For the formal living room, designer Mike Mousel brought in a vintage sofa and re-covered it in Larsen fabric with embroidered pillows by GP & J Baker, custom Greek key benches, a coffee table from Mecox, bleached mahogany midcentury chairs from Nick Brock Antiques, and a 1950s lamp from Blue Print. The vintage brass sculptural piece above the mantel is from Vinya, and the rug is from Interior Resources. photography by Nathan Schroder

A University Park Modern Romance

Designer Mike Mousel transitions a home from powder blue traditional to cool and contemporary.

Our story begins with multilevel marketing. About four years ago, one of designer Mike Mousel’s clients hosted a clothing party at her house. A guest fell in love with the clothes—and the house. She loved how warm and inviting the interiors were and asked for the name of the person responsible. The lucky lady left with contact information for Mike Mousel Design.

“She and her husband had moved into this house in University Park. He is an up-and-coming plastic surgeon, and they had been living in a condo in Uptown,” Mousel explains. “They needed some prominence in their lives.” The couple was pretty much starting from scratch, and Mousel says the entire house was powder blue. “They had a dining room table and chairs, a microfiber sectional sofa, and a mirror. That was what I inherited,” he says with a laugh.

The formal dining room boasts a landscape by Dallas artist Tom Hoitsma. It is flanked by sconces, which Mike Mousel found at Debris. The dining chairs are custom made—Mousel found a pair of 1940s chairs for an earlier project and had them duplicated for this room. He covered them with a Manuel Canovas tweed. The chandelier is Sciolari.

His clients had their hearts set on a traditional look for the house. Mousel wasn’t so sure that was the way to go. “This woman is beautiful—she’s gorgeous,” he says. “I told her, ‘You are anything but old and traditional.’”

So he began inching them toward a bolder, more eclectic look for their home. He started small, introducing them to some bold rug selections. “I went to Interior Resources and pulled the patchwork rug for the family room, the Moroccan Berber that’s now in the study, and a pieced color cowhide.”  His clients responded to the cowhide immediately, and he was on his way.

(From left) The chest in the living room is adorned with lamps from Debris. The mirror is from Nick Brock Antiques, and the chairs are from Again & Again; Mike Mousel added vintage chairs—covered in Kravet fabric and a Kelly Wearstler tape at the bottom—to the den. The Milo Baughman coffee table complements the sectional sofa. The rug is from Interior Resources; The exterior of the University Park home.

The first-floor transformation took around seven months—and Mousel says he heard, “Now, Mike, don’t get me too modern,” from time to time. But clients and designer did learn to trust each other. “What ultimately sold them was taking them over to my house,” he says. He also made them happy by reworking their existing pieces. He converted the Restoration Hardware dining table into a sofa table in the formal living room. He painted the mirror orange and moved it to the breakfast nook. He added tons of pillows—in fabrics by Ralph Lauren, Kravet, and Bergamo—to enhance the sectional. And then he went shopping.

Mousel went to Texas Paint & Wallpaper to achieve the dark blue for the study. The coffee table is vintage and adorned with books from estate sales, a stone sculpture from a flea market, and a glass orb from Debris. Vintage chairs from Again & Again are covered in a wool flannel, and the rug is from Interior Resources.

He brought in antique furniture, artwork, pottery, fireplace screens, and lamps—creating interesting vignettes in each room. In order to stave off sticker shock, he says, communication was key. “I told them, ‘We don’t have to spend the most money here, but we can buy furniture that’s good quality. If we put good fabric on it, the sofa is going to last 20 years.’ That was part of the educational process,” he says.

Mousel even went for extra credit and gave life to a room that wasn’t on the original agenda: the study. “That was the room where the doctor’s old stuff went. All his medical books were in there,” Mousel says. “His wife said that she didn’t even want to look in that room. They weren’t even going to bother doing it.”

(left) Designer Mike Mousel wanted to create an organized space —“Mom Central”—for the homeowner to work. He added a bulletin board across the back, books by a host of female authors, and artwork by T. Magi. The old elementary school chair was found at Form. (right) The nook is home to a custom polished steel table and Restoration Hardware chairs that Mousel covered in fabric by Perennials. The homeowners had the mirror elsewhere when the project began. Mousel painted it orange and brought it here.

The bright blue space is one of the rooms that makes him the most proud—although he pretty much loves the whole house and he thinks his clients appreciated the journey. “He’s a plastic surgeon, and there’s a true art form to what he does. A client might start with a single process and you build from there,” Mousel says. “He works with a canvas, and essentially, that’s what I do, too. It’s an evolution.”