I used her fashion sense as inspiration for how to design the home,” says designer Gonzalo Bueno, referring to the wife in a couple who asked him to help reimagine the interiors of their new home in the Highland Park neighborhood of Dallas. “She’s totally glamorous and exotic.” Indeed, inspired by fashion designers such as Valentino, the wife invariably cuts an elegantly tailored silhouette. So for their residence, Bueno surmised correctly that a certain level of glamour was in order.
Bueno and the wife were childhood friends who had grown up together in Monterrey, Mexico, so the designer has watched her sense of style evolve over time. When the couple bought their first home in the same Dallas neighborhood years before, Bueno was a natural choice to design that residence. Now with four children aged 13 to 18, the family desired a new home with more space, including a playroom, backyard and pool, and once again they turned to Bueno for his expertise.
Highland Park, developed in the early 1900s, is no stranger to high style. In fact, it is the work of renowned city planners Wilbur David Cook–the famous landscape designer of Beverly Hills–and George E. Kessler. For their second residence in the neighborhood, the couple were drawn to a grand home with an elegant Mediterranean facade, “which we kept mostly the same,” the wife says. The interior revealed a glamorous aesthetic, with moldings and paneled walls, yet it still needed to reflect the couple’s personalities and display their art. “When we travel, we enjoy acquiring artworks from different cultures,” the husband explains. With this in mind, it was imperative Bueno conjure a home that was not only glamorous but also tasteful.
The first order of business, he decided, was to blanket the spaces in a warm, lustrous shade of white. “The clients wanted pieces with a lot of personality,” he explains. “I felt I needed a clean canvas to accommodate the eclectic furniture and art.” Alterations to the interior were made with the help of the husband, who was involved in the day-to-day construction process in collaboration with builder Raul Mendoza of Mendoza Brothers 13. Major changes included updating all the replaces from cast stone to marble, remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms and relocating a stairway that originally began its climb right next to the kitchen range.
The wife was also closely involved with the home’s interior design, and she had predilections for sumptuous finishes and materials such as lacquer, gold and crystal, Bueno says. He worked with the wife’s tastes by avoiding Persian carpets, too many gilded furniture pieces and plush damasks, instead outfitting the home in silks and velvets devoid of pattern. In the den, practical choices such as a sectional covered in a cotton blend offer resilience. However, even in this space, the design standard remains high with gold sconces, custom bronze grillwork designed by Bueno and antique cloisonne urns. Also atypical of the mostly pattern-free home is the master bedroom, which came enveloped in hand-painted Gracie wallpaper. “We debated whether to take it down,” Bueno says. “But it was so pretty and perfectly placed around the room that we selected all the pieces in the space based on it.”
The home’s furnishings, says the wife, “are eclectic because they are from various periods and styles yet are classic and timeless.” While the dining room features a contemporary custom table designed by Bueno, Dakota Jackson chairs and a modern chain-mail chandelier, it also includes an antique French mirror, an Italian Renaissance reproduction mantel and a 1940s French sideboard. Similarly, the formal living room showcases an Italianate table by Ebanista and a tailored contemporary sofa flanked by stag-leg gueridon tables topped with Brutalist lamps.
Throughout the residence, Bueno balanced the gold, crystal and glossy surfaces with black. “Black accents tie it all together,” he says, noting the shade appears on the mantel and pedestals in the dining room, various lighting pieces throughout the house and the piano, the gueridons’ stone tops and a chest in the formal living room. Brighter splashes of color are largely reserved for artworks, many by Latin artists.
The completed design is a home that exudes glamour while remaining stylishly tailored and elegantly refined–thanks not only to Bueno’s shared understanding of the homeowners’ ideas and vision but also to the inherent beauty of the house itself. “When this project came along, we knew that we would have a great result due to all the knowledge I had gained from the homeowners’ first Dallas residence,” Bueno says. “But the house itself also had such broad potential, which contributed to the successful outcome.”