Over the last decade, San Francisco-based interior designer Ken Fulk has curated an elegant design style recognizable for its lavish décor and bold color pairings. He’s honed his craft at venues as diverse as New York City’s Felix Roasting Co.—where hand-drawn wallpaper inspired by the Arabica coffee flower preps palates for the brand’s specialty coffee—and the Belle Époque-inspired Sadelle’s restaurant inside Las Vegas’ Bellagio resort, where herringbone floors and peppermint-striped clamshell chairs mark his design flares. Last summer, the designer debuted his most ambitious project to date when he reimagined the Commodore Perry Estate, a 1920s mansion now part of the Auberge Resorts Collection in Austin.
Set on 10 rolling acres, the 1928 Italianate mansion is an architectural landmark within Austin’s hip Hyde Park neighborhood. “There is a childlike sense of wonder about the whole thing,” says Fulk about the property. “It feels like something you might stumble upon in the European countryside.” The newly restored hotel was once the country home of Texas magnate Edgar “Commodore” Perry and his wife Lutie, who relished hosting family and friends at the property.
Despite its sprawling design—the 10,800 square foot mansion, together with a new three-story inn located across the main driveway, boasts 42 rooms and 12 suites—Fulk says he aimed to maintain the intimate ambiance the Perrys created at the Commodore a century ago. “If they showed up today,” says Fulk, “I think they’d be proud and feel at home.”
To recreate that intimate feel, the designer sourced décor at Texas’ popular Round Top Antiques Fair over the span of two years. His signature panache is evident throughout the estate, from the butterscotch walls and zebra taxidermy to the floral window treatments and custom toile wallpaper. Leather-bound books, vintage typewriters and sofas upholstered in bright shades of turquoise and apricot velvet liven the property, as does the hotel’s sunlit solarium. The property’s five suites pay homage to the estate’s original inhabitants, like Mrs. Perry, whose room is adorned with leopard prints, velvet and faux fur in a wash of pale pink. At the inn, suites such as the Mountain Laurel are sumptuous and elegant, with its extensive library and private garden.
Outside, the sprawling grounds are a refuge for locals and visitors, who picnic beneath the estate’s live oak trees, swim in the glistening pool and bask beneath cheery yellow-and-white-striped umbrellas cocktail in hand. Though downtown Austin is just a few minutes away, the property—which is the first urban destination by Auberge—feels far removed from city life, and that is part of its appeal. After an unprecedented and challenging year, the Commodore Perry Estate—and Fulk’s inviting interiors—offer a welcome repose.