This California Home is a Lesson in Layering Textures

The Cliff House feels like a wonderful distillation of interiors designers and architects Austin Carrier and Alex Mutter-Rottmayer's refined maximalism aesthetic. The Hommeboys duo beautifully complements the expansive spaces of the wine country estate, incorporating statement-making styles, contrasting textures, and creating a luxe, lived-in feel. They have been tailoring their style over the past six years, pairing their interiors studio work with projects for the Rottmayer Design + Build family firm started by Alex’s father James Rottmayer. We have loved Sonoma-based married couple's expressive style for a while now—even recruiting Austin and Alex to highlight their favorite springtime styles—so we were excited to layer in a few of our pieces into the Cliff House. After giving us a tour, we had a chance to discuss their individual and collective career paths, the benefits of working with your spouse, and how fun, function, and comfort lie at the heart of their design process.

You both have taken a unique path into the interiors and furniture design world—tell us each about your start.

Austin: My start in the interiors and furniture design world was far before my studies in college but truly started flourishing during my undergraduate degree. I got my degree in Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Furniture design at Pratt Institute and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Out of college, I worked for a custom furniture studio specializing in bentwood, and we did everything from Cherner Chairs to one-off high-end studio pieces and architectural installations. We moved to California in 2015 to help Alex's father with his design/build firm and slowly take over as he was trying to retire. The company focused mainly on the architectural design and build aspects of the home, and we were very interested in materials and interiors. We pushed our interiors into the practice over the years, and we are now a full-service design studio specializing in custom luxury homes and hospitality commercial spaces such as restaurants and wineries. 

It is a balancing act sharing your creative pursuits with your spouse, and how do you two make time and space away from work? 

Hommeboys is the second business we have run together, so we have had lots of practice on this front. In a nutshell, we do a lot of communicating, and over the years, some of it has actually sunken in. We would say the pro is that we are really in tune with each other. We can recognize when the other is stressed out, and rather than add to it, we can figure out ways to alleviate the stress. We can also critique each other's work without taking it personally, which has come with years and years of practice. The con might be that we don't know when to stop "working" and we can "talk shop" all day and all night. It is definitely hard to make time and space away from work because we LOVE what we do so much that sometimes it doesn't feel like "work." That being said, we enjoy getting out of the house and spending time with friends going to our favorite restaurant, or dancing and letting it all out. 

You've previously noted your design style as refined maximalism; how does that aesthetic play out in your own home? 

Our overall design aesthetic is definitely refined maximalism. We love to make a space fun and interesting, but more importantly, we want it to be functional and effective. Our home is FUNKY! We mean it—it's a crazy explosion of textures, colors, and shapes. We used to be all maximalism all day but realized that style could get too busy, and your ideas can get lost. By trying things out repeatedly in our own spaces, we have refined back the overwhelming features and highlighted the ideas that really stuck. It elevated our space while still being quirky, funky, and fun. Design is fun, and many people forget that because they, designers, can take themselves way too seriously. We are off the cuff and like to be silly—it's another reason we named ourselves Hommeboys. We don't take ourselves too seriously, and our space is a reminder of that. 

 

What brings you both joy at home, and how do you want people to feel when they walk into your place? 

We want people to have two reactions: the first is complete jaw-dropping amazement, and the second is comfort. We have seen so many designs where the spaces look incredible with so much put into them, but they are not useful at the end of the day, and feel a bit like you shouldn't be in them. Comfort is our number one priority because you've failed if people can not feel comfortable in their spaces. At the end of the day, these spaces are used, lived in, and dirtied; you don't want people to be afraid to messy up a room because of its look. What brings us joy in our home is just that—the comfort. We LOVE being in our own space, and so do our friends and family. We aren't scared of you eating on our velvet sofa or dancing on the white oak coffee table with spindly legs—have fun and let loose. Enjoy the pieces and spaces you've created or curated.

What brings you both joy at home, and how do you want people to feel when they walk into your place? 

We want people to have two reactions: the first is complete jaw-dropping amazement, and the second is comfort. We have seen so many designs where the spaces look incredible with so much put into them, but they are not useful at the end of the day, and feel a bit like you shouldn't be in them. Comfort is our number one priority because you've failed if people can not feel comfortable in their spaces. At the end of the day, these spaces are used, lived in, and dirtied; you don't want people to be afraid to messy up a room because of its look. What brings us joy in our home is just that—the comfort. We LOVE being in our own space, and so do our friends and family. We aren't scared of you eating on our velvet sofa or dancing on the white oak coffee table with spindly legs—have fun and let loose. Enjoy the pieces and spaces you've created or curated. 

We're beyond excited for summer. What are your three go-to tips for transitioning your space into the summer months? 

We don't typically change up our space with the seasons—there are lots of people out there that flip their houses on their heads when it comes to this. We find that our space transitions with time rather than the seasons. We are constantly evolving our own space, but one thing that does come to light is our outdoor patios. Once it gets warmer, we practically spend all of our time out there and barely any time inside. Our outdoor rugs and poufs end up covering most of our lawn, and now that the pandemic is over, we will be having lots of get-togethers with friends. 

How did you strike a balance between function and aesthetics in your living space? 

We have a strict rule in our household—everything, we mean everything has to be functional. Austin tends to be attracted to more aesthetic and less functional things, while Alex prioritizes functionality that is also aesthetically pleasing. We only live in a 1200 square foot home so, there is limited space which means we have to make sure things are functional. Essentially we don't have pieces of furniture that we are not scared of using, and unfortunately, we find this not to be the case with so many people. "Don't sit in that chair. It's too white or too expensive." If you find yourself saying this, then that room or your home has a problem. We love unique things and fill our spaces with them, don't let the uniqueness rule out its function. Everything has a function; use it or lose it!

 

Personal trinkets and touches make a room—tell us about your favorite pieces in your bedroom? 

Oh boy, this question is a bit controversial for us. Austin has so many trinkets on his nightstand while Alex derogatorily calls them knickknacks. As interior designers, we have amassed quite a few collections, but we keep a lot of them in storage, so when picking accents to complement a room, we let the room talk and tell us what it needs. We want a relaxing and less chaotic vibe in our bedroom, so we would have to say one of our favorite pieces that speak to this is a white porcelain planter with human feet as the base from the very talented Carmen Ellis Studio. 

A few Lulu and Georgia pieces are layered into the Glen Ellen Cliff House space, is there one statement maker you still find yourself fawning over? 

One of our favorite pieces at the Cliff House is the Lemieux et Cie by Moment Kidira Rug in the main living room. It is a nod to the traditional Tuareg rugs from Morocco made of reed and leather, but its modern luxe feel, elevated design, and overall durability of jute and leather ground the neutral motifs throughout the room. 

For someone who is just getting started in this interior design space, what is one piece of advice you would share with them? 

Nothing is permanent in your space. You can rearrange it and flip it on its head, and we highly recommend you do that again and again till you get it just right. When you take the time to experience the room and put words to the feelings it invokes, it will help you figure out exactly what is missing in the space. Also, don't be afraid of color, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. You will fail to achieve what was in your head so often, learn from it, find what you'd done wrong and what you did right, and next time do it better! 

 

What are the three Instagram accounts we need to be following right now, ones that are a good source of inspiration? 

Our suggestions would be @thelocalproject@kellybehunstudio, and @studiolifestyle_.

Tell us what's next for you two and Hommeboys?

We just finished up our Glen Ellen Cliff House wine country estate project, which was our biggest project to date. We currently have a few other residences in the works and one that has broken ground: Marine Layer Winery in Healdsburg, Zia Tile studio in LA, and a few other fun projects that we can't share just yet! We will also be launching a line of studio furniture debuting with our Cliff House project, so stay tuned!

 

 

Photography provided by Aust + Alex, Hommeboys and Adam Potts Photography