When a young Midland couple decided to relocate to Fort Worth two years ago, they looked for a house that would accommodate their growing family. They settled on a 40-year-old, red brick number with white columns in the city’s lush Westover Hills area. “We loved the neighborhood, and the house had everything we wanted—a swimming pool, a big kitchen, four bedrooms and a nice-sized playroom, plus it wouldn’t take much work to get it looking the way we wanted,” says the wife. There was only one problem: The homeowners, both in their early 30s, have much more contemporary tastes than their Georgian-inspired abode suggested.
To give it a modern edge, they sought the help of designer James McInroe, whose team included Marcia Curtis-Hornsby and Katie Whitis, as well as contractor Matthew Adams. The homeowners were fans of McInroe’s edgy color schemes and sleek midcentury modern look and had previously purchased furniture from his showroom for their former residence. “I really wanted the house to feel like James’ style. Basically, we let him do a complete turnkey job,” says the wife.
The challenge was to make the house’s traditional styling feel more contemporary while retaining its overall classic feel. Outside, McInroe painted the columns and brick a sophisticated shade of taupe and installed a larger, Regency-inspired front door with glass panes and steel mullions for a dash of glamour. A few other minor reconstructive changes were also made—the bathrooms were updated and a smoked glass bar was added in the great room, but most of the transformation came courtesy of subtle changes in the home’s color palette and furniture selection.
For those who recognize McInroe for his use of saturated hues, his decision to use varying shades of gray on the walls, paneling, woodwork and mantels throughout the house might seem uncharacteristically reserved. “I wanted something neutral to dignify the bones of the architecture,” he explains. Instead, his signature love of color makes an appearance in the furniture and accessories in a stunning array of orange, gold, brown, black, white, and the occasional chartreuse pillow. Juxtapositions of textures and materials shake things up: sleek white patent leather chairs next to a polished burl wood table; a pair of richly figured cactus wood benches sitting atop a David Hicks geometric rug; a rough driftwood sculpture contrasting with a shiny chrome table and polished brass lamps.
The family spends most of its time in the great room and kitchen, which are open to one another. “The great room really sold us on the house,” says the wife. “We love to entertain, and I wanted the room to be fun. James designed the bar and game area on a cocktail napkin in one after- noon.” Because of the room’s large size, McInroe created a framework of seating areas that are formally balanced with pairs of sofas, chairs and tables. “It’s such a large space that without structure, you’d get lost in the room,” he says.
With the kitchen in full view of the main living areas, it needed to seamlessly tie in. “We wanted it to look more dignified and less kitchen-y,” says McInroe, who painted the cabinets gray and replaced the granite backsplash with stainless steel.
The whole renovation project only took four months from start to fin- ish. “We came in on budget and under deadline,” says the wife. “I tend to be much more in control, but I was happy to get out of my box on this one.” The husband, who had not seen the house since the day they bought it, came in after everything was put together for a dramatic unveiling. The verdict? Says the wife: “He loved it!”