Written and Produced by Jenny Bradley
Photography by Werner Straube
It was a match made in tear-sheet heaven. Searching for a decorator for the Tulsa home she shares with her husband, Bret, Rocci Chandler had been tirelessly rummaging through magazines, on the prowl for images of inspiring rooms. After sifting through the pile of glossy photos she had collected, she realized that not only had she narrowed down the design “look” she was going for, she had zeroed in on a designer.
“When I sat down and went through all the photos of rooms I loved,” recalls Rocci, “I realized that half of them had been designed by Jan [Showers]. I called her right away. I went to our first meeting and within 10 minutes, Jan and her team pulled out a piece of fabric that I just fell in love with. From then on, I let them do whatever they wanted.”
Showers, the Dallas-based designer known for creating interiors that are as effortlessly elegant as they are inviting, remembers it similarly. “As I recall,” says Showers, “Rocci met with us [Zara Taitt was the senior designer on the project], and as we walked through the samples, she kept saying, ‘Love it, love it, love it!’ It was so easy. It was one of Zara’s first jobs, and I remember telling her, ‘They’re not all going to be this easy.’”
Easy, however, is a relative term. Daunting to some would be the fact that Rocci and Bret were starting from scratch. Moving from a home just a few blocks away, they had decided to begin anew. “When we moved, I said, ‘Out with the old, in with the new,’” says Rocci. “I didn’t keep anything. I wanted a brand-new look, so I told Jan to do anything she wanted to do—down to the plumbing fixtures.”
Equally daunting could have been the fact that, while Rocci’s priority was to create a polished home, it also had to accommodate considerable wear and tear. Between the Chandlers’ two college-aged sons, three dogs, a cat, and frequent gatherings of die-hard University of Oklahoma football fans on game days, the interiors had to be tough enough to take abuse—and then some.
“I wanted that glamorous look, but it had to be comfortable and hard-wearing, too,” says Rocci. “We have tons of kids over here—not to mention the pets. It’s a very well-lived-in house. As beautiful as Jan’s things are, they are also comfortable. They’ve worn like a dream.”
Furnishings ideal for a stream of college kids or a barrage of energetic hounds weren’t the only requirement: The flow of the house was equally important. Happily, each room opens generously off another—a progression of spaces that seamlessly play together.
At the heart of the home, an inviting French door-lined space serves as both living and dining room. Its neutral palette is the ideal foundation for an elegant layering of pieces. Perhaps senior designer Taitt describes it best. “It’s casual glamour,” she notes. “Rocci wanted something glam but still welcoming.”
In the living area, a pair of armchairs covered in a refined patterned silk—the fabric that had Rocci at hello—act as an endnote to a conversation area. The grouping includes a streamlined sofa and a button-tufted chair, both from Showers’s furniture collection. Murano glass pieces in luscious blues and greens perch on the white lacquer coffee table, adding eye-catching splashes of color.
Unobstructed, the easy elegance continues into the adjoining dining space, where each element exudes a graceful charm: the polished French walnut dining table with its scalloped apron; a vintage credenza with white parchment inserts lining the carved recesses; an array of candescent Empoli glass on the oval table.
“It’s sophisticated, yet understated,” says Showers. “I often look to the Hepburns—Audrey and Katharine. I love the fact that they could wear a classic outfit with a cashmere scarf thrown over a shoulder and be completely glamorous. They were elegant but never over the top.”
Separated from the dining room by pocket doors adorned with antiqued mirrors, the kitchen is a favorite—if not all that frequently used—space. “I love to cook, but I don’t do it all that often anymore,” laughs Rocci. “I love these doors, though. I close them when I have a dinner party, and the mirrors create a beautiful backdrop.”
On the other side of the house, the library is the home’s cozy rendezvous spot—a room in which the only requirement for Showers was that the sofa be deep enough to allow 6-foot-2 Bret to hunker down and put his feet up. A monochromatic scheme—Showers saturated the space in chic, welcoming chocolate brown—not only encourages hunkering but is also the perfect complement to the snug space.
“In a small room like this, especially in a study or library, I love enveloping the space in a deep, dark color,” says Showers. “It gives a room a very inviting feel but also causes the corners and walls to recede, making the space seem larger. But you’ve got to really go for it and use the color everywhere—walls, ceiling, curtains.”
Down a short hallway, an airy palette in the master bedroom stubbornly deviates from the library’s dark scheme. Pale blue-green walls and ceiling set a soothing tone for the glam textures and shapes that punctuate the room. Silk curtains gently skim the luminous silk-and-wool rug. A vintage Italian glass chandelier floats overhead, while a gold soleil mirror perches above the shapely satin headboard. A tufted bench with Lucite legs makes an elegant perch at the foot of the bed.
“Rocci wanted glam, so we gave her glam,” says Showers. “But to me, glamour and comfort should never be mutually exclusive.”
Rocci obviously agrees. “I can’t tell you how much I love what Jan and Zara did,” says Rocci. “It’s refined but relaxing, too. If Cary Grant or Rita Hayworth were alive today, I think they’d live in a house like this. It’s old Hollywood glam, but it’s timeless.”
Architect: Jack Arnold, Jack Arnold’s Homes of Elegance, 7310 S. Yale, Tulsa, OK 74136; 800/824-3565, jackarnold.com.
Interior designers: Jan Showers and Zara Taitt, Jan Showers & Assoc., 1308 Slocum St., Dallas, TX 75207; 214/747-5252, janshowers.com.
Paint (“Lenox Tan” #HC-144): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667, benjaminmoore.com.
Sofa (“Villa” #203, Jan Showers Collection); club chairs (“Rothschild” #102, Jan Showers Collection); coffee table (white lacquer, c. 1960); ivory barrel chair (c. 1960); drapery (Jan Showers Private Label); aqua blue and gold Murano glass lamps (c. 1950): Jan Showers & Assoc., 214/747-5252, janshowers.com.
Sofa fabric (“Tizian” #16142176): Jab USA, 212/486-1500.
Club-chair fabric (“Byzance”/Turquoise India #4571-03, by Manuel Canovas): Cowtan & Tout, 212/647-6900, cowtan.com.
Barrel-chair fabric (“Jefferson”/Champagne #8946): Pindler & Pindler, 805/531-9090. pindler.com.
Sisal carpet (“Big Boucle Classics”): Crucial Trading, crucial-trading.com. Available through Concepts Intl’, 516/767-1110, prestigemills.com.
Zebra rug: Jan Showers & Assoc., 214/747-5252, janshowers.com.