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Texas Home with Perfect Harmony
Traditional yet contemporary, large but intimate, this Texas home evokes a modern and eclectic Mediterranean aesthetic by artfully combining color and texture.
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Melding Midwestern sensibilities with architectural inspiration from the Mediterranean proved just the right recipe for creating a home in the heart of
Dallas that’s comfortable enough for Sandra and Paul Magnuson to enjoy quiet family get-togethers yet spacious enough for them to host large gatherings.
A rich mix of antique French furniture, a limestone mantle imported from France and a textured sisal rug make the living room feel formal, yet comforting and inviting. “This is more of a drawing room, with a piano on one end,” Collins explains. “The family uses the piano all the time. The room invites people to sit and visit and enjoy the view of the backyard while someone plays on the piano.”
Photography: Nathan Schroder
Produced by Donna Talley
A rambling but cozy floor plan drawn up by architect David Stocker and outfitted by interior designer Cynthia Collins easily meshes Sandra’s ideal—an open-concept, ranch-style home like the one she grew up in on a Nebraska farm—with Mediterranean leanings. “Because of my farm upbringing,” Sandra says, “my heart longs for space. I love to look outside and see space around me.”
“We needed something tall because the window is huge,” Collins says of the window area. “Something heavy and strong would feel wrong because it would block the view of the pool right outside, so we went with a skinny lamp.”
Stocker capitalized on this sentiment by integrating banks of windows into every room to admit as much natural light as possible and to welcome in views of the 2-acre property from every direction. The result is a bright, airy realm with long sight lines. “From the kitchen, I can look through windows in the family room and see into the living room,” Sandra says.
A Biedermeier table with a tall, antique-marble candlestick repurposed into a lamp, as well as a vintage 1960s gold tree sculpture, an antique marble compote and a piece of coral from a family trip, create an eclectic window-side tableau.
The color scheme, which centers on varying tones of cream, enhances the breezy ambience and helps achieve Sandra’s goal of a clean, modern Mediterranean aesthetic that favors simplicity over ornateness. “The creams change color depending on the weather and light conditions, and they’re not so strong that they distract from the outdoor views,” Collins says.
Twin bookcases bring height and symmetry to the high-ceilinged living room. The country French bookcases are antiques – with the original paint intact – that add warmth to the room, Collins says. On the mantle, an antique Louis Philippe-style mirror adorned with gold leaf makes an elegant visual statement.
The sconce lamps on either side of the living room fireplace pair strong rustic iron with delicate shield shades commonly found in Italy and France, Collins says.
But that doesn’t mean color has been banished—far from it. Sandra, who studied textiles and design in college, selected calmer blue, yellow, and lavender accents for the living room and master bedroom, with pops of pink and orange energizing the kitchen and breakfast room.
Walnut floors, reclaimed ceiling beams from a Pennsylvania barn, hand-glazed tiles and rustic copper and iron accents give the kitchen a warm and welcoming vibe. Sandra loves the room’s focal point: an expansive island, lined with hand-painted replicas of vintage chairs made by Minton-Spidell. “The island is so big that I can lay out and cut fabric on it,” Sandra says. A Persian rug and ikat curtains bring on the color while still keeping things casual.
Durable yet attractive materials—think chenille, damask, and linen upholstery and kilim and Bessarabian rugs—lend additional warmth while standing up to the traffic that comes from the couple’s five children, two of whom are still at home full-time. “We used old-pattern Turkish and Persian rugs that don’t show a lot of traffic, yet still maintain a Mediterranean feel,” Collins says.
A professional-grade Wolf double range and a copper rangehood provide a strong, visual focal point in the kitchen. A backsplash made out of white hand-glazed tiles from Ann Sacks keeps things from feeling too heavy.
The kitchen, in particular, pulses with warmth from a Persian rug and ikat curtains, which bring on the color while still keeping things casual. Sandra loves the kitchen’s focal point: an expansive island, lined with hand-painted replicas of vintage chairs made by Minton-Spidell.
A fireplace made from native Texas Lueders limestone makes a snug kitchen eating area feel even more inviting. “If it’s chilly in the house in winter, the first thing I do in the morning is turn on the fireplace,” Sandra says. “I gave up a window on that wall in order to get a fireplace, and it was the best decision I made. It makes you feel so cozy.” A pedestal table with antique chairs from France anchor the space, while cafe curtains let in light while still affording privacy.
Storied antiques, or reproductions that nod to historic originals, are peppered throughout rooms to evoke old-world charm. But Collins used a deft hand to dispel any sense of stuffiness. “When you collect traditional French and Italian pieces, then mix in something else that’s a little contemporary or eclectic, it makes things all the more interesting,” she says.
A large dining room table, handmade by a Texas craftsman, seats 14 people – the perfect spot for large holiday gatherings. To create an elegant yet casual atmosphere, Collins selected grasscloth wall covering, a salmon-colored Persian mahal rug and curtains made from raw silk fabric. “It feels woven and not so dressy,” she says. “This room is a little more formal, but still super warm and inviting. It feels special, not stuffy.” The table is paired with antique French chairs, and a pair of mirrors that Collins discovered at a Paris flea market emphasize the room’s tall ceiling and amplify its spaciousness. “It’s fun when you can find a pair of pieces, because usually one gets lost over time,” she adds.
Smaller details, such as custom ironwork and antique French terra cotta tiles on a staircase, help fulfill Sandra’s wish for a less-overt Mediterranean style. “We used a subtle herringbone sisal carpet because we didn’t want anything fighting with the tiles on the treads,” Collins says.
While the home offers a study in contrasts, one unifying feature is comfort. Whether sitting in the living room and being serenaded by strains of piano music, lighting up the fire in the breakfast room to take the chill out of a winter’s morning,
pulling up a seat at the kitchen island to sample the night’s dinner offerings, or sinking into a plush armchair on the loggia for evening cocktail hour, the home provides a little taste of Midwest hospitality mixed with Mediterranean élan.
“The master bedroom is all about calmness and serenity – very easy on the eyes,” Collins explains, noting the room’s softer colors and muted patterns. Note how the lack of crown moldings make the vaulted ceiling feel even more spacious.
“This house makes me feel happy, like I’m always on vacation,” Sandra says.
A cozy reading alcove, featuring comfy chairs with chenille fabric, provides a mini-retreat for Sandra and her children to read, visit or just enjoy views of the spacious yard. “We didn’t want any pattern on the chairs,” Collins points out. “There’s so much pattern around the windows that we felt everything else should become very quiet.”
The master “hers” bathroom showcases Moroccan tiles as blue as the Aegean Sea. “The tile makes a statement,” Collins says. “Each one is hand-made and with the high-gloss sheen, you get beautiful color variations, depending on the lighting.” A private, fenced courtyard outside yields two benefits: free use of windows that admit loads of natural light while still maintaining privacy. Note the absence of window casings, a subtle Mediterranean-style treatment that also offers a cleaner, more streamlined look.
“We eat out here a lot,” Sandra says, referring to the home’s gracious patio, replete with Pennsylvania blue stone on the floor and limestone arches that evoke a classic Greek portico. The furniture color palette favors muted earth tones that exude warmth and complement the landscape. More importantly, the colors don’t distract from the lush backyard when it’s viewed from the kitchen, located just off the patio.
Cut limestone lends the home’s main entry a more formal appearance. That contrasts sharply with the rest of the house, which is built with more casual and earthy-looking rough limestone, creating dimension and visual interest, Collins notes. The roof is made of antique terra cotta tiles imported from Italy. “Even the chimney caps have antique terra cotta details mixed into the limestone for a decorative touch,” she adds. Replicas of large antique French urns filled with palms enhance the Mediterranean aesthetic.