Second marriages often necessitate a blending of two established households, but when the husband and wife are each coming from large estates, and both are avid art collectors, a more comprehensive approach is often in order. For one such Fort Worth couple, each widowed and in their 80s, the decision to build a new house that they could together call their own could not be complete without the guidance of their longtime mutual friends: interior designer Joseph Minton and the late architect Jack Schutts. “I knew all of them, which made it more interesting,” Minton says, noting that he had decorated the wife’s previous house with her first husband, and Minton’s business partner had designed the husband’s previous home with his first wife.
This new project, which was to be among Schutts’ last, “was a dream job as far as the team we assembled,” Minton says. The home’s clean U-shaped layout set around a central courtyard and pool, with a soaring barrel-vaulted entry hall and sleek metal-framed windows, speaks to Schutts’ prowess with the modern international style. Minton then stepped in to handle the interior architecture, dressing the home in such classical details as 10-foot-high columns set under a triglyph-ornamented frieze, a library swathed in cerused quarter-sawn white-oak paneling, and hand-painted silk wallcovering in the master bedroom. “This project was definitely a mix of different styles coming together,” builder Joseph Gearheart says. “Every phase of the job went through everyone’s filter.”
Minton and Schutts designed wide galleries to connect the three wings of the house, which not only provide ample space for artwork but easy circulation for guests at the couple’s many events and parties, with the columns delineating the large public rooms that come off those galleries. “They had to have the columns in order to break up the spaces yet make them relate to each other,” says Minton, who had to convince his clients by rigging up huge cardboard tubes during construction so that they could get a sense of what the columns would look like. Gearheart’s crew installed 16 columns in all, made from Lueders limestone and purchased through Continental Cut Stone, hollowing them out to lessen the load on the floor structure.
The project, however, had to start with a few decisions on the couple’s part, especially the wife, who had to choose what she would take with her from a house significantly larger than the one they were building on the site of her late mother’s home, which was demolished. Providing a balance of comfort, beauty and art was a top priority. “By this stage in my life, I had collected a lot,” she says, from works by Picasso and noted Texas artists the likes of James Blake, Bill Bomar and Kelly Fearing to precious oriental sculptures of jade, porcelain and rose quartz. The wife also took with her a granite bar top, which her late husband had embedded with crowns of the world—silver coins collected from different countries—and which now resides in the great room’s bar area. “All of the pieces that were important to us now have pride of place in the new home,” says the wife.
Minton then helped the owners edit the furnishings down to just their favorites. “We had to decide what to use, what not to use, and where to use it,” he says. “There’s very little new furniture—if any—in the new house. Everything was either re-covered or repurposed.” Because the wife loves the combination of yellow, green and coral, the designer found a Lee Jofa floral print that captured all of those hues—and that pattern would dictate the color scheme throughout the house. The great room, for example, emphasizes the greens and yellows, while the dining room is suffused with coral, and the master bedroom is dressed with a hand-painted yellow silk, with all of the furnishings re-covered to complement the new palette. After living with the same furniture for 46 years, the wife now feels as if it all seems new again. “The textures of the fabrics and the colors give it new meaning,” she says.
Outside the house, landscape designer Ange Harvey laid out an elegant courtyard and pool that form the heart of the house. “All of the main rooms look out onto this space, so we wanted it to be a beautiful focal point,” Harvey says. The pool, which the wife uses almost daily, is capped with a low fountain wall surrounded by plantings. “It punctuates the end of the pool and creates a soothing sound inside the house when the doors or windows are open,” Harvey says. The limestone terrace and loggia also allow parties to spill outside from the home’s galleries and adjoining rooms. And though the wife approved razing her mother’s house to make way for the new home, she did ask Harvey to preserve several live oak and red oak trees that her mother once enjoyed—like so many other elements in this house, a fitting blend of old and new.