Years ago, a Dallas couple bought a Highland Park residence where they raised their children, hosted events and celebrated holidays. But two decades later, their needs had changed, so they decided to renovate—and it couldn’t have happened at a more auspicious time. During the course of the project, both the couple’s children got engaged, imbuing the redesign with an even greater sense of purpose and joy. It became more than a renovation—the house was being readied to greet this family’s next generation. “It made more sense to invest in our home,” recalls the wife. “We’d done some cosmetic remodeling, but it was time to make a complete change for it to be worth the effort.”
Certain areas of the house simply weren’t utilized, so residential designer Daniel Heath helped reconfigure the layout to make it feel larger without changing the footprint. “It was a case of space either wasted or not organized as well as it could be for the clients and the way they lived,” Heath explains. With builder Brad Ellerman also onboard, Heath first set his sights on the second floor, doubling the size of the master suite by joining it to the guest flat above the garage to form sizable master closets for the couple. He also repositioned a door in their bedroom to access a porch he screened in for catching the breeze on cool days. “Our client simply never had the chance to make this house her own,” says Heath. With the upstairs sorted, he turned his attention downstairs, transforming an awkward bar area joining the living room, kitchen and dining room into an oval vestibule for improved circulation, especially during parties. Heath also installed a glass-and-iron laylight in the two-story entry’s ceiling and reimagined a pool bath off the family room as a powder bathroom and a proper bar now in better proximity to the veranda.
For the interiors, the couple turned to designer Josh Pickering. As with the architectural plan, Pickering showcased expertise at working with existing elements by incorporating a few of the clients’ best furnishings—while upgrading everything else along the way. “We brought in many antiques, new items and custom pieces,” says the designer, who masterfully reimagined those items he did opt to keep. Near the living room fireplace, for example, he added four swivel chairs in place of two sofas, redesigning each sofa frame for use in an adjacent seating area and the master bedroom. “Instead of throwing away, I like to refurbish when things have merit,” he explains. “It gives me something personal to the client to build from.” That goal was also top of mind upstairs in the master suite. “There was a four-poster bed with a heavy canopy, and I decided to keep the bed but get rid of the canopy because it sat so low,” he recalls. “We had new finials made in a neoclassical style and added the bed curtain, which dressed up yet simplified the look while giving it more height.”
Similarly clever maneuvers dot the rest of the house. In the family room, for example, Pickering installed a wall of vintage giltwood brackets, topping them with more contemporary pottery by Ryan J. Greenheck for juxtaposition. And when unable to find a chandelier with the right scale and proportion for the living room, Pickering custom-designed his own iron fixture with a mix of silvered crystals and rock crystal elements. “We searched for a long time but couldn’t find what we needed,” recalls the wife. “So Josh took several elements we both liked and created one that’s absolutely stunning.”
Pickering flexed his ingenuity elsewhere by lacquering the new bar a glossy blue, adding mahogany countertops for a surprise touch; floating bathroom vanity mirrors in front of windows; and updating a utilitarian basement wine storage area with built-in storage and old-fashioned picture lights to illuminate the bays. “This is a classic house but with modern, urbane moments,” he says. And throughout the residence, the designer followed a crisp and clear color story of soft blues and warm whites making the home feel awake and refreshed.
“Renovating or redecorating helps build up optimism,” Pickering explains. “The clients love the interiors now and are excited about this new phase in their lives.” And when asked if the house feels like a better fit, the wife responds in the affirmative. “It’s more comfortable to be in,” she notes of her home with no more squandered space. “Every room is my favorite.”