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Embrace color and pattern: One designer shares South Austin home with bold choices

Bold furniture, pops of color in the artwork, and patterns in the pillows and footstool bring together this room designed by Maureen Stevens. She used the line of the staircase to create architectural elements underneath with framed photos.

Shades of beige. Shades of white. Shades of gray. Or some mixture of all three. That's been the look in interior design for years. 

"Classic works," says Maureen Stevens. "I'm just not the designer for it." People come to her for color: color on walls, on furniture, in artwork, in rugs and tile, in accessories.

The designer lives in New Orleans, but splits her time between there and Austin. 

Katharine Keton, who is in sales, started working with Stevens about two years ago after moving from a downtown high rise building, where she had cooler tones of blues and pinks, to a house off South First Street that was a blank slate ready for Keton to embrace the look of intense colors and bold patterns.

Keton found Stevens after attending a Tribeza tour. 

"I liked her bold choices, use of light and pattern and color," Keton says. 

The Frame TV artwork is the inspiration for the colors in the couch and chairs downstairs in Katharine Keton's home.

Some of the inspiration came from the tile the builder had already chosen for the home. In the kitchen, the backsplash is a soft blue textured tile with a diamond embossed into it. The master bathroom has gray and sage geometric shapes similar to a fleur de lis. A guest bathroom has brilliant blue-and-white patterned tiles. 

Another inspiration was the artwork Keton chose for the Samsung Frame TV above her fireplace. It highlights reds, blues and golds in a geometric pattern when not being used for TV viewing. Stevens also looked at Keton's Instagram and saw photos of her in a red swimsuit and knew that Keton felt comfortable with bright colors, especially red. 

Black-and-white patterned wallpaper is a modern take on animal print in the dining room of this South Austin home.

"First and foremost, color is not right when it's not one of the colors that the client likes," Stevens says. "It's one of the questions we often ask: What are the colors you dislike? It's very personal."

Stevens knew that Keton also liked animal prints and wasn't afraid of bold patterns. Stevens always presents her clients with mood boards to narrow down the ideas, and there's always one that's a little more muted and one that's a wild card. It lets her know whether the client is open to something bold.

Keton was open. 

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Downstairs, that translates to a black-and-white abstract animal print wallpaper that distinguishes the dining room area of this open-floor-plan house. The wallpaper also gets picked up underneath the island in the kitchen.

A white dining room table with black chairs make a bold statement, as does an oval mirror that is framed in silver spikes.

"Imagine it without the wallpaper," Stevens says. "It would be so bland." 

Color comes into the living room with a bold red couch with suede texture and a blue round oversized chair. Pattern gets picked up in the cream rug, pillows with soft browns and rose modern animal prints, a leopard print footstool, and a crane-pattern stool. 

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The bright red suede-textured sofa gets softened by pillows in creams, rose and soft browns.

Stevens played with the dramatic staircase by creating an accent wall underneath of framed photos of architectural elements and geometric shapes. 

Upstairs, Stevens is working on a family room that will showcase Keton's love of travel and many of the framed photos that Keton has taken or artwork she has picked on her trips.

The office in this South Austin home features geometric shapes on the wall and shapes in the rug to bring in pops of color.

The dramatic master bedroom features a wall of head-to-foot teal drapes and a teal upholstered headboard. Animal print comes into the pillows and bedspread. 

Stevens had encouraged Keton to go for it and paint the entire room teal. Keton wasn't sure and thought it might be too much and too dark. Now, she says, she realizes Stevens was right and plans to have all the walls painted to match the teal drapes. 

For the downstairs office, Stevens created bold geometric paints on the wall in green and brown. That was one where Keton just had to trust Stevens.

Teal drapes behind a teal upholstered headboard create drama in the bedroom.

"She's very confident in her decisions," Keton says. "She very strongly believes in her vision," but she will hold back if it's not what the client wants. "She wants the client to be happy." 

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After living with the bedroom's teal drapes and teal headboard, homeowner Katharine Keton is ready to go bolder and paint the walls teal.

With Keton, Stevens says, she could tell she would be more open to color by seeing the way she lives, her love of travel, and her being open to new experiences. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and a job change by Keton slowed this project, but Steven says it's important not to rush into this. "I don't want them to buy things they are not fully in love with. Let's look for something even better," Stevens says.

Katharine Keton's hat collection is an art element in her bedroom.