Paul and Jane Austin reduce space and update their lifestyle.
When you spend more than two decades in a 6,000-square-foot home, it’s easy to accumulate … and accumulate. Just ask Paul and Jane Austin, who spent many years curating a selection of decor, furniture and goods for their traditional Nichols Hills home. When the couple recently decided to move to a 3,000-square-foot Grandmark condo, they knew downsizing wouldn’t be a small feat.
“People asked me, ‘How are you able to decide what to bring?’” Jane Austin recalled. “Well, I didn’t bring anything. I just said, ‘This is a completely different redo. I’m starting over.’”
After encouraging children and grandchildren to take items off their hands, the Austins called on their longtime interior designer and friend Keven Calonkey Carl for the “redo.” Not only did they trust her professionally, they also knew the process would be easier with someone who has known them personally for 48 years. The relationship began when Jane Austin purchased a trundle bed at Mister Robert Furniture in Norman, where Carl was working at the time (and of which Carl serves as president today). Carl was just out of college and eager to take on new clients. Jane Austin soon discovered they worked well together, with communication being key. She said she appreciates how Carl always takes her calls and listens to her ideas.
“Listening is something that I’ve tried to do with all my clients,” Carl explained. “I need to find out what they want to get my direction of which way to go — because I won’t be living here, and I want each home to be different. I don’t duplicate the same [designs], and so listening is a big part of it.”
Throughout the years, Carl has assisted the Austins with many design projects, including their previous home of 22 years. That home was fashioned in an elegant French country style, which complements the house’s architecture with lots of tassels and fringe details. Grandmark has a modern edge, so Carl steered the Austins toward new and fresh interiors to match.
“We are traditional people, and we went from a very traditional house to a more — I hate to say ‘contemporary,’ but certainly a much more modern [home] than we had,” Paul Austin said, admitting he was initially suspicious of such a change. “[Now] I do like it. It has a completely different feel.”
The condo features large windows in the kitchen, dining and living areas, so furniture was arranged to maximize the natural light, with taller pieces placed on interior walls. The Austins added a balcony to the layout, and they love having a personal outdoor space. Soft colors make the rooms feel inviting, while the Austins’ art collection adds color and character to the home.
“We have a neutral palette for the background, and the floors are not too dark,” Carl said, “and then to have original, colorful abstract artwork — to me, that helps bring the area to life.”
In addition to the light and airy interiors, the Austins say they are also enjoying a more relaxed lifestyle.
“I’ve had people ask me, ‘How do you like living in a condominium?’ and I said, ‘Honestly, both Jane and I love it,’” Paul Austin said. “I would say to folks who are in their later years, it’s something to certainly consider — not only in terms of downsizing, but the elimination of having to take care of pools, yards, lights on the outside of the house, etc. It’s really simplified our lives.”
The original Mister Robert Furniture trundle bed lives on, serving another Austin family home. Almost everything within the Grandmark condo is brand new, yet it already feels like a well-established home.
“It’s so simple and bright and cheery,” Jane Austin said. “We love it.”