Dallas interior designer Mary Anne Smiley gets straight to the point about the thinking behind the 6,000-square-foot home she designed for a young single woman on an expansive East Texas ranch. “The design challenge was to make the home personal for this young lady and still reflect a little bit about her heritage, with a smattering of heirloom antiques here and there,” she shares. “It was interesting and fun working with this uniquely accomplished client.”
First things first, Smiley set about referencing and occasionally incorporating aspects of the owner’s outdoor-oriented lifestyle, her passion for hunting and horseback riding and jumping, into what she refers to as an upscale, rustic ranch setting. Throughout the house a mix of refined and rustic wood finishes, such as barnwood recycled from the ranch, knotty pine for cabinetry, clear-coated alder for certain ceiling details and solid oak flooring, pair with a color palette that complements the outdoor surroundings. A tree stump from the ranch was used as the base for the sink basin in the guest powder room. Again and again, Smiley juxtaposed high-end furnishings with significant heirloom pieces and art, some of which had been in the owner’s family for generations.
Certain spaces were approached with a more transitional or contemporary sensibility. In the main living room, for example, Smiley paired vintage textiles with Western leathers and cowhides. “It was fun because it was a nice mix, a gamut of finishes,” she says. “Everything was customized to perfectly fit the space.” A cowhide area rug in a warm paprika hue counterbalances Formations sofas, upholstered in Holland & Sherry fabric that’s both attractive and durable enough to withstand the antics of the owner’s cat and two dogs. Formations club chairs with “a bit dressier” herringbone fabric are paired with a Formations coffee table with a Tavolini wood top and an iron base. Rounding out the scene, one of three chandeliers inherited from the owner’s grandparents provides a counterfoil to a moose head mount (the result of a recent hunt) placed above the stone fireplace. “I so love the juxtaposition of the moose head and the antique chandelier!” Smiley says.
Encouraging flow and convivial gatherings when guests come to visit or stay, an ample kitchen opens to both the living and dining rooms. Smiley notes that, while the barnwood island base and knotty pine kitchen cabinetry exude a lodge-like feel, the marble countertops and Artistic Tile glass mosaic backsplash add a touch of elegance and contrast. High, custom wood and leather David Sutherland barstools at the island and stainless appliances skew contemporary.
Offering expansive vistas of distant ranchland and a close-by lake, the dining room is light and bright, with a touch of whimsy evident in various accents and details. For seating at the rustic dining table, Smiley contrasted an heirloom Louis XI settee, complete with an ornately carved and gilded frame and re-covered in paprika hair-oncowhide, with simple woodframed Restoration Hardware chairs with dressy striped damask upholstery. The owner’s professional equestrian life is represented by the addition of a colorful display of award ribbons and plates, as well as a playful harness-and-tack pattern depicted on draperies.
For private time, the windowed master bedroom is a veritable indoor oasis. “It’s Western in a new, upscale way,” says Smiley. Custom leathercovered nightstands with nailhead trim, by Formations, are good-looking and work well with red leather Ironies chairs. The iron bedframe is offset with an equestrian-patterned bedspread and dust ruffles from Hermès. A custom wall-to-wall carpet, uniquely woven from strips of Sunbrella fabric, “harkens back to the old braided rag rug look, and gives the room an heirloom feel,” says Smiley. The equestrian chandelier by Ralph Lauren and custom lamps made from the client’s riding boots complete the look.
Reflecting on the project, which, she admits, is still a bit of a work in progress, with room to add a few personal touches, Smiley emphasizes the owner’s satisfaction. “It’s really very remote, so when she’s there, she’s really there, riding or out with the dogs or just relaxing on the inviting wraparound porch with family and friends,” she says. “The house is a mix of family and lifestyle, fine but not fancy, and reflective of her casual style in the vernacular of what she loves. It is her dream home.”
Linda Hayes, a freelance writer from Aspen, Colorado, specializes in architecture, design and the luxury lifestyle. Her articles have appeared in publications including Luxe, Hawaiian Style, Mountain Living and Elle Decor.