A West Side Nest

Houston and Charlotte Kauffman update a once-weary Westover Hills home into a stunning, contemporary residence filled with unique antiques, curated artworks and spectacular views.

Flourishing careers in the oil industry meant moves from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Casper, Wyoming, for Houston and Charlotte Kauffman. “We would find a house, move in and slap up some paint,” remembers Charlotte of their frequent relocations. In 1999, the couple circled back to Fort Worth — Houston is a native, and Charlotte is originally from Oklahoma — where they bought a house yet again and settled in.

The Kauffmans kept the original columns in the long hallway but replaced all the wood shutter doors in the home. Bathed in natural light from skylights and a floor-to-ceiling window, the hall is stocked with rugs from Abrash Rugs in the Dallas Design District.

Since they retired, a search for a more permanent home eventually led them to a Westover Hills property on the Shady Oaks golf course. The incredible scenic views sealed the deal. The back terrace of the elevated half-acre lot boasts a panoramic lookout of the Trinity River valley, and a separate courtyard patio provides glimpses of the downtown skyline through the tall, leafy treetops of surrounding neighborhoods.

A cream upholstered chair in the guest room was Charlotte’s great-grandmother’s, the large desk belonged to Houston’s father and the crucifix, another piece from his mother, was handcarved by a prisoner of war in El Reno, Oklahoma. A large dramatic painting by Hector Armendariz, titled “Hoping to be Closer to Heaven,” is Houston’s absolute favorite.

Both Charlotte and Houston adore Argentinian artist Hector Armendariz, who paints dynamic images that blend symbolic representation with classic expression. His poignant piece titled “Sonata en un Mundo Feliz” hangs above their living room sofa.

Designed by Houston-based architect Roger Rasbach, they bought the home in 2005 and lived in it for a year before beginning renovations. The home was given a more overall contemporary style but kept liveable and comfortable, per Charlotte’s request. “It is a great house; we just put their signature on it,” says interior designer Amy Walton, who headed up the revamp alongside her architect husband, Randy. They own their namesake interior design and architecture firm, Walton & Walton, and knew the Kauffmans since Amy and Charlotte were childhood friends. “We went to Camp Waldemar in Hunt, Texas, for six weeks every summer until we were 16,” adds Amy.

The kitchen was originally very French country, and Amy and Randy reworked it completely, giving it “all the essentials of a classic New Mexico kitchen,” says Amy. “I felt right at home putting that room together since Randy and I lived out there for 20 years before moving to Fort Worth.” Pine vigas and plank decking on the ceiling blend seamlessly with the distressed, stained cypress wood cabinets. The countertops are first-generation engineered stone. The existing fireplace was raised and relaid with the original brick.

Charlotte loves blue as did her grandmother, so when she laid eyes on the fabric they used for the drapes in the guest room, it became the inspiration for the whole space. The oil painting of the children in the bluebonnets was her grandmother’s. “It reminded her of me and my two brothers,” says Charlotte fondly of the cherished piece.

A vestibule Amy custom-designed off the hallway provides access to the Kauffmans’ master retreat. The Kauffmans’ third piece of art from Hector Armendariz sits above an antique chest topped with an old cigar box from Houston’s great-great-grandfather.

The biggest projects were the kitchen and the master bathroom. Completely outdated, Amy incorporated textured finishes into the latter, such as Ann Sacks French beige limestone floors and vanities, custom glass mosaic matchstick wall tile and linen-wrapped cabinets and drawers finished with a cream-colored lacquer. “We had to install the vanities; fit the doors and drawers; then remove them all; ship to Harrison-Van Horn, who wrapped and lacquered many coats, before shipping them back for install and mounting the finish hardware,” Amy says of the lengthy process.

There are many artworks and influences from Santa Fe throughout the Kauffmans’ home, like the abstract oil painting at the top of the stairs by late Santa Fe artist Rob Douglas.

The living room houses a wealth of inherited pieces from Houston’s late mother, Marion Kauffman, who was a talented interior designer that favored primitive-style pieces like a large Chinese treasure box and a stately reindeer-antler chair. “It’s actually comfortable to sit in,” notes Houston.

During the redesign, the Kauffmans became accustomed to having various people in their home working — some longer than others. British faux painter Trevor Jones spent four months completing the finish on the walls in the powder bath off the hallway. Amy had commissioned him to create a glossy Venetian plaster in a strong Chinese gold hue for the walls. But the product, made from marble dust, requires a time-consuming amount of hand-burnishing with a putty knife to achieve its full luster. “None of us knew what he was doing in there all that time, but it was beautiful when he emerged,” recalls Amy. “I am sure Houston and Charlotte feared he had taken up permanent residence.”

Houston and Charlotte refloored the courtyard with Lueders limestone and added a Moroccan fountain found at The Greenbrier, a resort in West Virginia. “The sculptor was a former coal miner. He drove the fountain all the way down here himself,” says Houston.

Once the reno was complete, the couple curated and displayed their heirloom pieces and beloved artwork throughout, including Charlotte’s prized Peter Heard watercolor she keeps in their office. The results were a Kauffman-bespoke home that was absolutely picture-perfect.

by Amber Bell  |  Photography by Nathan Schroder