Down to Party

Inside Camille Styles’ Italian Villa-Inspired Austin Home

The entertaining expert’s home was designed specifically with partying in mind.

By: Laurel Pantin
Photography: Jake Rosenberg

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To call yourself an “expert” in anything requires a ton of confidence. You have to be 100 percent sure that you can handle anything in that field, that you’re the most creative, most experienced, most all-around together person when it comes to that subject.

Camille Styles might not have designated herself an “expert” entertainer, but we’re going to go ahead and bestow the title upon her. The Austin resident’s home was literally designed with hosting guests in mind, and every aspect of the house’s flow caters to optimum fun.

When we visited Styles (and her gorgeous family) in Austin earlier this fall, we fell in love with her Mount Bonnell home—which, as an Austin native myself, had views that stunned even me—and resolved to be on the invite list the next time she had a grilled pizza night (more on that later). Everything was white stone and indoor/outdoor flow, all homemade granola and Gray Malin prints, and we felt instantly at home.

Click through to read about how she designed the space, and how to always be party-ready. Hint: All it takes is a box of candles and some pruning shears.

“I think the first step in party planning is to decide on the overall concept—I mean getting really specific about what is going to identify this party. So whether that’s one color palette, or the type of menu you’re going to have, it’s about really focusing on one key detail that will drive all the other aspects and give an element of cohesion.”

“I’m honestly not super precious about any of our furniture. I mean our kids climb all over the couch, and at some point it’s going to be destroyed to the point where we have to get a new one. I try to get pieces that we love, but also that are really livable and that people feel like they can prop up their feet on and not have to be too careful with.”

“I’m really big on creating a master ‘to-do’ list, where you list literally everything that has to be done. From buying your flowers to setting the table to... I mean the tiniest detail should be on this ‘to-do’ list. Map it out in chronological order, put it on your fridge, and then follow it to the letter. I think that is really what keeps parties stress-free and keeps you from running around like a crazy person at the last minute.”

“I’ve always dreamed of living at the beach, and so I’m always trying to channel that beachy lifestyle even though I live obviously in a land-locked location. So from our beach art I have shells and coral collected from all over. It’s like the only thing that I actually [collect]... I’m not a big collector. I’m a little bit more minimalist usually, but I love beautiful shells and coral and driftwood.”

“Entertaining was a huge part of our design. Thankfully, my husband also loves to host and invite people over. When we were designing the house, we definitely envisioned it being a place where we wanted to have an open-door policy for our friends and family. That really drove the indoor/outdoor flow. We envisioned the house as a place where people could walk around in bare feet all weekend and just go straight from the pool to the dining table to have dinner.”

“[When entertaining], be realistic about your menu. I think a lot of people try to take on way too much when they’re cooking for their own event or for their own dinner party, and they decide to take on like, five different items. I’m a big proponent of making one or two things from scratch, and then assembling the rest from really awesome, high-quality store-bought ingredients. If you’re going to make a really amazing entrée, then maybe have a dessert that you make in advance and have waiting to go in the fridge the night before. Then your appetizers could be beautiful cheeses and meats and vegetables that you can pick up and assemble in a really beautiful way. Presentation is really key, and you can make almost any ingredients look gorgeous with a little bit of creativity.”

“I would definitely say our number one [go-to food item for entertaining] is grilled pizzas. That’s kind of my signature dish. I took this really awesome ‘culinary boot camp’ at Culinary Institute of America in Napa a few years ago. My instructor was this incredible Sonoma chef named John Ash, and he taught us how to grill the best pizzas. He gave us his secret dough recipe, and it’s still what I use to this day whenever I want to have friends over for just a fun, relaxed impromptu dinner. We make all the dough in here, and then have tons of toppings, and then take it all out to the grill, which is over on that side of the pool, and it’s really interactive. People can build their own, and we do it all right on the grill, rapid-fire. They cook in two minutes; it’s a super fast process.”

“The kitchen was really important to us and also, I think, reflected our love of entertaining and having people into the home. We knew that we wanted a super open floor plan where the kitchen flows straight into the dining room and straight into the living room, and people could gather around the island and flow throughout the spaces. And I love to cook—I cook a ton, every single day. So having a big island and a good work space was really important to me.”

“When [we] started designing the house, we didn’t have kids, we were just thinking purely of the aesthetics. Not at all about practicality or childproofing, and we decided that we wanted to have this terrace that had a 30, 40-foot drop-off with no railing along the side. Thankfully our architect talked us out of it, and said we might want to have kids someday and wanted to keep them alive, and also protect our friends, who might have had a little too much to drink, from falling off the edge. [Laughs]”

“Since we’ve had our kids, we really have brought them into our lives and tried to absorb them into everything that we were already doing, instead of changing or catering all of our design to be around kids. When I was pregnant, both of us were afraid that our house would turn into one of those houses where there’s toys out everywhere and it feels like one big playroom. We really resisted that by designing spaces for the kids that we loved and that we felt like reflected our aesthetic and the aesthetic of the rest of the house. We also have really great organization. They do have tons of toys and they play with them all the time, but we wanted to teach our kids that when they got out toys, there was a place to put them away later. It keeps things feeling under control and doesn’t end up being a toy explosion all the time.”

“There’s no quicker way to make a space feel ready for a party than tons of candles. I have so many simple, white pillar and votive candles. I think that candlelight is the way to instantly make any kind of gathering feel really festive. And cranking up the music is really important. I’m always a big proponent of having music a little bit too loud, because I think it makes it feel like a party. Then I love having branches and greenery around. Sometimes I’ll go outside in our yard or ask a neighbor if I can prune some branches off a big bush or a tree, then I fill a vase with them and it’s such an easy way to have a really beautiful centerpiece.”

“We started designing the house right after we got back from our honeymoon in Capri. So I think that our travels in Italy, in the Riviera, really inspired a lot of the home design in general. We definitely wanted to have that seamless infinity edge to the pool that brought together the natural environment of Austin. We really wanted to bring all of that in and make it feel really seamless with the design of the pool area. We really gave a lot of thought even to the color of the pool, and the rocks along the edge were kind of inspired by our travels right before that around the Mediterranean. That really deep blue and kind of rocky terrain.”

“I love Austin so much. I feel so lucky to live here. I love that it’s such an outdoor city. We’re really active as a family, and every single weekend we head downtown and do a big walk around Lady Bird Lake and walk all around downtown. And it’s so great to see so many people out biking and running and just living a really active lifestyle. And I love the creative scene here. Especially with what I do, with the creation of our site and all the content that we create, being able to collaborate with such amazing photographers and writers, stylists, chefs, all the time. It’s just so inspiring, and it really is, I think, what keeps me feeling really energized in my day-to-day job is just getting to collaborate with such talented, creative people all the time.”

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