A worldly touchPublished 5:01am Sunday, June 23, 2013
Whitney Velasco-Aznar knows style.
As a former marketing executive with Hormel Foods Corp., Velasco-Aznar has toured the globe, gathered souvenirs and absorbed interior design inspiration along the way. Those ideas came in handy when Velasco-Aznar added a worldly touch to a well-known Austin home.
Many longtime residents know the white house with red awnings at 211 Second St. NW as the longtime office and home of Belita Schindler, a retired interior designer. Before that, many older residents went to the house when John Hockett ran his successful photography studio to get high school portraits taken in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
The more than 100-year-old house has a long history in Austin, but Velasco-Aznar found ways to modernize it. Over a three-month period in 2011, Velasco-Aznar oversaw a massive renovation project that transformed the first floor of the former business from an empty space to a dazzling abode.
“It’s a big improvement,” she said.
Velasco-Aznar turned an L-shaped showroom into two rooms and a first-floor bathroom — much-needed as the only bathrooms were on the second floor — while improving other parts of the house, as well.
Velasco-Aznar knew she wanted a home office for the times when she had to take work home, so she designed a smaller room to suit her needs.
She kept her office sparse, taking cues from the Asian influences she picked up while living overseas. She also painted the walls a dark blue, noting the color had a peaceful influence on her work.
“I went minimalistic and kind of calming,” she said.
That blue spread into the first-floor living room, where Velasco-Aznar organized several couches, a table, a TV and more for a space meant to entertain company. She had a bathroom built into the center of the building, providing a practical solution to the house.
Velasco-Aznar made her mark elsewhere throughout the home.
She added a flatscreen TV to the kitchen to follow the food and cooking shows she enjoys, along with granite countertops.
She also restored the original fireplace next to the dining room, first built in 1915, to add a touch of country to the modern wonder she created.
Yet her proudest addition is a $45,000 sound system. With more than 20,000 Internet radio stations from all over the world, Velasco-Aznar can listen to music from anywhere in the three-bedroom, three bath home, even out on the second-story deck.
“It’s the best part of the house,” Velasco-Aznar said.
Though she is putting it on the market, Velasco-Aznar takes pride in the home she remade. She left her mark on a piece of Austin history, after all.