Designer Carla Fonts Hrncir’s client was in a bind: Her daughter was getting married in six weeks, but her Dallas house was in no condition to host the celebrations. Realizing her plight, mutual friends urged the owner to reach out to Fonts Hrncir for help, and the two immediately saw eye to eye. “My client loves color and patterns and wanted her house to mirror that passion,” Fonts Hrncir explains, noting that the previously muted, monochromatic color palette and dated furnishings were out of sync with the owner’s cheerful personality. “She said to me, ‘I want life–I want it to be eclectic and fun,’” recalls Fonts Hrncir.
A naturally bold aesthetic influenced by her Cuban roots and extensive travels made Fonts Hrncir ideal for the job. The designer’s mother came from a prominent Havana family and was the type of woman who traveled to Paris to purchase table linens for entertaining. “My mom appreciated the finer things, had impeccable taste and paid attention to the smallest details,” explains Fonts Hrncir, who inherited that mindset. Her family eventually made its way to Miami and Palm Beach, where the glamorous 1920s-era homes they would frequent during summers made a lasting impression. “The interiors were so colorful yet timeless,” she recalls. “I loved how they pulled together different styles, mixing traditional pieces with bohemian and modern. I wanted to bring more of that feel to Dallas while also making the home reflect my client.”
The designer’s ideas so impressed the owner that what began as a quick fix evolved into an enduring project, with Fonts Hrncir spending two years painstakingly injecting every room in the house with punches of color and pattern. While simultaneously readying the first floor for the impending wedding, she began by replacing wallpaper throughout, and selected a Clarence House dragon print for a powder bathroom. “My client loved it so much, she wanted that boldness everywhere,” says Fonts Hrncir, who instead stressed the importance of spicing things up in a balanced way by starting with wallpaper and then utilizing color and pattern elsewhere as “accessories” to help create flow. “With no hallways between the rooms, you can see multiple spaces from one vantage point, so color coordination was very important,” she explains. Keeping that in mind, Fonts Hrncir proceeded to breathe life into the home in a way that channels her travels and the laid-back sophistication of Miami and Palm Beach–exuberant, but never overdone.
In the entry, for example, yellow Venetian plaster was added to the domed ceiling to complement the existing exotic de Gournay wallcovering. And in the nearby living room, she selected an ikat print for the spaces between the ceiling beams. The designer also papered the ceiling in the kitchen with a subtle marble pattern and replaced the nondescript black soapstone island countertop with a luxe emerald quartzite slab. “I originally wanted marble but saw that green slab and knew it would add the right amount of pizzazz,” she says. The unexpected hue harmonizes with the color scheme in the nearby breakfast room, where Fonts Hrncir did justice to the existing mint green latticework by adding touches like a custom-colored lantern and upholstering custom chairbacks in a cheery floral fabric. Elsewhere, she brightened the dining room by reupholstering the chairs in a lemon yellow leather as a counterpart to the dark green paneled walls.
To complete the transformation, Fonts Hrncir cleared the clutter, doing away with most of the furnishings, as well as an overwhelming plethora of blue-and-white china, to make room for fresh, one-of-a-kind finds. She also chose original artworks to complement a selection of antiques she carefully curated, including a circa-1800 French oak console table in the sun room and a pair of Carrara marble columns from Italy in the living room–which, Fonts Hrncir says, “are so heavy we needed four men to carry them in.” Also in the sun room, the designer paid tribute to her client’s love of blue-and-white china with a pared-down selection of exquisitely crafted porcelain, some of which she arranged on a stunning gilded French antique marble-topped center table. “I wanted every piece in the house to be one the owners’ grandchildren will cherish,” she says.
Walking through the home now, one has the feeling of being transported to another place and time–inside a residence from midcentury Palm Beach or Havana’s heyday, perhaps. But one thing’s for sure: These homeowners have never felt more at home. “I always tell my clients a home should be your safe haven,” Fonts Hrncir says. “At the end of the day, it should bring you peace and joy.”