From the limestone veranda overlooking Lake Austin, the iconic suspension bridge that spans the width of the lake is just visible on the horizon. Greg Manteris, standing by the pool on this picturesque property, points to the fourth fairway of the Austin Country Club, literally a stone’s throw from the edge of their patio gate. Manteris, owner of Houston’s Creative Flooring Resources, and his wife, interior designer Renea Abbott, proprietor of Shabby Slips, make an escape to this Austin retreat nearly every weekend.
“Our routine is to finish work on Friday at three, which often turns into four or five o’clock,” Manteris says. “Then we get here at 8 pm, go straight to whatever restaurant we want to try, and meet up with friends.” The busy couple often go hours without seeing or talking to one another Monday through Friday, but weekends in the Hill Country are their time to reconnect, enjoy life on the water (their Cobalt runabout boat is docked in the slip below their home) and unplug from their hectic Houston lives.
“This was just a sliver of land that nobody knew what to do with,” says Manteris, who bought the 15-year-old house and property with Abbott five years ago. “The builder who developed it thought outside the box, looked at the land, and I think he was pretty genius to come up with this design … Every room has a view, and the way he sited them makes you unaware of the neighbors around you, yet you see the lake.” He also notes, “From the water, the houses look very European — but without all the clichés.”
While the interiors are as drop-dead glamorous as the city abodes that Abbott designs, she readily admits that many of the pieces are actually castoffs from her stylish Houston shop. Like any talented designer, she understands the importance of playing with a high-low mix — for instance, works by artist Ford Beckman or an 18th-century Italian commode sharing the stage with curtains from IKEA or an oversized ottoman upholstered in bargain $12-a-yard fabric. “When you first walk through a house, you point out things like ‘That fan has got to go,’” she says. “But as you see, it’s still there. I would have rather had a light fixture, but you have to stop at some point.” It’s a sentiment many can relate to.
After weekend-living for years in Santa Fe, the couple relishes the easy drive this getaway provides. Along the way, they’ve even inspired many of their Houston friends not only to visit and stay the weekend, but to look for Austin real estate, too. And speaking of Austin … Many years ago, Abbott had a hand in establishing the Austin outpost of Shabby Slips, but now she acts more as a mentor to its original owner and is consumed with her own bustling Houston business, which recently expanded yet again.
Yet these days she and Manteris, who routinely travel from Round Top to Paris to find treasures for Shabby Slips and their own houses, have an escape. They’re able to shut their shop doors and leave the demands of their busy careers several comfortable — and convenient — hours away.
The cozy chocolate-brown master bedroom has a Venetian gilded headboard found in France, flanked by two large white-lacquered chests from Shabby Slips, which Abbott has reconfigured with brass hardware (formerly door knockers) from Fixtures & Fittings. The crystal baluster lamps from Visual Comfort can be found at Shabby Slips. Pair of gilded Louis Philippe mirrors from France. Louis XV bergères. Antelope-printed carpet from Creative Flooring Resources.
Leopard print is the predominant animal pattern in Abbott and Manteris’ Austin home. Here it’s used in pillows and the Scalamandré cotton velvet covering a pair of gilded Italian pope chairs. Greek-key silk-velvet pillow fabric by Clarence House. Bronze horse sculpture by Siri Hollander from New Mexico.
The antelope taxidermy trophy in the living room was acquired at Lewis & Maese Auction House. The small wooden chair was made in Africa and bought at a flea market in Santa Fe.
In the sitting room just off the kitchen is a suite of upholstered pieces designed by Abbott and covered in white muslin. The pair of club chairs is from Houston shop neighbor Watkins Culver. Sisal rug and Fortuny silk light fixture from Creative Flooring Resources.
In the living room, the view from the corner toward the arched opening in the dining room and kitchen areas reveals a stone hearth and a Black Forest antler trophy. Mirrored cocktail table from Shabby Slips. Holding an orchid is a silver vessel procured by Abbott on a recent buying trip to Marché aux Puces in Paris. The contemporary artwork is by Ford Beckman, from McClain Gallery, Houston.
The dining room, open to the kitchen and sitting room, has a table and upholstered chairs from Shabby Slips. A Robert Kuo silver vessel holds decorative greens. The chandelier is from a former West Alabama haunt, Brian Stringer Antiques.
This guest suite is affectionately called “Ceron’s Room,” in honor of their chum and frequent visitor, hairstylist Ceron. Tufted linen headboard from Neal & Co. Gilded sunburst mirror from Shabby Slips. Bedding from Restoration Hardware’s Hotel collection.
The master bath was created entirely with Calacatta Gold marble tiles. The cabinets and mirror are custom pieces that can be replicated through Abbott at Shabby Slips. The oversized ottoman, also by Shabby Slips, is covered in a fabric Abbott found for $12 a yard. The bath accessories have been collected through the years and hail from Paris to Pottery Barn.
In the black-and-white-papered guest bedroom stands a Thomas O’Brien for Baker bed dressed with bed curtains from IKEA. The pink pillow shams (Renea admits she’s obsessed with adding a feminine touch) are from Kuhl-Linscomb. Ghost chair by Philippe Starck from Sunset Settings. Wallpaper is Cowtan & Tout. Sisal flooring from Creative Flooring Resources.
In the living room, brass-and-lacquered chest from Area. Pair of polished-nickel Hargett lamps from Circa Lighting. Artwork is by Joanie Jacomini, from the 2010 Round Top Antiques Fair.
Since Abbott and Manteris might only cook once a week, they didn’t do much to the gleaming white kitchen, save for replacing the counters with honed black granite and adding a Wolf stovetop and Sub-Zero refrigerator. Chrome and white-leather barstools from High Fashion Home. Most dishes from Pottery Barn.
Renea Abbott and husband, Greg Manteris.
Situated just off the kitchen, dining- and living-room areas, the veranda overlooks Lake Austin’s limestone cliffs. Outdoor furnishings from Restoration Hardware.