It takes more than a modicum of confidence to put a personal twist on an architectural style as iconic as Mediterranean Revival. But that’s exactly what a Dallas couple planned to do when they commissioned a fresh, glamorous take on the classic for their tree-shaded lot in University Park. “We knew we wanted as many arches as possible, stucco, a real clay tile roof and copper gutters—all the things that make for a true Mediterranean design,” the wife says, “but we also knew we wanted it to be very light and bright, with as many windows as possible and no hallways or unnecessary walls.”
To mold the timeless style to fit with their modern sensibilities, the couple turned first to builder Robert Elliott’s in-house residential designer, Brent Slocum, who considered both their young children and their love of entertaining when designing a floor plan merging casual, family-friendly spaces with more formal rooms. An elegant living room and illuminated onyx bar at the front of the house fill nearly one-quarter of the main floor; the rest is devoted to a grand entry, a formal dining room and an open-plan cooking, dining and living space. Upstairs, there’s a central game room amid four elegant bedroom suites.
For Slocum, putting a 21st-century spin on the historical style was a delicate operation. “It is possible to accidentally ruin a classical home by attempting to modernize it too much,” he says. In this case, his safeguards were archetypal Mediterranean elements, including balconies with iron railings, stained exposed rafter tails—“a subtle but important detail for this project,” he notes—and custom cast-stone accents, including masonry arches encasing each of the structure’s massive steel exterior doors. With such striking bones in place, the homeowners set about selecting finishes to complement the home’s unique style—and their taste for sparkle and shine. But one glance at the many possibilities found in a local tile showroom inspired a change of course. “There were so many options and so many ways to put it together that I said, ‘I don’t think I can do this without help,’ ” the wife recalls.
Enter interior designer Leslie Jenkins, along with her lead designer and project manager, Haley Powell, who quickly tuned in to their clients’ glamorous preferences and set about developing spaces honoring both them and the home’s aesthetic roots. “The Mediterranean style can definitely go much more casual with textures and lots of hand-painted tiles and stronger colors—but that’s not what they wanted,” Jenkins says. “The wife likes anything pink and feminine and wanted the living and dining rooms to have a formal and very soft feel, with pastels and lighter colors.”
With that in mind, Mediterranean tiles in a creamy hue were selected for the living room fireplace surround. In the dining room, a neutral paint color subdues the plaster ceiling’s arabesque pattern. And in both rooms, clean-lined new furnishings with plenty of shimmer mingle with a few elegant antiques—a Biedermeier chair here, a gilded French mirror there. “The homeowners are in their 30s and wanted some pieces that were a little edgier,” Jenkins says of selections that include acrylic klismos dining chairs and a white-lacquered coffee table crisscrossed with brass inlays. “But I encourage clients to let us incorporate a few antiques to create a curated feel and a sense of sophistication.”
In the family room, Jenkins and Powell relied on classic Mediterranean details—including wooden ceiling beams and a plaster fireplace with a hand-painted-tile hearth—to lend that visual weight, though the look is more casual. “The homeowners wanted the house to be very livable for their children, and we were mindful of that in everything we did,” Jenkins says. Hence, a majority of the upholstered furnishings in the back of the residence feature indoor-outdoor fabrics, including the family room’s inviting sofas and armchairs, and the adjacent breakfast nook’s custom banquette.
Though the home’s mood shifts from refined to relaxed to downright darling in the children’s bedrooms, accents of brass, crystal and decorative tile unify the interiors with a hint of shine—from the brass-accented iron stair railing and brass-trimmed La Cornue kitchen range, to the mother-of-pearl-tiled master bathroom backsplash and custom living room chandelier channeling Old Hollywood glamour. “There are a lot of Mediterranean-style residences in Beverly Hills and this design is reminiscent of that—and so are the homeowners,” Jenkins says. “The house truly does depict them.”