Tour a Seemingly Traditional Houston Home Where High-Contrast Design Rules

The next time you walk through a friend’s home, do a quick visual sweep. Is it monochromatic, done in varying shades of beige, white, or blue? Houston-based interior designer Lucinda Loya believes that once you’re aware, you’ll notice the ubiquity of uniformity. “You’ll start to see that a lot of projects lack contrast,” the decorator insists. “So I always put some black and some white in every room to provide a visual point of reference—from no color to absolute color. I call it the ‘equilibrium of interiors.’”

For a successful Houston tech executive and a jewelry designer, plus their three children, Loya took that continuum of color to the extreme. Anchoring every room in black and white—perhaps a curtain, a trim, or a tile pattern—the designer then layered on patterns and rich hues that remain warm and dense without overpowering any space. “Everything that went in had something of interest, like the irregular shape of the rug in the living room or the decoupage lamps by Houston artist Liz Marsh,” she says.

“When you walk into the house, you see the dining room and the living room, so they needed to talk to one another,” says Loya. She added a mirror to the wet bar to make the room appear more spacious (“I love mirrors. I think they are miracle workers!”), a geometric rug by Carol Piper as a nod to the living room, and silk custom drapes from Brentano and Designers Guild. The recessed ceiling is papered in a black leather-look Elitis wall covering to give the room more texture and depth.

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Visitors entering the red-brick home in the Memorial area of Houston won’t be surprised by the layout: Traditional Colonial with a living room to one side, the dining room to the other, and the kitchen and family room at the back. What they don’t expect is the drama. The home, designed for five humans and three cats, is an exercise in imaginative reconfigurations of conventional spaces. The staircase leading upstairs to the bedroom wraps around a chandelier that Loya painted black, for example; the living room fireplace is clad in book-matched marble that resembles an animal hide (or an alien insect, depending on your mindset). Every space is welcoming and functional to suit the family’s lifestyle, yet elevated with small features that appeal to a discerning eye keen for some new approaches to decor.

“I am an ‘attention to detail’ person, so every stitch, every edge matters to me—and it mattered to this client,” explains Loya. “They gave me the opportunity to really go for it.” In the end, says the designer, the black and white with which she anchors every room amplifies the design decisions that only a confident client (and decorator) might make. Monotony? You won’t find it here.

“I like to have everything subtly work together, so there is continuity, but no themes,” says Loya. “If I have one color in a room, I’m going to bring it into the next room, whether it’s a trim on a pillow or a lacquered wall. I believe continuity keeps a home feeling secure and warm.” The home office, which one enters from the living room through French doors, has coffered ceilings covered in Holland & Sherry wallpaper and Roman shades by Jim Thompson that Loya trimmed with gold-toned taffeta to reflect the metals of the adjacent living room. (The Antelope AX rug by Stark Carpet that she enhanced with a gold-bound stitch also complements the gold accents seen throughout the home.) The desk by High Fashion Home and chair from Design Within Reach are in keeping with the retro lighting fixture, which the owner found at a flea market. “It’s a vintage operating room light that we polished and fixed up,” Loya confides.