This is a happy, comfortable house,” says designer Josh Pickering. “It lives formally but is used fully—and it has an optimistic air.” Designed as “a classical residence with European influences,” notes architect Larry E. Boerder, the light-filled Dallas abode also remains firmly rooted in the Texas landscape thanks to its local limestone and brick exterior, with windows meant to soak in the property’s lush landscape and pond. “We had built and loved our previous home and weren’t sure about building again, but the views here inspired us,” explains the wife, noting that Boerder—with project designer Daniel Heath—conceived the design to capture those verdant vistas. “We were drawn to Larry’s style of architecture and his clean, classic lines.”
Boerder’s traditional architecture is defined by symmetry, with carefully considered openings and moldings as well as curved vaulted ceilings that were intended to draw the eye upward. “We consider every surface important—walls, floors, ceilings, openings—and created a very detailed set of plans to ensure they all worked well together,” recalls the architect, who also served as the builder with project manager Dan Vanderzee. Because of his dual role, Boerder adds, “if something in the plans didn’t work, we were able to address it immediately.”
Taking cues from the architecture, Pickering tapped his own artistic abilities and painted watercolor elevations of the interiors depicting sample furnishings. And as it turned out, his artfully imagined spaces were exactly what the homeowners desired. “They loved them so much, we ran with them,” he says, noting several of the items he’d depicted in his renderings—the living room sconces and dining room etageres, for example—were then custom made locally especially for the home. “The minute I saw Josh’s watercolors, I knew I’d found the designer I wanted to work with,” adds the wife.
A soft peachy-apricot hue from a living room painting in the couple’s art collection further sparked Pickering’s imagination, inspiring the pale wool satin draperies in the dining and living rooms. Another influence was striking a balance that feels “formal, but not fussy,” the designer notes, achieved through such moves as modern lamps with a white plaster finish on the living room’s traditional painted and gilt console, or the dining chairs upholstered with distressed leather. Meanwhile, Pickering retained and reupholstered many of the clients’ existing furnishings, such as a pair of living room barrel chairs he covered in a patterned velvet and the family room swivel chairs redone in a dark chocolate leather. “A good project informs itself, so we started with the existing and custom pieces, and then brought in antiques,” he explains.
There were chance finds, too, including the scenic mural on the dining room walls. “I came across it one day and thought the soft, pastel colors in the leaves related to the view in the nearby living room,” says the designer. Given the large windows and doors, which leave narrow, vertical expanses of wall, Pickering knew the painted trees would lend themselves perfectly to the space. “I fell in love with it,” recalls the wife. “It captures the color palette and the feel of the house.” Pickering later pulled a pale blue shade—Sherwin-Williams’ North Star—from the mural to use in the adjacent butler’s pantry. But perhaps most charming is the marble mantel in the living room. “Josh remembered we were married at The Plaza in New York and he located an original mantel from the hotel,” the owner continues. Salvaged during renovations, “it’s a nice piece of history,” the designer adds.
Pickering continued to weave personal one-off touches throughout the interiors, from the entry console with its hidden drawer for mail to a breakfast room chandelier with shades he hand-painted himself. In the main bedroom suite, where a cozy bay window nook invites the owners to enjoy a quiet moment, Pickering flanked a bed he custom designed with cartouche-like mirrors. And upstairs in the husband’s paneled study, he cleverly transformed a vintage lacquer table into an upholstered ottoman. “This home speaks to my taste and style, but the inspiration was really how the clients would use it,” says the designer, whose creative bent and painterly eye proved to be perfect complements to the project. “His watercolors were exquisite—and I didn’t want to change a thing,” muses the wife.