PHOTOGRAPHS BY WERNER STRAUBE
WRITTEN BY CANDACE ORD MANROE
PRODUCED BY REBECCA SHERMAN
Knowing their four young children will be up any minute, ready to race to the tree, Katie and Scott Reynolds begin December 25 early, braced with good, strong coffee and adult-size servings of wide-eyed wonder. With children ages 2 to 12, there's plenty to marvel at. This year, they anticipate what toddler Luc will make of the family room's crèche as the story of the miraculous manger birth begins to take root.
"The children wake to the smells of fresh coffee and a hot grits-and-egg casserole, a Christmas tradition in our family for generations," says Katie, a full-time mom and church volunteer. "They leap out of ?bed and stack themselves at the top of the stairs. We love watching their expressions as they rush to find out what's under the tree."
Ten years ago, Katie and Scott's real estate agent loved watching their expressions when they first entered the 1928 Tudor's graceful, arched foyer. With its winding staircase and architectural niches, the entry inspired Katie with visions of fresh holiday greens and a growing family to appreciate them. "Two steps in, we were smitten," she recalls.
Though at the time they only had one child-George, now 12-the house represented an investment in their family's future. The handsome residence sat in the Dallas Highland Park area, which included good schools. Their smart thinking: Buy now, decorate later.
Later came after six years. "I met Scott when he came to my shop looking for office chairs for his advertising business," notes interior designer Lisa Luby Ryan. "He introduced me to Katie, and we began the design in stages, starting with the downstairs."
Ryan's vision included her trademark calming effect-in this instance, unruffling the interior's furrowed stucco finish. "The biggest challenge was convincing them it was OK to smooth out the original stucco. Once they saw the results, they had no reservations." She added calm with a uniform pale palette. "It was important to have one continuous color on the walls to help the rooms flow." It was also important to squeeze out space for a breakfast area and a family room. Ryan opened the sun porch to the kitchen, creating a sunny great room. The space lets Katie interact with the children while she cooks. "Scott came up with the idea of placing the TV inside the island," praises Ryan.
Delivering functionality with finesse was the goal. "Because this is a family house that sees a lot of activity, it had to be livable and durable," Ryan says. "But Katie and Scott are hip and sophisticated. Their surroundings also needed to be smart and lovely."
The unlikely springboard for that aesthetic was old botanical prints Ryan chose for the dining room. "These were the inspiration for the whole house," she says. And she's the first to admit this is a departure from design protocol, which typically touts an important textile, often a rug, as the ideal element for grounding and growing a design. But Ryan likes flouting rules. Details are her signature flourish.
"When there are too many focal points," she observes, "the eye doesn't know where to land." But even decorated for Christmas, the living room's original mantel remains clean, with only a pair of mercury-glass vases augmenting the cut greens and pinecones. More antique mercury glass is displayed en masse on the coffee table.
"The first thing I do is group accessories and art," says Ryan. For drama, she salutes solos: "I like fewer but more important pieces"-like the living room's Swedish grandfather clock. "I found it in France and knew it was perfect for Katie and Scott. Finding one-of-a-kind pieces is my passion." Uniqueness is also observed in such small accessories as oatmeal-hued Christmas stockings. "They're hand-stitched from old French textiles and vintage lace."
Function and fashion meet in major furnishings like the breakfast table. "Absolutely nothing the kids can do can hurt its zinc top, and it's timeless," promises Ryan. "It will look just as good in ten years."
That's music to Katie's ears as her family begins its second decade in the house. "For the past 10 years, this is where we've been privileged to hear the whispers, tears, squeals, and giggles of our children," she reflects. "Lisa understood the fabric of our family. She made our home an even more special place for creating memories."
And some of the best memories are being made right now.
Interior designer: Lisa Luby Ryan, Vintage Living, 6701 Snider Plaza, Dallas, TX 75205; 214/360-4211, lisalubyryan.com
Floral designers: Adam and Alicia Rico, Bows and Arrows, 1925 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX 75206; 214/828-2697, bowsandarrowsdeluxe.com
Holiday greenery: Andrew Lenz, Southern Botanical, 525 Hinton St., Dallas, TX 75235; 214/366-2103, southernbotanical.com
Holiday greenery: Brenda Lyle, Vintage Living, 214/202-4348, lisalubyryan.com