House Tour: 1930s Texas Classic Gets A Modern Makeover

What started as a kitchen remodel—and turned into a whole-house renovation—transformed the interiors of an 80-year-old house into a chic and contemporary escape with standout midcentury details.

By Rachel Gallaher

Images by Clay Grier

modern kitchen neutral colors gray island in the center. The backsplash is a black-and-white marble that goes up the wall. A gray table sits in the foreground with three leather chairs on one side.

A full remodel on this 1930s home in Austin, Texas started with the request for a kitchen makeover. Led by Mark Ashby Design, the project embraces the original details, while layering in contemporary accents such as a stainless Lacanche range and the Arabescato Marble backsplash.

When a pair of young professionals in Pemberton—a picturesque, heritage neighborhood in Austin, Texas—first called Mark Ashby Design, they were looking to renovate their kitchen.

The house, built in 1939, had classic architecture and period details that the homeowners loved, including pocket doors and 80-year-old moldings. As the initial project details started to evolve, and eventually turned into a whole-house renovation, these details, and the history of the house in general, became a touchstone for shaping the design and décor decisions during the year-long project.

“We initially dubbed this project, ‘the London townhouse,’ says Anne Grandinetti, a senior designer at Mark Ashby Design. “The clients wanted to highlight the acceptable traditional moments inherited from the home. They wanted a European touch mixed with a soft, pleasing color palette to showcase their growing art collection.”

modern dining room with a wooden table and eight chairs in brown slipcovers. An industrial-style three-pendant light hangs over the table and a clay pot sits on the table on its side. The fireplace mantle is a bold marble with purple veining.

In the dining room, the fireplace mantle was chosen for its unique Breccia Viola marble. The purple coloring served as the starting point for the room's palette. Interior designer Anne Grandinetti chose terracotta-colored slipcovers for the chairs, and the walls and ceiling were plastered then painted with Farrow & Ball's Smoked Trout to complement the veining in the fireplace. The chandelier is Flos.

The clients had reached out to the firm right before the pandemic lockdown. Grandinetti recalls meeting with them, doing a walk-through of the residence, and then everything shutting down one week later. “The rest of our meetings took place via Zoom,” she says. “We spent the entire project under restrictions and still managed to pull off a beautiful remodel.”

When it came to the remodel, Mark Ashby Design brought on architect Michael Stouse of Stouse Design, and Crowell Builders, to completely gut the kitchen and main bathroom—the two areas of the home getting the biggest overhaul. The design team maintained the structure’s 3,600 square feet, working within the existing footprint to update and refresh the interiors, imbuing them with a refined, but not stuffy, sophistication.