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Designer Jan Showers’s Sophisticated Dallas Home
Twenty-first century Texas style meets French sophistication
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Twenty-first century Texas style meets mid-20th-century French sophistication in a Dallas high-rise apartment, and the happy union is a grand success. The très chic apartment in the Turtle Creek neighborhood is the pied-à-terre of interior designer Jan Showers and her husband, Jim. The residence is also very much a showcase for Jan’s own custom and retail furniture lines, inspired by the allure of sleek French Art Moderne styles.
That the new furniture and authentic French-made pieces of the postwar period mix so well is a testament to Jan’s discerning eye—and to her ever-evolving design style.
On her first buying trip to France for her then-small antiques business, Jan gravitated to the ‘40s-era furniture. “When I saw the mid-century French furniture, I was instantly attracted,” she says. “The dealers I met at that time turned out to be the dealers I still work with; I think it’s because we have the same taste.”
She initially purchased only a few 1940s pieces, but what she did buy lured enthusiastic customers and encouraged her own growing interest in the genre. The designers of the era created their own takes on the French forms from the Directoire and Louis XVI periods, Jan explains, and “I had always liked Louis XVI style.” Pieces were made larger, especially furniture legs, she says, but simplified. Instead of elaborate carving and opulent detailing such as ormolu, the furniture has a nice mix of curves. For instance, “Anything designer André Arbus did had curves or Xs.”
As she bought more and more furnishings from the era for her showroom, she worked them into her design projects—and into her own home. “I’ve always been open to different styles, and I really like to mix things,” she explains. “In the 1980s, I used more English pieces in the country-house style, with a sprinkling of French antiques. Whatever I use, I don’t like to work with pieces that don’t mix.”
Because her city apartment has moderately sized rooms, Jan diverged from her usual combination of styles and concentrated on favorite mid-century French pieces plus a few Italian ones. Her design for her won place also incorporates lots of mirrors—and mirrored surfaces—to help open up the rooms and add sparkle and polish.
The influence of mid-century European design and 19th- and 20th-century art is evident in every room. Noteworthy is the living room’s Arbus-inspired cabinet, which incorporates a sun-spray design and bronze fittings. Above it hang six Matisse lithographs, from a series that Jan split with a client.
Other furnishings include the signature Moderne sofa from her own collection, period French armchairs, and a Mario Quatri coffee table. To provide illumination without competing with the furnishings and art, she chose transparent lamps to sit atop skirted end tables that, like the coffee table, have bright mirrored surfaces.
The sparkle of lamplight and mirrors repeats in the dining room, an unabashedly glamorous space planned for evening entertaining. In the compact but luxurious area, a ’40s-era French mirror with a border of etched stars in the dramatic focus, but there is also an unusual mirrored screen from the 1930s that reflects a mid-century chest crafted in various fine woods. “I wanted the mirrored screen because the room is very small,” Jan says. “The large mirror on the wall and the mirrored screen reflect off each other and help enlarge the space.”
For dining, the designer had a heavy round glass tabletop cut and placed on a pedestal base. She added 1920s Art Deco chairs inspired by Greek klismos chairs.
Mirrors and mirrored surfaces continue to provide dramatic reflections of the colors and furniture chosen for the entry hall and bedrooms. In the entry, 18th-century Italian chairs, their seats re-covered in robin’s egg blue leather, flank the mirrored commode from Jan’s furniture collection. The sycamore base, bronze details, and glass handles enrich a design based on a small commode she purchased in Paris. Unusual French sconces with an Asian air hang on either side of a custom-made mirror.
The guest room, with its pale champagne walls, is Jan’s tribute to 1930s movie icon Carole Lombard. Furnishings include a 1930s French mirrored table from the Jansen furniture line. “It’s one of the best pieces I own,” says Jan, “very Syrie Maugham. It’s like something that might have been made for the famous decorator.”
And like something that might have been made for Jan Showers.
Photography: Colleen Duffley
Living Room Artwork
Six Matisse lithographs, purchased from a collection assembled by a French doctor, hang, gallery-style, in Showers’s living room. The fine wood cabinet is in the style of postwar French furniture designer André Arbus.
Elegant glass accents abound, reflecting light and adding a touch of refinement.
Living Room Detail
The designer hung a 19th-century romantic painting over an early ’30s French Art Deco burled walnut cabinet. The ’50s-era Murano glass lamp by Dino Martens was selected for its design punch.
The mirrored commode, from Jan’s collection, is based on a French piece. It holds a Venetian lamp and an opaline-and-gold vase from Italian mid-century glassmakers Barovier & Toso. The custom mirror is scaled to accommodate the low ceilings of the entryway.
Eighteenth-century Italian chairs have been re-upholstered in a soft blue leather. The mirrored commode is from Jan’s furniture collection.
A big 1940s French mirror makes a dramatic statement in the dining room. A mid-century Venetian chandelier hangs above. The small, three-legged table displays a plaster artist’s model.
Colorful European glassware brightens her Dallas apartment.
Dining Room Details
A 1930s French screen with mirror-on-mirror detailing visually expands the dining room, painted in Jan’s favorite shade of green. Reflected in the screen is a 1940s French plaster torchère.
Greek klismos chairs inspired the 1920s Art Deco versions places around the glass-topped table.
Gallery-quality artwork hangs above the dining room’s wet bar.
Designer Jan Showers relaxes in her Dallas home.
Pale champagne walls set the movie-star theme for the guest bedroom. A delicate 19th-century Venetian mirror hangs above the luxurious bed’s padded and shirred silk headboard. The night table is a 1930s mirrored French commode.
Guest Bedroom Details
Opposite the bed is a fine example of a Jansen dressing table, which features a stylized etched and chiseled gold-and-clear-glass apron. A Florentine mirror reflects the elegant room.
Luxurious fabrics enhance the serenity of the master bedroom. Silk bedding and heavenly velvets in neutral hues enable Jan to layer elements together.
Master Bedroom Details
“Whatever style I use, I don’t like to work with pieces that don’t mix,” says designer Jan Showers.
Master Bedroom Dressing Table
A mirrored dressing table brings a dose of movie star charm to the master bedroom. A collection of vintage glass, a delicate jewelry box, and twin glass lamps add to the glamour.
Master Bedroom Details
Small sparkling details are found on nearly every surface of the master bedroom.