A contemporary Houston home provides the perfect blank slate for creative director Tina Silvestri’s poppy wallpaper designs, growing art collection and family of four.
In the family room of this modern Houston manse designed by Laura U, furniture was built custom to accommodate the large scale of the space. Upholstery by Designers Guild adds a pop of color.
When Tina Silvestri set out to build a new home for her family of four, she had a very clear idea of what she wanted. After all, she’s been on the other side of this process countless times, as creative director of Houston-grown wallpaper brand Olivia + Poppy. Their previous residence was overtly traditional, an Italian-leaning style she called “Versace-esque”—and a style she wanted to depart from in the new build. Silvestri explains: “What really made me want to change our aesthetic was, anytime I fell in love with a piece of art, it didn’t go in the traditional home that we had.” Though an admittedly new art collector, her colorful, abstract, often large-scale art taste needed contemporary bones with which to better mesh. Another plus, a blank slate would be the perfect canvas to employ her graphic wallpaper designs.
In short order, Silvestri orchestrated a design team up to the task of making her five-bedroom, “Euro-modern” vision come to life, which included builder K&C Classic Homes, architect Craig Stiteler and, her secret weapon of sorts, Laura Umansky. “We were able to collaborate early on before groundbreaking commenced,” says Umansky, whose team was brought in to work its magic on the interiors, while the architect was finalizing the drawings. The designer recalls of Silvestri’s mandate she wanted “a traditional, Hellenistic facade that hides a sleek and contemporary interior,” she explains.
Olivia + Poppy Creative Director and homeowner Tina Silvestri notes of the collab with Laura U, “It was great to have so many other very talented people in place because you just end up with a much more fabulous selection.”
“Every aspect of the home is custom designed to showcase our clients’ Italian heritage and passion for life,” says the designer. This passion for life—and for Italian design—is apparent upon entry, starting with the expert and, at times, over-the-top materials palette. Throughout the common spaces you’ll find 6-foot-by-2-foot-6-inch Calacatta porcelain tile, an arduous install that required the use of a specialized suction tool (same on the custom stair treads and risers); in the powder rooms, specialty marble mosaic flooring; and a custom marble border design surrounding the formal dining room. The vertical surfaces received the same amount of edited extravagance, utilizing wallpaper by Olivia + Poppy and Kelly Wearstler, to accent the remaining stark white walls.
“It was very important that our paint selections were black and white—not gray or cream—with pops of red reminiscent of Italian sports cars,” explains Umansky, a decision undoubtedly inspired by Silvestri’s husband, a local businessman and land developer who is a fervent collector of such vehicles. In fact, a separate building was erected on the property to safeguard his collection. The men of the house (which include Silvestri’s two teenage boys) guided other decisions too—a game room, a spacious man cave and plenty of accessible, hard-wearing furniture pieces. “This tends to be the hangout house,” Silvestri muses—for the “grown-ups” too, who have hosted upward of 300 people for various events throughout the year.
In the master suite, Missoni drapes complement a blush Bernhardt chair.
Once the bones were completed, Umansky’s team got to work on the edit of furniture and art. Since the homeowners wanted the rooms pretty spare to keep with their contemporary vision, each piece of furniture chosen was of utmost importance. “If you don’t love it, don’t do it just because it matches or is convenient,” says Silvestri of her guiding design mantra. “You must love [everything]. When you do that, you end up with a house in which you love every room.” Furniture pieces were made custom to accommodate the 15,000-square-foot home’s massive scale; designer-approved statement pieces from Kelly Wearstler, Lee Broom, Gabriel Scott and more act as jewelry, adding interest to the austere arrangement. The lady of the house is a Missoni collector, which inspired pops of the brand’s distinctive patterning: the drapery in the master bedroom, ottoman in the master bathroom and the upholstery on the kitchen island stools.
The pièce de résistance, of course, is the art, which plays a starring role. Works by Alexi Torres, Hunt Slonem, Zhuanh Hong Yi, Meredith Pardue, Gil Bruvel and more line the walls of Silvestri’s new abode. And this time around, it fits in just perfectly.
A custom marble border design of Nero Marquina and Statuario marble from Materials Marketing outlines the formal dining room. A Gabriel Scott chandelier hangs above.
Craig Stiteler Design
K&C Classic Homes
House + Town
Custom ottoman, section and armchairs
Laura Rathe Fine Art
Bathroom and cantina cabinetry
Master bath rug
Kelly Wearstler swing-arm sconce
Kitchen and bar cabinetry
Rug in master
Calacatta porcelain tile
Glass tile in master bath; marble flooring in powder rooms
Photography by: Michael Hunter; portrait by Phoebe Rourke-Ghabriel