Southern Living Idea House 2011

This year, Ballard teamed up with Southern Living to outfit several stunning spaces in their new 2011 Idea House at Escondido in Horseshoe Bay, Texas. Hugging an inlet of LBJ Lake, the Mediterranean-inspired villa uses walls of warm, rough-hewn Texas sandstone and weathered wood to embrace the spectacular natural surroundings. Indoor and outdoor rooms flow from one to the other in an effortless blending of open living spaces.

“This year’s Idea House is all about relaxed living by the water,” explains Texas designer, Marcus Mohon, the decorating force behind all of the home’s interior and exterior spaces. “So I used natural textures in both the finishes and in the decorating.”

Marcus created beautiful watercolor renderings to help us visualize the space. With drawings in hand, he visited Ballard months before the house was built to select the products to be featured exclusively in the Casita (see the guesthouse pictured below), and in the loggia and terraces surrounding the pool.



q&a with marcus mohon

Marcus Mohon is the managing principal of Mohon-Imber Interiors, an Austin-based firm specializing in residential and hospitality interiors that are warm, elegant and approachable. Marcus and his business partner, noted architect Michael G. Imber, designed and decorated this year’s Southern Living Idea House at Escondido in Horseshoe Bay, Texas. The firm’s work has been featured in Western Interiors, Ville & Casali, and Coastal Living.Ballard Designs: Every Southern Living Idea House begins with a big idea. Tell us about this year’s concept and how you brought it to life.Marcus Mohon: Since the property is situated on an inlet to LBJ Lake, this year’s Idea House is all about relaxed living by the water. I hate the phrase “bring the outside in,” because it’s been beaten to death. This house was not about bringing the outside in, but about bringing the inside out. We wanted a home that was elegantly livable while still relating to the lake, so creating great outdoor living spaces was key.BD: The house reminds us of a Tuscan villa.

MM: I would call it Mediterranean with Southern European influences. We wanted it to feel like it could be dropped down in the South of France or Southern Italy where the living is relaxed and easy. Generally, the climate in the Austin area is very similar to the Mediterranean.

BD: You used several Ballard pieces in the kitchen and dining area. Why those?

MM: The kitchen/dining room area is where everyone ends up hanging out, so you need enough comfortable places to sit. We used a pair of Brockton benches in the dining room. And this great little metal hexagonal occasional table (Padova) next to them. I loved the upholstered benches because they soften the dining room and make it feel more livable. Their also great seating for a party. The little table is just convenient. It’s not in the way, but it holds everything you need. They both add so much atmosphere. We put a Suzanne Kasler linen on the bench. It’s a beautiful fabric, so it goes back to the idea of elegant living, but it’s also a perfect natural texture for this setting.

BD: You used lots of natural textures and finishes throughout the house.

MM: I used natural fibers and materials wherever I could. And if we used synthetic fabrics outside, we wanted them to look so good that they could pass for natural fibers. In my mind, the greenest products are the ones that have been used for thousands of years. For building, we went with plaster and stone rather than sheetrock, and wood floors, because they all endure.

For fabrics, I wanted natural fibers like linens and cotton velvets. They’re classic, timeless materials that are beautiful in any setting.

BD: You used Ballard products exclusively for the Casita and for the terrace and loggia surrounding the pool.

MM: The Casita is the home’s guesthouse and it’s a cozy 400 square feet. If we had put a traditional bed in there, it would have been just a bedroom. We chose the Ballard daybeds because they could function as beds and as sofas, turning the room into a flexible space where it could be a living/lounge area or a bedroom.

Everything we chose for the Casita had a strong graphic profile—the Sofia Chair, the Daybeds, the Aiden Serving Table with its dark cement top and “X” stretchers, the Eldridge Pendant—even the ceramic garden seat. We could have upholstered everything in muslin and the painted the walls white and it still would have worked because of the strong profiles and shapes Ballard does.

The texture and fabric choices are all icing on the cake. You spend a lot of time making a cake, but the icing is the first thing everyone sees. We used Ballard Sunbrella® fabrics inside, too, because the Casita is poolside and wanted everything to be durable. People have been going crazy over the burlap panels with the crewelwork because they embody what this house is all about—elegant, relaxed living by the lake.

People love the finish on the candle sconces. And I think for the price point, they’re great. They look authentic and add a touch of old world Italian elegance.

BD: Even though the space is small, you made it feel like there’s plenty of room.

MM: Since it is such a small space, I divided it up into four zones depending on how they might be used throughout the day. Then I picked things that spoke to me viscerally to fit each part. If I saw something I loved, I made it work. Two things to remember when you’re decorating: #1—Don’t get hung up on is whether something you do is right or wrong according to someone else’s external rules and #2—don’t waste time asking yourself what other people are doing right now. The basic questions to start with are: “Do you love it?” and “Do you think it works with everything else?”

BD: The house rambles and wraps around a series of walled courtyards, terraces and gardens.

MM: Yes, they form the backdrop for the interior of the house—they are your view. Those outdoor spaces are really exterior rooms, so they’re furnished with the same approach we used for the interior rooms.

For example, when you go out to the pool, you’re not just going to a pool. You’re going to an outdoor living space. I didn’t want to the furniture to look like poolside equipment. That’s why we have upholstered chaises, and lots of throw pillows and outdoor panels.

BD: You chose Suzanne Kasler’s new all-weather wicker for the pergola just outside the family room.

MM: The finish is fantastic. A lot of all-weather wicker can look “plastic-y” and tends to be really, really dark brown or golden tan. Suzanne’s has a great taupe color that can shift to any environment. It can go warm or it can go cool. It’s versatile and really beautiful at the same time. Versatile sometimes can be bland and boring, but this is not. And it also sits like real furniture, so you can ease right out to it from the family room—essentially doubling the size of your room.

BD: For the loggia, you went with the Capri natural rattan chairs. What drew you to that collection?

MM: They sit like a club chair, so they’re comfortable enough for relaxing by the fireplace. And I also didn’t want all the outdoor furniture to look exactly alike. The natural rattan is a great texture and scale for the space. They’re also simple in form, so they add a youthful, modern feeling. That’s one of the things I like about Ballard—it’s transitional, so it’s not your grandmother’s traditional wicker furniture.

BD: Talk about the fabrics you used in the outdoor spaces.

MM: A lot of stone we used for the house’s exterior is warm in tone, so we accented with warm creams and yellows. The fabrics we chose for the pillows went with all the colors in the stone without matching it perfectly. As a result, it’s looks fresh and sunny, but with the sand colored upholstery, it’s very cool at the same time—not heavy on the eye.

I love the stripes and the batik fabric together and there’s a little bit of taupe in there, too. Even though we had a ton of outdoor spaces, I didn’t feel the need to go with tons of different pillows. I wanted two fabrics that look great together, so you can combine them in any way without worrying about where they go. With all the different shapes and sizes—squares, neck rolls and bolsters—you can combine them all in any combination and they all work.

BD: Before the Idea House, you hadn’t really worked with Ballard Designs. Now that you’ve experienced it for yourself, what do you think?

MM: What really surprised me about Ballard were the finishes. They obviously have taken a lot of time to develop them. We have a Ballard light fixture above the kitchen island and it’s amazing. The iron finish on it is really good.

The finish can make or break a piece. And to get great finishes at good price points is really encouraging. This house may become somebody’s permanent residence, but there’s a good chance it might be someone’s second home. And with the way Ballard does things, it doesn’t look like you compromised.

meet the designer

Marcus MohonMarcus is the managing principal of Mohon-Imber Interiors, a firm specializing in residential and hospitality interiors that are gracefully elegant, warmly approachable and distinctly geometric. With projects coast to coast, Mohon-Imber is based in Austin, where the South tumbles into the Southwest. The Texas location provides a unique perspective for interiors that combine the urban and rural, the elegant and humble, the refined and rough-hewned, affording the opportunity to impose beautiful comfort on genuine haciendas, urban high-rises, and coastal cabins.Marcus and his business partner, noted architect Michael G. Imber, established Mohon-Imber Interiors in 2002, based on a shared philosophy that architecture, decoration, and furnishings should work seamlessly together. The firm’s work has been featured regionally, nationally, and internationally in publications such as Western Interiors, Ville & Casali, and Coastal Living.A native Texan, Marcus has an economics degree from Baylor University. After working for an international relief organization, he studied interior design at the University of Texas at Austin. Because of his love for the Texas Hill Country, Marcus stayed in Austin to begin his career and lives there now with his wife, Autumn, and their four children.

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply

    Maryann Godeanu

    October 27, 2011

    I’m so grateful to live in my dream home at this stage of my life; however I can’t help but admire very much the beautiful designs of Marcus Mohon. I do have the magazine, and I enjoy every minute of seeing the beautifully decorated rooms.

  2. Reply

    Ballard Designs

    October 4, 2011

    The bedside lamps should be about 2/3 the height of the end table. This is just a rule of thumb and is not etched in stone.
    The Style Studio Team

  3. Reply


    September 17, 2011

    Absolutely beautiful. . . but, I can’t imagine sitting outside on this patio without some covering from our hot Texas sun. Even an umbrella would hardly be enough protection.

  4. Reply

    Nelda Jackson

    September 12, 2011

    Just had a spinal fusion! If I won this house, I would crawl from Florida to Texas to live in the world’s most perfect house!Thank you all for your talent and creativity! Blessings to all involved with this masterpiece!

  5. Reply


    September 9, 2011

    Hill Country, Ballard products and Southern Living. Classic and inviting. Would love to visit the house. Where are the directions?

  6. Reply

    Rhonda Perdue

    September 4, 2011

    Can you tell me the color of the mattress cover on the 2 daybeds in the Casita room? Also, what is the color of the paint in the same room?
    Visited the house in August-so beautiful!

  7. Reply

    KayKay M.

    August 31, 2011

    Love the house; however, wouldn’t want to live in TX.

  8. Reply

    Mary Peck

    August 31, 2011

    How can you lose with both SL and Ballard’s? Wonderful house.

  9. Reply


    August 30, 2011

    I really love the glicee horse print.

  10. Reply

    cassy preston

    August 30, 2011

    everything is beautiful….inside and out……BUT the blue trim on the house did not work… was as if WHOMEVER just picked their favorite color and used it.

  11. Reply

    Virginia Collins

    August 7, 2011

    Loved the color scheme, and would appreciate it if I could get the brand of paint and color used in the living room of the casita.

    Much Thanks,


  12. Reply


    August 5, 2011

    Transports me back to the Tuscan countryside…timeless design and a slice of heaven.

  13. Reply

    Ballard Designs

    August 5, 2011

    Kari: We do have a taupe umbrella that may work well. As you probably know the teak outdoor furniture will eventually turn gray over time. We also think you could add some red pillows for a “pop” of color.
    The Style Studio Team

  14. Reply


    August 4, 2011

    My Husband and I built one of the Southern Living Homes almost twenty years ago, and have enjoyed every minute of it. I love Ballard Designs, and have used their designs to redocorate several areas of my home this year. This home is fabulous, love the simple, but elegant design.

  15. Reply

    Bev Baliko

    August 4, 2011

    What is the beautiful blue color used on the walls of the guesthouse? Love it all!

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      August 5, 2011

      The color is Waterscape SW6470 from Sherwin Williams.

  16. Reply

    Lisa Manfredy

    August 4, 2011

    Beautiful, the prefect color blue. This is my dream room.

  17. Reply


    August 4, 2011

    What color blue is that in the picture with the isabella daybed amd the horse picture?

  18. Reply


    August 2, 2011

    I would love to know the paint color/mfg. used for the walls…the “seafoam” color. I have been searching forever for a color like this for my dining and living room and haven’t been able to find the right color.

    Thank you!

  19. Reply

    Joan Powell

    August 1, 2011

    Building (ourselves) a French style home on the shore of Lake Ontario, NY (les petit bijou sur la lac..the little jewel on the lake)…in about a year we’ll be ready to decorate…looking to your designs for my complete inspiration. This is it!!!

  20. Reply

    Lois Harrington

    July 26, 2011

    This is just fabulous! Hope it becomes mine.Lois

  21. Reply

    peg nelson

    July 23, 2011

    Ballard is and has been for years my FAVORITE! Love, love, love it.

  22. Reply

    Shirley Sorenson

    July 21, 2011

    Absolutely my dream! Beautiful!

  23. Reply

    Karen Trost

    July 16, 2011

    We just visited the 2011 Idea House yesterday on our way back from a Horseshoe Bay getaway. It is truly stunning!

  24. Reply

    Admirer in Oklahoma

    July 16, 2011

    Love this house, perfect blend of rustic, serene, and chic! Are the draperies the “essential Ballard panels” with stencils or are these available yet?

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      July 19, 2011

      The drapery panels are called Burlap Crewel Damask Collection and it will be available in the August/September catalog.

  25. Reply


    July 15, 2011

    What an absolutely perfect combination – Ballard Designs and Southern Living!! My husband and I just bought a new home and those drapes would be PERFECT!! Where are they available for sale??

  26. Reply


    July 14, 2011

    The lighting fixture I’m looking for is actually shown on the Q and A page. Where can I get this? Is it Ballard Designs. I’m looking for a light and would love to have this one.

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      July 15, 2011

      Amanda: The Chandelier is called the Villard de Lans Chandelier and will be available in the August/September Catalog and on our website the last week in July.
      The Style Studio Team

  27. Reply


    July 14, 2011

    Beautiful and Calming! I love the driftwood mirror…is that available?

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      July 15, 2011

      Dear Sharon: The mirror will be available in our August/September Catalog and available online the last week in July.
      The Style Studio Team

  28. Reply


    July 14, 2011

    We built a Southern Living featured home several years ago and I drooled over the way it was decorated. I used a decorator for several rooms but it doesn’t compare to the “Ballard” style. Love you guys!!!

  29. Reply


    July 13, 2011

    What color is the blue on the exterior doors? I love that look!

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      July 14, 2011

      Courtney: The Blue Exterior Trim is called Cobalt Blue and is from Marvin Windows. That was the inspiration for the colors within the house.
      The Style Studio Team

  30. Reply


    July 12, 2011

    The house looks beautiful! I’m trying to get my house to look like it is out of a magazine.

    Where can I get the horse print??

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      July 13, 2011

      Loreli: The print is going to be available in our August 2011 catalog. You should be able to view it online the last week in July.
      The Style Studio Team

  31. Reply


    July 11, 2011

    Its beautiful the southern living love the look!

  32. Reply

    Tena Hensley

    July 11, 2011

    Two of my very favorites teamed up together. What can I expect but perfection!

  33. Reply

    Lauren J

    July 10, 2011

    Love the Capri Collection! Immediately tried to order, but very disappointed that the love seat is no longer available 🙁

  34. Reply

    mary a. wilson

    July 10, 2011

    I love your lovely designs and very intrigued with how you decorate each setting.

  35. Reply

    Pam Charter

    July 10, 2011

    Ballard always does a room so well down to smallest detail. I have several Ballard pieces in my home and they are so easy to build upon. A great value for those who want to decorate their home on a budget.

  36. Reply

    bob vinton

    July 10, 2011

    reallly realllllly nice

  37. Reply

    J Pusateri

    July 9, 2011

    Would love to have a room just like that. Gorgoes!!!!! Great designer.

  38. Reply

    Frannie O

    July 9, 2011

    Beautiful…we are ready for a redo!

  39. Reply

    Jeannine Ryan

    July 9, 2011

    The house is just beautiful; so peaceful and uplifting. I have always admired Ballard for their design savvy and ability to stay current with the popular trends while staying grounded in timeless elegance. You are an inspiration to me and I’m so glad I am on your mailing list!

  40. Reply

    Cyndi Kistler

    July 8, 2011

    Thank you for using the beloved Austin Stone in this house, it makes it feel like “home”!!

  41. Reply

    Barb Wall

    July 8, 2011

    Horseshoe Bay is beautiful!!! I love this house–could be very happy there!!!

  42. Reply

    Virginia Visel

    July 8, 2011

    I love the warmth and the feeling that the place has history, plus the tranquility of the restful colors.

  43. Reply


    July 8, 2011

    I love the simplicity, I’m ready to move in!

  44. Reply

    Tara Villani

    July 8, 2011

    Love the blend of styles! Simple, rustic and classic at the same time….I’d NEVER tire of sitting out here! Bravo!!!

  45. Reply

    Martha Coulter

    July 8, 2011

    Understated elegance, comfortable living, Couldn’t find anything I’d like to change. Job Well done on all levels.

  46. Reply

    Anne Daly

    July 8, 2011

    How beautiful and relaxing looking home. My house would love a make over by your terrific team.

  47. Reply

    Elizabeth Lally

    July 8, 2011

    I could look at these images for hours. So inspirational!

  48. Reply

    Tammy Ballard

    July 8, 2011

    I can feel all my troubles floating away just looking at it.

  49. Reply

    Denise Doran

    July 8, 2011

    This is looks beautiful, comfortable and most important, inviting. I absolutely love it.

  50. Reply


    July 8, 2011

    Omgosh! So beautiful! I {love} everything….Willow House with Nanci Burt

  51. Reply

    daryl dechaine

    July 8, 2011

    peace and serenity is the cornerstone of this home featured….team, please come and update my shambles of a home!

  52. Reply

    Jill Collins

    July 8, 2011

    What a dream come true that would be!

  53. Reply


    July 8, 2011


  54. Reply


    July 8, 2011

    Love it!! Love it!! Come decorate! I’m ready!!

  55. Reply

    Maria Martin

    July 8, 2011

    Bottle of Wine and company is all that is needed to make this house a Home.

  56. Reply

    Catherine Falgoust

    July 8, 2011

    The ultimate rustic elegance in an awesome Texas location. Beautiful and inspiring designs of comfortable refinement leaving this Texas resident full of envy!

  57. Reply

    Peggy Ritter

    July 8, 2011

    Love the room. waiting to see if I might be the lucky winner. Could use new furniture badly.

  58. Reply


    July 7, 2011

    Great decorating. I’d love you to decorate my new house located on an island.

  59. Reply

    Martha Long

    July 7, 2011


  60. Reply


    July 7, 2011

    What a great team, Ballard and Southern Living.

  61. Reply

    Marilyn Rondeau

    July 7, 2011

    I never thoughtI’d leave New England BUT to live in this house….WoW my bags arepacked

  62. Reply

    Tammy Hill

    July 7, 2011

    Too cute…:)

  63. Reply

    Always Nesting

    July 7, 2011

    The just-right touches of cozy elegance makes me want to copy (the greatest form of flattery) the look and enjoy a staycation. *sigh*

  64. Reply

    Carol Horton

    July 7, 2011

    I toured the home over the holiday weekend. It is more magnificent than the pictures show! Great job.

  65. Reply

    Patricia Eckton

    July 7, 2011

    The stone work is wonderful…would love to have a home like this one!

  66. Reply

    Jodi DeMots

    July 7, 2011

    Love it!

  67. Reply

    Emily Brown

    July 7, 2011

    how can we get those same drapery panels? I don’t see them on the website.

  68. Reply


    July 7, 2011

    When I looked at the blue print of the 2011 Idea House it simply took my breath away. Being a long time admirer of Ballard Design, I cannot wait to see the house “come to life.” The perfect combination where comfort meets chic!

  69. Reply

    Steven Blaser

    July 7, 2011

    Great house. I wish my home looked 1/2 as good. Let’s give it a try. All I need to to decorate with Southern Living furnature.

  70. Reply

    Dee Frey

    July 7, 2011

    I would love to have some southern charm here in Jersey. Beautiful!

  71. Reply

    Paige Pentecost

    July 7, 2011

    Enchanting to imagine living there with so much light and beauty.

  72. Reply

    Mary Alice

    July 7, 2011

    Refreshing simplicity!

  73. Reply


    July 7, 2011

    Many folks can design and decorate to achieve a beautiful LOOK, but this FEELS just right too… That’s Talent.

  74. Reply

    susie blumenfeld

    July 7, 2011

    amazing. looks like a vacation home
    would love it to be mine

  75. Reply

    Daryle Geyer

    July 7, 2011

    We live on Lake LBJ and have seen it being built. It looks like the
    designer put a lot of personality in it. There are many homes here on
    the lake that are designer homes and I can’t wait to see this one.

  76. Reply


    July 7, 2011


  77. Reply


    July 7, 2011

    Love it! When can you come decorate my home?

  78. Reply

    Gina Grey

    July 7, 2011

    absolutly wonderful

  79. Reply

    Kathy Russell

    July 7, 2011

    Dear Ballard –

    We live in TX and I can’t figure out where this home is located. It may be near us – I’m not sure. We’re north of Dallas. Is there an option to get directions to the home on your web site? Thank you. Kathy

  80. Reply

    Barbara Wynston

    July 7, 2011

    I want to sit right there with a glass of wine!

  81. Reply

    Elaine Harrington

    July 7, 2011

    Loved that the room, though heavy stone, was not filled with things on the walls and endless knick knacks..just simple with classic lines. Congrats on letting the stone refine the design, keeping things natural, and yet very just want to sit and enjoy!

  82. Reply

    Matilda Villa

    July 7, 2011

    Love to move in. Love your designs.

  83. Reply


    July 7, 2011

    I appreciated the warmth and relaxed feeling put across by the design style. We have a hectic life and the idea put across that a room can be restful and warm is a jewel to be appreciated. Thank you for your ideas of southern living.

  84. Reply

    carole folmer

    July 7, 2011

    I love all the things you have and on line and catalog. Having a home designed by you all would be dream come true.

  85. Reply

    when can I move in!!!

    July 7, 2011

    I this look..I love Ballard..I have the perfect house
    to decorate..that is for sure..
    I refer this site to all of my clients..I am in realesate so all new
    clients need decorating tips..I refer this site to everyone…

  86. Reply

    Pat Ness

    July 7, 2011

    Houses in this area are beautiful. We just returned last night from Horseshoe Bay which is about 45 Minutes from Austin, Tx. We are looking to purchase a home here. Great job!

  87. Reply

    Dee McCarthy

    July 7, 2011

    The house is exquisite!It is definitely comfortable, yet refined. The absolute perfect marriage of style and design.

  88. Reply

    Michaelene Harris

    July 7, 2011

    Very nice! I would love a home designed by your team. Lovely!!!

  89. Reply

    Christine Deaver

    July 7, 2011

    What’s not to love?! When can I move in????

  90. Reply

    Marilyn Wheatley

    July 7, 2011

    What a beautiful house! I love it! So relaxing yet elegant.

  91. Reply

    Laura Michaelson

    July 7, 2011

    Magnificent home! Luxury Ballard design and classy Southern Living all the way!!!.

  92. Reply

    Patty Johnson

    July 7, 2011

    This house is incredible! Love everything about it! My dreamhouse!!!