Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
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An Italianate Victorian house in a historic San Antonio neighborhood became the unlikely star of its owners’ personal and very modern collection of art. “I never would have envisioned living in this house,” says Travis Capps. The house in question is a handsome example of the Victorian-Italianate style, built in 1896 by German architect Albert Beckman in San Antonio’s King William District and renovated for Capps by architect Jim Poteet. Capps, an executive with Valero Energy, is a major collector of modern art and a confirmed Modernist (I’ll show you his all-white former residence—a loft—later this year). And the house, which Capps could never envision living in, became the home he and his partner hair stylist Lee Anthony lived in for two years—the scene of many art parties and charity events and the setting for Capps’ vast and ever-changing collection of sculpture, video art, and two- and three-dimensional wall hangings.

The asymmetrical two-story Victorian-Italianate house was just one of three on the lot; Travis Capps was also attracted to the carriage house and cottage in back. The busy executive could envision a place for guests and a hair salon for his partner Lee, as well as a yard that could be a showcase for sculpture.

The homeowners entertain often: architect Jim Poteet removed a closet under the stairway to make a nook that neatly accommodates the grand piano. Capps is fond of white as a background color that inspires serenity, and used Benjamin Moore’s “Gypsum White” throughout (as he did in his loft).

The “Stay” wall installation in the parlor is made of plastic flowers and is by Capps’ good friend, the late Linda Pace.

The original oak floors were not only in good shape, they benefited from one of the house’s best dramatic flourishes: the floors in the three downstairs rooms were outlined in a mahogany and maple stripe. The detail looked typically Victorian until Poteet had the floors ebonized; the contrast between the rich ebony color and the subtle maple and mahogany emerged as a dramatic detail that surprised everyone.

Poteet had to remove the seventies’-era addition that housed the kitchen: he replaced it with a compact version in which he utilized all the wall space, even if it had windows in it. The room is sleek, with Carrara marble countertops and backsplash and custom cabinets by the architect; Lem Piston barstools from Design Within Reach tuck neatly under the island. The Moooi pendant matches the one in the adjoining dining room.

A new butler’s pantry and bar between the kitchen and the dining room is smart and modern with stainless steel sink and a continuation of the kitchen’s Carrarra marble counters and backsplash.

Furnishings are subtle in the dining room so as not to distract from the Aaron Parazette painting hanging on the wall. Architect Jim Poteet added a custom top to the base of a vintage table surrounded by Jacobsen chairs by Fritz Hansen; a Moooi pendant presides overhead.

In the downstairs powder room, Poteet jazzed things up with EuroDamask wallpaper by Timorous Beasties. The Lavaca toilet and sink are by Hastings.

The second floor landing offers maximum opportunity to display photos of the bottoms of santos figures by Chuck Ramirez. The Paris Hilton portrait is by Zane Lewis.

The master bedroom’s focal point, a Spark Modern Fires fireplace, is as minimal as the room’s decor. Hanging above it, “Dolt” by  Michael Miller. Brigitte enjoys a moment of relaxation between two vintage club chairs upholstered in patent leather. The bed is custom by Jim Poteet, made from Corian.

Upstairs in the two-bedroom house, Poteet added a spacious master closet and bath with two vanities and glass partitions between the tub and dressing areas to admit more light.

Counters, benches in the shower area, and cabinet fronts are Corian—a material much-loved by the architect for its unobtrusive presence and ability to cover large spaces seamlessly.

The tub in the master bath stands out against another Timorous Beasties wallpaper.


LANDSCAPE: Thomas Bradley and Assoc. (210- 821-5749)



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