A Growing Family's Colorful Houston Heights Farmhouse

By Mimi Faucett Trahan | April 24, 2020 | Home & Real Estate

Modern twists on tradition, a new, highly personalized art collection, and color, color, color has a growing family calling this property in the Heights their forever home.

A bold blue Lee Industries sofa anchors the Yateses’ living room, designed by Katie Davis. Aerin lamps from M&M Lighting, pillows in Schumacher and Lulie Wallace fabrics, and books and accessories from Lam Bespoke complete the colorful arrangement.

“Anything but beige.” Those three words were the main advice homeowner Ashley Yates and her husband, Nathan, gave to interior designer Katie Davis when designing their new residence in the Houston Heights—music to a designer’s ears, one might say. “It was a dream project,” Davis recalls. The Yateses had lived in the Heights for seven years, before beginning to plot their “forever home” in the same neighborhood. They found a spec house by L&B Limited Company that checked all the boxes. “Brooke calls them spec houses,” Davis says, referencing Brooke Brown, co-founder of L&B. “But they’re far from it.” And the highly custom five-bedroom, 5 ½-bath white farmhouse on E. 10th St. that would eventually become the Yates family’s dream home was Exhibit A.

Gabby Decor stools belly up to a quartz-top custom island from L&B Limited Company in the kitchen.

Davis jumped on board after the bones were in place, but early enough to have input on decisions like lighting, hardware and paint colors. “I knew Ashley and Nathan wanted a more traditional vibe,” says the designer, but they were also game for more modern art pieces, statement furniture and, of course, the thread that runs through it, color. The banishment of beige is the fault of the Yateses’ former residence, which was flush with neutral tones, Restoration Hardware this, Pottery Barn that—a look the homeowners were ready to leave behind.

Lead Gray by Benjamin Moore gives a moody tone to the bar cabinets, complemented by a brass sconce from M&M Lighting.

So out went creamy couches and tan sideboards and in came dark blue bar cabinets and light blue surfaces, jewel-toned velvet sofas, tangerine throw pillows and moody accent walls. “They didn’t bring any furniture with them,” says the designer. White walls provided a blank slate, and a nice contrast, for the lively lineup. Interesting silhouettes, and punchy patterns too, were top of mind, with one-of-a-kind pieces from Dallas’ CEH, Chinese Chippendale dining chairs from Bungalow 5 and whimsical wallcoverings.

Pierce and Teddy Yates play on a bedroom banquette with pillows by Lulie Wallace from Austin’s Supply Showroom.

“We tried to find a balance between the style that we love and the practicality of our current phase of life,” says Ashley, a mom of two (under 4 years old). The furniture is roomy and stain resistant, and the spaces contain plenty of soft landing pads for little ones. The living room is alongside a wall of sliding glass windows, which bodes especially well when the weather is nice. “We spend the majority of our time as a family in this area, and we love being able to open the wall of sliding glass for the kids to run around.”

Art by Kayce Hughes hangs in the master bath, where you’ll find a Sika Design rattan chair and cabinets painted in Sherwin-Williams’ Magnetic Gray.

Shiplap accents the dining room, which includes Bungalow 5 chairs, re-covered with Sister Parish fabric from James Showroom, a beach scene by artist Lindsey Meyer and a Hackney chandelier by J. Randall Powers.

Though the living room might be the home’s heart, its soul—and the couple’s favorite part of the design process—is the art. New collectors, the homeowners were able to start from scratch. But if you’re thinking such an approach would yield a collection devoid of personality, you would be mistaken. The Yateses took special care to only invest in pieces that meant something to their family—artists they admired, landscapes that recalled beloved vacation destinations. “Nothing was random,” says Davis, who spent hours with the couple, perusing galleries and browsing artists online. “We were able to source some amazing pieces. But my favorite piece to source was with Nathan”—a surprise Hunt Slonem bunny from Laura Rathe for his and Ashley’s 10th wedding anniversary.

A perfected farmhouse vibe donning Sherwin-Williams Pure White

In the end, the home serves as a perfect canvas for not only a growing art collection, but a growing family, as the Yateses are expecting a third child. Whether or not the nursery will be blue or pink is yet to be determined, but we can be sure there won’t be beige tones in sight.

A painting by Nashville’s Kayce Hughes was the fire that ignited the Yateses’ art collection. This one hangs in the study against a wall in Benjamin Moore’s Lead Gray.


Single-family home


Architecture, Builder, Landscape Design
L&B Limited Company

Interior Design
Katie Davis Design


Master and study bath fixtures

Kids bedroom fixtures

Dimmitt Contemporary Art

Laura Rathe Fine Art

M&M Lighting


Stark Carpet
Living room and master bedroom rug


Photography by: Melissa Fitzgerald West