Austin-based Abode, Inc. specializes in residential interiors and the firm has completed projects across Texas and the Southwest. Principal designer Fern Santini directs the creation of unique and striking interiors that have been featured in Metropolitan Home, Traditional Home, House Beautiful, Western Interiors and Renovation Style among other publications.
Texas based designer, Fern Santini. Belives that balance in lighting flooring, colour pattern and fabric are the elements that contribute to a well-designed interior, but the paramount consideration is always the client´s lifestyle. She uses art and architecture for inspiration but understanding how a client live – and how they want to live – is the basis for her work.
BACK TO THE FUTURE A tract house on a verdant cove on Lake Austin was nearly awash in bad seventies’ architecture and interior design. But the site was incomparable, with the lake fronting two sides of the property. The new owners loved the location and even wanted to save the house, which spoke to them about casual lakeside living. Furman+Keil Architects rendered a stunning renovation to the wood and glass building, turning it into an indoor-outdoor house that’s perfect for entertaining both formally and informally. Fern played up the new architecture with elegantly relaxed furniture and an expertly curated array of contemporary art by local artists. Touches of absolute luxury—such as plaster walls in the master bedroom, all-out glamour in the gold-and-white tiled master bath, and a Kyle Bunting rug in the dining room—are reminders that being casual doesn’t preclude being very very stylish.
Though the phrase “location, location, location” is generally attributed to British real estate tycoon Lord Harold Samuel, its earliest usage appeared in a 1926 Chicago Tribune classified ad. Yet what was true in 1926, as well as in Lord Samuel’s time, remains an incontrovertible fact today. Proof positive of the adage is this idyllic tree-shaded property in Austin, which is bordered on three sides by a postcard-perfect lake.
Unfortunately for the couple who transferred from California to Texas for work, the existing 1983 house that sat on the land had a few quirks. “The house needed a lot of work,” says designer Fern Santini. “It was red and black, with a lot of gold sponge painting.” And so, Santini—along with architects Gary Furman and Philip Keil, home builder David Dalgleish and landscape designer Mark Word—was hired to turn the house into one more conducive to the homeowners’ lifestyle.
Architecture – Gary Furman, FAIA, LEED AP, and Philip Keil, AIA, Furman Keil Architects
Interior Design – Fern Santini, Abode | Fern Santini Design
Home Builder – David Dalgleish, Dalgleish Construction Company
Landscape Architecture – Mark Word, Mark Word Design
See also: Top Architects | Santiago Calatrava
This casual compound designed by the San Antonio architecture firm Lake/Flato is the second home for a busy couple who lives near San Francisco and loves the water. High above Lake Austin, the main house keeps the couple walking on air, thanks to a catwalk that connects it to one of the three out buildings. Fern’s ruggedly casual décor makes for relaxed living, and is punctuated on high with stylishly whimsical pendant lighting. Porches encourage outdoor living, and separate yoga studio and exercise room are for well-being. A lake pavilion and boat house complete the setting.
The owners of this Palladian-style villa in the hills just west of Austin admired this house long before it became theirs. Once the couple bought the house, they asked Fern to make the grand-scale dwelling with panoramic views of the lake better than it had been. With new surfaces, luxe finishes, a mix of French, English, and Italian antiques with modern fabrics and colors, the house was reinvented to become a more authentic version of its former self.
The client wanted a warm, light-filled home to rekindle memories of Santa Barbara. Spanish Colonial architecture invites an orchestrated mix of traditional furniture, quirky antiques and luxe materials, with knock-out glamour coming to life in the bedroom and master bath.
Near downtown, this townhouse is compact and efficient, designed by architect Paul Lamb to serve as a winter retreat for its globe-trotting owners. Large paintings dominate the spaces; the interiors were meant to create a subtle and chic counterpart to the statement made by the owners\’ collection of art, which is set off by deep-hued, glossy walls.
Texas Country House
Architect Paul Lamb designed this Westlake retreat with the great twentieth-century British architect Edwin Lutyens, in mind. Lutyens was best known for his imaginative adaptations of traditional style, and both Lamb and Fern have followed suit here. This limestone residence is cozy in front, but opens to the lake with mullioned floor-to-ceiling windows. Oushak rugs, a subtle palette, and comfortable sofas aren’t so serious when paired with quirky occasional chairs. Glamour is serious, though, in the master suite where luxe is a pleasure to behold.
“I like exposing clients to things that they never thought o for knew was there” Santini says, with her prominent Texas drawl. She adds that it´s her job to encourage clientes ti push the envelope, be open minded and break the rues. “I´m always respectful of their Comfort when i feel really strong about something.”
“My direction is always taken from the architecture and the client´s vision for the project. My design process is based on a strong belief in listening. I never dictate, but i´m not above groveling occasionally you have to have a sense of humor! The best projects always come from a true collaboration between the members of the design team and the client.”