Ken Fulk Rejuvenates Opulent Estate Into A Luxury Hotel
September 11, 2020
The words mansion and commodore enticed Ken Fulk to sign on to design Auberge Resorts Collection’s latest effort in Austin, Texas—the reimagining of a 1928 country home into a sprawling luxury hotel. It also didn’t hurt that he was already a fan of the notoriously offbeat Texas city, having regularly patronized the Round Top Antiques Fair, done some residential work in the area, and enjoyed the music scene. The hotel—including a newly built Inn, designed by Moule & Polyzoides—comprises 42 rooms and 12 suites, five of which are in the original landmark manse, whose quirks, eccentricities, and lavish finishes inspired the design direction. Back-of-house renovations were the biggest undertaking, along with putting in what Ken Fulk calls some “really sexy bathrooms.” Oddities were largely maintained throughout, and most of the public spaces exist in their original layout, including all the original tile in a curry orange, which became the hotel’s signature shade. On top of that, Ken Fulk went to town adding layers of wall coverings, drapes, and fabulous beds, along with decorative paintings and murals, including one at the pinnacle of the spiral stair of muses hand-painted by Deborah Phillips. In the mansion, the Hal Thompson suite combines almost–Tiffany blue paint with Pierre Frey’s cactus-strewn Pampa print on walls and a sofa, while the Mr and Mrs Perry double suite is full-on glamour, with a decadent soaking tub and a four-poster bed. The Edgar Junior suite is tented, while the former staff quarters, LaVerne, ended up being the most decadent, covered completely in Frey fabric. The newly built Inn features some rooms with Juliette balconies, all outfitted with unique blends of antiques, reproductions of Round Top discoveries, and original finds.
The hotel project also encompasses a social-club component that gives both members and guests access to all the same amenities, from workshops and concerts on the loggia to a chesterfield sofa–decked living room (complete with craft cocktail bar) and multiple libraries and dining outlets. A forthcoming standalone restaurant, Lutie’s, was designed by Austin-based architecture firm Clayton & Little to embrace the old stone walls, with Ken Fulk adding floral-themed interiors.
“There’s just something that makes me feel like a kid,” says Ken Fulk of the project, looking back. “I think the great hotels of the world are quirky. They’re eccentric, they’re unusual. They imprint these memories on you. So we really wanted this to have a point of view.”