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Vibrant Moroccan-inspired colors and spiritual decor infuse this townhouse with life and serenity
By Barbara Canetti • Photography by Julie Soefer

Although the Rice Military neighborhood has evolved over the past decade to hundreds of three-and four-story stucco townhouses, it is what is behind the garden walls and fancy doors that makes the area so interesting.

For instance, Laura Umansky, creative director of Laura U Interior Design, and her team recently transformed the interior of a 3,500-square-foot, four-story transitional townhome to transport visitors from urban Houston to the kasbahs of Morocco with the color palette and ambience chosen for the inside of the home.

“Our client was seeking a home that was peaceful and feminine,” says Umansky, who noted the Moorish influence was developed to encompass a spiritual yet vibrant decor. “She loves pink, and we used pink here and there and grounded it with the neutral colors of the walls.”

Immediately upon entering the home through the courtyard’s carved metal doors is a fuchsia rug hugging a round bone-inlaid wood table. On the tabletop are some of many lovely Buddha statues the owner has collected in her international travels. Also on the ground floor, the owner had a mirrored-wall gym created, with a life-sized custom mural of Muhammad Ali painted on a bright fuchsia wall. “I’m free to be what I want,” Ali says.

The path to the main living area on the second floor is via a black, winding wrought iron staircase that leads to a bright dining room with a dark-wood, expandable double-pedestal table surrounded by matching white chairs and a pair of host/hostess chairs upholstered in a colorful fabric. A cobalt credenza rests below five sitting Buddha statues that seem to float on the wall. The designers say they chose to not cover the white oak floors because of the beautiful wood and interesting pattern of the surface.

The adjacent kitchen was left virtually untouched by the designers, with the exception of adding pops of color with blue barstools and a large, carved medallion on the wall.

But the team got busy in the living room. First they created a small sitting area with two uniquely shaped chairs covered in a neutral fabric and put them in front of windows to bring in the light. They placed a wooden accent table with bone between the chairs to make a nice conversation area.

Across the room the large, white sectional couch comes alive with puffy pink and purple pillows. Two leather-upholstered stools are nearby, and all are nestled around a fluffy white sheepskin rug. Soft light filters into the room through the woven wooden shades flanked by sheer drapery panels.

“There are feminine touches in the room, and we pulled the color palette of blues and fuchsia into the living room,” says Letecia Ellis Haywood, principal designer, who noted the variety of Buddhas in the wooden built-in bookcases came from the owner’s collection.

Up on the third floor of the house, the designers repeated the color scheme in the library and again in the master bedroom. The homeowner’s books and art behind the large wooden desk add more color to the room. But the drapes in bright pink with gold embroidery drapes make this room so interesting, along with the textured tone-on-tone wall covering and large metal chandelier hanging over the desk.

“My favorite room in this home is the study. I LOVE the unexpected color in the drapery. The surrounding room is very practical and put together, and the drapery is the perfect punch,” says Umansky.

The master bedroom, also on the third floor, is all about serenity, says interior designer Shenay Keyes. The carved-wood canopy bed is shrouded in long custom sheers and zapped with salmon-colored pillows and a lumbar cushion in tones reminiscent of the palette in the dining and living rooms. A velvet bench/chaise at the foot of the bed contrasts against the soft pink-grey walls and adds that pop of color that continues to make this house so interesting.

On the fourth floor, the design team created a comfortable guest room and then designed a party room — disco ball included! Umansky says they ordered a rainbow of silk Indian saris, hung them together to create an intensely lively wall in earth tones, blues and pinks and then looped the fabric into a canopy. Two long, white couches surround a lotus-design table with an antique mirror top. They all sit on a two layers of vibrant rugs, along with large throw pillows and a white Moroccan wedding “pouf” for additional seating. A pair of glass doors leads out to the roof pergola with nice views of the neighborhood and downtown skyline in the distance.

Working with their well-traveled client gave the design team an opportunity to transform a typical townhouse into something very special.

“We wanted this to be fresh and bright and saturated with colors and pastels,” says Umansky. “Color has everything to do with it.”

And, adds Haywood, the project was smooth from start to finish, and the homeowner was a joy to work with.

You can’t ask for more than that!



Ambella Home, buffet
4910 Lakawana St., Dallas

Anthropologie, mirror

Bernhardt Furniture, dining table       

Anything but Plain,
hand-painted quote on wall
7026 Old Katy Road
Suite 277

Century Furniture,
lounge chair

Global Views, chairs in
sitting area

Pindler, fabric

Lexington, bed

Pinecone Hill, bedding

Kravet, drapery fabric

Sari Sapne, sari drapery
5651 Hillcroft St.

Vanguard Furniture, sofas

Zuo Modern, accent chair

Houston Web Design Company