Ann Wolf is a Houston, Texas-based interior designer whose sophisticated and luxurious interiors are a delightful feast for the eyes. No matter the style or setting, Ann believes that a harmony of color, pattern, texture, and scale is essential. Rather than impose a signature look, she attunes herself to her clients’ needs and aesthetics. “I know a job is successful when my clients tell me their homes look like them, only better,” she says.
Ann began her career in fashion, working for Ralph Lauren, prior to beginning her interior design firm in 1995. Self-taught, Ann had an illustrious mentor who helped her learn the ropes: Alex Papachristidis, whom she met while working in New York. Ann’s work has been published in House Beautiful, Veranda, Southern Accents, Traditional Home, Southern Accents, Flair, and PaperCity. She is included in Elle Decor’s “A List” of the best designers in the world. And today, I am thrilled to welcome her to The Glam Pad for a Q&A. Welcome, Ann!
Q: When did you know you wanted to be an interior designer, and how do you describe your personal aesthetic?
A: I was in my mid thirties, and my husband and I moved to our first family home, which I decorated. People saw it and liked it, and asked me to decorate theirs. It wasn’t something that I had really planned, or knew that much about as a profession, but I have always loved antiques and textiles. I’m a Cancer so I was born to nest! I would describe my personal aesthetic as collected, colorful, and clean. I love tailored lines, patinated surfaces, and pattern on pattern. I am also a lover of craft.
Q: How did your work designing womenswear with Ralph Lauren in the 1980s influence your career?
A: At Ralph Lauren I was part of a team designing womenswear, and with every season we had to come up with an inspirational concept. It might be a vintage blouse, or a photograph of a stylish woman from days gone by. It taught me the importance of telling a consistent story. It also taught me about hard work, and the value of thinking through every detail before meetings. I also got to spend a lot of time looking at fabrics. Like decorating, designing clothing involved more organization, paperwork, and follow through time than creative time.
Q: Please tell me about your relationship with your mentor, Alex Papachristidis.
A: As described earlier, I am self taught, so it’s been amazing to have Alex as a mentor. In the early years of my interior design practice, he was my lifeline when I became flummoxed by a design challenge or a tricky client situation. He’s always been the kindest friend and the most generous with his advice and support.
Q: Which other designers – past and present – have inspired you?
A: I admire the work of so many designers- it’s hard to narrow them down. But I also find there is so much to learn by studying the great homes of stylish women like Marella Agnelli. She worked with a variety of decorators but her sensibility prevailed throughout. I so admired Babe Paley’s homes as well. She was an inveterate collector and her houses reflected her passions, which is the most fascinating way to live. The Sotheby’s auction of her belongings was epic.
Q: Are there any signature elements you like to incorporate within your interiors? (antiques, collections, fabrics, linens, patterns, etc.)
A: I love a layered look of pattern and color, even in my contemporary houses. I always specify custom wool area rugs and custom upholstery, and a smattering of antiques or mid century pieces combined with new. We have great craftsmen here in Houston and I like to make things locally. I do a lot of decorative paint finishes on walls and furniture as well. For an upcoming project, we are creating for the dining room walls a custom woodblock design on grass cloth. I can’t wait to see it executed.
Q: What are your favorite things to collect, and why?
A: I am obsessed with ceramics and pottery. Years ago, I started collecting brown and white transferware platters, then moved on to Stoneware relief molded jugs, Mottoware, Prattware, blue and white sponge ware, Royal Copenhagen Faience, polychrome delft, blue and white delft…the list goes on. I also love putting together collections for clients. I recently installed a collection of Fulper Vases in a clients TV room, and am having a great time collecting American Indian sweet grass Baskets for an upcoming installation.
Q: Your River Oaks home, recently featured in PaperCity, is stunning! What was it like working with Curtis & Windham Architects, and what was your inspiration for the interiors and exterior?
A: We had a wonderful collaboration with Curtis and Windham, and feel that they delivered the house of our dreams. Like any design project, it was a process figuring out what that house would look like, but we got there together. It was important to us that it feel like it had always been there- which is why we hired classical architects to design it! For the interiors, I was inspired by the family heirlooms and artwork that we brought with us, and used them as a departure point.
Q: What projects are you working on currently?
A: We are currently working on a beach house in California , and several ground up new homes in Houston, as well as a few renovation projects.
Q: Where do you find ongoing inspiration?
A: I know it sounds like a cliche, but I really get inspired by travel. Last year we went to India which was incredibly inspiring. I came home with loads of textiles and thousands of photos. I also look at paintings by great artists for color scheme ideas. I was recently in the Picasso museum in Paris and was reminded that amongst his many talents, Picasso was a great colorist!
Q: When you aren’t busy decorating, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: Decorating is extremely time consuming, so there isn’t a lot of free time to spare. But I do love to needlepoint which I do on airplanes while listening to books on tape. And I have recently taken up Yoga and am trying to convince all my loved ones to do the same! I also enjoy going to museums, walking in cities, and spending time with my family and friends.
Thank you so much, Ann, for joining us today. What a stunning portfolio! To learn more, please visit Ann Wolf Interior Decoration and follow @annwolfinteriordecoration on Instagram for ongoing inspiration.