Sonoma-based design duo Austin Carrier and Alex Mutter-Rottmayer have made a name for themselves creating interiors that seamlessly blend the elegant and sleek with the eclectic.
Their work has been featured in Elle Décor, Sunset, Real Simple and The New York Times’ T magazine. Their 2019 wedding at Scribe Winery in Sonoma, which, of course, they designed themselves, made the pages of Martha Stewart Living. They’ve collaborated with Crate & Barrel, CB2 and Anthropologie among other notable home decor brands and have over 50,000 followers on Instagram, where they are known as “the Hommeboys.” Among their recent projects is the new Marine Layer Wines tasting room in Healdsburg.
The recipe to the couple’s interior design success?
“We just spend all of our time doing it,” says Mutter-Rottmayer. “We talk about it late at night. We’ll be cooking and chatting about design. It’s just taking a stab at it that many times you get to a point where it’s perfect.”
“We’ve kind of used our own place (an apartment in Sonoma and a property in Glen Ellen) as a test kitchen for things we wouldn’t want to test out on our clients just yet. We’ve gone through a lot of trial and error,” adds Carrier.
One such error was an attempt at creating an accent wall — a design trend the couple usually stays away from — using charred Shou Sugi Ban wood planks. They found the design didn’t create a cohesive look. ‘We were…” says Carrier, searching for the words. “Guilty!” adds Mutter-Rottmayer.
‘We were guilty of doing that,” Carrier laughs. So they painted the rest of the room a dark color to make it blend with the charred wood planks. Now they love the room.
In a phone interview, the couple finish each other’s sentences. When asked to identify themselves before speaking, for the sake of clarity, Mutter-Rottmayer says, “You don’t need to be accurate if you’re quoting either of us.” “It’s fine to mix up the quotes (between us). It makes no difference to us,” adds Carrier. Mutter-Rottmayer sums it up: “We share a brain.”
A current of joy fuels Carrier and Mutter-Rottmayer’s artistic process —“we are a passionate, addicted and crazy-in-love design duo,” says their website. The couple also brings years of experience to each project: Carrier studied design at the Art Institute of Chicago and then designed furniture for Pure Timber, a company that produces bendable wood furniture and products; Mutter-Rottmayer was practically raised on a construction site — his family owns and operates Rottmayer Design + Build in Glen Ellen.
Carrier and Mutter-Rottmayer moved to Sonoma County seven years ago to join the Rottmayer family business and are now involved in every step of the home build process, “from the initial design and project consultation to plans, construction, cabinetry, interior finishes and furniture,” according to the Rottmayer Design + Build website.
The design duo likes to layer textures and materials in the spaces they design, while keeping things minimal, refined and “effortlessly chic.” But their signature style also involves whimsical elements.
“We want the space to evoke some playfulness,” says Mutter-Rottmayer. “And some…” “Emotion,” adds Carrier.
The two designers use different colors, textures and materials to create a particular feeling in a room. For example, metals add a “flashy, swanky vibe,” while “plush things” and “little nooks” lends a “cozy vibe,” says Mutter-Rottmayer. “The layering of textures (creates) this sense of feeling very cozy and comfortable,” adds Carrier.
Whether they are designing a room, a home or a business interior, one question is always at the forefront of the process: “How do we make this less boring?” This quest to make spaces more interesting and fun led the couple to launch their own line of bespoke furniture, which they create in their Glen Ellen cabinetry workshop. The new line, Haus of Hommeboys, will include custom pieces, like a leather-topped plaster desk with a fluted edge, that will infuse rooms with new life.
Another secret to interior design success, says Carrier and Mutter-Rottmayer, is the ability to plan out a space; to see its potential and think creatively about how to optimize both function and form. The design duo will sometimes suggest that clients stay away from costly expansions to their homes and instead focus on making existing, smaller spaces more beautiful.
“You can go into big homes where the rooms are abnormally large,” says Carrier. “So much money (is spent) on volumizing the space and the rooms. Our rooms are very intimate. That helps create a warm feeling versus (a space) feeling very big and very cold.”
But there’s no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to interior design, emphasizes Mutter-Rottmayer. The way people like to use different spaces in their homes is very personal, adds Carrier.
“We like to dance on our coffee tables. So we need a stable base (for our furniture). But that’s just us,” laughs Mutter-Rottmayer.