Robin Bond has always been partial to modern—even edgy— design. So when the Austinbased interior designer was offered a project to completely update a 30th-floor penthouse, she jumped at the chance.
“I love the contemporary aesthetic in condos. Much of my previous work had been in the Lake Travis area, and many of my suburban clients prefer transitional or traditional styles. But contemporary design was my first love,” says Bond, whose company, Robin Bond Interiors, offers turnkey services with an emphasis on furnishings, accessories and soft goods and specifying finishes for new construction and remodels.
Though the penthouse was one of her first downtown condo projects, it certainly won’t be her last. “Austin is growing so much. High-rise projects are starting to pop up downtown,” says Bond.
Bond’s client, who primarily lives in California, had been using the Five Fifty Five Hilton condo on his occasional visits to Texas. “He stayed there when he came for UT games. The place was nice, but being a second residence, he had not put a lot of thought and effort into it,” Bond says. “The finishes were boring, beige builder-grade everything.”
But his situation was about to change, and the builder-grade finishes would no longer cut it. “He intended to spend more time in Austin after retirement, and he wanted to entice his wife to stay here with him more,” Bond explains. “So he wanted us to turn his basic unit into something special.”
Collaborating closely with the client and Tier 1 Group LLC, a building and remodeling firm, Bond says she “touched just about every room.” Lighting, flooring, paint—everything was upgraded and updated. “My client still wanted a sleek, minimalist, masculine feel,” she says. “But he had the budget to do nice things—he didn’t spare any expense. Even the high-end toilets have heated seats. And the great downtown views became an amazing backdrop for the design.” Rugs, furniture, fitted bedding and mirrors were all custom-made, Bond says. Bathroom cabinetry was handcrafted, including a gorgeous round cabinet meticulously made of cherry.
“The sleek bedding enhances the framing of the furniture. I designed all the soft elements— bedding, pillows and rugs— around the artwork,” Bond says.
A trio of Kyle Bunting white natural cowhide rugs features a single swirl of red, which carries from rug to rug in the main living and dining areas. “That red squiggle line is on each rug and perfectly carries to the next one,” Bond says. “It lends continuity to the large space and adds a color pop to the minimalistic black-and-white palette.”
The condo was originally built with a small, nondescript bar. “It was just a little box. We opened it up—which was probably the biggest improvement in the remodel,” Bond says.
Now that space has been transformed to a covetable gathering space and entertainment area. A distinctive black column in the newly remodeled bar area looks decorative—but it actually has another purpose. “When we opened up the wet bar, the builder discovered a weird pipe that we were not expecting. We built the column around it, to make it look intentional,” Bond chuckles.
Condo remodels have specific considerations and limitations, she notes. Bond and the builder had to adapt to—and work around—concerns such as: When are service elevators available? Are there rules concerning when deliveries can be made? Will that custom-made television console and the oversized rugs fit in the service elevator? Even the toilets had to be installed with a special device to ensure proper flushing.
Such challenges would not be an issue in a residential suburban project, Bond says. But thanks to great planning, attentive communications and a terrific partnership with the client and builder, the project purred along smoothly.
And that was no surprise, either.
“We measure everything to a tee,” Bond says. “We take care of potential problems—before they happen. With so many details, many things can go wrong if you don’t have proper checks and balances. I am crazy about design, but I love the challenges in the technical side of the business as well.”
Maryann Hammers is a writer and editor specializing in home design, travel, health, fitness, nutrition, natural wellness and spas.