Love at first sight is rare, but it happens. NBCDFW-Channel 5 anchorwoman Jane McGarry first met designer Ken Blasingame in the early 1990s at his namesake store on Camp Bowie Boulevard in Fort Worth. It was a lazy Saturday afternoon, and Blasingame couldn’t help but notice the hot pink 1973 Porsche with a lime green laundry basket in the backseat buzz by. Ms. McGarry—the lady driving the colorful ride—caught sight of a carved wooden bench and a funky gold leaf mirror in the store window and was compelled to make a quick u-turn. As soon as she entered the store and saw the gold lamé walls with green trim, she knew she had met her style soul mate. Everything Blasingame showed her, she loved. Both appreciated the same aesthetic—old, unusual, eclectic pieces all working together.
A few purchases later (her first being a gold leaf bench with hot pink and mustard striped fabric), she and her husband, Kevin, decided to hire Blasingame as their designer. “We wanted our home to be beautiful, full of interesting things, but completely comfortable,” Jane says. “Some rooms just get too serious. Every one needs to have something funky—a little off—in it.” It’s a sentiment shared by Blasingame, and he reveled in bringing a sense of fun to the interior. “The house really has its own ethnicity. The attitude is one of openness and comfort,” he says.
In 2002, the McGarrys took a vacation to Italy and were inspired by the country houses of Sardinia. The homes there are far from formal, and many are almost completely open to the outside. When the couple decided to build a new home, they knew they wanted to bring a little Sardinia to Fort Worth. They studied some of the region’s noted architectural lines and incorporated some of their favorites, including stepped-back bracket roof eaves inspired by a house they saw and admired. Like Sardinia itself, which is an amalgam of cultures, the architecture of the house takes its cues from a number of cultures, including those of the Latins, Greeks, and Arabs. The one-year process was a delight. “I’ve always been interested in houses,” Jane says. “I liked to draw house plans when I was 8 years old.” Husband Kevin got into the spirit of things by poking around a salvage yard on Industrial Boulevard. He found the first-growth pine for the beams at a church near Fair Park.
Jane says color makes her happy. So she must be downright ecstatic as soon as she hits her driveway—her front door is lime green. The entry has mustard walls. From there, turn right into the pale green living room or left into a brilliant orange dining room with rich terra cotta walls housing collections of Italian and Mexican blue and white ceramics, green velvet chairs, and a profusion of pink and orange gladioli. Of the dining room, Jane says, “This is my favorite room. It’s so rich and vibrant.” All the color makes their guests happy, too. The McGarrys often entertain during the weekends.
There’s no shortage of color in the kitchen either. Think brilliant turquoise tile and collections of yellow and green ceramics. It is a testament to Blasingame’s talent in layering all these unique pieces and bright colors that the result is an integrated and livable space. Kevin and Jane share the cooking duties during the week. “I make a mean grilled cheese sandwich that Elvis would have loved,” Kevin boasts. Most nights, Jane does the 6 o’clock news, comes home for a quick bite, and then heads back to the station in time for the 10 p.m. edition.
Client and designer have an easy rapport and clearly share the same tastes. Blasingame knows Jane well. “Peace troubles her soul,” he says. Take the master bedroom. “The soft neutrals were really just too bland and peaceful, so we added a bright marine blue leather chair and a lustrous red heart sculpture,” he says. A mirror that was in Blasingame’s home now lives in the McGarrys’ dining room. And the designer’s art hangs in prominent places around the home.
The house isn’t static. New, unique pieces are brought in periodically to update and layer and add to the international flavor of the home. Blasingame’s expertise lies in creating functional, livable rooms that are also beautiful and interesting. Even the most unusual objects don’t stand out; instead they are harmonious in the environment.
On television, Jane is a bit formal—coiffed, buttoned up, and the consummate professional. But at home, the suits give way to workout clothes—she runs daily—suitable for the comfortable life she shares with Kevin and son Michael (not to mention all of Michael’s football and baseball friends) and the dog Chocolate. She is enthusiastic about her home and the things in it. Of her job, she says, “How you present yourself, the colors you wear, and the words you say are all part of a daily art production.” The same could be said about her lovely and vibrant home.