A Design Duo’s New Book
The Houston-based pros showcase five inviting interiors, from a Texas ranch to a Park City Retreat
The hardest part of producing their big, glossy book was leaving out some of their favorite rooms, say interior designers Sandra Lucas and Sarah Eilers.
“It could have been 500 pages,” Eilers observes of Expressive Interiors: Designing an Inviting Home, published by Rizzoli. “We love all of our projects.”
The book is timely given that the designers recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of their Houston, Texas, business, Lucas/Eilers Design Associates. Through the years they’ve amassed an array of awards and an extensive clientele for homes from coast to coast in a range of styles from traditional to transitional and contemporary. Lucas and Eilers met at the University of Texas at Austin, where they studied interior design, and then worked together at a design firm before founding the company in 1995.
“I love to write, which comes out of teaching design and drafting at the Art Institute of Houston, and thought it would be great fun to do a book,” Lucas says of Expressive Interiors. While not an academic tome, the book devotes chapters to such topics as planning, scale and proportion; color and light; pattern and texture; and art and collecting.
Lucas says homeowners come to them for personalized, individual design. “Our projects reflect our clients and not necessarily our likes and dislikes,” Lucas says.
They strive for a timeless quality. “It’s about not being all caught up in trends,” Eilers says. “We like looking at family pieces and antiques, incorporating one-of-a-kind items into a home that make it look curated.”
Lucas agrees. “It’s about selecting things that you love and make you feel good. If it spoke to you 20 years ago and you loved it then, chances are you are going to love it 20 years later.”
It’s also about livability. “What drives us most of all is creativity in the service of function, comfort, and beauty. Rooms need to work,” they write.
The book is lushly illustrated with photographs demonstrating principles of design and includes a “design laboratory” section that is a peek into each of the designers’ own homes.
Also detailed are five residences, from a Texas ranch home and Gulf Coast beach getaway to a mountain retreat in Park City, Utah.
“This was the fifth house I’ve done for them,” Lucas says of the clients who hired her to design their Utah vacation home, where they like to ski in the winter and enjoy the outdoors in the summer. To accommodate their growing family—they now have married daughters and grandchildren—the couple needed multiple bedroom suites as well as common areas, “all linked together under one roof, but with places to escape and read or work or play,” Lucas says of the home, which was designed by architects Shope Reno Wharton of Norwalk, Connecticut.
“Mountain homes can go in a variety of ways—cowboy Western, Swiss chalet—there’s a complete gamut,” Lucas says. “The clients said they wanted it to look different from other mountain homes; giving a nod to the West without being too rustic.”
The residence feels as if it was built over time because of the variety of materials used, including reclaimed beams, forged iron details, plaster walls and stone columns. The inglenook off the kitchen—where skiers enter after a day on the slopes—is paneled in blue and offers cozy seating and a fireplace. Ancient rock paintings were the inspiration for custom wallpaper made by de Gournay that hangs in the dining room. Lucas had seen and photographed the paintings when on a fly-fishing trip with her husband on the Green River. Other nods to location are a custom carpet inlaid with feather motifs and a handwoven stair runner with Native American symbols.
Pops of red warm up the living room’s leather chairs and custom rug. “For so many months of the year, it’s white outside, so having warm colors makes it more inviting,” Lucas says. “Even in the summer months, when the air is so clear, the light is very intense and can be harsh if you don’t balance it with texture and color.”
Lucas says she and project manager Melanie Anderson relied more on texture than pattern in selecting furnishings. “When you’re looking out to beautiful vistas in all directions, you don’t want to compete with the views.”