PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston December 2021

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personal style and sophistication. "She has a laidback, confident way of dressing and carrying herself, and we've tried to reflect that in the house," he says. These are smart interiors for a family that prizes culture and the intellect, with shelves of books on art and architecture, along with novels, all in Dutch and Italian. Those are the languages they speak at home, so their sons are conversant in both. The family travels back to the Netherlands and Italy each year and over time has collected art and other decorative elements, including expressionist paintings by influential artist Karel Appel, and tall, figurative bronze sculptures by Peter Leyenaar, both Dutch. In the living area, Fontenot framed a dozen or so sketches of the Netherlands made by Rene's father, an amateur artist, and hung them salon-style over an antique Italian chest that belonged to Gabriella's grandfather. About the same time Fontenot came on board, Gabriella purchased a white leather sectional sofa from Design Within Reach for the living room — a brave move for a family with teenage boys, but Italians aren't squeamish about such things. Fontenot wasn't so sure it would work at first. "It was too crisp and white, and I hated it," he remembers, laughing. "Now, years later, it's slouchy and beat-up and perfect." More often than not, Fontenot and his clients are perfectly in sync: While searching for lighting for the living room, Fontenot discovered a pair of vintage spotlight pendants by Achille Castiglioni, an Italian lighting designer who worked for Flos in the 1970s. He showed them to Gabriella, who exclaimed that she had one exactly like it in her apartment in Milan long ago. Fontenot has dangled the pendants in a corner behind the sectional, and rather than hanging a chandelier from the middle of the living-room ceiling, he designed a diminutive brass spotlight that aims targeted light onto a free-form, raw-steel coffee table, also of his design. The 86

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