The Home as Pet Project
Fort Worth natives Lauren and Andrew Blake created the perfect place to house their art collection, baby Theo, and even their huge English Mastiff Augustus.
Commercial real estate may have brought Lauren and husband Andrew Blake together, but the former co-workers didn’t exactly bond over base rent rates and CAM charges. They didn’t need to. Both hail from Fort Worth. Lauren was a sculpture major; Andrew is the son of noted artist James Blake and a gifted artist in his own right. They both are crazy about architectural and design books. And they both love projects.
So they married, of course, and in March 2009, they started looking for a place that could house their art, books, and creativity. They settled on a house in Monticello because, as Lauren says, “It needed the right amount of work.” The 1930s duplex had already been converted into a house, so the Blakes set about taking out walls and redoing surfaces—floors, textures on the walls, new cabinets, countertops, and more. “Anything you can see, we changed,” Lauren says.
When it was time to find an interior designer, the couple didn’t have to look far. Leigh Taylor not only lived in the neighborhood, she had also known the Blakes for years—Andrew went to Country Day with Leigh. “We were friends, and she understood me,” Lauren says. “This was a project that was very different than most of her work. She was really wanting to do a modern house.” Leigh agrees. “It was so fun for me. My house is pretty traditional, so I got to live vicariously through them,” she says.
And so the collaboration began. Leigh pounded the pavement in the Dallas Design District. “I really had to go shopping to find things that lived up to their standards for fun and color,” she says. When it came time to work on the guest room, Lauren sat Leigh down. “Lauren said, ‘I’m just going to tell you. We’re having a baby.’ I’m probably one of the first people they told,” Leigh says with a laugh.
Lauren knew exactly what she wanted for the nursery, and it didn’t include cartoon characters or Noah’s ark. “I wanted to do a Palm Springs-themed room,” she says. “Leigh and I had talked about a coffee table book—one of the pictures that we really loved was on a website.” That website, Surface View (surfaceview.co.uk), specializes in “ready to roll” murals that can be hung like wallpaper. At the time, Lauren didn’t know the sex of the baby. “She said, ‘If it’s a girl, she’s obviously going to like the fashion [in the photo mural]. If it’s a boy, he’ll like the nature and the pretty girls,’” Leigh says. By all accounts, baby Theo is pleased with his digs.
Next up, Lauren wanted a special, girly space, and she had the perfect place. “There was a room that was the breakfast room upstairs when it was a duplex. For a while, we lived with it as a pass-through between the bedroom and bathroom,” she says. Designer and client chose to convert it into a Moroccan fantasy nook. Dark chocolate paint covers the walls, and the ceiling is wallpapered. A variety of colors and patterns pop on window treatments and pillows. And the window seat is the perfect place for friends to hang out and visit.
Now that the projects here are complete, it’s time to move on. Lauren and Andrew have already purchased another house two miles away and have begun work. But leaving is bittersweet. “I’ll miss the natural sunlight and the neighborhood,” Lauren says. “I think I’ll really miss the charm that we put into this house.”
Styled by Jocelyn Meintser