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Familiar Ground: Balancing Contrasting Elements

Familiar Ground: Balancing Contrasting Elements

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHARLES DAVIS SMITH

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This Dallas home is rich in its history,” says interior designer Linda Fritschy of the white classic Revival- style house she was tasked with revamping. Built in 1914 by Bishop Edwin Mouzon—a Southern Methodist University founder—the dwelling was used as both a fraternity and a sorority house before being converted back into a single-family home. The current owner was very familiar with the space, which had been his childhood abode, and now lives here with his wife. “Growing up in the house was a lot of fun,” says the husband. “It was always filled with friends and family from all walks of life. But even though the home is 100 years old, we wanted a more contemporary look.”

To accomplish the owners’ goal of a contemporary aesthetic, Dan McKeithen, who helmed the build, performed an extensive renovation. “The house was gutted to the studs,” says McKeithen, who demolished and rebuilt the rear portion of the home, which had been added to through the years. He also relocated the garage from the backyard to a space underneath the rear of the home. The newly expanded kitchen and family room now feature ample storage and space thanks to the garage’s repositioning. “The topography was very accommodating to this design,” says McKeithen, pointing to the home’s location atop the highest elevation on the lot. 

Moving the garage created enough space in the backyard for architects Mark Domiteaux and Laura Baggett to design a brand-new cabana with an outdoor fireplace, which overlooks an inground swimming pool. “It’s very symmetrical and embraces the backyard on a smaller scale,” says Domiteaux. Inside, the architects maintained the home’s classic center hallway, which is flanked by the parlor on the right and the formal dining room on the left. Wide moldings and thick walls provide a sense of scale and solidity in the spacious new family room, while built-in cabinetry supplies extra storage throughout.

“It’s always a joy to collaborate with these architects,” says Fritschy, who worked closely with Domiteaux and Baggett to select the interior finishes. To create the new traditional look the clients requested, the designer chose transitional furnishings with clean lines. “There’s some restraint to the interior palette,” Fritschy explains, noting the spare use of color and pattern throughout the home. Instead, Fritschy created interest by balancing contrasting elements. The interior doors, which have been lacquered black, stand out against the neutral walls and glossy white trim. “That reflective quality gives the home a fresh, modern look,” she says. In addition, it was important for the overall aesthetic to be comfortable and inviting while incorporating a variety of antiques. “I made sure to balance the selection of antiques with modern pieces so the interiors didn’t feel too formal,” the designer adds.

According to the owners, it’s common for passersby to stop and compliment them on the home and overall grounds, which were redesigned by landscape architect John Armstrong. He used plantings typical of the home’s historic period, including boxwood, hollies and magnolias, to create elegant vignettes that seamlessly flow from the indoors out. “The garden was planned to allow many of the interior spaces to flow outside, creating the feeling of larger areas,” he says. “The living room flows onto a rear, partially covered terrace that in turn steps down into a beautifully classic rectangular pool with a cabana.”

The owners are gratified by the attention and enjoy entertaining guests in their newly renovated home. “Great architecture and interior design have always been important to our family,” says the husband. “We wanted to keep the integrity of the home intact while creating a very usable environment for a modern family.” Although his wife felt some trepidation about taking on such a large project, she too is very happy with the final outcome. “This is our forever house,” she says.

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