The story we’re often told is that anyone can have a dream home with the right design team, budget or can of paint. But for the owners of this Fort Worth residence, it came after a lifetime of building, buying and decorating—and learning along the way what qualities they value most. They distilled those lessons into five criteria—comfort, quality, efficiency, easy upkeep and a strong indoor-outdoor connection—which they shared with builder David Lewis, designer Denise McGaha and architects Tricy Magadini and Bruce Bernbaum, whose project manager was Scott Taylor. This time around, the wife also envisioned a more contemporary design, which was a dramatic departure from the couple’s previous Spanish-style home. “We’d never had contemporary,” she recalls, “and I said to my husband, ‘Just let me do this once and see what you think.’”
To ease the transition from a traditional aesthetic, Magadini used clean-lined architecture she describes as “a soft sort of contemporary,” including hipped roofs and walls of glass and white limestone, all accented with touches of stucco and wood. “The limestone is a classic Texas material,” she explains, “but we did it here in a clean cut that gives it a more contemporary feel.” At the same time, the addition of the wood and all the glass also helps to make the spaces feel approachable and comfortable.
Inside the one-story, 4,200-square-foot residence, which opens onto expansive, hardscaped outdoor living areas accessible through tall glass doors, designer McGaha aimed to strike a similar balance. And because the owners had sold every stick of furniture with their previous house, the designer was starting from scratch. “Which was amazing,” McGaha notes, “but it also meant we had to immediately create a feeling for the home.” That overarching feeling, she decided, would be one of phenomenal openness, with rich textures and neutral colors imparting a sense of warmth. “I didn’t want the cold look you can get sometimes with this style of house,” the client says. “I call this contemporary, but it’s still very comfortable.”
To balance the family room’s white walls, McGaha added white-oak floors, leather panels that conceal hidden shelving on the fireplace wall, and furnishings in durable, organic materials—from velvets and wools to natural stones and French oak. “My client was a little nervous about white walls so I assured her we would provide other layers for warmth,” the designer explains. In the adjacent kitchen, the tactile qualities of a leathered-stone island top, Taj Mahal quartzite backsplash and countertops, and dark wood cabinetry help balance the space’s sleek lines.
With the interiors relatively spare, each furniture piece needed to have huge import. “The homeowner believes in furniture as art and really wanted pieces she’d never seen anywhere else,” McGaha says. A sculptural, gold-leaf dining table fit that bill, as did the glam, gold-footed chairs surrounding it. But the design detail the owner coveted most was the high-tech, ultra-luxe custom cabinetry by German maker Eggersmann, which conceals kitchen storage space and appliances behind touch-to-open panels in textured wood and mirrored glass. “I love the streamlined look and the way they’re just superb in their operation,” the wife explains.
While these details are striking in their simplicity, others are simply striking, including the powder bathroom’s Japanese rice-paper wallcovering, which is hand-painted with abstract fuchsia flowers appearing to drip down the walls. “Purple was the color of the day, and I was tasked with introducing it in a chic, fun and sophisticated way,” notes McGaha, who leaned into the challenge, commissioning custom-colored sconces to perfectly match the design. “It’s a small element some people won’t notice, but it was super important we got it right,” the designer adds. “That we did this project from the ground up in nine months and were still able to execute special things like this speaks to the wonderful artisans we employed.”
Magadini agrees. “The builder appreciates details and how they are drawn a certain way because the architect has a vision in mind,” she explains, adding: “It’s not just about building the house, it’s building this whole idea of what the house wants to be.” And in this case, the residence got its wish. “It actually ended up being my dream home,” the homeowner says, “after all these years.”