Home + Design / PaperCity Design Awards

The Votes Are In — The 2023 Houston PaperCity Design Awards Winning Projects

And the Winners Are. . .

BY // 05.02.23

The annual Houston PaperCity Design Awards kicked off Texas Design Week Houston in the Post Oak Hotel’s grand ballroom, Sunday evening, April 30. The awards recognize winning projects by interior designers and architects in 21 categories, and were selected out of hundreds of submissions.

This year’s panel of judges included: Thomas Kligerman, Kligerman Architecture & Design, NYC; Eric J. Smith, Eric J. Smith Architect, NYC; Suzanne Tucker, Tucker & Marks, San Francisco; Anthony Baratta, Southampton, NYC; Beth Webb, Beth Webb Interiors, Atlanta; Janie Molster, Janie Molster Designs, Richmond, Virginia; and Alexandra Kaehler, Alexandra Kaehler Design, Winnetka, Chicago.

Presenting the 2023 Houston PaperCity Design Awards was master of ceremonies Newell Turner, who spent his magazine career chronicling American style; he served as Hearst Design Group editorial director of Elle Decor, Veranda, and House Beautiful, was editor-in-chief of House Beautiful, held senior positions at House & Garden and Metropolitan Home, and was the founding editor of Hamptons Cottages & Gardens. Newell is a trustee of the New York School of Interior Design and author.

Winning projects and runners-up will be published in a special portfolio in the October 2023 Design + Art edition of PaperCity Houston (50,000 issues).

Following the awards, Texas Design Week Houston ramps up with four days of design-related salon talks, book signings, cocktail parties, and product launches with some of the most recognized names in the design industry.

Thank you to our PaperCity Design Awards Sponsors: Monogram Luxury AppliancesNew Orleans Auction Galleries, The Post Oak Hotel, Baccarat.

PaperCity Awards Its Lifetime Achievement in Historic Preservation to Artist Salle Werner-Vaughn, an artist who has dedicated half her life to a singular cause.

This is the story of Salle.

On January 26, 2022, Salle’s four decades of preservation of an enclave of historic cottages near the Rice Military neighborhood was designated by the City of Houston as the Brunner-Harmonium Historic District. This unique historic district, which Salle saved, is comprised of three facing blocks totaling six structures in the Folk Victorian, Queen Anne, and early 20th-century vernacular styles. These charming cottages are situated in yards and gardens that double as wildlife habitats, with their expansive, mature trees and luxuriant foliage.

Guided by an artist’s vision, these restored cottages have been turned, over a 35-year period, into something beyond the sum of their modest frame exteriors. More than preserved buildings, the once humble cottages have been transformed into captivating, immersive environments for a collection of antiques, art, and antiquities. Their interiors include Salle’s own museum-collected paintings, drawings, watercolors, sculpture, and photography.

Wood framed, of simple design, the houses also tell a tale of another time: They represent a small part of what remains of an 1888 incorporated town called Brunner located just north of Memorial Drive and east of N. Shepherd Drive, on Blossom Street. This hamlet had its own post office, German school, public school, and Baptist college. In 1913, the 500 or so citizens of Brunner voted to be annexed into the City of Houston. Since these surviving blocks feature such an exquisite harmony of nature with history, Salle added the word Harmonium to the name of the Brunner district.

Now this area is mostly townhomes, commercial businesses, and apartments so it is especially important that these blocks have been preserved — they are among the last remaining sentinels from this lost chapter of Houston’s history.

Presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award in Historic Preservation to Salle Werner-Vaughn was Minnette Boesel, immediate past chair of the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission, former director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, current board president of Heritage Society Houston and co-founder of the Astrodome Conservancy.

And the winning entries are …

Firm: Benjamin Johnston Design

Lead Designer: Benjamin Johnston

House Design: Greg Roffino, Benjamin Johnston Design

Additional Recognition: Iraj Taghi Custom Homes

Judges’ Remarks
“This project is over the top. The designer has an evolved touch that is apparent in every space. The placement of original art is masterful. Surfaces feel styled and layered but never cluttered. The color balance is notable — I could live here, and I am picky.” — Janie Molster

 “Beautiful use of color and an excellent blend of classic and contemporary with strong sight lines for the eye to always be intrigued.” — Suzanne Tucker

Honorable Mention

Laura Umansky, Britian Matherne, Shannon Smith, Lisa Sheppard, Laura U Design Collective. Additional Recognition: architect Charles Tapley, landscape design Serena Gibson Design.


Firm: Kara Childress

Lead Designer: Kara Childress

Judges’ Remarks
“I love that this project isn’t afraid to channel a more masculine approach. The materials in the powder room are stunning. Love the primitive elements — benches and counter slabs — mixed with the more formal antiques and Venetian plaster.” — Janie Molster

 “I love the use of materials here. The rustic wood floors and ceiling, stone, and the Venetian plaster really add a since of quality. The thoughtfully chosen antiques are very strong in the more simplified areas. The project reminds me of the great interiors by John Saladino.” — Anthony Baratta

Honorable Mention

Katie Davis, Katie Davis Design.

Firm: Robertson Design

Lead Architect: Christopher Robertson

Project Designer: Vivi Nguyen

Additional Recognition: Interior design, Creative Tonic Design. Landscape design, Johnny Steele Design

Judge’s Remark
“A wonderful blend of mid-century architecture with a cool Japanese aesthetic. Great selection of materials, particularly the integral color plaster and metal detailing. The garden elevation with its metal panels and clerestory windows is wonderful. The outside is just as inviting as it weaves its way into the courtyard outside the kitchen. The landscape is never very far away.” — Thomas Kligerman

Honorable Mention

Shawn Gottschalk, studioMET.

Firm: Collaborative Designworks

Lead Designer: James M. Evans

Additional Recognition: Interior design, Andra White Design

Judges’ Remarks
“I love almost everything about this house — it is a water bird about to take flight, from the way it hovers above the lake to the flared-wing roof. It is a house light on the landscape, figuratively and literally. Its effortless consideration of the environment proves that a building can be beautiful while respecting natural resources. Pushing the rooms out to the perimeter affords every room a spectacular view, while making efficient use of service space. The limited color palette is appropriate to its surroundings. The play of the curved interior walls against the curtain wall is wonderful. I love the porch as dock. I could keep going. This house hits it out of the parkland.” — Thomas Kligerman

“Simply put, stunning! A beautiful collaboration of man and nature. Thoughtfully sited, the openable window walls allow the house to breathe, creating an effortless movement inside and out. The refined detailing and use of materials speak to a place for reflection and solitude.” — Eric J. Smith

Honorable Mention

Brett Zamore and Tzu-Yu Chen, Brett Zamore Design.

Firm: Kara Childress

Lead Designer: Kara Childress

Judges’ Remarks
“The vintage Gracie panels were the first thing I noticed — and what an impact they make, flanking the vestibule to this jewel-toned guest suite. The rich chartreuse of the grasscloth makes for a perfect pairing with the eggplant velvet on the headboard. Brave and bold choices.” — Beth Webb

“You truly feel transported into this space.” — Alexandra Kaehler

Honorable Mention

Courtnay Tartt Elias, Trisha Allen, Creative Tonic Design.

Firm: Benjamin Johnston Design

Lead Designer: Benjamin Johnston

Additional Recognition Architecture, Gordon Partners. Thompson Custom Homes

Judges’ Remarks
“I love this stone counter. It’s a risk and a home run. The shelves across the windows are wonderful. Styling is fab.” — Janie Molster

“I find this place to be thoughtful and precise. I especially admire the shelves sitting in front of the windows. I’m going to have to try that somewhere.” — Anthony Baratta

Honorable Mention

Kara Childress. Additional Recognition Ryan Street Architects.

Firm: Wellville Development

Lead Designers and Architect: Lisa Pope Westerman, architect Amy Robins Dempsey, Erica Levit

Additional Recognition: Kristin Pickar-Knussmann, KPK Lighting Design

Judge’s Remark
“Truly feels like a vacation.” — Alexandra Kaehler

Honorable Mention

Julie Dodson, Dodson Interiors.


Firm: Amanda Simmons Interiors

Lead Designer: Amanda Simmons

Project Designer: Assistant Audrey Turner

Judge’s Remark
“Love the Lulie Wallace longhorns and the combination of orange and blue. Adorable without being trite.” — Beth Webb

Honorable Mention

Katie Davis, Katie Davis Design.

Firm: Lucas Eilers Design Associates

Lead Designer: Sarah Eilers

Project Designers: Ellen Eilers, Abby Holmes

Additional Recognition: Gregory J. Snider, Snider Architects. Kirby-Perkins Construction. Landscape architect, Katherine Field and Associates. Lighting designer, Jobe Systems, Inc.

Judges’ Remarks
“Hard for me not to like this one! So East Coast nautical chic. Right up my alley.” — Anthony Baratta

“The Gracie brings the coastal landscape in — and how beautiful is the wallpaper in this setting? The very fact that the owner’s model boats were incorporated adds a personal touch to this lovely space.” — Beth Webb

Honorable Mention

Courtnay Tartt Elias, Trisha Allen, Creative Tonic Design.

Firm: MaRS Culture

Lead Designer: Kelie Mayfield

Project Designers: Daniela Gonzalez, Zoe Pittman, Mark Green

Additional Recognition: Architect, Sullivan Henry Oggero & Associates

Judges’ Remarks
“Great use of the volume and scale, capturing the views beyond in each space, all the while employing materials that are tactile and enveloping. It’s not easy to make large spaces feel cozy, and this project successfully makes you never want to leave.” — Suzanne Tucker

“The architecture of this space is simply stunning. I love the walls of glass and the huge bookcase. This is a great room in every sense of the word.” — Eric J. Smith

Honorable Mention

Kara Childress. Additional Recognition Ryan Street Architects.

Firm: Dodson Interiors

Lead Designer: Julie Dodson

Additional Recognition: Peter Block Architects

Judge’s Remark
“The closet is killer. Really amazing color and ceiling.” — Janie Molster

Honorable Mention

Kara Childress.

Project: Lymbar

Firm: Gin Design Group

Lead Designer: Gin Braverman

Judges’ Remarks
“This beautiful, warm restaurant cloaks you in welcoming warmth. I feel like I am looking at some great restaurant in Brazil — I can hear a samba playing, just looking at these images. The designer has successfully brought together architecture and interiors through the common denominator of rich color and deeply colored wood and marble. The lighting scheme is subtle, giving the rooms the perfect glow. Great green! Great mauve! And the ceilings are thankfully considered. Every aspect of this restaurant was considered. Even the plants work — a rarity in interiors. Bravo!” — Thomas Kligerman

“Sexy and sophisticated. Beautifully detailed, and a wonderful use of lighting and natural materials. Well worth staying for more than just one round!” — Eric J. Smith

Honorable Mention

Gin Braverman, Gin Design Group, for Saigon Hustle.

retail design

Project: Westlake Dermatology, River Oaks

Firm: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture

Lead Architect: Michael Hsu

Project Designers: Tracie Gesch, Marisa Grande, Jesus Valdez, Brian Carville

Additional Recognition: Terralab Landscape Architects

Judges’ Remarks
“An elegant, limited palette of white and neutrals — a squeaky clean space with a curated selection of furniture, both freestanding and built-in. Love the sculpted, arched display niches with the marble panels. Also, the corduroy of woods behind the counter is original — nicely detailed. Good indirect reverse-cove lighting. This is an extremely well-detailed and sophisticated design — the definition of sleek.” — Thomas Kligerman

“Fresh and sculptural. The daylighting successfully collaborates with the clean palette without becoming clinical.” — Eric J. Smith

Honorable Mention

Lauren Wills, Wills Design Associates, for City Boots in River Oaks District.

Project: The Center for Pursuit

Firm: Gensler, for Building Architecture

Lead Architect: Tiger Lyon

Additional Recognition: Interior design, MaRS Culture. Landscape architect, TBG Partners. Lighting consultant, LAI

Judges’ Remarks
“This organization is engaged in a noble pursuit, and this campus design honors that. The courtyard part off the roadway is a time-tested solution for this urban scheme. The building successfully links to the greenspace and terraces at the center. The attenuated triple-height columns form a delicate screen around the beautifully detailed curtain walls. There is an appropriate variety in the shift to the brick buildings that keeps the complex from being too single-minded. The window muntin layout there is very good. A great design — I could go on. In short, a success.” — Thomas Kligerman

“Bright, fresh, cleanly detailed, and nicely integrating interior and exterior. The objective of flexibility appears to be well achieved.” — Eric J. Smith

Honorable Mention

Kelie Mayfield, Erick Ragni, Linnea Wingo AIA, Kim Le, and Alisha Gaubert, MaRS Culture, for Block 162. Additional Recognition, building architecture Gensler.

Historical Restoration-Preservation- comercial heading (Photo by Jonathan Zizzo)
(Photo by Jonathan Zizzo)

Project: The Coffee House at West End

Firm: Studio Red Architects

Lead Architect: Jared Wood

Project Architect: Marie Abscal. Project Interior Design, Belinda Bennett. Project Designer: Paul Garrison

Additional Recognition: Interior design, Lisa Kelly. Michael Dovalina, Arch-Con

Project: The Brava Collection — Together Tables

Firm: MaRS Culture

Lead Designer: Linnea Wingo

Project Designer: Kelie Mayfield

Additional Recognition: Basic Builders, manufacturer

Judge’s Remark
“Extremely chic and elegant, yet the epitome of practical with the power access and recessed power points. Who doesn’t need that?” — Beth Webb

Honorable Mention

Leslie Sinclair and Kirby Sinclair, Segreto Finishes, and Marie Flanigan, for Table Collection X Palermo and Arrow.

Project: Brentano Framework Collection

Firm: Gensler

Lead Designer: Yishio Kuo

Project Designers: Amber Porterfield, Raquel Torres

Judge’s Remark
“I love the menswear plaids and wools in fun and unexpected colors.” — Alexandra Kaehler

Honorable Mention

Benjamin Johnston, Benjamin Johnston Design, for Vacanza Collection for S. Harris.

Project: Dimensional Plaster Line

Firm: Segreto Finishes

Lead Designers: Leslie Sinclair, Kirby Sinclair

Additional Recognition: Courtnay Tartt Elias

Judges’ Remarks
“Elegant, creative, unique. I like that it adds more texture to the room. I definitely would like to try it on a project.” — Anthony Baratta

“Absolutely stunning. Takes wallpaper as artwork to a new level.” — Alexandra Kaehler

Honorable Mention

Meredith Ueckert, Lark Fontaine Textiles, for Le Papier.

Thank you to our 2023 PaperCity Design Awards Sponsors:

Discover Weber Pellet Grill at Bering's

Featured Properties