Many of the houses in this new home’s Dallas neighborhood follow a scheme that situates a square dwelling in between front and rear yards of roughly equal size. But more than anything, these owners wanted to let in the light—which meant a side-yard design with more perimeter was in order. Years spent in a residence decorated in tones of gray and khaki had left the pair yearning for surroundings that felt “bright, cheerful and happy,” explains interior designer Kristen Woolery, a friend of the wife’s since grade school. And so, when the couple began working with Woolery, architect David Stocker and builder Robby Skinner on a custom home for themselves and their children, the first consideration was windows.
Rather than forming a traditional center-hall floor plan, Stocker worked with his project manager, Scott Nunn, to create a rectangular footprint with one short end facing the street and the long sides lined with tall windows. These overlook outdoor areas devised in collaboration with landscape designer Matthew Murrey, which include a courtyard and covered terrace. “Using a rectangle gave us the ability to pick up a ton of light and bring it deeper into the house, which helped us achieve bright and airy spaces,” Stocker explains.
A long gallery with handcrafted concrete paver floors and a high ceiling spanned by pecky cypress beams functions as the home’s main artery. Beginning in the two-story foyer, it passes a game room and adjacent lounge, and then a large family area, on its way to a formal dining room that awaits, like a perfectly framed picture, at the end of the passageway. Displaying traditional millwork alongside contemporary windows, the gallery offers a first glimpse of this abode’s unique mix of old and new elements—a signature for both Stocker and Woolery. “I imagine I have a gauge with an extremely traditional house on one side and an extremely modern house on the other,” Stocker says. “Here, the traditional forms pull the needle to one side, but the number of windows and light patterns bring it back to the middle; it’s always a matter of finding the right balance.”
Woolery also searched for a middle ground when marrying the traditional furniture style the homeowners love with lively bursts of color and pattern. “My passion is finding things that will stand the test of time without appearing dated,” she says. “I’m also not afraid to go for it with color. I grew up when chintz was popular and prints were bright and vibrant, and I still gravitate toward that.” The designer’s penchant for decorative motifs is evident in the dining room, which features a glossy white ceiling and custom, hand-painted wallpaper panels shimmering with tints of rose gold. These selections provide a fresh context for the 19th-century sideboard, mirror and chandelier, as well as a vintage pedestal table “that could have been in your grandmother’s house,” Woolery notes with a laugh.
From there, the combinations grow bolder. Turquoise millwork pairs with a tête-à-tête upholstered in an energetic orange Art Deco print in the game room. Spirited, red-striped swivel chairs and Technicolor embroidered stools appear in the family room. And, perhaps most daring of all, a classic bird-and-thistle-print wallpaper pairs with Jolly Rancher-green millwork in the wife’s office. “That move took some convincing,” Woolery recalls of the latter. “But I’ve found that pushing my clients beyond their comfort zones often leads to the most successful rooms.”
A few memorable design moments came from the couple’s short wish list, including the blue-lacquered walls and coffered ceiling of the Peacock Lounge, a room inspired by their visit to The Spectator Hotel’s bar in Charleston, South Carolina. However, most additions are a product of the faith they have in their friend and designer. “They didn’t come to me with a ton of inspiration photos,” Woolery shares, “but they trusted me enough to let me loose. I wanted the house to reflect them, and by knowing their personalities, I was able to achieve that without a lot of input on finishes, fabrics and furnishings.” The wife agrees: “It feels just as I imagined—but with brighter colors. And I love them. They make me happy, which is exactly what I wanted.”