Don’t give me gray,” was the homeowner’s directive for the interiors of a 1980s Georgian-style residence she and her husband purchased on a tree-lined street in Dallas. “She told us her favorite colors were black and white,” recalls designer Mary Beth Wagner, who worked alongside co-designer Ashley Cathey to translate the owner’s wish into a plan that would bring high contrast with touches of color to the home’s formerly beige interiors while also embracing its original architecture. “It had beautiful proportions but needed to be opened up a bit to accommodate this young family of five,” Cathey explains.
To help with the renovation, the duo brought on residential designer Jerry L. Coleman. Like them, he didn’t flinch at the idea of embarking on a renovation. “The house was originally designed by Paul Turney, one of my favorite local architects,” says Coleman. “It’s not necessary to tear down a structure built to this high level.” Together, the team added new flooring and windows with larger panes, an iron stair rail in lieu of a more traditional wooden version, and a stone surround for the front door. Builder Blake Evenson—with project manager Charlie Williamson—also executed plans that opened up the kitchen and incorporated an adjacent family room, reconfigured the master bathroom and added a covered back patio for easier outdoor living. And, prompted by homes the wife had seen and loved in Atlanta and Charleston they coated the red brick façade with white paint, imparting a French feel appropriate for the Francophile couple.
With the renovations underway, Cathey and Wagner turned to the furnishings and to creating rooms that reflect the owners and their daughters. They also continued talking about color. “I’m just not a beige person,” notes the wife. So rather than tempering the high contrast of a black and white palette with other neutrals, the designers brought in colorful accents, including shades of lavender and blue. “These clients are very stylish and the husband is not afraid of purple, so the pops of color we chose really catered to their personalities,” says Cathey. And when it came to the furnishings, “I’m a classicist at heart,” adds the wife. “I wanted to invest in traditional furniture but things that have a certain edge.”
The entryway, one of the wife’s favorite spaces, is a case in point. Its black and white marble flooring features triangles in lieu of a traditional checkered pattern for a dramatic first impression, set off by an elegant, glossy Art Deco console. Other rooms followed suit with comparably bold choices, including the living room with its clean-lined interpretation of a tête-à-tête sofa, and the 1940s Hollywood-inspired dining room with its glamorous lacquered ceiling, graphic Kelly Wearstler wallpaper and minimalist paper lantern chandelier—“a conversation starter that also happens to emit beautiful light,” Wagner says. And, of course, there’s the library-turned-billiards room and bar area, where the designers upholstered the billiards table with an unexpected lavender cloth and instilled a Parisian vibe by painting walls a moody teal instead of the traditional navy—a nod to the husband’s love of the color blue. While there’s nothing black and white about this space, it plays into the high-contrast impact the wife requested while holding its own near the front entry. “We wanted it to be a jewel box,” says Wagner.
The designers carried the black and white scheme upstairs, where they interpreted it in a more serene way with the master bedroom’s decidedly more feminine Katie Ridder wallpaper and black-embroidered bedding. When the designers presented the wife with options for the sleeping quarters, she was immediately drawn to the masculine-feminine contrast of the existing bold canopy bed with the delicate look of the wallcovering and linens—and she especially embraced the idea of a seating area with large-scale chaises inviting the couple to truly enjoy their master suite. “We wanted our own space now that the girls are older,” says the wife. “We were never able to sit and enjoy our master bedroom in previous homes.”
Whether retreating to the master for relaxation or opening up their new bar and billiards space to entertain friends, the owners are taking full advantage of their renovated residence, which the design team ensured was geared perfectly toward their tastes and lifestyle. “They’re extremely happy here and use every inch of this house,” says Cathey. And, to be sure, there’s barely a hint of gray to be found.