All is calm – A quest for contemporary comfort inspired Kim and Dwayne Pitre to create their own private oasis

Color and pattern surround Kim Pitre. As owner of the fabric shop P. Tree Textiles, the degreed interior designer enjoys a professional life that immerses her in a profusion of vivid hues and bold prints. But at the end of the day, Pitre seeks something altogether different.

“I want to come home and just be calm,” she says. “If I decorate busy, I know life will be busy around it, and that drives me crazy.”

So despite her passion for helping clients choose perfectly punchy interior palettes, Pitre curls up on her own sofa each evening enveloped in a sea of tranquil whites and quiet neutrals. In fact, the home she shares with husband Dwayne in the Audubon Square neighborhood is dominated by pale shades designed to soothe—along with contemporary touches that suit the couple’s playful style.

The Pitres’ new retreat might never have come to life at all, were it not for a flyer that happened to land in the mailbox of their former home a few years ago. The brochure touted a new neighborhood development called Audubon Square, and though no houses had been completed yet, Kim and Dwayne were intrigued enough to call.

“One of our favorite neighborhoods is Providence, off Highland Road, and we recognized pictures of homes in Providence in this flyer,” says Kim. “Audubon Square’s developer, Scott Bardwell, was also responsible for Providence, and everything he talked about sounded like just what we wanted.”

The wheels really began turning when, upon hearing about the Pitres’ modern vision, Bardwell put them in touch with architect Dwayne Carruth. Finally, builder Chip Blair was called in to turn this home of the Pitres’ dreams into concrete reality.

“We had been in our other house in Old Jefferson for 14 years, and there was really no good reason to move, but it was the flyer that lit the fire,” Kim says.

Having their newfound blank slate gave Kim and Dwayne the opportunity to create a home with every detail customized to their own preferences. They started with the layout, requesting that a large central public area be created without any supports in the middle of the space.

Once the structure was in place, Kim set to work filling the interior spaces with furnishings and fixtures that meshed with the couple’s “laid-back modern” style. Essential elements of her design included uncluttered rooms with clean-lined pieces and glossy surfaces ranging from a porcelain tile–surrounded modern fireplace to polished concrete floors. To prevent the space from “giving off a sterile vibe,” she mixed in features both warm and plush.

“Furniture has to be comfortable, and fabrics must be super soft,” she explains. “I use a lot of woods as well.”

To finish the look, Kim brought in accent pieces in just the right mix of playful and eye-catching designs. “Basically, as long as I like it, it’s fair game,” she says. “When I don’t like it anymore in a certain space, I will move it, sell it or give it away.”

That explains the unexpected touches found throughout the house—things like bronze soldier statues rappelling down a hallway wall, or luxe lighting fixtures in a room that also contains reconfigured artworks. Kim doesn’t limit herself to any narrow range of publications or design houses for inspiration, which is why this unusual mixture of furnishings and accessories works.

“I find ideas literally everywhere,” she says, pointing to a file of thousands of magazine tear sheets. “I organize pages by room, exterior design and details. And I browse the Internet for hours getting ideas from high-end European designers and websites, and then try to modify things into a more practical aesthetic. The more I look, the more I see, and the more confident I become in my designs.”

The main focus of her research for this house was on finding the perfect lighting and plumbing fixtures, she admits. “There are so many cool fixtures out there,” she says. “It was hard to decide, but at some point I just had to do it.”

Kim’s sources for design goodies range from local favorites like By Design Interiors and Z Gallerie to places like High Fashion Home in Houston, Crate & Barrel and Ikea. But she is just as likely to splurge on a statement-making fixture from a fancy faraway shop as she is to pick up a nightstand at T.J. Maxx. “That’s the fun part for me!” she declares. “I don’t want it to look like any one place dominates, and I don’t want you to be able to tell when I decorated the house.”

While the overall palette is calming and neutral, Kim was careful to add a few pops of color in places where they can be easily changed when the mood strikes her. So a vivid yellow lamp is reflected in a living room mirror, and bright orange patterned pillows adorn a guest bed. “For this kind of thing, I really don’t pay a tremendous amount, because I know I’ll eventually get tired of it and get something different,” she confides.

That’s all part of the relaxed attitude that the Pitres possess about their home, and it extends to their frequent entertaining. The house, while mostly white and filled with clean, contemporary pieces, is no gallery, they will quickly tell you.

“This house is used and abused,” Kim laughs. “We’ve gotten everything from pink chalk to salsa off that white sofa. It has to be functional—we don’t want our friends to worry when they bring their kids here.”

In fact, families with children tend to gravitate here, perhaps drawn by the inviting pool and hot tub tucked into a walled courtyard just off the kitchen and dining area. Hopping out of the pool, they can run inside without concerns of ruining the floors, which are polished concrete. “I think that’s the most practical thing about this house,” says Dwayne.

Big gatherings aside, the time when Kim and Dwayne feel happiest with their decision to make the big move to their new home happens just before sunset each day, when they open the doors and leave all their work worries behind. “Being in this house makes me feel like I’m on vacation in a posh hotel with a private courtyard,” says Kim. “I truly love coming home at the end of the day.”