PaperCity Magazine

January 2017 - Houston

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to Bodron's heart is a 3,500-square-foot high-rise residence in Houston for a recent widow, whom Bodron has known since his childhood in Monroe, Louisiana. During the '60s and '70s, Monroe's social life often revolved around the winding, cypress-lined Bayou DeSiard. "Everyone wanted to live on the bayou," Bodron says. "It's where the country club and the golf course were, and there were always boats on the water." The bayou is also where he first met his client and her husband, a businessman and architect, whose lofty modern house had a basement game room, a favored gathering spot for neighborhood kids after football games. Filled with sophisticated furnishings from the era — Paul McCobb, Edward Wormley, Billy Baldwin, Philip and Kelvin Laverne, Harvey Probber, and Paul Evans — the Louisiana house was a glamorous introduction to a world of design that would become Bodron's passion. After the husband's death, Bodron's client moved to Houston where she has a daughter, and hired Bodron + Fruit to remake her new home in the Villa D'Este high-rise. Her only request: Use as many of the original furnishings as possible. Bodron was happy to oblige. M aybe it's his South- ern heritage, but Bodron's interiors are known for be- ing as comfortable as they are sleek — a balance that takes a lot of advance planning. "The first thing I ask clients is how they want their house to work, not what they want it to look like," he says. Furniture plans are finalized long before clients sign off on purchases. 50 In the entry, antique Persian kilim rug from Abrash Decorative Rug Gallery. Vintage Paul McCobb credenza. Wall panels from a house in Kent, circa 1730. Top right: In the breakfast room, vintage Paul McCobb table and chairs, with Larsen textile from Culp Associates. Photograph, Mathieu Mercier's Pantone 104M, 2014. Designer Mil Bodron Meanwhile, the envelope of the 15-year-old Villa D'Este apartment un- derwent substantial remodeling under the deft hand of Steve Hood Company, along with new lighting by Byrdwaters Design. Because she wanted the option to enclose the dining room from the liv- ing area, Bodron created four textured sliding glass doors. The original clas- sical pilasters that ordered the space were retained. "Many high-rises are big boxes in the sky without architecture, so sometimes it's nice to use moldings and decorative light fixtures," he says. In the dining room, they opted to keep two monumental palm-tree floor lamps left by the previous owners, because they added architectural interest to the room. It was a lucky find: After doing some re- search, Bodron discovered the lamps are rare pieces by French furniture maker Maison Jansen. Armed with a solid furniture plan, Bodron determined that much of his client's vintage furnishings would work in the new residence, including a nine- foot custom Widdicomb sofa, two pair of Billy Baldwin slipper chairs, a matching pair of McCobb lounge chairs, a massive Philip and Kelvin LaVerne cocktail ta- ble, and a dining table attributed to Gio Ponti and Bertha Schaefer. Carefully refinished and reupholstered, the client's original furniture gleamed back to life. "I know it's my old furniture, but it feels brand-new," she says. "Mil got every- thing right — the colors, the fabrics, the wall paints. Not only did we get along, but he understood what I wanted. I think it's because he'd seen how I'd lived for so many years." Bodron purposely kept the rooms' scale even, so that one piece wouldn't dominate over another. "I wanted it to feel like a salon in New York," he says of his vision to create a space where people feel the overall chic vibe, rather than focus on any individual piece. Like most of Bodron's projects, these subtle rooms reveal their details over time. His client, who sometimes hosts groups of 25 for cocktail buffets after the ballet, theater, or symphony, says guests especially love being in the living area with its multiple seating areas. "Every- body who walks in says, 'Oh my goodness, this is such a comfortable room — so warm.'" The apartment may be filled with classic furnishings from the mid-century era, but rather than feeling like a period piece frozen in time, Bodron has created a dwelling that's sophisticated and of the moment, just like its owner. Says the client: "I grew up with a mother who was always up to date. She loved Art Deco and mid-century when everyone else in Monroe was into Colonial and antiques. Plus my husband was a student of the Bauhaus, so modern furniture was what we bought. People thought we were kind of crazy." For both Bodron and his client, the story comes full circle: A few years ago, Bodron's parents bought a house on the bayou, de- signed by his client's late husband. It's an International-style house interpreted with old Louisiana brick and fir siding, says Bodron. "It was always," he says, "my favorite house in town."

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