Jean Liu nurtures this historical Dallas abode with soulful design and arresting art

JUN 14, 2021 | By Vedika Nair
(L-R) A view of the outdoors is accessed through the second family room; Antique Poiteau & Risso orange engravings from Arader Gallery flank the fireplace and a Verellen sofa is paired with a Willian Sonoma Home coffee table; A Steinway Model S Grand Piano sits in the living room with a Mecox Gardens Pouf. A French enamel floor lamp with custom paper shade is also seen here; Photographs by Nathan Schroder
(L-R) Cowtan & Tout Czarina Stripe drapery is seen in the living room along; A vintage mid century bench reupholstered by Jean Liu Design complements the Four Trees photograph by Andrew Moore from Yancey Richardson Gallery; A piece of art is seen in a small nook of the home along with a seater and side table; Photographs by Nathan Schroder
The outdoors have been designed with luxury and ease to offer a sense of relaxtion; Photographs by Nathan Schroder
The serene pool offers some downtime and peek at this structure's historic architecture; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

What was once a home rooted in historical architecture by Hal Thompson in 1928, is now a space that celebrates beautiful art and harmonious design. As she walks us through this Dallas home, designer Jean Liu shares, “The architecture of the house is serious, boasting strong Italianate features, but the interiors needed to reflect its art collecting and younger inhabitants. So while honouring and preserving the architectural details, the rooms’ finishes, layout, and furnishings were chosen in a way that felt fresh and modern.”

Located in the affluent town of Highland Park, this 8,000 sq ft cove gives new life to your regular art gallery experience. Breaking away from museum culture, Liu makes sure to dress this home in versatile elements that make for a beautiful backdrop to the homeowner’s art collection.

Perfectly choreographed furniture and art personify the house along with a collection of antiques, making the design alluring. Neutral hues like black, white and brown cloak the home, and allow the art to be the hero through a restrained palette.

In the first family room, a Florian Meisenberg painting by Simone Subal Gallery is placed above an Elizabeth Jaeger bench by And Now Gallery. Sconces from Visual Comfort and Medallion back Gustavian painted chairs add character; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

Right upon entering the foyer, the space’s design sets the tone for this house. A French centre hall table sits on top of a custom Kyle Bunting rug, while a brutalist chandelier illuminates the space. The walls are decked with contemporary art, along with antique furniture pieces like an Italian commode and Swedish bench that complement each other.

The entryway is lit up by a torch cut brutalist chandelier from Again & Again. A gilt-bronze mounted Mahogany Gueridon from Nick Brock Antiques sits on a custom hide rug by Kyle Bunting. A Black Lemon, print by Donald Sultan from Bonhams adds charm along with a custom cut wool runner by Clifton Carpets on the stairs; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

To the right of the foyer, we enter the black lacquered library that emulates a dark and moody charm. Ample shelves allow for the storage of books and a Mike Osborne photograph creates a window effect on the walls and also acts as inspiration for the turquoise blue drapery panels rimmed with gold edges.

Michael Chairs with a curved hardwood frame from Mecox Gardens is paired with a goatskin table in the library. The space is illuminated by a French Empire bronze and enamel chandelier from Nick Brock Antiques and a custom rug, by Blackstone Carpets cover the floor; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

On the left is the formal living room featuring a ceiling wallpapered in Channels by the iconic Kelly Wearstler, creating a sense of whimsy to the otherwise formal space. Chairs by B&B Italia flank one end of the room while the other is held by the family’s beloved Steinway baby grand that have seen many evenings of music, laughter and fun. The striped silk window panels add a sense of luxury to the space.

A B&B Italia sofa is paired with a Ming leg coffee table from Oriental Antiques in the living room. Channels Wallpaper by Kelly Wearstler for Groundworks, Lee Jofa covers the ceilings and a Louis dining table from Jan Showers Collection is seen; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

We walk past the entry and through the hallway that features three windows that come with primitive wood tables under it, serving as a casual bar set up and are accentuated by Ivory linen panels to serve a sense of purpose.

The dining room walls are covered in the Tangled paper by Porter Teleo. Louis XVI style dining chairs with custom painted frame and velvet upholstery is paired with a Gilbert Rohde dining table. A Directoire Walnut Buffet with a white marble top from Orion Antiques houses a vintage Murano lamp and a Visual Comfort Chandelier adds opulence; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

The dining room to the left of the hallway is dressed in a monochrome wall covering by Porter Teleo, creating harmony with the living room. A vintage Gilbert Rohde table graces the space. Found at a local antique store, the dining chairs have been recovered in brown velvet and refinished in an antique whitewash, juxtaposing the mid-century table. Not only does this room come with a pair of Swedish cabinets holding the inhabitants’ collection of Old Paris porcelain, but it also offers us a view of the beautifully manicured backyard.

Painted Swedish glass front cabinets from Lone Ranger Antiques is seen along with drapery by Pindler & Pindler with Kelly Wearstler for Groundworks leading edge tape; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

Known as the heart of the house, the kitchen at the end of the hallway is done up in grey limestone counters and creamy white painted cabinets. A highly functional area, this space creates a sense of rest against the bold characters of the rooms before it.

The kitchen is done up with cabinet hardware from Norwich Knob, Emtek, faucets and countertop in seagrass limestone and a Visual Comfort Chandelier adds charm. Khotan runners from Abrash Gallery are seen with artwork by Tala Madani from Pilar Corrias Gallery; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

Accessed through the kitchen, the great room is a shell of softer tones and comes with multiple seating arrangements. Meant to be more casual, the space can easily become a room that one can unwind at! Antique orange engravings flank the fireplace creating a contrast to the artwork on the mantle.

In the second family room, a Jessica Dickinson piece represented by James Fuentes Gallery sits above the fireplace. Chandeliers from Visual Comfort light up the room and a custom cut and leather-bound soft sisal rug by Blackstone Carpets run on the floor. Medallion back Gustavian painted chairs are also seen along with a Saarinen round dining table from DWR; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

“The room we enjoyed working on the most is the great room, and it proved to be the most rewarding room of the house to work on mainly because it proved the most challenging. It was an addition and felt completely out of proportion with the rest of the house,” shares Liu, adding, “However, over time, working through several furniture layouts and devising smaller seating arrangements within this large church-like room, it has become the favourite and most used room in the entire house.”

In the hallway a Jonas Wood painting from Anton Kern Gallery is seen; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

As we move upstairs, we’re in awe of the staircase that boasts a black and white stripe wool runner, giving the classical house a rock n’ roll personality. This vibrant runner also rolls in perfect contrast to its old counterpart.

The main bedroom features a custom-designed bed and headboard with bedding by Traditions Linens from Codarus along with a duvet and throw. A blue-grey pillow from Ceylon et Cie is seen along with a plaster footed lamp by John Dickinson. A Nick Goss painting from Josh Lilley Gallery frames the space; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

Anchored in the far corner of the upper level, the main bedroom is bathed in a mink brown hue to foster a cocoon-like experience. The dark tones offer a sense of relaxation and also make for a wonderful backdrop to the grounded artwork. Keeping in line with the room’s palette, the upholstery features a cream coloured boucle headboard and an Oushak rug adds a patina to the room.

The daughter’s room features a custom cut seagrass rug with leather binding layered with a vintage Moroccan bear-shaped rug from One Kings Lane. Also seen is a Saarinen side table, honey rattan daybed and quilt from World Market and a Kids Egg Chair from Wayfair; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

The daughter’s room is the result of free reign and vibrant design. A turquoise hue covers the room and a rattan bed is paired with a floral duvet. The space is also adorned with her own artwork, which she mastered over the years.

A Queen of Spain in Black by Schumacher covers the powder room with vintage Kalmar sconces bought on eBay. A vintage smoked lucite mirror from James McInroe Inc is seen along with a Miro Widespread Faucet by Newport Brass; Photographs by Nathan Schroder

While the home boasts tall ceilings and smaller rooms, given the age of the home, Liu manages to personify this revamped cove with a touch of soulful design and lets the art amplify her design sensibilities!