PaperCity Magazine

March 2019- Houston

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87 B y all appearances, Ann and Mathew Wolf's gra- cious River Oaks estate might have been built in the early half of the 20th century, as many of the neighborhood's resplendent homes were. But looks can be deceiving: The three-story house with its exquisite classical façade was built in 2003, designed by Curtis & Windham Architects, a Houston firm that specializes in this kind of masterful sleight of hand. As classicists and conservationists, their projects fit seamlessly into environments with the appropriate scale, proportions, and materials of the era and design. Here, the house's mottled stucco exterior contributes an aged painterly feel, while the red tile roof, reclaimed from an old school, provides instant patina. The house is set back from the street and surrounded by green lawns and sculpted gardens, as grand homes from an older era would have been. Inside, historically correct millwork, and plaster walls add to the subtle Old World feel. The Wolf house was inspired by the work of two outstanding architects: John F. Staub, celebrated for his classical designs for some of Texas' most esteemed families, and Charles A. Platt, designer of great houses and gardens for the Roosevelts and Astors. The Wolf house is included in a monograph published by Texas A&M University Press, A Vision of Place: The Work of Curtis & Windham Architects. Wolf grew up in New York, where much of Platt's work can be seen. Her husband, Houston investor Mathew Wolf, has also spent a lot of time on the East Coast. "We are both very much enamored with the classical architecture there," she says. "This house was designed to our specifications and our dreams of how a house should look and feel. We wanted something that appeared as if it had always been here." Most importantly, it was designed to be a family home. While the Wolfs' three children are all now grown, it still bustles with activity. Her firm, Ann Wolf Interior Decoration, has offices on the first floor. She is currently juggling eight projects, including a 1950s beach house in California. Wolf is known for layered, traditional looks — she says that she's heavily influenced by Sister Parish — but she works in a wide range of styles. "I just did a contemporary house in West University, which was on the AIA Houston Home Tour," she says. "Recently I've done a very modern house in Memorial for art collectors. But the projects I get most excited about are those where I can source antiques and vintage furnishings." Her passion for collecting was sparked as child when she'd go antiquing with her mother. In the 1980s, she spent two years at Ralph Lauren, designing womenswear, which honed her love of vintage fabrics. "We'd create these storyboards with an antique blouse or fabric to show the mood," she says. It was also an early lesson in layering. "We'd pile on the imagery — a lot of Hollywood in the 1930s, if you were inspired by it. We were encouraged to be bold by adding an unexpected surprise element." In the 1990s, she married, moved to Houston, and launched Little Wolf Furniture Company, designing chairs for children up- holstered in vintage textiles. Friends admired how she decorated her own homes and hired her to do theirs. A self-taught designer, she's been working steadily in the field for almost 25 years, with her projects appearing in House Beautiful, Veranda, Traditional Home, and Flair. A nn Wolf doesn't hesitate when asked to describe the interior design style of her house. "This house is American. I'm a lover of craft and Americana," she says. That includes needlepoint, which her mother taught her; she has a large collection of it in her home, including two needlepoint rugs made by her mother. She's passionate about the early American art of stenciling and has stenciled the walls in the front hall. When the Wolfs were building their house, she and Mathew spent time studying colors and interior details at Bayou Bend, the 1920s home of Ima Hogg that is now a museum for In the guest bedroom, Brunschwig & Fils wallpaper. Framed vintage textile fragment. Fortuny fabric on vanity chair. Antique chair with Schumacher fabric.

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