When planning the interior of a newly constructed home, designers often start with a blank slate. They can orchestrate every detail, from backsplashes to light fixtures, to create a cohesive vision from baseboards to ceiling. Historical homes are different. Owners often are reticent to do away with decorative elements and want to maintain classic design features while still making the space their own. Although some professionals might feel constrained by the balancing act, designer Kathy Fielder embraces such challenges head on.
“I adore old houses—they’re a passion of mine,” says Fielder, who recently was asked to reimagine the interior of a nearly century-old home in Highland Park. Built in 1929, the exquisite Tudor-style home had been previously restored to create a more spacious and open floor plan. A second story also was added to the main house, along with guest quarters above a two-car garage. The new owners were enamored with the existing, built-in antique wine bar and hand-scraped hardwood floors, but they wanted to make the furnishings more modern and conducive to entertaining, as well as family-and pet-friendly.
“Design isn’t just about designing a space anymore, it’s about designing a lifestyle,” says Fielder, who is renowned in Dallas for her beautiful home interiors and high-end soft goods line. “I design in a way that you can truly live in your house. There’s no point in having a house that looks pretty but you can’t actually live in,” she says.
To this end, Fielder plans each room to serve multiple purposes. The family room in the Highland Park Tudor, for example, provides a comfortable place to watch television, a reading nook and several seating areas for guests to congregate during a party. “I started with a big sectional and worked out from there,” says Fielder of her design strategy for the space. The furniture needed to be at once elegant and durable to accommodate the family’s lifestyle, she explains, with clean lines that wouldn’t compete with ornate flourishes original to the house.
Fielder chose a sumptuous, textured cream-colored upholstery from her Isabella Collection home décor line for the overstuffed cushions on the custom-built black leather sectional. Fluffy throw pillows clad in faux fur and a light gray geometric print add both comfort and visual interest, while an oversize square ottoman in striped charcoal fabric provides additional room for lounging. Fielder notes that the nearby wall unit is a handy place for the owners to stash small items they use daily, from the car keys to the TV remote, while a row of baskets tucked under a console behind the sectional keep toys out of sight. “The more organized you can be while keeping it beautiful, the more you will love the space you live in,” she says.
To accommodate the open floor plan, Fielder used textiles from the Isabella Collection to create a unified design while still giving each room unique character. The formal living room is more tailored and masculine, with two antique side chairs facing a Robb & Stucky sofa that was reupholstered in a soft gray muslin. She chose an off-white pleated fabric for the Woodmark armchair and ottoman in the opposite corner, while patterned navy and white throw pillows add a crisp, classic touch. With a licensed furniture collection, Kathy Fielder for Atlantic, premiering on the market in January, Fielder knows a thing or two about creating gorgeous furniture that is livable.
“The fastest way to transform a room, besides paint, is to put in new pillows,” notes Fielder, who is also launching a new branded bedding line, Fielder Home, on QVC in early 2018. “You can go from bohemian to classic for $40,” she adds, laughing.
From the playful fuchsia and white chaise lounge in the library to the serene silver and gray linens in the master bedroom, the acclaimed designer combined textiles with artwork and decorative accessories to create inviting, imminently livable spaces throughout the house. “Life can sometimes be crazy and run at a fast pace, and your home is where you go to reconnect with yourself and your family,” she says, noting that the owners wanted their Highland Park home to be a relaxing refuge from the hustle and bustle of the Big D, as well as a place to graciously entertain family and friends.
“An organized home that’s well-appointed and perfectly planned, where the textures are engaging, is a place that lets you enjoy the things that matter most in life,” Fielder says. Without sacrificing the original aesthetic or ornate details in this 1920s gem, she created a comfortable and welcoming environment that strikes a balance between beauty and functionality, bringing the new owners’ vision to life.
Leslie J. Thompson is a Dallas-based freelance writer with a passion for interior design and profiling notable personalities.