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The Winning Projects of the 2024 PaperCity Design Awards Houston

And the Winners Are. . .

BY // 05.28.24

The annual PaperCity Design Awards Houston were presented Tuesday, May 28 in the Grande Ballroom of The Houstonian Hotel, with master of ceremonies Thomas Kligerman doing the honors.

The awards recognize outstanding projects by Houston interior designers and architects in 22 categories and were selected out of hundreds of submissions by our panel of judges.

This year’s judges included: Stan Dixon, D. Stanley Dixon Architect, Atlanta; Elizabeth Lawrence, Partner, Bunny Williams, Williams Lawrence Interiors, New York City; Daniel Kahan, Partner, Smith and Moore Architects, Palm Beach; Jeffry Weisman, Fisher Weisman Brugioni, San Francisco; Jonathan Savage, Savage Interior Design, Nashville, Palm Beach; Tyler Velten, Ike Baker Velten Architects, Oakland, New York City; Beth Webb, Beth Webb Interiors, Atlanta; Drew Davis, Partner, Kligerman Architecture & Design, NYC; Erik Evens, Evens Architects, Los Angeles.

Winning projects and honorable mentions will be published in a special portfolio in the October 2024 issue of PaperCity Houston.

Thank you to our PaperCity Design Awards Sponsors: New Orleans Auction Galleries, The Houstonian Hotel, BeDesign, Baccarat and Thistle & Grace.

PaperCity Awards Its Visionary Achievement in Historic Preservation to Project Row Houses and David Bucek, Stern and Bucek Architects — for the restoration of the Eldorado Ballroom, Third Ward, Houston.

The fabled Eldorado Ballroom opened on December 5, 1939 at the corner of Elgin and Dowling — now Emancipation Street — a rare work of surviving Streamlined Moderne architecture commissioned by Black philanthropists and business owners Anna Johnson Dupree and Clarence Dupree.

The ballroom was designed by architect Lenard Gabert Sr., a graduate of Rice University’s inaugural class of 1916. Gabert’s other prominent Houston buildings include Temple Emanu El (1949, with MacKie and Kamrath), Beth Yeshurun Synagogue (1962), and Brochsteins Deco-style custom-woodworking plant (1940).

The Rado as it was known, immediately became a fabled stop for performers on the Chitlin’ Circuit, where celebrated touring acts from Duke Ellington Orchestra and Count Basie to Etta James, James Brown, Dinah Washington, and Ray Charles played to enthusiastic, sophisticated audiences. Performers such as Big Mama Thornton — whose “Hound Dog” was recorded by Elvis Presley in 1956 — were discovered at the Eldorado, as were  Johnny “Guitar Watson,” Smithsonian Blues inductee Jewel Brown, and tenor sax king Arnett Cobb.

Eldorado’s neon sign restored. (Courtesy Stern and Bucek Architects)

Project Row Houses — celebrating its 30th anniversary, co-founded by MacArthur Genius Fellow Rick Lowe — acquired the Eldorado Ballroom in 1999 and a decade ago began a conversation about restoring this iconic place in American music history and the cultural life of the Third Ward.

Anita Smith and Hasty Johnson boldly stepped up as capital campaign chairs, raising $9.7 million — including a $4 million dollar gift from the Kinder Foundation — for the Eldorado’s next chapter, which began with its reopening to great fanfare on March 30, 2023. Credit is also due to Bert Brown and George Lancaster at Hines.

Architect David Bucek, whose firm Stern and Bucek was brought on in 2012, says of the project: “The restoration’s successes include finding much of the historic vertical wood paneling and fluted pilasters intact, covered over with drywall, in the ballroom entry stair hall and the downstair shops. Given that the ballroom experienced two major fires, finding large areas of original wood elements wasn’t expected.”

Today, two-time James Beard finalist Chef Chris Williams operates the Eldorado complex, with Rado Market, the storied second floor ballroom, and Hogan Brown Gallery, directed by artist Robert Hodge — destinations for Southern cuisine, musical performances, cultural events and art openings.

The Visionary Achievement in Historic Preservation Award was presented to Project Row Houses and David Bucek by John Guess Jr. — collector, patron, CEO of Houston Museum of African American Culture, and the negotiator of the 1999 acquisition from previous owner Hub Finkelstein, that added the Eldorado Ballroom to the Project Row Houses campus.

Importantly, the 84-year-old restored Eldorado Ballroom is now a City of Houston Protected Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

And the winning entries are …



Firm: Paloma Contreras Design

Lead Designer: Paloma Contreras

Additional Recognition: Nelo Freijomel, Spina O’Rourke + Partners;  Nievera Williams Landscape Architecture

Judges’ Remarks

“This home definitely has a sense of place without feeling themed. Beautiful and thoughtful details throughout the home make your eye travel and don’t distract from the exterior. Each bedroom feels different and special, which I think is always the goal. A fresh feel and beautiful color palette.” — Elizabeth Lawrence

“Really lovely, whimsical details. Buttoned-up and playful at the same time. Perfect for Palm Beach.” — Daniel Kahan


Firm: Benjamin Johnston Design

Lead Designer: Benjamin Johnston

Lead Architect: Marc Anderson

Additional Recognition: Greg Roffino, Benjamin Johnston Design; Moss Landscaping; Erin Stetzer Homes

Judges’ Remarks

“Period perfect. The use of graphic geometry in the architecture and finishes is spot on.” — Daniel Kahan

“The attention to detail is perfection. Just wonderful!” — Jonathan Savage

Honorable Mention

Sandra Lucas, Lucas Eilers Design Associates. Additional Recognition: Robert Dame Designs, Sims Luxury Builders, Haxel Landscaping, Sunshine Pools, Inc. 

Lucas Eilers Design Associates, Honorable Mention


Firm: Arc Three

Lead Architects: Bryson White, Tuan Mai

Additional Recognition: Ashby Collective

Judges’ Remarks

“Beautiful craftsmanship throughout this space. The white oak cabinetry is a beautiful color and adds continuity from space to space. You can tell that the use of materials and hardware, while subtle, was studied and carefully sought.” — Elizabeth Lawrence

“Restrained use of materials, detailed purposefully. Lots of mileage from a space with potential-limiting constraints.” — Daniel Kahan

Honorable Mention

Kelie Mayfield, MaRS Culture.

MaRS Culture, Honorable Mention


Firm: Benjamin Johnston Design

Lead Designer: Benjamin Johnston

Lead Architect: Marc Anderson

Additional Recognition: Greg Roffino, Benjamin Johnston Design; Moss Landscaping; Erin Stetzer Homes

Judges’ Remarks

“A bold homage to 1950s Regency glamour. This is really well done — each room seems carefully considered and decidedly theatrical, and it all works. The kitchen is a real stunner, with the wonderful gold millwork and stage-like presentation. The fluted columns to each side almost feel like they are curtains drawn open for a performance.” — Erik Evens

“A timeless gem with a dash of whimsy, this house offers many moments of playfulness wrapped in a tight box of refined expectations. The exterior is a tasteful interpretation attending to every detail with a reverence for the whole. Once inside, however, past the regal fluted foyer, any reverence starts to give way. Gilded kitchen cabinets mimic suspended gold ingots, while razzle-dazzle tilework in the primary bath reflects off a mirror-plated tub. The effect is beguiling but also entertaining, making this house the life of the party.” — Tyler Velten

“This house represents a cohesive architectural experience, from the exterior to the interior, within the Regency style. There’s a great amount of intention and detail that gives the house a sense of soul and a story that is authentic and timeless.” — Stan Dixon

Honorable Mention

Shawn Gottschalk, StudioMET Architects.

StudioMET Architects, Honorable Mention


Firm: Adams Architects

Lead Architects: Gail and Joe Adams

Judges’ Remarks

“I applaud this creative response to a very difficult site. The fact that the form of the house is broken down into discrete pavilions helps to blend it into the natural landscape and gives it a village-like feel.” — Erik Evens

“Great use of the site and building to nature.” — Stan Dixon

Honorable Mention

Gail and Joe Adams, Adams Architects.

Adams Architects, Honorable Mention


Firm: Paloma Contreras Design

Lead Designer: Paloma Contreras

Judge’s Remark

“A beautiful color palette for a seaside home, calming and clean. The stripe on the walls and ceilings is a subtle covering for a lot of angles; it makes them disappear into the background rather than becoming a distraction. The use of light, natural wood finishes throughout the room and on the bedside tables adds interest and depth while keeping the overall quality of the space. The pattern on the curtains is subtle, adding color and interest to the room but not distracting from the view.” — Elizabeth Lawrence

Honorable Mention

Courtnay Tartt Elias, Trisha Allen, Caroline Coulson, Creative Tonic Design. Additional Recognition: Tipler Group, Itschner Landscape Designs.

Creative Tonic Design, Honorable Mention


Firm: Nadia Palacios Residential Design

Lead Designer: Nadia Palacios Lauterbach

Additional Recognition: Jin Lee; Jose Perez, Cronin Builders

Judges’ Remarks

“Bold and successful use of color. Function and beauty come together.” — Stan Dixon

“Great details!” — Jonathan Savage

Honorable Mention

Hallie Henley Sims, Hallie Henley Design. Additional Recognition: Nadia Palacios Lauterbach, architect, Nadia Palacios Residential Design. Sugei Medina, Hallie Henley Design; Jenifer Cruz, Nadia Palacios Residential Design.

Hallie Henley Design, Honorable Mention


Firm: Sherrell Design Studio

Lead Designer: Sherrell Neal

Additional Recognition: Sosa Remodeling

Judge’s Remark

“This bathroom is elegant and sexy. I can hear the champagne cork flying, just looking at the photos!” — Jeffry Weisman

Honorable Mention

Amy Lyn Darrow, Atelier Interiors. Additional Recognition: Rueby Homes.

Atelier Interiors, Honorable Mention


Firm: Paloma Contreras Design

Lead Designer: Paloma Contreras

Judge’s Remark

“The original mural takes the cake and makes this nursery charming.” — Beth Webb

Honorable Mention

Tami Owen, Owen Group Interiors.

Owen Group Interiors, Honorable Mention


Firm: Benjamin Johnston Design

Lead Designer: Benjamin Johnston

Judge’s Remark

“You had me at the mirrored niche — what an effective, clever, and skillful tweaking of the interior architecture. You created elegant drama where there was none. The room is beautiful and inviting. Well done.” — Jeffry Weisman

Honorable Mention

Courtnay Tartt Elias, Trisha Allen, Creative Tonic Design. Additional Recognition: Architect Christopher Robertson, Robertson Design.

Creative Tonic Design, Honorable Mention


Firm: Kara Childress

Lead Designer: Kara Childress

Additional Recognition: Project manager, Thecla Cokinos, Kara Childress; Ryan Street Architects; Byer Builders

Judges’ Remarks

“Earthy and timeless … a generational design.” — Drew Davis

“Gorgeous use of natural materials and textures. This is a space I want to be in for a long while.” — Stan Dixon

Honorable Mention

Kara Childress, Hannah Prudhomme, Kara Childress.

Kata Childress, Honorable Mention

Firm: Katie Davis Design

Lead Designers: Katie Davis, Anna Shirley, Mary Kate Carl

Additional Recognition: Gonzalez Architects; Bryan Vaughn, construction

Judge’s Remark 

“Nice details and finishes — a warm room for a chat with a close group of friends.” — Drew Davis

Honorable Mention

Catherine Brooks Giuffre, CBG Interiors. Additional Recognition: Reagan & Andre Architecture, Kirksey Builders.

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CBG Interiors, Honorable Mention


Project: Uchiko

Firm:  Michael Hsu Office of Architecture

Lead Architect: Jay Colombo

Additional Recognition: Lead interior designer Tracie Gesch, Erin Hamilton, David Tucker, Verdi Landscape Architecture

Judge’s Remark

“In a crowded field, this project stands out. Layers of wood and stone perform harmoniously. The entry is crafted with precision, allowing each material its own identity while also reinforcing the whole. I love the interplay of the distinct stone paving patterns paired with heavy wood-batten paneling, anticipating the raw end-grain screen wall just past the host stand. The variety of detail and scale in this moment is memorable and impeccably crafted. I love the rustic furniture and delectable Calder-esque light fixtures.” — Tyler Velten

Honorable Mention

Gin Braverman, Gin Design Group, for MaKiin.

MaKiin, Gin Design Group, Honorable Mention

retail design

Project: Drip Nail Salon

Firm: Architangent

Lead Architects: Brinn Miracle, Nicholas Banks

Honorable Mention

Jesse Hager, Content Architecture, for Sudor Sauna Studio. Additional Recognition: Otilia Gonzalez, Katie Braddock-La Rose.

Sudor Sauna Studio, Content Architecture, Honorable Mention


Project: Remy on the Trails

Firm: MaRS Culture

Lead Architect: Kelie Mayfield

Additional Recognition: Kim Le, Daniela Gonzalez, Zoe Pittman, Alisha Gaubert, Erick Ragni, MaRS Culture; McNair Interests; The Preston Partnership

Judges’ Remarks

“The interiors here have an organic, almost handcrafted quality that make a smart, reinterpreted reference to mid-century modernism. The finishes are warm, textured, and inviting. ” — Erik Evens

“The spacious interior feels both grand and intimate, seamlessly balancing scale and materiality. Large expanses of glazing are balanced by the soft, almost fabric-like qualities of masonry. The furnishings are a complement to the architecture in both tone and sculptural refinement, yet no singular element attempts to distract from the residential warmth of this communal living room.” — Tyler Velten

Honorable Mention

Kelie Mayfield, MaRS Culture, for Four Leaf Towers.

Four Leaf Towers, MaRS Culture, Honorable Mention

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

Firm: Formation

Lead Designer: Philip LeBlanc

Interior Designer: Mandy LeBlanc

Additional Recognition: Rodolfo R. Fabre Design

Judge’s Remark

“Beautiful and classically modern with great respect for the original vision. This project exudes quality and a sense of timelessness within the modern tradition.” — Stan Dixon

Honorable Mention

Laura Carrera, Andres Utting, Brian Hagstrom, Urbano Architects.

Urbano Architects, Honorable Mention

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

Project: Mont Art House

Firm: Urbano Architects

Lead Designers: Laura Carrera, Andres Utting

Additional Recognition: Elizabeth Mann Interiors, The Deal Company, Urbano Investments

Judge’s Remark

“A loving, thoughtful restoration with a spare interior appropriate to its gallery function. Floating display walls reinforce the rhythms of the façade, while monolithic partitions divide the gallery without cluttering the space. Simplicity is a virtue, as this project succeeds with minimal impact to a charming building.” — Tyler Velten

Honorable Mention

Shelby Gonzales, Brax Easterwood, Easterwood Architects Studio, for 1874 Guest House (Hughes House).

1874 Guest House (Hughes House), Easterwood Architects Studio, Honorable Mention


Firm: Creative Tonic Design

Lead Designer: Courtnay Tartt Elias

Additional Recognition: Tipler Group, Itschner Landscape Designs

Judge’s Remark

“Versatility and use of space are at the forefront of this design. A lovely space to entertain or relax with family. . . so many options. I would live in that summer kitchen. The use of different materials on the furniture and native plants relate to the natural surroundings.” — Elizabeth Lawrence

Honorable Mention

Steve Henry, Gregory/Henry Landscapes.

Gregory/Henry Landscapes, Honorable Mention

commercial landscape design

Project: Habitat of Chrysalis Lake in Bridgeland

Firm: SWA

Lead Landscape Architect: Rhett Rentrop

Additional Recognition: Howard Hughes, Forney Construction, landscape art Gulf Coast Landscape

Judge’s Remark

“This is a fantastic development that takes on so many different design objectives; public waterfront trails, supporting pollinator populations, controlling stormwater runoff, and water and air quality, all combined and deftly designed in an elegant way.” — Drew Davis

Firm: Rottet Collection

Lead Designer/Architect: Lauren Rottet

Judge’s Remark

“I’m particularly drawn to the New Canaan Lounge Chair — I love the way it floats and feels substantial all at once. And, it feels timeless. The Petite Wood Float Chair is a gorgeous little thing — I’d love to take a seat there, too.” — Jeffry Weisman

Honorable Mention

Nina Magon, Nina Magon Studio, for Plumage Barstool.

Plumage Barstool, Nina Magon Studio, Honorable Mention

Project: Vacanza Collection for S. Harris

Firm: Benjamin Johnston Design

Lead Designer: Benjamin Johnston

Judge’s Remark

“Love the modern, bold trims from this collection. The colors are interesting, and the patterns feel modern but with a nod to classic motifs. They would turn an ordinary piece into the main focus of a room.” — Elizabeth Lawrence

Honorable Mention

Rusty Arena, Arena Design, for Azoic/Oralu/Strata.

Azoic/Oralu/Strata, Arena Design, Honorable Mention

Project: Fondazione for S. Harris

Firm: Benjamin Johnston Design

Lead Designers: Benjamin Johnston

Judge’s Remark

“This is a great riff on Fornasetti that feels perfect for today. Punchy and subtle at the same time.” — Jeffry Weisman

Honorable Mention

JoAnn Pou Richey, Image Designs, for Stanford Street Remodel.

Stanford Street Remodel, Image Designs, Honorable Mention

Firm: Rottet Collection

Lead Designer/Architect: Lauren Rottet

Judge’s Remark

“Fun way to bring task lighting to those spaces that are often hard to reach.” — Drew Davis

Honorable Mention

Lucinda Loya, Lucinda Loya Interiors, for Beach Ball Porcelain Slab for Moderno Porcelain Works.

Beach Ball Porcelain Slab for Moderno Porcelain Works, Lucinda Loya Interiors, Honorable Mention

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