Lauren Smith Ford:

“Repetition of a few elements can create that sense of calm in a place,” Lambert says. “I start by carefully selecting a handful of things, then I use them as a language throughout the space.”

At the Hotel San José, a minimalist Japan-meets-lush-Mexico vibe is delivered using sparse decor and an olive-green color palette with tomato-red accents, but it’s the warm, longleaf pine furniture that serves as the ultimate unifying force. In 1998, when Lambert set out to redesign the hotel after running it as a $30-a-night motel for three years (often working at the front desk herself), good design tools weren’t readily available. There wasn’t an influx of shelter magazines or specialty stores, and she wasn’t going to place a mass order of case goods from China for the forty rooms in her hotel, all of which had different floor plans. So she got together with Marfa-based furniture maker Jamey Garza and architect Bob Harris, from the celebrated San Antonio–based architectural firm Lake Flato, and walked through the rooms to envision designs for custom beds and tables. Built out of East Texas pine by Garza, the wooden furnishings are a simple and clean statement.