By: Courtney Dabney
The home Emily Gilbert shares with her family on a scenic street in Tanglewood is a work in progress, she says. On the day I arrive, the driveway has been torn up as they ready for a renovation that will add a larger backyard, plus an office where Emily can see her interior design clients. But in her kitchen, everything is perfectly arranged, and in one corner resides a cozy sanctuary where the family gathers twice a day for meals. “The kids have breakfast here every morning,” Emily says of her son, Grey, 6, and daughter Ellie, 3. “They love connection, and they really want their momma by them, so we snuggle up there.” And, she emphasizes, “We do not miss dinner together.”
The functionality of the space embodies Emily’s philosophy as a designer. “My whole goal with my personal house and with my clients is to make it more than a pretty space,” she says. “I want the spaces I create to be a place where people want to create memories and for life’s moments to happen within.”
Those moments, with the Gilbert children and Emily’s husband, Landry, happen on a custom built-in banquette upholstered in Kelly Wearstler’s Graffito fabric in the salmon colorway. Chippendale chairs by Bunaglow 5 are upholstered in the same fabric. It’s an ambiguous shade that straddles the lines of masculine and feminine, mature and childlike. And it pairs perfectly with a marble table by Four Hands. One might think the table was built to the proportions of the bench or vice versa. They weren’t, but their precise scale is also no accident. “For me, more than color or anything else, scale, balance and proportion are the most important,” says Emily.
Above, a single hanging shade fixture by Circa Lighting illuminates the space. More notes of childlike whimsy are found in the simple artwork. Two prints of journal pages by artist Soicher Marin are framed on the wall — they used to be in Grey’s room and were moved to the kitchen when the Gilberts moved into this home six months ago.
A small vintage rug below the sink offers a pop of color in the space otherwise grounded by neutrals. “I like color in small portions because I like to change things a lot, and I feel like if I’m too color committed, then I don’t have as much flexibility,” Emily says.
After graduating with an interior design degree from TCU, Emily worked with a couple builders before branching out on her own. Her first project was a pro bono design for the Como neighborhood’s Rivertree Academy. From there she got a few clients, and her business has thrived almost exclusively via word of mouth since then. Emily says in her younger years, she gravitated more toward color, but when Grey was born, her aesthetic shifted. “I just felt like there was enough busy in my world between juggling raising a child and a business and the clutter that life creates that I didn’t want my spaces to make me feel more wild.”
Now, the children add their own color. Where usually sits a bowl of fruit or vase of flowers at the center of a kitchen table lies cups filled with colored pencils — fostering creativity for Grey and Ellie, who often sit at the table with coloring books. “It’s nice to have color at our fingertips.”
By: Courtney Dabney