Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
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Singer Shawn Colvin spends about half her year on the road, but her Central Austin home is respite, fortress and destiny. “It’s what inspires me,” she says.

Colvin loves to shop and always returns home with acquisitions gathered while traveling–rolls of wallpaper (like the blue chinoserie paper in her library that she found at The Conran Shop in London), Asian coolie hats, velvet-and-cotton Oddfellows robes, milagros and angels, lamps, folk art animals and reproductions of iconic buildings testify to her exuberance for texture, shape and color.

But the singer finally ended up with too much stuff—and that was the point at which she decided she could use some help. “I didn’t think I needed a decorator,” she admits. “But finally I threw up my hands and said someone’s got to help me.” That someone was Austin designer Jerri Kunz, a former milliner who is known about town for her trademark hats.

Gae Aulenti glass coffee table. Rug from Anthropologie. Sofa from Shabby Chic; Pillows, Madeline Weinrib fabric. Lamps from a flea market in New York City. Pendant from Uncommon Objects. Osborne & Little wallcovering. Paintings by Julie Speed.

Both client and designer agreed what the problem was. “Shawn’s house was full of things she had picked up in her travels, and she didn’t know how to manage it all,” says Kunz. “The house was like a big closet.”

The family room was disproportionately tall for its square footage and anchored by a Tuscan-style fireplace. Kunz stripped away the pseudo-Italian embellishments and replaced them with a witty hand-painted wood-grain mural to make a new focal point. And Colvin selected a passionate blue to paint the room, which draws attention to color and not to height.

Sofa from Nest. Green Chairs from Pottery Barn. Barn doors from Cierra Interiors. Barn door hardware from Callahan’s General Store. Chandelier from Tipler’s Lamp Shop. Fireplace birch log mural by Red Start Paint Design, custom through Jerri Kunz Design. Rug from The Rug Company through Jerri Kunz Design.

Kenneth Cobonpue coffee table.

Opera Verde stacking plywood chairs with custom color. Table, owner’s collection from a flea market. Chest from Four Hands Home.

Kunz waited until her client went on the road again before she called in her crew of workers to make major changes. “We reconstructed the island in the kitchen with a mesquite-topped one, added a new tile backsplash, and corrected the lighting by adding a track system with mono points that gave the rooms whiter, crisper light.”

Backsplash: Sicis “Metallismo” stainless steel tile. Bar stools from Design Within Reach. Dacor Stove from Kiva Kitchen & Bath. Rockville white granite countertops from Stone Solutions.

Walls papered in pages from  the book, “Cabinet of Natural Curiosities.” Shell mirror from Thomas Boog Design. Pendant from Jaya.

Pratt & Lambert “Red Orange” on the cabinetry. Wallcovering from The Conran Shop. Office chair from West Elm. Rug from Big Red Sun (home decor store no longer in business). Lamps from a flea market in Los Angeles. Blue and gold pillow fabric purchased at a flea market; pillows custom through Jerri Kunz Design.

Colvin is a virtuosic shopper, and both Kunz and she knew that change would play an important role in her decorating process. Recent acquisitions include a gorgeously patterned Schumacher fabric that Colvin fell in love with on a trip to Los Angeles. The singer thought it would be a knock-out in the bedroom, so Kunz had the fabric backed with paper and lined the walls with it.

John Robshaw linens. Shams from West Elm. Night stands from Crate & Barrel. Mirrors on top of night stands from a flea market. Aladdin lamps from City Wide Garage Sale. Dialogica bed restyled and stained through Jerri Kunz Design. Schumacher fabric wallcovering paperbacked through Jerri Kunz Design. Wallcovering behind bed: Handmade gilded Weitzner paper through Jerri Kunz Design.

Newspaper print animal heads from Anthropologie.

“I really get a vicarious thrill out of Shawn’s house,” says Kunz. “It’s gratifying to have a client who doesn’t take life that seriously.”

Lamp from a flea market in New York City. “Bird” red chair and footstool by Bertoia through Jerri Kunz Interior Design. Painting by Julie Speed.

Photography by Ryann Ford. Produced by moi for Austin Monthly HOME.


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