Designer Cynthia Collins knew precisely how to interpret her Dallas clients’ vision of a home with classic French design that would work for their lively family of five. “They wanted it to be welcoming for their family and friends,” she explains, “but equally important were attention to detail and quality pieces to ground each space.” Working with senior design associate Rachel Richardson, Collins devised a sophisticated scheme around French antiques, European trims and finishes on the floors and walls, as well as a few custom pieces–and anchored each room with something special to lend a sense of history to the newly constructed home.
The residents met architect Christy Goode Blumenfeld through their builder, Mark Danuser. While collaborating with the clients, Blumenfeld gleaned that they were drawn to European architecture and classic design, such as the French doors, leaded glass, smooth stucco and transom windows that would help bring their new residence to life. “I think of this house as exemplifying practical luxury,” the architect notes. “I really wanted it to feel elegant, yet appropriate for this family.”
Blumenfeld’s informed approach to classic design contributed to a sense of coziness that perfectly suited her clients. “I like to play with scale,” the architect explains. “For example, you can create a sense of arrival by compressing space through an entry and then expanding it, which feels more inviting.” She adopted that strategy with a front entrance that “is relative to the size of our bodies,” she says, but then opens to a sweeping stairway with a steel-and-aged-brass railing.
The floor plan itself unfolded according to the residents and their lifestyle. To promote togetherness, a playroom opens to a family room with multiple seating areas for reading, playing games and watching television.
In response to the wife’s desire for an indoor-outdoor connection, Blumenfeld also designed a porch off the kitchen that allows light to filter into the main living areas. “It was very important to merge inside with outside,” says the wife, who now enjoys direct views from the kitchen windows of her three children frolicking in the pool or the yard, which was designed by landscape architect Bill Bibb of Archiverde Landscape Architects and his project manager, Brian McDonald.
Blumenfeld and the designers worked together to amplify the home’s European flair, often drawing inspiration from Collins’ travels abroad. A photo taken in Paris sparked the idea for a wood-inlay border on the living room floor, while an icy-blue lacquered ceiling adds a dose of European glamour to the dining room. A Parisian floor influenced the wood-inlay compass design on the ceiling in the masculine bar, which the husband suggested creating using reclaimed walnut and mahogany.
The home’s classic bones made an ideal backdrop for a mix of antiques and transitional pieces. “Plus,” says the wife, “we were able to express ourselves through modern touches, whether a fun pillow, a colorful lamp or whimsical wallpaper.” Collins carefully selected classic furnishings to maintain a sophisticated look. In the master bedroom, for example, a French antique writing desk mingles with a pair of ivory bedside tables with brass-wrap details and a glossy finish. In the family room, a solid French antique commode is sturdy enough to withstand the occasional bounce of a child’s ball. And in the adjacent kitchen — which, by contrast, is white and more contemporary–the large Caesarstone island counter reflects light from the bay window, while rattan stools offer plentiful seating.
The wife’s love of color and pattern is most apparent in the living room, where panels featuring a hand-painted orange de Gournay wallpaper with subtle touches of lavender serve as the focal point. A French desk in the corner complements the paper with its custom lavender leather top embossed with a silver-leaf Greek key pattern, which was selected by the couple’s 3-year-old daughter. Family-focused impressions appear elsewhere in the room as well, such as where two-inch hearts are incorporated into the leaded-glass transoms. “The symbolism comes from Ephesians 3:17-19, that our home would be rooted and established in love,” the wife says.
In accordance with the plan, the house now serves as the venue for a myriad of celebrations, from birthday parties to barbecues and everything in between. Says Collins, “The clients really wanted the home to stand the test of time.” Anchored by centuries-old staples, the result is sure to suit their lifestyle for years to come.