By Danielle Kaplan
Photography by John Conroy
To an outsider, it may seem easy to exude style when you are immersed in it on a day-to-day basis like Jose Buitron and Bill Pitts, owners of Jose Luis Salon in Austin. But in reality, it’s tough work when you are styling hair at the go-to salon in town, Armani calls you to travel to Paris and Milan to style the couture house’s fashion shows, and then running a successful business. It would seem like an overly full-time job to most, yet this fashionable couple still has time to enjoy their chic lifestyle and using their house as a vessel to display their travels, art and many years together.
Built in the heart of urban Old West Austin, the house radiates a sense of calmness, coolness, and serenity despite the hustle and bustle of the downtown life. With the creative license to build their home, the couple focused on a transitional style with contemporary pieces mixed into established elements of the house. “We wanted something that fit the neighborhood; something a little more transitional, and more of a timeless look,” the couple explained. With a cohesive style and the ease of never wanting to go separate routes, they were able to create a Manhattan vibe in the Capitol City.
Walking into the home, guests are greeted by not only a gorgeous outdoor oasis, but by the exciting energy of Jose and Bill’s two miniature dogs, Pepper and Pickles. Designed by Pearson landscape, the garden entails not only a seating area, but also an al fresco table used for much of their entertaining needs. The Chinese stools and the stone etching of Baccus, the god of wine, show off the mixture of styles the couple incorporates into their home life. With an impeccable garden that the couple tends to themselves, the outdoor offers a breath of fresh air before entering the home.
The first impression of the home’s interior is a delight to all the senses. The ground floor is a seamless three separate rooms with three different, yet entirely compatible, styles. The main feature of each part is a piece of artwork that the couple’s dear friend, Deborah Schneider, of Deborah Page Gallery, chose for them. Page spent time waiting for the right piece to connect to the couple, while incorporating personalities of both. “Nothing ever was returned to her, she was our influence on opening our eyes to the art world,” the couple explained.
The first section of the room is the living room, where trinkets from past vacation, consignment store finds and rare collectables plus an Al Souza piece “pop” in the room. The next section contains a painting by McKay Otto, a protégée of Agnes Martin who resides in Wimberley, Texas. His paintings are all about energy and the reflection of light, which is why his piece works so well in this specific home and is one of the couple’s favorites. “McKay is not only the most brilliant artist in Texas since Mark Bradford, but I’m in love with him and his work – they transcend the test of time,” Page raved. The specific piece started with nylon pantyhose in an effort to cover the canvas to make the material world go away. The lines are as close to life as living and are created to breath. The last section of the room contains a Gary Lange painting that has heavy green lines dancing along the canvas and serves as the couple’s visual backdrop for intimate dinner parties severed on Verace tableware. The three segments of the room are each separated by three distinct paintings that seem to speak to each other, not the same language, but they speak well – especially with the zebra rug with lines that create a key fourth dimension to the room.
The radiant zebra rug leads guests up the stairs where they are greeted by an amazing aqua, hand-painted vintage dresser that adorns the upstairs foyer. Complete with a series of vintage mirrors, the walkway seems to transcend the test of time to entice any guest to venture around the corner to see more. The couple’s master bedroom is immaculate, clad with textured aqua grasscloth wallpaper that adds the perfect color accent. The Carrara marble counters in the master bath are enough to leave to us drooling and dreaming of a long, warm bubble bath laden with white rose petals.
Venturing back down the stairs, the four huge French doors leading to the outside are slightly open, creating an entirely different space leading out from the kitchen where the inside becomes out and the outside becomes in. The couple has designed the room to correlate their love to entertain guests to create this dynamic feel. It was a main concern when thinking about their home and incorporating their love of host hosting. “We do it all. We love to have intimate dinners of 8 at the house, but it can be anywhere from happy hours, big, little, business or friends parties. The space has been a great fit for us,” the couple explains. With a love to cook, eat and drink wine plus entertaining – the space is flawless for any occasion that arises, which is just the way they want it.
The most impressive part of the home isn’t the way it’s decorated, but more of how it has become a way of life for Bill and Jose. “We realized that we wanted to live the way we do when we go on vacation. We live three blocks from the salon, 10 to 15 minutes from Whole Foods, 10 minutes from downtown – we want to walk like we did in New York and elsewhere on vacation.” The couple not only radiates personal style, dressed clad in black shirts and perfectly styled hair, but they are very engaged in the community. Whether entertaining or spending a day together with their dogs, they have a perfect place to go home to after the roar of the crowds that often surround them.
“We realized that we wanted to build a house that maintained our lifestyle. We love to entertain and be downtown – we designed the house exactly how we wanted to live it. It’s built strictly for us.”