SURPRISING FINDS

by LESLIE J. THOMPSON / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

The most dazzling treasures are often hidden inside of inconspicuous surroundings. A dull gray oyster is home to a magnificent pearl. A mottled, round rock reveals sparkling crystals within. An unassuming warehouse entrance to the Loyd-Paxton Gallery in Dallas opens to a treasure trove of fine antiques from around the globe.

Located in a small industrial center in the heart of Dallas, the 6,500- square-foot, museum-quality gallery showcases a little bit of everything, from classic European furniture to antiques from the Far East and select mid-century pieces. Each carefully crafted item has been on a journey through time; each one tells a story. Those stories are what first captivated designer and decorator Loyd Taylor when the gallery opened in 1960.

“I’ve always loved to collect things,” says Taylor, who for more than 60 years has amassed a wealth of knowledge about furnishings from bygone eras. He delights in sharing his insights and is quick to offer a personal tour of his showroom, starting in the entryway. The stately Viennese secretaire stationed across from the front door is from the Biedermeier era, he explains, drawing attention to the delicate ebony inlay on the arched top.

The Dallas showroom’s carefully planned layout lends itself well to this process of discovery. A magnificent Indian brass-overlaid wood door and surround, standing nearly 8 feet tall, greets visitors as they first enter the gallery. Inside the main showroom, Romanesque pillars create myriad smaller spaces that accentuate the details of various furnishings, while larger areas highlight the extraordinary scale of other items on display. A massive pair of Chinese covered vases made of carved serpentine jade stand sentinel on either side of a short passageway. Two Southern French carved walnut bibliothèques (bookcases), more than 14 feet long and 10 feet high, dominate a nearby nook. A 90-inch-high, majestic sandalwood doorway, featuring 32 recessed panels and embellished with brass-plated cast-iron studs, is firmly mounted on a spacious wall. And five impressive Chinese center tables, measuring 31 by 44 inches and carved entirely of yellow-green serpentine jade, are quick to draw attention.

A unique aspect of Loyd-Paxton’s collection is the extraordinary scale of the pieces. Such grand objects are as intriguing as they are intricately designed. “A lot of people use them as art objects, particularly in a contemporary house, where they want something to stand out,” says the storied designer. In addition to his role as a gallery owner, the Texas native is also a renowned, world-class decorator, bringing his impeccable eye to some of the most exquisite homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. His goal is to help clients create a living space that reflects their personal style, rather than imitate a look they saw elsewhere. “I try to educate my clients as we go along and expose them to different things,” says Taylor, who has been featured in Architectural Digest nine times.

The gallery’s abundance of furnishings attracts clients from across North America and as far away as Saudi Arabia and China, further fueling Taylor’s passion for cultural exploration. “I’ve met people from all over the world, which I wouldn’t have done in any other trade,” he says. He thrives on the fellowship, warmly inviting visitors to share in his delight of the exquisite beauty that surrounds him.

“When people walk in here, they’re surprised,” Taylor says. “It’s a very rewarding experience for them.”

Leslie J. Thompson is a Dallas-based freelance writer with a passion for interior design and international travel. Read more of her work at lesliejthompson.com.