Texas classic: a symphony in blue
Gershwin got it right, and Minton did, too. The Fort Worth home of Dana and David Porter and their three boys is “a rhapsody in blue,” modestly agrees Texas interior design maestro Joseph Minton, “a big Gershwin fan” who embraces any association with the iconic composer.
Blue was a natural for the subtle seaside theme in the Porters’ 1920s-era classic New England-style home. Minton orchestrated the beach theme with blue tones, sandy notes on the millwork and sisal rugs, and carefully arranged seashells collected by Dana. “My husband is from Maine, and every summer we vacation on Fisher Island,” says Dana, a native Texan. “We love our time on the beach, and we wanted to capture that experience in our Fort Worth home. Most of the artwork consists of seascapes we’ve collected on our summer vacations.”
Before her marriage to David, Dana favored jewel tones—vivid ruby and emerald. “David was the blue person,” she says. “I never envisioned myself liking it or living with it.” An interior built on blues wasn’t a marital concession, though. “Through David, blue actually became my favorite color. I can’t get enough blue-and-white Chinese porcelain. Even David says, ‘Overkill, Dana.’ ”
Blue’s most exquisite application is on the living room walls. “It’s a soft Wedgwood blue paint, very pale,” Minton notes, “the kind of hue that really reads subtle.” Even moldings on the plaster walls are covered in uninterrupted blue to envelop the space in the fragile color. Instead of the expected high-contrast bright white, the ceiling and millwork are painted pale tan that suggests the beach. “We entertain a lot, and guests feel extremely comfortable in this soft-colored room,” says Dana.
An additional neutral color drifts underfoot on the room’s geometric-patterned sisal rug. “I love sisal,” enthuses Minton. “I’ve been using it for close to 40 years and never tire of it. It takes down very elegant furnishings and makes them unpretentious, and it never becomes dated.” Sisal, in fact, is the rug of choice in his own Dallas home, providing a counterpoint to his gilt-laden furniture. Sisal also grounds the Porters’ dining room as well as a couple of areas of their roomy kitchen.
Sisal’s casual balancing act works its magic with the Porters’ pedigreed furnishings. The living room’s 18th-century Georgian secretary and the dining room’s rich blue-and-sand Fortuny chair fabrics are rendered less precious and more livable. Dana’s seashells strike a similar balance sprinkled among her collection of both old and new Chinese porcelains, taking them down a notch. “We wanted a design that’s appropriate for a very active family of three boys and dogs,” says Minton. “Parents and children alike all have busy social lives.”
Thankfully, the original architecture meets those needs. In addition to the formal rooms, the floor plan provides ample casual public spaces for easy living, and an open flow that was ahead of its time. Most important are a pair of informal sun-drenched spaces that beckon through open doorways in both the living and dining rooms, teasing the eye—and feet—to travel farther.
The living room flows into a sunroom that is flooded in natural light streaming through a wall of tall French doors. Comfortable bergères and a handsome fireplace complete the coziness. A portal in the elegant dining room leads to a sunny conservatory. A glass table that is the conservatory’s focal point comes in handy for entertaining, and the room provides convenient storage for extra dining room chairs.
“All the wonderful natural light from these glass-walled rooms makes it almost impossible for the living and dining rooms to feel stuffy,” Minton observes. He dressed the French doors unobtrusively in sandy-tone sheer panels that continue the beach theme. “The sheers are the color of nude panty hose,” injects Minton’s associate, Michelle Wade, who, with Paula Lowes, assisted with the house’s interior design.
A change in flooring denotes the casual spaces. While the living and dining rooms feature wood floors topped with area rugs, the sunroom and conservatory are paved in the same Italian marble painstakingly selected for the entry. “We looked at a bazillion marbles before we got it right,” says Minton. “We wanted one that didn’t have a lot of striation and that wasn’t a pure white.” Honed black granite cabochons accent the marble in a classical manner.
Casual spaces aren’t the only ones that are comfy. Sink-down bliss awaits in the living room’s rolled-arm sofa, which is covered in a biscuit linen velvet with a waterfall skirt. “It’s durable for an active family,” Minton promises.
Exuding elegance, the dining room is all about entertaining. Walls in a hand-painted de Gournay Chinese-patterned paper needed “three or four strike-offs before we got the colors right,” says Minton. A Georgian broken-pediment china cabinet, a gilt Regency-style girandole candlestand, a chinoiserie demilune commode, and oodles of Fortuny appeal to an adult aesthetic. “Our family celebrates holidays here, but we usually eat in the kitchen,” says Dana.
The Porters only had two sons when they bought the house, and its original three bedrooms were adequate. When their youngest, David, was born in 2004, they recruited architect Randy Walton to design a fourth bedroom and an additional bath on the third floor. “The two older boys still share a room, but eventually they’ll want one of their own,” Dana explains. Until that time, they share a space that celebrates adventure and travel with a globe at their fingertips and an ode to the sea in the form of model ships perched on shelves.
A third-floor playroom is the boys’ main hangout. “This is home to the Wii,” Dana says. The siren song of the video-game system, however troubling to parents at times, is a great guarantee that active boys keep their feet off the Fortuny. Even this strikes a harmonious chord in a home that resonates with classic style and beautiful blues.
Photography: Emily Minton Redfield
Architect: Randall Walton, Walton & Walton Architecture & Interior Design, P.O. Box 1990, Fort Worth, TX 76101; 817/732-1536, waltonwalton.com 
Interior design: Joseph Minton, with Paula Lowes and Michelle M. Wade, Joseph Minton Inc., 2623 White Settlement Rd., Fort Worth, TX 76107; 817/332-3111, josephminton.com. Joseph Minton Antiques, Kevin Peavy, director, 1410 Slocum, Dallas, TX 75207; 214/744-3111, josephmintonantiques.com 
Slipper chairs from E.C. Dicken at the fireplace wear a Christopher Hyland geometric print. The pillows on the slipper chairs and the ottoman are lively in Clarence House’s “Dragon Empress” fabric. A painting of Monhegan Island above the mantel is a reminder of David Porter’s Maine roots.
A Rose Tarlow linen velvet on the sofa is the color of sand. Blue Fortuny joins a mix of sofa pillows and covers an armchair near the sunroom.
A portrait hangs above some of Dana’s Chinese porcelain. Their home’s blue and gold motif is even detailed in the living room’s curtains, and molding on the walls and ceiling ensure that no surface is left uncelebrated.
Another view of the living room shows the easy access to the library. Wide thresholds and entryways add to the home’s comfortable and welcoming atmosphere.
A Chinese silk embroidery hangs above a settee in the entry, where a new marble-and-granite floor wraps into the conservatory and sunroom.
This sunny space off the living room practically cues up a pitcher of fresh lemonade on a hot Texas day. Lit from grand windows on two sides, it is the perfect spot to admire the gardens outside.
The dining room’s George III mahogany china cupboard displays Dana’s Chinese porcelain collection. Curtains are blue silk from Bauer Design & Drapery. The deGournay wallpaper’s palette is derived from the Fortuny fabric on the custom chairs.
In a corner of the dining room, an ebony desk holds Dana’s treasures from the ocean. “We love our time on the beach and wanted to capture that experience in our home,” she says. “The artwork consists mostly of seascapes.”
Built-in shelves and a window seat set a cozy stage in the library, accented by a colorful “Tree of Life” fabric from Lee Jofa at the windows. Clarence House’s “Velour Irelande” is on the window-seat cushion.
In the sunroom, a Jansen Regency-style table, circa 1940, is teamed with vintage faux bamboo chairs with cushions in a Nancy Corzine fabric.
“The boys eat a lot of their meals at the bar,” says Dana, but a table with modern metal Windsor-style chairs near the island is also available for everyday family dining. The sunroom is visible through the doorway.
Damask from Coraggio Textiles covers the headboard and windows in the master bedroom. A vintage Georgian-style secretary and a Niermann Weeks dresser topped with a Mecox Gardens mirror flank the custom bed. A Kisabeth tufted-back settee is covered in fawn velvet. One of a pair, the Regency period cane-back chair features chinoiserie on the frame.
The blue-and-sand palette continues with a striped fauteil and a floor designed with Waterworks tile. More of Dana’s seashell collection is displayed on shelves. Wool crepe sheer café curtains are from Coraggio. The nickel lantern is from McLean.
For William and Andrew, the two older Porter boys, Donghia’s “Krazy Quilt” pattern is used for coverlets. The windows and duvet covers sport a map-motif fabric from Travers.
Appropriate for David, the Porters’ youngest son, a Cowtan & Tout animal fabric featuring giraffes canopies the bed and shades the window. A mustard leather saddle bench by Edward Ferrell is parked at the foot of the bed. “Wool Trensa” carpet in dark brown is from Patterson Flynn and Martin.
The Porters’ 1920s-era hilltop home is in a neighborhood of architectural gems.
The exterior of the house allows for ample outdoor gathering spaces. Lush greenery isn’t so dense that it blocks out the natural light that streams in through the home’s many windows.
The Porter family in the library: Andrew; William; Dana and David; and young David.