It was all about making the house current while still keeping that traditional flair,” recalls designer Tiffany McKinzie of her Dallas client’s brief for a long-anticipated renovation. The homeowner, who loves nothing more than hosting her children and grandchildren, had lived in her Cape Cod-style house for several years and was ready to make some changes. “She toured new homes in the area and liked that they were light, bright and quiet,” the designer continues. “She wanted that contemporary feeling, just done with her collection of antiques.”
Working with Eskenasy Ferguson Architecture and builder Dan McKeithen, McKinzie devised a plan that increased living space without changing the home’s footprint. Renovations began right at the front door. “We needed to open the entry but we didn’t want to move the central stair,” says McKeithen, explaining that the stairway had likely been enclosed by a prior owner. Removing the wall created instant breathing room and the team integrated an airy steel-framed glass banister topped with a twisted-iron handrail the owner had discovered in Paris and kept in storage. “It’s a prominent feature when you walk in and we’re probably closer to the original flow of front-to-back,” continues McKeithen. “Plus, the design is transitional in style so it looks like the house has evolved,” adds McKinzie.
Other changes included reconfiguring the surrounding ground-floor rooms to improve both traffic flow and functionality. The new bedroom suite cleverly incorporates a former porch, and with its calming palette and spa-like bathroom, it’s as enveloping as it is convenient. Two small dens were also combined into one large living area with windows and doors to the porch and backyard. A shiplap ceiling and blue-and-white color palette now give the space “the Cape Cod feel the owner likes,” notes McKinzie. There is also a new “coffee chat corner,” the designer says, adding, “there are a lot of seating and eating places here.”
An adjacent breakfast room and kitchen also now benefit from more natural light. “Those areas, along with the dining room, were more about simple aesthetic changes,” McKinzie continues. Awash in white with gold accents, the updated kitchen reveals the homeowner’s playful spirit with antique majolica perched high atop a gilt bracket and a glowing pink chandelier.
But perhaps the home’s most heartwarming evolution is the conversion of the formal living room into a wood-paneled library for the homeowner’s collection of family heirlooms. A descendant of European nobility, she has books passed down through the generations, framed documents and even a few mining tools from one relative’s Gold Rush adventures. “She had snippets of inspiration images,” says McKinzie, recalling one photo of a paneled wall with a fireplace, mirror and paintings. “It was just enough for us to run with.”
To furnish the space, the designer began with the client’s existing antique rug and reupholstered important pieces like her camelback sofa. A sleek center table and a contemporary ceiling light bring a touch of modern edge. “It’s traditional but fresh,” she says of the room. With artifacts now easily at hand, it’s the perfect place for the homeowner to encourage her grandchildren’s interest in history. And when it’s bedtime, they have brand-new bedrooms to enjoy. “Their previous rooms were bold and bright, which they liked, so we gave them that same feeling but designed for more longevity,” McKinzie explains. The rooms still feature cheerful fabrics and wallpapers but now marry in new and antique pieces in ways that feel more grown up.
Family spaces dot every inch of the property, on which the design team also built a new rear garage incorporating a pool house with a second-story entertaining area, kitchenette and guest suite. Outdoors, landscape designer Matthew Murrey created borders surrounding the existing pool of boxwood, low-maintenance perennials and roses, among other updates. “There’s an easy transition from inside to outside now and all of the spaces relate,” says McKeithen, explaining the entire project focused on improving the original concepts. “We stayed true to what our client wanted,” adds McKinzie. “This renovation is about how her family uses the home and their comfort here—and there’s a sense of history that just makes it all feel good.”