Given Tulsa’s world-renowned design legacy, naming any one home the city’s “Most Charming” seems like a precarious venture. Yet in October Elle Decor did just that, featuring the midtown residence of Sara and John Coonce as an online house tour.
Bailey Austin of Austin Bean Design Studio designed the H-shaped home around axial relationships that are evident the moment you step inside. From the entry hall, your line of sight is a straight shot across the cerulean cocktail pool to the simple geometry of an open-air pool house. Perhaps no other moment in the home is quite so impactful, but a few come close – iterations of the view beckon as you move throughout the ground floor.
“You have these big axial moments that set you up for a vantage point of the pool in almost all locations for entertaining,” Austin says.
At the center of the H, the entry hall is the home’s main circulation point. A corridor leads to the more private west wing, which holds the master suite. The public entertaining spaces – an open kitchen and living room and a formal dining room – converge on the east side of the house.
“Off the dining, we also have a courtyard on the front of the house,” Austin says. “So you have that same axial relationship when you’re looking from the pool house. Everywhere you look, you have a termination point that’s really beautiful.”
ACHIEVING THE LOOK
Classic architectural trim work throughout the home laid the groundwork for minimal but high-impact interiors. Layered textures and bold moments of contrast balance and add interest to a serene palette of whites, greys and blues. Austin selected several more durable and indoor/outdoor fabrics to give the design longevity and accommodate the family’s two teenage children and dog. She says skimping on upholstery costs in high-use areas is a common mistake that can cost clients more in the long run.
“People tend to refrain from investing in the pieces they use all the time, and that’s what causes them to look the worst,” Austin says. “When really, they should put the most money into the pieces that are in their den, so they look the best and they hold up better.”
THE NEW NEUTRAL
The reinvention of navy as a neutral has emerged as a designer staple over the past few years. Austin applied variations of the color to create depth and contrast in the Coonce home. The effect is exquisite in the formal dining room’s indigo crushed velvet draperies and coordinating upholstery trim. The once-conventional hue is also superbly employed in the bedroom of the Coonces’ teen daughter. Plush powder blue velvet surrounds a custom oversized lumbar pillow in hand-block-printed Galbraith & Paul. Saturated ikat draperies offset breezy shiplap paneled walls – a look that’s at once timeless and distinctively fresh.
“She can be 30, and with very minor changes, that room is still going to look awesome,” Austin says.
Capturing the attention of a major design publication like Elle Decor was a 2015 goal for Austin and co-owner Mel Bean, who will celebrate four years of business in November.
“For Tulsa, it’s great,” Austin says. “Tulsa’s had so many great designers in the past that have been in national publications. We just hope to be the next generation of designers that are reaching a national level of exposure.”
Editor’s note: A writer and editor based in Tulsa, Molly Bullock was employed by Austin Bean Design Studio from 2013 to 2014 and assisted with the Coonce project in an auxiliary capacity. She no longer has professional ties to the firm.