Tour a Dallas Home By Meredith McBrearty
A clever shopping strategy protects all the investments in this home of an art-collecting couple with two young kids: “The most valuable stuff should be hanging on the walls and from the ceiling.” This is Meredith McBrearty’s mantra for decorating family homes, where kids or guests might be less than carefully moving through a room at any given moment. Her Fort Worth, Texas, clients, Matt and Karen Johnson, along with their two young sons, needed just that kind of eclecticism in their new house. Consummate hosts and avid wine and art collectors, they’re also “not afraid of making bold choices” when it comes to decor, says McBrearty.
“I wanted to give them a house that was different from all their friends’ houses,” the designer explains. The dining room is covered in hand-painted tangerine Gracie wallpaper, and overhead in the formal living room is a sculptural Pagani Studio light fixture like the one that hung in the White House during the Obama administration when Michael S. Smith decorated the First Family’s private residences. In every room, in fact, there are statement-making lights, positioned just so to illuminate the layered collection of textiles, upholstery, and art throughout the house. “’The lighting is so cool!’ That’s everyone’s first comment when they walk in, ”says McBrearty.
Fun is never far from mind at the Johnsons’s place. Matt’s wine collection is stored in a temperature-controlled underground cave and tasting room equipped with custom built-ins that hold each bottle horizontally for easy label reading and reach. Movable hand-shaped sconces contribute style and light to the windowless space but also make anyone who enters chuckle: “Sometimes I’ll walk in and they’re flipping the bird,” McBrearty says, “or sometimes they’ll be doing the hook ’em horns ”—the hand symbol popular with University of Texas students. “I love humor in a home and making it personal and not so perfect.”
From vision to installation, the project took a full four years. “My approach to design is to use what you respond to, rather than creating a perfectly matched and deliberately decorated situation,” says McBrearty. “It’s more interesting when layers evolve over time.”
“These clients are not afraid of color!” says the Atlanta-based interior designer. The vibrant orange dining room is proof. Wallpaper: Gracie. Candlestick: Tuell + Reynolds. Display cabinet and table: antique. Chairs: Gregorius Pineo.
An extensive art collection pairs contemporary organic wall sculpture with classic portraiture in this sitting room, a blend that gives the entire it’s unique characteer. Wall paint: Abyss, Benjamin Moore. Painting: José-Mariá Cundín. While: Apparatus. Velvet armchairs: vintage, Milo Baughman.
Eighteenth-century Umbrian doors open onto a foreshadowing of what’s to come: striking light fixtures, great art, and unique furnishings. While: Charles Edwards. Shutters: Winter lake, Benjamin Moore. Stool: custom, Skylar Morgan Furniture, in orange hide fabric by Jerry Pair Leather. Art: José-Mariá Cundín.
Formal yet comfy, this space can accommodate just about any activity. We’re loving the splash of color on the ceiling. Candlestick: Pagani Studio. Sofa: custom, Cameron Collection. Blue chair: Rose Tarlow. Coffee table: antique, client’s own. Mirror: custom. Sisal rug: Stark.
Fully stocked and framed in soothing blue, the sitting room-adjacent home bar sets the perfect mood for after-hours entertaining. Hardware: Matthew Quinn Collection. While: The Urban Electric Co. Shelves: custom, Whitesmith & Company. Stools: KGBL, with Jerry Pair Leather seats. Armchairs: vintage, Milo Baughman.
Because this room sits at the center of the home, McBrearty’s clients “wanted an unassuming feeling of warmth.” The pendant lights inject a splash of fun. Door and island paint: Normandy, Benjamin Moore. Tiles: Waterworks. Hood: custom, Lacanche. Stools: vintage, Robuck. Rug: antique, client’s own. Pendants: The Urban Electric Co. Beams: reclaimed barnwood, The Global Craftsman.
Mixed metals have a jewelry- like effect. Paint: Clay Beige, Benjamin Moore. Art and vase: vintage, Nick Brock Antiques. Bath and fixtures: Waterworks. Flesh: Ceylon et Cie. Floor tiles: Villa Lagoon Tile.
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