Our main goal was to showcase the couple’s collection of art from Kenya that’s very near and dear to their hearts,” says designer Morgan Farrow, whose Dallas clients with two teenagers had amassed a series of paintings by renowned Kenyan artist and family friend Timothy Brooke. “They wanted a platform that would allow these pieces to really shine.” Originally designed by architect of record Enrique Montenegro and design principal Mark D. Hoesterey, with builder Mark Danuser of Tatum Brown Custom Homes, the residence was well suited with gallery-like spaces to display these artworks. “Its scale and proportion are reminiscent of a classical aesthetic,” Hoesterey explains, “but without the fussy ornamentation.” It also has a strong indoor-outdoor connection, with plenty of natural light. So Farrow devised a plan using the paintings as her point of departure, keeping in mind the active lifestyle of a family with teens. “We wanted the home to be functional and livable,” adds the wife, “but also fun and modern, with some cool elements.”
As far as placing the art, “it was a process of elimination,” says the designer. “I looked at colors and whether the scale and sizing were appropriate for the walls.” Once they were hung, Farrow evaluated the pieces as a way to direct the overall palette and set the tone of each space. The works by Brooke–known for his series of pieces featured on the film set of Out of Africa–depict natural scenes brought to life through his use of “a fresh combination of colors,” observes Farrow. “To me, they’re both earthy and vibrant.” For balance, the designer established the home’s color palette as relatively neutral, in shades of cream, rich caramel browns, navy and gray-blue. She also kept the home’s previous owners’ rugs, featuring a subtle geometric pattern that bespeaks the architecture’s spare trim, in place as the foundation for the dining, living and great rooms.
Turning to the furniture, while the owners desired a change from the darker interiors of their previous French Provincial-style house, they “didn’t want overly stark or uncomfortable pieces,” explains Farrow, who translated that request into approachable, family-friendly furnishings with rich, masculine touches. Hence, the formal living room–inspired by a landscape painting by Brooke above the mantel–houses aqua armchairs with nailhead detailing and a golden garden stool, all repurposed from a previous residence; an architectural leather sofa with distressed tufting and a contrasting chrome frame; and acrylic shadow boxes containing a selection of beaded tribal necklaces that add texture while also underscoring the home’s global vibe. Meanwhile, warm metal accents appear in the form of a low gold-frame coffee table, a glass and gold-rod column floor lamp and a clean-lined torch chandelier.
Elsewhere, the vibe becomes more casual, such as in the great room where the teens and their friends typically hang out. Distinct from the living room’s more formal crisp-white coffers, this space features a ceiling with wood beams that impart a sense of warmth, while two Brooke paintings with chartreuse backgrounds inject a pop of color. The nearby kitchen is another welcoming gathering spot for family and friends. Complete with a large island that doubles as a hub for doing homework and a spacious breakfast banquette that pairs well with a weathered table as a nod to the overhead beams, it’s also one of the wife’s favorite spaces. “I love that it’s crisp and all white but in materials that are durable,” she explains. “If I open a bottle of red wine and it leaves a ring on the island countertop, I can wait and remove the stain the next morning.” Materials also take center stage in the neighboring wine room, which features a backlit blue-agate wall.
The home’s sub-Saharan sensibility reappears upstairs in the serene master bedroom. Here, a pair of statement rattan chairs and a canopy bed with rush detailing on its headboard and footboard all recall a grassy savanna. Likewise, the scale of these elements helps to accentuate the room’s height and elevate the design. “I really wanted to use the volume of that popped-up ceiling,” says Farrow, “and the chairs helped bridge the height of the ceiling to the canopy.” Framed photographs the family has captured in Kenya over the years also cover a wall in an organized, inviting grid.
For the designer, working within the constraints of the owners’ art throughout the home was a satisfying challenge, allowing her to bring consistency to the residence while also giving each room a unique personality. “The pieces each tell a different story,” she explains, “but their stories are from the same book aesthetically.” From the owners’ perspective, they couldn’t be happier to finally showcase their prizedÂ art collection, in a home brought to life by a designer who understood their tastes and goals so wholeheartedly. “Morgan and I have very similar styles,” notes the wife, “and I loved everything she recommended along the way.”