The home of Jamaican-born Suzanne McFayden, a writer and philanthropist and first wife of American billionaire Robert F. Smith, entered into a collaboration with Paul Lamb and Ted Young of Paul Lamb Architects and interior designer Jennifer Vaughn Miller to transform a house she purchased in Austin, Texas, into a showpiece featured in Architectural Digest magazine. The house, originally built in the Brutalist concrete style, is located in the hills west of Austin, and following its re-do, now features the welcoming traits of a family home inspired by McFayden’s personality.
McFayden, who relished the experience of being the only woman at a table with the all-male architects, civil engineers, and surveyors who made up the reconstruction team and being in charge of decisions, began her project in 2015. Among her allies in the project were Lamb and Young, who, from the project’s start, understood her need to follow her own preferences after experiencing the end of a 28-year marriage, a divorce, and the raising of three now-adult children. As Lamb noted, the new design reflected McFayden’s “worldly, whip-smart” personality and her passion for art. She wanted a place that reflected her own character, he added.
McFayden herself states that her home is a showcase for her art collection and represents “a visual expression of how I feel about the world.” She notes the parallels between her life and “Girl with a Bamboo Earring” by Awol Erizku, saying that the piece is about “reclaiming things that you may not feel entitled to.” As a black woman, she added that, with her new home, she feels like she is finally making some room for herself in the world.
McFayden is a past student of Convent of Mercy Academy (Alpha), an all-girls high school in Kingston.
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When Jamaican-born writer and philanthropist Suzanne McFayden (@mcfayden19) purchased a Brutalist structure in the hills west of Austin, she worked with architects Paul Lamb and Ted Young of @paullambarchitects and interior designer Jennifer Vaughn Miller of @vaughnmillerstudio to help translate the 7,000-square-foot home into a singular vision of her own creativity. The team understood from the beginning McFayden’s need to cultivate her own preferences after a 26-year marriage and divorce and nearly two decades spent raising three now-grown children. “Suzanne is worldly, whip-smart, and passionate about art,” says Lamb. “She needed a fresh start and a place that reflected her own character.” To give the house’s weighty construction a warm and welcoming aesthetic, Lamb and Young maintained its visually arresting exterior walls, pine floors, and lofty wood-and-steel roof trusses. But they knocked down interior partitions to improve the flow and injected the space with a mix of unexpected materials that, in his words, “emphasized the raw and evocative power of the concrete shell, sometimes riffing on its roughness, sometimes contrasting it.” Above, artwork by @fireleibaez anchors a neutral-hued seating area in the living room. See more of the space through the link in our profile. Photo by @douglasfriedman; text by @jenfernand