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Real Estate / Home + Design

Inside the Stunning House of an Authentic Texas Social Media Star

At Home with House of Harper

BY // 06.28.17
photography Jenny Antill Clifton

Caroline Harper Knapp can’t post an Instagram photo without at least one of her 72,000 followers inquiring, “Where did you get that sofa?” or “Who makes that rug?” Knapp launched her blog, Caroline in the City, in New York City in 2011, where Knapp and her family were living. She gained a following not for home interiors, but for her effortless fashion sense — pairing cuffed denim shorts with a striped tee and a blazer, or finding the perfect floral frock.

All of that changed in 2014, when Knapp moved her family to Houston and bought a house in Briargrove. She had recently rebranded her blog to the more-encompassing House of Harper after her first son Knox was born, and she opted not to return to her day job in corporate fashion. The new name reflects how personal her blog is and represents everything she shares within her actual home, from design to her family’s journey.

Knapp has a background in business via Texas A&M and an eight-year career in fashion. After graduating from the Neiman Marcus Executive Development Program, she worked in Dallas as a buyer for the luxury department store for several years until she relocated to New York in 2010 with her husband, Fred, and accepted a job at Gilt Groupe, then in its nascent days. House of Harper’s rapid growth has been bolstered by smart partnerships with fellow female entrepreneurs who are redefining the Internet influencer space.

Knapp is represented by Digital Brand Architects, founded by media veteran Karen Robinovitz and film/fashion maven Raina Penchansky. DBA is the first and only talent agency for influencers (Knapp has partnered with brands such as Nordstrom and L’Oréal Paris). Marketing/media powerhouse Clique Media Group handles Knapp’s advertising. Founded by Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power, CMG owns sites such as Who What Wear and MyDomaine and markets about 55 top bloggers and influencers. Knapp utilizes Amber Venz Box’s rewardStyle to receive a commission on sales generated from her outfit posts and Chloédigital, an elite London-based web development company run by stylish prodigy Chloé Watts, to produce the technological side of her site.

The smartest moguls know when to outsource and collaborate with top talent, and that’s exactly what Knapp did when it came to her home’s interiors. After meeting Sarah and Saba Jawda — the chic sisters behind interior and graphic design firm Jawda and Jawda, who themselves have more than 55,000 followers on Instagram — at an influencer event at Neiman Marcus, she developed a design crush on their modern aesthetic and knew she wanted them to help with her house.

Caroline Harper Knapp in a C/MEO Collective Easy Love dress, available at Tootsies.
Caroline Harper Knapp in a C/MEO Collective Easy Love dress, available at Tootsies.

Having grown up in Corsicana, Texas, Knapp’s style trends toward Southern traditional. But her years in New York honed an appreciation for modern design, and she wanted to combine the two in her new home — but felt paralyzed.

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“I felt like everything was such a permanent decision, that I was not making any progress and not trusting my own decisions,” she says. Before moving into their ranch-style home, she and husband Fred took on the renovation — walls were removed and the space reimagined into an up-to-date open floor plan. A partnership with Lowe’s and KitchenAid resulted in a stunning new kitchen.

Knapp initially hired the Jawdas to help her re-cover inherited furniture, add a few pillows and create custom curtains, but quickly realized she needed the Jawdas’ expertise on the room flow as well. “If I hadn’t worked with a designer, the house would not be finished. They took me out of my comfort zone,” she says.

“I had envisioned deep green velvet à la Tory Burch’s living room, which would have been too heavy and not cohesive with the rest of the house. There are so many rules of design that I don’t know because I don’t have the background that they have.”

Sarah says, “You don’t have to spend a fortune — in this home, it was all about the mix of high and low.” Throughout the course of the project, they used the hashtag #harperxjawda so fans could follow along on fabric meetings, installs, and bookshelf styling sessions — typically following a raid of Longoria Collection for coffee-table books and Aerin shagreen accessories. Rugs from London Grey and Floor, pillows in black-and-white David Hicks La Fiorentina and mustard velvet, and moody abstract paintings by Saba (who is also an artist) look at home alongside sets of inherited reupholstered chairs and carry-over furniture from Knapp’s New York apartment. Sisal bins for toy storage are within easy reach for sons Knox and Andrew, and many of the fabrics and rugs are durable indoor/outdoor.

“She let us push the boundaries and experiment,” Saba says about Knapp. “Your client has hired you for your vision, so you have to stay true to that.”

Knapp is thrilled with the result, as are her followers. The interiors tab on houseofharper.com is the fastest growing, traffic-wise, on her site. Additional collaborations for Knapp’s home with The Shade Store (for bedroom curtains) and Frontgate (outdoor living area) have followed, as brands have taken notice of the overwhelming response Knapp receives from her followers.

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