A couple’s collector cars were an important consideration for the design of this new home in Dallas by architect Svend Christian Fruit. “It’s more than just a collection; they’re like members of the family,” the architect says. Tasked with accommodating six automobiles (including two for everyday use), Fruit and his project manager, Kevin Mut, considered the lot’s width and shape to create twin garages flanking the entry courtyard. “To a degree, splitting them up had the domino effect of establishing symmetry in the floor plan,” Mut explains. The home’s central core extends from the entry to a dining room and two-story living room facing a backyard completed by landscape designer Mary Ellen Cowan. Off to one side are an open kitchen and bar, with the primary suite on the other. Rounding out the plan, an upstairs gallery overlooks the living room while connecting the guest bedrooms.
“The block has a mix of newer, larger residences and smaller, older ones,” Fruit describes. “We wanted to break down the scale so that the two-story volume was pushed farther away from the street,” he continues of the design, which was brought to life by builder Steve H. McCombs along with on-site superintendent Vaughn W. Shadle and project coordinator Lynn Livingston. Mut adds: “Although this is a neighborhood that welcomes a wide range of architectural styles, we didn’t want to create something that stands out.” With that in mind, the duo selected a quiet palette of Kansas Cottonwood buff limestone for both the exterior and interior walls as well as Flint Hills Gray for the stone floors. Accents of vertically ribbed wood siding surface on the second-story exterior façades. These inspired a wood-slat screen that covers the top of the living room’s window wall, which helps temper both the room’s grand scale and the southern sun.
Throughout the interior, additional wood accents soften the vast expanses of stone and glass. You’ll find walnut cabinetry in the kitchen, bar and primary suite, as well as white oak on the flooring, window casings and millwork. “Oftentimes, white window trim is used to match lighter walls,” the husband notes, “but we wanted more warmth, color and contrast.” To that point, lighting designers Granville McAnear and Balthazar Cordero illuminated the ceiling coves in main areas such as the living room, kitchen and even the primary bathroom. Meanwhile, interior designer Carrie Hatfield, working in close collaboration with the clients, selected furnishings that underscore this desire for more juxtaposition. “The upholstered pieces feature clean lines to complement the architecture,” Hatfield explains, “but it was also important to balance those lines with rich materials. In this case, we used velvet and mohair upholstery, sheer wool draperies and light fixtures that really warm the space.”
In the living room, for example, a sculptural midcentury Vladimir Kagan floor lamp joins a rug rich in texture and a vibrant blue pattern to infuse dimension and energy. In similar fashion, the dining room’s antique sideboard—repurposed from the couple’s previous residence—and ornate 19th-century French mirror appear in stark stylistic contrast to a sleek custom dining table, which comprises marble discovered during the hunt for kitchen countertops. “I love the mix of the stone, wood and velvet-upholstered chairs,” Hatfield says, “and the oversize Isamu Noguchi light sculpture really creates impact.”
Elsewhere, the extensive search for a seat large enough to match the entry wall’s considerable scale yielded perhaps Hatfield’s most interesting furniture find. Welcoming guests through the front door, a refurbished oak-and-bronze bench was originally created for legendary architect I.M. Pei’s Dallas City Hall project in the late 1970s. This commanding piece was part of the building’s original installation. “The homeowners loved its story and connection to the city,” the designer muses.
Time and again, selections like these imbue the spaces with substance. “The chair at my dressing table was my grandfather’s, and when I was growing up, I always loved the shape of it,” the wife recalls of a seat refreshed in a cozy bouclé. Likewise, in the husband’s office, the blue tones of a traditional rug passed down from his father complement chairs dressed in cobalt velvet—while nodding to the pair of collector cars visible through windows into the adjacent garage. Indeed, for a residence designed to showcase the owners’ most treasured possessions, a reverence to the past feels as current as ever.