One would never know that Cynthia Collins is outnumbered.
A visit to her 4,000-square-foot University Park home—resplendent with pops of pink and soft blues and romantic pieces of art—belies the fact that Collins is but one woman in a sea of men. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic, but she is the sole female in a family of five. Collins and husband Bruce, along with three boys ranging in age from 16 to 19, have lived here for the last 12 years. She says the boys are undaunted by the daintier aspects of the residence and, in fact, add their own touches. “The kids have friends over all the time. There’s always a set of golf clubs or a bike in the dining room,” Collins says.
Cynthia and Bruce Collins grew up in Highland Park. After briefly going their separate ways—Bruce went to SMU and Cynthia attended UT—the two reunited and eventually married. In 2000, when looking to move, the couple knew exactly where they wanted to settle down. “I loved this pocket of University Park,” Collins says. “There are lots of friendly neighbors. And I liked that it’s very private—there’s that feeling of privacy as it dead ends into Golf [Drive].” They moved into the 1930s-era home and left it as it was for four years. “But it needed to be done,” she says.
Luckily, Collins was up for the task. Not only is she a noted designer, but she’s also the owner of Collins Interiors and one of the tastemakers behind Blue Print, the Fairmount Street store full of home furnishing treasures. She opted to take the house down to the studs. “We started over with the foundation, and everything followed,” she says. “We added more quality. Now the windows match. The moldings match. We added plaster cove moldings, that kind of thing. The kitchen had a bad remodel, so we started over and matched the original doors and cabinetry.” The year-long remodel made the house a lot more family-friendly. “We needed a mud room. We have several dogs, golf clubs, and three kids,” Collins explains.
But don’t confuse practicality with predictability. The house teems with femininity, and wonderful—and unusual—surprises abound. Take the rabble of porcelain butterflies that she found at Scott + Cooner. Collins chose to have them installed on her kitchen stove vent hood. “The artist, Jennifer Prichard, and her husband live in Austin, but they work all over the world, installing beautiful pieces that make you smile,” she says.
Art has always been important to Collins. She minored in art history at UT, and her travels for work have her constantly on the lookout for new pieces. “We like to go to Santa Fe and Scottsdale. Whenever we travel, we reach out to the local artists in that town,” Collins says. “We go to Paris and see a lot of different shows. We buy old paintings, too, and those are often the more decorative pieces.” At the moment, she is loving the work of Tom Lawson, a professor at the University of Virginia. She also collects pieces by former Cistercian priest Father Damian. “His things come up every year at auction. He did such beautiful drawings, and I’ve gotten a few of his recently that I love.” But her favorite artist is Rachel Welty, who shows in New York and Boston. “Her pieces are so fun. She takes things that you throw away, like fruit stickers and twisty ties, and she does the most creative things with them,” Collins says. “She must have OCD because of her attention to detail.”
Unfortunately, her home has only so many walls for art. That’s where Blue Print comes in. The store, which opened in 2010, is full of pieces that Collins and her team find while shopping for clients. “It gives us an avenue to present art,” Collins says. “And the store is always changing. It doesn’t get stagnant.”
And so, too, the neighborhood has changed. “My brother lives here now. It’s lots of fun. We’re raising our kids together,” she says. The neighbors have also become extended family. “It’s an open-door policy. We all know where everyone’s eggs are.”