small writing and reading room in the attic of a guest house in the Travis Heights neighborhood of Austin, Texas. So when the family hired Amity Worrel & Co to renovate the building, it only seemed suitable to let the ladybugs stay—visually, at least. “The idea just came together naturally because that ladybug shape was perfect for the pattern we had landed on,” says Amity Worrel, the firm’s owner and principal, who turned to a local artisan, Julie Rodgers, to create a custom mural inspired by them in the bathroom.
The house, originally a simple bungalow, is now more like something you’d find on a mountainside in Europe. “We presented two different options, and they chose to go with this wonderful Texas-meets-Heidi-in-the-Alps direction,” says Worrel. “It’s very charming.” Rodgers and another artisan, Candance Pruett, hand-stenciled a faux-bois pattern on the living room walls, and spaces throughout are decorated with cozy Flokati rugs, vintage finds collected over the years, and lots and lots of gingham.
“[In the story,] Heidi goes with her grandfather and sleeps in an attic room, and to my eye it was HEAVEN to sleep in a little attic room with a view of the Alps and be surrounded by all those lovely little cottage details,” Worrel explains of her inspiration. “The German/Swiss/Bavarian theme is not so out there, really, considering all the German settlers that came here to the hill country and brought their charming architecture with them.”
“I love any opportunity to bring in an interesting pattern,” says the designer. Because the guest house on the property is not utilized daily, the designers could spring for more specific decorative objects, like paintings of the Alps or carved deer, that “may feel disingenuous in a regular home, but are refreshing when you’re on vacation or ready from an escape for daily life,” she says. Upholstery on sofa: Perennials Rough N’ Rowdy in Shell. Coffee table: NZ via Chairish. Cabinet: Antique Victorian Carved Mahogany Curio Bookcase via Scranton Antiques on Charish.
Any way to jazz up sheetrock is a win for Worrel. The walls were hand-stenciled with faux bois by Julie Rodgers and Candance Pruett, local decorative artists. “It’s purposely not perfect,” she says. “It’s a way of adding, character, richness, and decoration.” Another unique element of the living room is the handkerchief panel window treatments, created by attaching a piece of fabricto the windows with a grommet and eye hooks (great for those who want privacy but don’t want to spend on traditional shades). Bookcase Side Table: Brass & Bevel via Chairish. Lamp: Antique Brass Cast Floor Lamp from D & W Lighting Showroom.
A small shelf, a stool, and a stump create a functional but unfussy space. Oval Vintage Mirror: Settlement House Garage Sale. Console: Custom Swiss Hardwood Walnut Console from Mockingbird Made. Wood Stump: Etsy.
One of the clients has a “very romantic sense of the world and a hopeful nature,” says Worrel, and so that fairytale sense was carried throughout the home. Pendant: Antique Schoolhouse Pendant from D&W Lighting Showroom. Chairs: SIPA Vienna Chairs. Lacquer Tray: Jayson Home.
Flex Room (Bunk room)
Looking at photos of alpine cottages led to the gingham-clad bunk room. While bunk beds are typically built for children, they were built in here because “they’re a way of creating warmth, a sense of comfort and coziness, and allow you to be in the same room with others without feeling exposed,” the designer says. AW & Co. designer Jessica Nash considered every detail in this room, from how close the ceiling fan could safely be to the bunks to the durability of the steps on the bunk bed ladder.
Custom Millwork: Domi Goods. Gingham: Pindler Moro in Ruby. Rug: Via FlotakiShag on Etsy. Sconces:Custom Scallop Sconce Shades with Brass Wall Mounts from D & W Lighting Showroom. Blanket: Terra Cotta Striped Guatemalan Blanket from Marra.
The long gingham headboard panel makes the room feel both larger and cozier, while the corner chaise was a find from an annual Austin garage sale. In the spirit of the client’s true love for handmade, AW & Co. project Manager Allison Beyer sourced and coordinated the locally made custom furnishings with mostly Austin makers, while collecting Swiss ornaments for styling with Worrel. Side tables: Maude Side Tables in Saddle Brown from Noir. Bedding: Brooklinen. Throw: Albion Mohair Throw from Serene & Lily. Pouf: Kai Wool Pouf from Bernhardt.
“At one point, the family had a ladybug infestation in the attic space, so we took that as our cue to do a custom wall painting in the bathroom,” says the designer. “Artist Julie Rodgers painted them and she’s our go-to gal. She does mural art, custom lampshades and more.” Light Fixtures: Cedar & Moss. Shower Curtain: Custom.
“When everything is soft and cozy, people love being in a space,” Worrel says. A set of white chairs surround an ottoman in the viewing room, where guests can play games or watch movies on the projector. Plus, there is a chaise with faux bois-style fabric as a fun reference to the walls. Reading Floor Lamp: House of Troy. Pillows: Custom in Zuri fabric from Zak + Fox. Chaise fabric: Perennials What Knot in Ceruse.
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