In Marie Flanigan’s new design book, there’s beauty in every home

The coronavirus pandemic has slowed life to a different pace, but Houston interior designer Marie Flanigan is busier than ever.

In addition to publishing her first book, “The Beauty of Home: Redefining Traditional Interiors” (Gibbs Smith; $45; 240 pages), Flanigan has launched a new collection of lighting with Visual Comfort and a collection of natural stone slabs with Aria Stone Gallery.

Flanigan’s distinctive updated traditional style always showcases great lighting, so her collaboration with Houston-based Visual Comfort is a natural fit. It includes a variety of sconces, pendants, chandeliers and table lamps that can be seen on the Circa Lighting website now and will be in stock in December.

“My inspiration was taking traditional fixtures and bringing them to life in a modern new way using the organic textures and refined metals and materials that are really representative of my work,” said Flanigan, who is 38 and a mother of three. “Just like the book is called ‘Redefining Traditional Interiors,’ in essence, my collection is redefining light fixtures in a fresh new context.”

Flanigan used some of the new lighting in a House Beautiful showcase house in Colorado, and it will be featured in the November issue of that magazine. Flanigan was in charge of decorating the library/tea room and used a deep red background with antique brass fixtures.

For the stone collection, Flanigan’s director of design flew to stone quarries in Italy to choose distinctive stone slabs that include a creamy white Bianco Dolomite, ruddy Breccia Pernice, veiny Calacatta Gold Borghini Diamond and Fume, a gray marble with spiderweblike veining.

The slabs aren’t just for kitchen and bathroom counters; Flanigan said that in projects she’ll choose marble for a tabletop or the surface of a side table. And while Cararra and Calacatta marbles remain go-to choices in home design, Flanigan’s a fan of out-of-the-box choices like green, rust or even deep charcoal.

Flanigan, a native of Lake Jackson, studied architecture at the University of Texas and later earned an MBA from the University of Houston, but learned the value of home from her mother, a gracious hostess, and learned to love materials when studying the centuries-old architecture of Italy.

Images from more than 20 homes — several of them from the Houston area — are featured in the book as Flanigan takes a master class approach, teaching the important elements of architecture, composition, character, palette, illumination, detail, simplicity, depth and surprise.

“I don’t want it to be Marie Flanigan’s view of how you should live. My mission in life is finding what beauty is for the people I work for and helping orchestrate that,” she said. “Getting to the heart and soul of what a homeowner is looking for is my favorite part of the job.”

Throughout “The Beauty of Home,” natural materials shine through in every room, from construction materials to home furnishings. There are beautiful slabs of marble, onyx, travertine and other stone and wood applied in its many forms, natural grains in cabinets, the aging of antique doors, or various cuts in oak flooring. Natural light spills everywhere.

Much of Flanigan’s work is in new construction or dramatic renovations, working hand in hand with an architect and builder or contractor as plans for a home and its contents take shape.

“I want a home to be a reflection of the people who live there and be a retreat from the world,” Flanigan said. “Nature is a huge inspiration for me, and I like to call on the texture of authentic materials, things you can run your hand across and experience true marble or real linen.

“Architecture plays a big role in my work. You can decorate a home and fill it with furniture and only be at a certain level of design. If you consider interiors with architecture and weave them together, you can take it to an elevated level you would not have been able to,” she continued.

Throughout her book, Flanigan emphasizes the importance of good architecture, elements as simple as placement of windows or more complicated, such as preserving the material details of an historic home.

Textures abound, from walls covered in panels of wool or suede, fireplaces surrounded by marble or cast concrete, wood floors topped with rugs of natural materials and fibers. Lighting finished with nickel or brass trim and chairs or barstools with cane backs or seats.

Natural stone repeats in kitchens and bathrooms, and Flanigan said that current projects feature slabs of stone on walls as much as tile.

And as beautiful as the homes in the photos are, nothing’s too precious to sit on or use. The era of rooms that people aren’t allowed to go into is behind us.

“People are looking for more approachability today. They want to live in their homes and not cringe every time someone has a glass of wine on their rug,” Flanigan said. “They want beautiful things, but they want to be able to use them.”

For some, that means lush interiors, fabrics you can’t resist running your hand over, soft rugs beneath your feet and draperies that soften a room. In others, though, a more minimalist approach calls for a glass or acrylic coffee table that does its job in an almost invisible way or dining chars completely devoid of ornamentation.

Flanigan revels in wall treatments, whether it’s beautiful wallpaper, lustrous paneling or even stone treatments.

And you know we’re in an era of good self-care when closets are beautiful enough to make the pages of a design book. Flanigan’s closet treatments — for men and women — are worthy of any high-end boutique, with built-in cabinetry, lighted sections, chandeliers and furnishings.

“I style every home we work on, and to be able to put this coffee-table book on their coffee tables will be a thrill,” she said.

diane.cowen@chron.com

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