What initially struck me about this house were the windows with the incredible transoms,” says interior designer Kristin Mullen of the Tudor-style residence she decorated for a Dallas couple. “They evoked the easy, casual feeling of the Hamptons.” That sensibility helped dictate Mullen’s plan for the interiors, which called for weathered surfaces, a muted organic palette and elements that reference the outdoors, all set against polished detailing. The result is a sophisticated yet practical residence for a family with four older children and two Golden Retrievers. “The relationship to outside and an attention to detail were important,” says the wife, “and we also wanted it to be livable.”
Working with associate Payton Swanson, Mullen used the natural light and outdoor views as a jumping-off point for the design. “I’m very inspired by nature,” she says. “The rooms overlook the landscape, and we wanted to emphasize that relationship.” With that in mind, she began by tackling the dining room, incorporating a zinc-topped table previously positioned in the loggia of the owners’ former house, wicker dining chairs and a crystal chandelier. “I chose to create a casual, garden-inspired dining room instead of a more formal space,” Mullen explains, “and the whole house took off from that decision.”
Elsewhere in the home, that look translated into a selection of natural fabrics, a scattering of found objects and a mix of textural furnishings and antique pieces. The family room, for example, features a French draper’s table backed up against sliding shutter doors salvaged from Egypt, which conceal the television. Through its grandmother clock and collection of accessories, the room also introduces Mullen’s preference for Swedish-style design. “This aesthetic is known for layers of books and art, although it’s not excessive,” she notes.
In the double-height living room, Mullen mixed textural items with more elegant elements. “You can see the contrast between things that have more patina and those that are more refined,” she explains. “It’s the type of juxtaposition that entices you into a room.” Case in point: Against the background of stately wall paneling, the interior designer placed a comfortable tufted sofa, a pair of refinished French harp chairs covered in a subtle striped fabric and a 1920s Argentinian settee, which she had bleached, refinished and reupholstered in linen. While the paneling and the traditional mantel have a polished air, the seating invites guests to nestle in. All the while, sunlight streams in through the windows, underscoring a serene indoor-outdoor feel.
A palette of soft, pastoral hues grounded in darker shades prevails throughout the interiors. “An all-white room feels like it might float away,” Mullen says. “My strategy was about the play between light and dark, and the use of color in a very subtle way.” To that end, the family room walls read an ultra-pale blue, green or even gray, depending on the time of day. And in many of the rooms, Mullen reinforced the lighter-hued walls with bolder furnishings. For instance, a metal-based coffee table appears in the family room and a pair of Chinese Chippendale chairs brings substance to the study, while an iron-frame bed, a deep red chinoiserie cabinet and a black lacquered desk lend weight to the master bedroom, where the walls are painted a faint yellow.
Mullen also remodeled the kitchen to have a crisp and airy feel, incorporating glass-front white cabinetry that “seems to soar all the way up to the ceiling,” she says, as well as silvery gray tile on the backsplash. True to form, the interior designer anchored the monochromatic space with green paint on the back of the cabinets, espresso-stained oak flooring and a large island topped with hefty honed marble. Driving home the indoor-outdoor connection, easily accessible from here is a kitchen garden that was created in raised beds just outside. The Hamptons region also inspired the look of the property’s lush surroundings. “We elevated the feeling of our exterior spaces dramatically,” says the wife, noting the addition of a rose arbor and a wall of hydrangeas near the pool.
Both inside and out, the home radiates warmth and livability while still providing the owners and their guests with an elevated experience. Observing how the clients live in and use the house, Mullen notes they seem to appreciate the restraint and understated elegance of the design. “We live in a world with so much visual clutter on our phones and elsewhere,” she says. “This house offers a place to rest–but also delight–the eyes.”