One quirk of being an interior designer as sought-after as Jan Showers—whose career spans some 40 years and hundreds of projects in her hometown of Dallas and beyond—is that every so often, you’re called upon to design the same house twice. Such was the case when local clients David and Emberli Pridham asked Showers to reimagine their recently purchased residence on “one of the prettiest streets in Highland Park,” the interior designer says. Years ago, Showers had helped a previous owner decorate the French provincial-style house, including the formal dining room for which she had commissioned the shimmering hand-painted wallpaper that still remains. For the new iteration, Showers set about making it suit the current couple and their children, layering the rooms with an eclectic mix of art, antiques and color. Says David: “Jan has a knack for finding pieces you might think would never work together and melding them perfectly.”
Thus began a year-long process during which Showers, her senior designer Zara Taitt, builder Mike Moss, his project manager Oscar Mena, residential designer Joel Gallegos and landscaping company Southern Botanical updated almost every inch of the interior and exterior. Changes outside included cladding the symmetrical front façade with cast stone, while inside updates comprised such moves as removing a bar separating the kitchen from the family room, with openings between other living areas expanded. Elegant new moldings wrapping these doorways repeat throughout the house, “making it more architecturally interesting,” Showers observes.
Such details give the home authority to host furnishings varying widely in style, period and provenance, from vibrant photography by Celia Rogge and abstract paintings by Ludwig Schwarz to European antiques and new pieces from Showers’ own collections. “That’s what I like,” the interior designer says of combinations such as the foyer’s Biedermeier table paired with vintage Chinese Chippendale chairs, Murano lamps and a credenza inspired by a 1970s Italian piece Showers found in Paris. “There’s an art to the mix, and that’s what makes a room interesting to me.”
At times, the homeowners were amazed by such pairings, including Showers’ juxtaposition of a hefty, 1950s wood-and-brass Italian bar cabinet with breezy, vintage bamboo furnishings in the solarium, a space seemingly right out of the Slim Aarons photography adorning the walls. “The first thing I thought was, ‘How could that possibly work together?’” David recalls. “But now it’s almost as if all of these pieces were always together.” Adds Emberli: “I’ve learned from Jan that not everything needs to match perfectly.”
Showers underlined this rule in the main bedroom, which she swathed in an array of blush tones, from the soft fabrics on feminine upholstered chairs to the vaulted ceiling, from which hangs a pearlescent chandelier of Showers’ design. “It’s like being wrapped in a gorgeous peach-colored coat,” the interior designer says of the effect. “It makes the room so much cozier.”
In the new Christopher Peacock kitchen, the interior designer let Emberli return to her comfort zone of white on white. “When we began this project, I was huge on using white, and Jan talked me out of doing it in every room,” the homeowner recalls. “She told me it works best in kitchens and bathrooms for a clean and soft look.” But that edict didn’t preclude the addition of the kitchen’s blue Murano-glass chandelier and La Cornue range honoring Emberli’s grandmother’s and mother’s love of the shade. “I like to use a client’s favorite colors,” says Showers, who explored the full spectrum of watery hues for Emberli, selecting a teal velvet for the living room sofa, a silvery blue for the foyer walls, pale turquoise for the solarium’s trellis-patterned wallpaper, and a soft blue check-patterned fabric on the dining room chairs featuring a nailhead trim complementing the room’s original hand-painted wallpaper. “I love the yin and yang of that fabric with the wallcovering and Baccarat chandelier,” the interior designer says. “It helps to keep the room from feeling too formal.”
Selections such as these also ensure a design that’s not easy to date or define. “We like a lot of different looks,” Emberli says, “and we wanted every room to have its own story.” Until Showers returns again, perhaps, to imagine the home’s next chapter.