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.

lovely_02 (clockwise from top left) Designer Cynthia Collins transformed a living room into a formal dining room. The vintage Italian dining table seats 14. Collins found the antique English chairs at an English flea market and covered them in Osborne & Little fabric. The vintage Murano lamp, ceramic vases, and crystal on Lucite are all from Blue Print. The kitchen boasts an installation of floating butterflies by artist Jennifer Prichard that Collins found at Scott + Cooner. Murphy lounges on an Oushak rug in the kitchen. The Marshmallow chair is from Scott + Cooner, the framed English wax seals are from an English flea market, and the initials on the chalkboard belong to Collins’ niece, designer Caroline Davis. The bedroom of Collins’ 16-year-old son features photographs by Libby Goff and striped carpet made up of two piles sewn together by Interior Resources. The lacquered side tables, Matouk bedding, and Motegga lamp are all from Blue Print. photography by Aimee Herring


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.

lovely_03 (left) The Collins family casually dines at this vintage lacquered table while admiring a painting by Melissa Auberty. The Pagoda lantern is from Culp Associates, China Seas fabric dresses the windows, and vintage Blenko glass bottles adorn the table. (right) The master bedroom is the perfect retreat, with Matouk bedding and a custom headboard and bolster by Collins Interiors. Vintage benches are covered in Lee Jofa fabric, and the lacquered bedside table with brass inlay is custom Blue Print. The light fixture is by Visual Comfort, and the lamp is from Blue Print. photography by Aimee Herring

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.

lovely_04 (left) A Parisian enamel and brass console is complemented by a vintage sculpture and antique Tunbridge ware boxes, which Collins has collected on her many trips to England. The oil painting is by Charlotte Seifert, and the antique English dining chair is covered in purple Osborne & Little fabric. (right) The formal sitting area is filled with grand touches such as a vintage Lucite and glass coffee table with brass inlay, a Chinese export vase made into a lamp, small oils from England, a rose medallion bowl that was Collins’ grandmother’s, and her favorite original Lucite light fixture, which she found in England. photography by Aimee Herring


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.”


lovely_05 The spa-like master bathroom walls are covered in grasscloth by Phillip Jeffries. The sconces are by Visual Comfort, and the glazed garden stool and Texas hide rug are from Blue Print. photography by Aimee Herring


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.”