By: Jacqueline Gonzalez Photos by: Katy-Jones Gulsby
Imagine taking a vacation to a coastal resort community with beautiful scenery, beaches, upscale homes, and a variety of recreational activities. The lure of the peaceful scenery and relaxing ambiance of coastal living often drove Maria Villaronga and her wife, Dr. Donna Rolin, to visit the Hamptons in New York for a getaway. Although they live in Austin, Texas, the Hamptons was the perfect place for their vacation.
They loved the Hamptons so much that when Villaronga’s brother invited them to summertime parties at a beachside rental in Port Aransas, they realized how much it resembled what they loved about the Hamptons – and that they didn’t need to go to New York to enjoy a beach resort community. They immediately fell in love and decided to invest in a home there. They weren’t sure how things would work out, considering they both work full-time and have school-aged children, but they devised a game plan. It would be an investment opportunity that would give them a place to come enjoy a family vacation, but also a great place to rent out to families the remainder of the time … not to mention the ideal home to live in after retirement. Together with a contractor, they developed a custom floor plan and architecture.
The true challenge was how to translate their love of the Hamptons’ coastal vibe into the beauty of the Texas coastline. Luckily, part of the construction was going to include the high ceilings, tall doorways, and shiplap walls that are characteristic of a coastal home, and which also added a necessary aesthetic of a blank canvas before the décor is set.
Looking around Port Aransas and Mustang Island, Villaronga found that the gray-blue of the water and the dunes were unique to the Texas coast, so she decided to use them as the base for her color palette and décor choices. “The dunes are elaborate and intricate,” says Villaronga. “If you look at them, they have a lot of colors. They’re muted, but once you look closely, they’ve got Texas grasslands, beautiful yellow flowers, and cactus blooms amidst the muted browns of the sand.”
To combine their love of the Hamptons’ scenery with a Texas ambience, Villaronga and Rolin hired Kim Hewerdine, manager of local furniture shop Chic to Chic, as their interior designer. Hewerdine’s expertise with decorating interiors helped capture the chosen design for this home. Hewerdine helped with everything from the paint colors to furnishing from her shop, and sourced additional furniture from places with coastal scenery around the United States.
Villaronga and Rolin wanted their home to be unique, so they found common elements to use in each room that would tie their décor together. The counter on the island was a piece that Villaronga found at Ferguson’s and immediately fell in love with. The sea glass imbedded in the kitchen island counter is bright with shades of light blue and sea blue, working perfectly as the focal point to tie other elements, such as the teal backsplash in the kitchen, to other areas in the home. Natural wicker, too, appears peppered throughout the home, standing out amid the soft and rich blues in the home and weaving the dunes and sand into the ocean-like aesthetic.
Villaronga also didn’t want to overpower the rooms with décor that would overwhelm her guests, so in addition to the plain colors, Hewerdine chose pillows with varying textures – which also helped to differentiate the patterns and color schemes in each room.
Their décor is definitely unique, but in addition to being unique, it is also user-friendly, especially for people with mobility issues. When working with the designer, the couple required a room downstairs for family members with limited mobility. The room is sparsely furnished to facilitate movement for people with walkers or wheelchairs, but still has the same coastal décor with plush white bedding, rich ocean blue throw pillows with intricate patterns, and coastal artwork adorning the walls. The room is also located next to the back door, which has a ramp that leads to the carport outside. It’s one of the few area homes with this amenity.
With school-aged children, bunk rooms are a must. Not only do they provide a great place for sleepovers, but adults love them, too! When Villaronga and Rolin designed this room, they wanted to create the ambiance of an ocean, which was achieved with four built-in, full-sized white bunk beds, with navy blue sheets. Each cubby has its own lighting and offers an “under the sea” feeling, complete with fish artwork on the walls. “It’s a really fun room, and people fight over who gets to stay in that room,” says Villaronga.
With a combination of the color scheme of the home and the unique designs in each room, they’ve achieved their goal to bring the outdoor coastal ambience into the home, creating a sophisticated retreat that makes you feel like you’re on vacation the entire time.