By: Jacqueline Gonzalez Photos by: Jason Page
Corpus Christi’s Ocean Drive area is well known for its scenic views of the Bay, but also for the historic homes and perfectly manicured lawns. The stately houses frequently catch the eye of passersby and tourists checking out the area.
When Dr. Christel Cuevas and her husband, Dr. Christion Rice, moved back to Corpus Christi in 2018, their search for the perfect home led them to this spacious lot, where the Old World style of the traditional architecture encompassed everything they looked for in a home. This was only the beginning. The house then became a blank canvas for Cuevas to create a space that reflected her love of classic, traditional pieces with a funky twist, and a tinge of glam.
Cuevas and Rice’s busy schedules left them with little time to work on this design, so they enlisted the help of designer Cecile Gottlich to bring this project to fruition.
“Working with Cecile was amazing,” said Cuevas. “We instantly clicked, and she understood my personality. She took my vision for the space and elevated it.”
The collaboration between Cuevas and Gottlich involved many phone calls, texts, and site visits while they exchanged photos and narrowed down pieces to ensure each element Cuevas desired was implemented. The end result was an aesthetically pleasing array of rooms, each with its own distinctive personality, but with enough similarities to create a modern, yet timeless design.
“I’m inspired by my client,” explained Gottlich. “And I also ground the design in the history of the place, and this home is a landmark home from the 1940s.”
To embrace the old world charm of the 1940s architecture, many art deco pieces, such as the gold Ibex mid-century coffee table, curved velvet sofas, and mirrors on the wall that are like pieces of jewelry, were incorporated.
Cuevas also fell in love with the design and earth tones that reflect the style of fashion guru Ralph Lauren. Gottlich made this happen by selecting wallpaper from Designer’s Guild with a classic pastoral scene for the formal dining room. The earthy tones of the wallpaper were perfect to provide inspiration for the paneling, and they opted for a dark gray adding not only mystery and elegance to the dining room, but also the sophistication of Ralph Lauren’s style. The dim lighting and custom drapery in the room add the perfect finishing touch.
“This room reminds me of a countryside, like an equestrian farm,” said Cuevas. “I like that it is unique and has the right amount of drama.”
Initially, they considered removing the walls that separated each room, but quickly changed their mind to maximize the functionality of having separate living spaces. “When you have parties, people have multiple places to hang out and mingle,” said Cuevas.
Gottlich also felt that moving from room to room adds an element of surprise because they’re so different in design. Even though the rooms are different, each one extends a smooth transition into the next.
The formal living room exudes elegance, while the den bears a more British style with a tufted sofa and Ralph Lauren prints.
Overlooking the den is the former butler’s pantry, which is now cleverly dubbed the “Jewel Box.” The small, dimly lit room is painted a deep jewel shade of green from floor to ceiling, while the brown stone floors and clustered multi-light fixture with champagne-toned lighting add the right amount of depth.
The kitchen was also transformed beautifully from a dark, closed-in space with a mahogany divider to an open, inviting room with bright white walls, plus dark beams for a dramatic touch, and a custom herringbone wood vent hood designed by Gottlich. The countertops were replaced entirely, and dishes and other vintage trinkets in the curio cabinet create an eye-catching display.
Looking back on the “before” photos of the home, the pair beams at how far this project has come, and agree that the entire home is so gorgeous that they can’t choose their favorite room.
With Gottlich’s talent and Cuevas’ good taste in design, we’re positive that any new additions will be picture perfect and continue to elevate the home.