Fine furnishings and a restrained palette give a Dallas home a fresh, classic look.
Remember those days when Dallas and big hair were uttered in the same disparaging breath? (For Dallasites who shunned the oversized 'do, self included, those were fightin' words.) That was the same time the city took an equally unflattering rap for design with a capital D--as in, over Done. Well, hang on. Big D may be done with overdone. Or so it appears from its newest wave of interior design. Retro and its leaner lines are rampant, and where they're not--as in the home of Ann Stordahl and husband Kelly Austin--a different sort of restrained aesthetic, classic yet fresh, prevails.
It's no coincidence that Ann, a former model and now Neiman Marcus executive vice president of women's ready-to-wear, chose Julio Quiñones as her designer. Named by Traditional Home in 2009 as one of 20 young designers to keep an eye on, Quiñones is riding the crest of Dallas's new design wave. (See the home he designed for former Dallas mayor Laura Miller here .) His sensibility is everything a fashion maven could desire: a celebration of strong lines with a beautiful drape and shape; an homage to dressmaker detailing; intuitively tactile; tightly edited; sharply nuanced, especially with color; and more concerned with the sum of the parts than with any single detail.
Ann's respect is reciprocated. "I love clients who work in fashion and art because they are so open-minded," says Quiñones. Ann happily jumped into the decorating game with both feet, while Kelly, a businessman, was content to observe from the sidelines
"When we moved here from San Francisco, we wanted to bring the California look with us," Ann recalls. This 1924 Spanish Colonial just 10 minutes from the Neiman Marcus flagship store downtown offered an appealing familiarity. It was washed in sunlight, thanks to a tasteful update by previous owners, and it still maintained its original charm, including a pristine Rookwood-tile fireplace in the living room.
But nothing's perfect. "When we bought it," says Ann with a slight tilt of her head, "the walls were orange." Contrasting moldings stepped up the visual temperature even more.
One of Quiñones's first jobs was to chill the palette. "I painted all of the walls and moldings the same light natural linen for a monochromatic background," he notes. Khotan and Oushak rugs place pale, pearly color underfoot in the living and family rooms.
The designer continued to calm the living room by camouflaging a pair of bookshelves on either side of the fireplace with tall panes of antiqued mirror. Not only do the mirrors hide the distractions of the shelves and their contents, they add shots of sparkle imperative for interest in a room so subtle.
The first furnishings he bought for the house were the living room's exuberantly grained olive-wood Parsons tables. "I knew Ann liked burl woods and simple lines," says Quiñones. "I only chose pieces that had interesting woods, shapes, and textures."
To get the right shape, he designed the living room sofa himself. With a top and arms that roll back in well-defined curves, its silhouette is exquisite. "I designed it so that the arm and back would look good in profile, because that's what you see when you first walk in."
Surprisingly early in the decorating process, Quiñones committed to a pair of tomato-red lamps that he ultimately used to bookend the living room's sofa table. "In a room that's mainly taupe, I thought we needed that little pop," he explains. In fact, the lamps are really the room's only pop. Fabrics are neutral or subdued, and windows are left undressed. Color comes from the art, which includes several canvases by Ann's favorite painter, Rufino Tamayo.
"When we moved to Dallas in 1992, I was thrilled to learn that Stanley [Marcus] knew the artist, and that one of his paintings hangs in the executive offices at Neiman's," says Ann.
In the dining room, the pop of color is even smaller--a bright, almost periwinkle blue on a pair of 19th-century Sèvres candelabras on Ann's Biedermeier-style table. "One of the things I asked Julio to do was to create a look that was sort of eclectic, interspersing antiques that I've collected from my travels," explains Ann.
In the living room, a Regency-period mahogany desk teams with an 18th-century Italian chair. "That chair reminds me of something Ann would wear--like the sharp heel of a shoe. I like a chair with attitude," says Quiñones. He used an ebony finish to up the attitude of an old daybed. "You can make a piece more modern with a dark stain so it doesn't look so grannyish," he notes. Linear custom floor lamps and sleek tub chairs add more modernity to the mix.
Music is a big part of Ann and Kelly's lives, so incorporating her piano (she subs as her church's organist) and their stereo system into the family room design was a must. Quiñones hid subwoofers behind decorative metal inserts on the bookcase wall. "The living room is my favorite space, but this is where we live," says Ann.
Interior design: Julio Quiñones, Julio Quiñones & Assoc., 2525 Butler St., Dallas, TX 75235; 214/350-6437, julioquinones.com.
Landscape architect: Boyd Heiderich Bargas Inc. 1708 N. Griffin St., Dallas, TX 75202; 214/871-1530, bhbg.com.
Photography: Werner Straube
Olive-wood Parsons tables, custom tub chairs, and a 19th-century velvet bergère are elegantly eclectic. Antiqued mirrors flanking the Rookwood-tile fireplace hide bookshelves. Undressed windows maximize the flow of natural light between this front room and the family room behind it.
The red lamps were originally 19th-century Japanese jars.
Homeowner Ann Stordahl was drawn to the 1924 Spanish Colonial-style home for its light-filled California look, which is especially apparent in the glass-walled family room. The custom sofa is covered in a Jim Thompson fabric, and the upholstered chair by the grand piano is by Rose Tarlow Melrose House.
Designer Julio Quiñones increased the airiness with glass-doored cabinets and down lights on a wall of bookcases. He hid the stereo's subwoofers behind a pair of metal grills. The coffee table is an antique Jansen. Beside it is a Regency-style antique caned armchair. The matching pair of chairs is by Ironies, with fabric from Glant.
Understated elegance continues in the dining room, where even the graceful Visual Comfort chandelier is subtle. The chairs, like the Biedermeier-style table, were already owned by the couple, but Quiñones refreshed them with a Rose Tarlow linen. Sconces are handblown-glass antiques. The windows were left bare.
An Ann Sacks tile backsplash was added behind the range. Otherwise, the room was left as is, with its original cabinets and floor.
Michael Jon Designs mohair plush covers the custom headboard in the master bedroom. An antique sunburst mirror decorates the grasscloth-covered wall above it. Bedding is Horchow Home. Rose Tarlow draperies are finished with trim from Samuel & Sons. Velvet on the bench is from Coraggio.
Julio Quiñones designed the custom bed in the guest bedroom, using Cowtan & Tout fabric on the headboard and fabric from Coraggio Textiles for the canopy.
In a powder room, a vintage wood pedestal supports a bowl sink with a Phylrich faucet. Mini-basket-weave flooring is Ann Sacks. The custom sconce was designed by Quiñones.
Homeowner Ann Stordahl. "I wanted to keep the original, unpretentious character of the house and just crank up its sophistication a little with a better selection of furnishings to accompany the great art," she says.
Ann Stordahl and Kelly Austin's Spanish Colonial house in Dallas.
Designer Julio Quiñones, named by Traditional Home in 2009 as one of 20 young designers to keep an eye on, is helping Dallas redefine design with his mastery of mixing clean lines and classic styles. Just one look at the windows in the Stordahl-Kelly house gives a clue that something fresh is going on here: A traditional Dallas home without acres of fabric at the windows? That's not been the city's norm, but Quiñones gets away with it.
Another difference is this: Pieces aren't valued simply by hefty price tags. Quiñones enjoys "junking" as much as he does shopping for fine antiques. A really good day is when he finds a lamp or a chair for next to nothing, knowing he can transform it into a pièce de résistance for a client's home. He keeps design real--and without sacrificing what also makes it refined.