Before & After: Six Rooms Take On A New Life and Luxe

Dallas’ most creative home designers change the look of six rooms.

{  bringing up the rear }
Several years ago, up-and-coming designer Edward Maestri, Associate AIA, who works for a large architectural firm, found a great deal on a 1,028-square-foot house built in 1951 in Lakewood. The New Orleans native thought the small space wouldn’t be too much of a problem; he’d lived in smaller spaces during college and had managed just fine. But after entertaining on a few occasions, he quickly realized he didn’t have the space he needed—or the resort-style flair he ultimately desired.




Problem: The back of the house had a ramshackle porch leading from the kitchen, with no easy access to the yard, which didn’t have a deck or patio.

Solution: Because the lot was deep enough, Maestri decided not only to fix up the existing porch, but also to add a new wing with an expanded, remodeled kitchen as well as a new den and master suite. That brought the resulting L-shaped house to 2,011 square feet—almost double what it had been prior. The wing featured a curtained veranda with tile floors accessible from four sets of French doors leading from the den and suites. Outdoor comfy furnishings make guests feel right at home. Maestri improved the home’s original porch by updating its screened walls, adding new deck flooring, lining the ceiling with bamboo screens, and making outdoor living even breezier with a tropical-style ceiling fan. He added paper lanterns for sculptural light and curtains for softness and privacy. For true living room style, he brought in an indoor-outdoor lamp and rug, as well as a daybed with indoor-outdoor fabric and pillows. Punches of red in both the fabric and garden pots give the space vibrancy.

How Clever: Maestri has a gas fireplace that can be enjoyed indoors and out. With glass on either side, it looks great framed in streamlined stucco outside, while inside it sports a more contemporary wooden mantel. In the courtyard, Mexican beach pebbles make a soft outdoor rug of sorts; above the fireplace hangs a section of bleached grapevine.



Designer: Edward Maestri, [email protected].
Contractor: Herman Darden, LLC, principles James Lang and Kyle McGlothlin, 214-766-9670.
Landscaping materials/ceiling fans: The Home Depot,; Walton’s Lawn & Garden Center, 214-324-3287.
Bamboo screens: Lowe’s,
Furnishings: The Bombay Company,; West Elm,; Pier 1,; Crate & Barrel,; Target,; Pottery Barn,

{  light force }

When Kalynn and Tully Weiss bought their 1971 Lakewood Terrace tract home several years ago, the only impact their kitchen, living space, and bathrooms created was a thud. The couple aimed for a cleaner, brighter space to help further open up the 1,330-square-foot home they share with their English bulldog, Zipper, and English bull terrier, Button. To achieve their design goals, the couple turned to modern-minded architect Dan Shipley.


Problem: The dark, beamed ceilings in the living area were a distraction and the long side wall needed definition. The heavily bricked fireplace lacked personality and sucked light from the room. The 1980s-style kitchen didn’t suit the Weisses’ love of open, flexible spaces and sleek appliances. The Pergo wood floor seemed too traditional. “We also don’t like upper cabinets,” Kalynn says, “and didn’t like that the counter perpendicular to the backdoor squeezed the back entry.”

Solution: The realm features a modern mindset thanks to a unifying and ethereal shade of white paint, new utilitarian-style cabinetry, thoughtful lighting, and sculptural furnishings that move easily because of their light weight. Sheetrock covers much of the previous brick surrounding the fireplace, leaving only slim portions of it for streamlined definition. New energy-efficient windows and doors trimmed in white more sleekly frame the home’s lush exterior. The concrete floor is actually the home’s foundation, sealed to high gloss and low maintenance after a four-day treatment process. The side wall’s built-in bench wears bark-cloth fabric for functionality and texture; when entertaining, a fold-out table in an adjacent room rolls in, and chairs are added to the other side. To avoid interrupting the ceiling plane with recessed lighting, the Weisses opted for indirect and fluorescent lighting for easy maintenance. “It’s always interesting to hear people say, ‘You can’t light a house with fluorescent lights,’” Kalynn says. “That would have been true a few years ago, but in our opinion, it’s no longer the case.”

Problem: The house had small back-to-back bathrooms (with dated vanities and awkwardly placed toilets) that didn’t offer what lighting designers Kalynn and Tully Weiss wanted, which was one larger bathroom that appeared clean, light, and bright. But how could it be designed to work as both a master bathroom and a powder room for guests?

Solution: Both spaces were combined to create a spa-like realm, subtly divided in two, with a simple, yet sculptural sink and gallery-style mirror at the fore, and a platformed area in back for the room’s toilet and rain shower.

How Clever: A slim wood-and-opaque acrylic toiletries cabinet aims to blend in, yet also stand out. That’s because when the door is closed, all you see is the nightlight-esque glow of an Osram Sylvania LED lamp that changes hues—white, pink, red, yellow, blue, and green—on an automatic slow fade. Inside, the bulb illuminates what’s inside, nicely organized with blue, green, and white translucent bins to hold the small stuff. An interior outlet charges an electric toothbrush base station and a hair dryer—a design that keeps an unsightly outlet from interrupting the sleek surroundings.



Architect: Dan Shipley, 214-823-2080. Lighting: Litelab, 214-934-6490.
Contractor: Mark Huss for Huss-Solid Services, 214-724-6556.
Furnishings: Haroo & Haroo Inc., 214-747-1700; Design Within Reach, 214-521-0100; The Noguchi Museum Store,
Kitchen/bath fixtures: Shaw’s farm sink: TKO Associates, 214-741-6060.
Jenn-Air dishwasher: The Home Depot,
Paint: “Seed Pearl,” Sherwin-Williams,
Toiletry cabinet bins: The Container Store,

{  fashion statement }

For a glamorous couple—Robin Wilkes, a top selling associate for Neiman Marcus, and her husband, salon owner Warren Wilkes—“there was simply no glamour to their guest room,” says designer Michelle Nussbaumer of the duo’s Highland Park home. “It seemed like a lot of leftover stuff had been put there until further notice. Nothing looked special.” The main trick would be making the room feminine enough for Robin’s tastes while at the same time keeping it neutral enough for Warren to enjoy. Nussbaumer would also need to incorporate many of the room’s original furnishings and accessories.



Problem: The four-post bed, which Robin has had since age 13, looked dated instead of vintage, and the space above it appeared empty. The lamps on either side weren’t balanced. The desk chair looked undressed. The chest appeared too large next to the bed, which had bedding that lacked oomph. “The color scheme was right, but it needed more depth and contrast,” Nussbaumer explains.

Solution: Surrounded by a rich “Dior” hue of gray paint, the cherished bed wears a new glossy white lacquer for pop. For additional contrast, the ceiling, as well as door and window trim, sport whiter coats of paint, while a section of the wall behind the desk is painted white to showcase a large piece of art. Luxurious, monogrammed Pratesi sheets add glam, as does a mirrored console table that offers function, shimmer, and depth. A new marble lamp pairs with a lamp brought in from another room; both creamy pieces work well with a tall, shell-filled apothecary-style jar. The desk chair is dressed in a chic slipcover that links it to the bedding, which features a handmade woven coverlet custom made in Chiapas, Mexico. The ultimate high note of glamour is a new starburst mirror over the bed.


How Clever: The bedside mirrored console allows a newly lacquered Queen Anne-style bench to tuck beneath it for added flexibility and storage. The bench also beautifully reflects the room’s lighter accessories, bedding, and
fresh flowers.


Designer: Michelle Nussbaumer, 214-742-7632.
Accessories/furnishings: Ceylon et Cie, 214-742-7632.
Mongramming: Kyle Painter at the Monogram Shop, 214-507-9284.
Vintage wall brackets: White Elephant Antiques, 214-871-7966.

{  gothic romance }

“I love old English style—it’s so warm and welcoming,” designer Elizabeth Angel Magee says. Yet the ho-hum kitchen she and husband Kevin Magee had in their historic Tudor-style Highland Park home was anything but. Working with Richard Drummond Davis, the Magees’ goal was to have the look of the kitchen match the age of the house (designed in the late 1930s by acclaimed architect Harwood K. Smith), and also have it function well for their young family and guests.



Problem: A lackluster ceiling with a distracting wallpaper border hemmed in the space, which featured nothing-special white cabinetry. There wasn’t enough counter space or task lighting, and not much of an eat-in area. The “brick” laminate floor wasn’t convincing. There also wasn’t a real focal point in the room.

Solution: Having more than doubled in size, the redesigned kitchen looks original to the large home, yet still appears modern and ultra-functional for a family of four. One of its most striking hallmarks is a ribbed, vaulted ceiling that leads to expansive arches connecting the room to a butler’s pantry hallway, den, and breakfast room. Another is its elegant yet hard-working storage and appliance island, measuring 12 feet by 4 feet and topped with stone. An 18th century Italian-painted iron chandelier found at Donald Embree Antiques sheds light on the subject, and oversize leather stools provide comfortable perch there. Hand-rubbed and distressed mahogany furniture-style cabinetry with concealed appliances features gothic details, while the mix of copper and stainless steel looks current. Furthering the aged look are textured walls that wear a light tea-stain hue and hand-scraped oak hardwood floors.

How Clever: Verde Etrusco stone—in dark green with brown, green, and gray striations—looks almost medieval. The decorative copper hood with acanthus leaf trim is exceedingly refined.



Architect: Richard Drummond Davis, 214-521-8763.
Interior designer: Elizabeth Angel Magee, ASID, 214-725-9291.
Contractor: Reilly Homes Inc., 214-528-2645.
Cabinetry: Lindsey Littrell, 3L Designs, 214-920-9223.
Flooring: French Brown Floors, 214-363-4341.
Countertops: Stone Tec Inc., 972-278-4477.
Copper exhaust hood: Stidham Sheet Metal, 214-328-1971.
Appliances: Jarrell Appliances, 214-750-3420.
Barstools: George Cameron Nash, 214-744-1544.
Walls: Connett Custom Concepts, 214-662-9207.

{  taj ma-closet }

Rebecca and Rick Szelc thought they might have to move. As top professionals in financial management, they travel a good deal, and with that, they spend a lot of time in their closet. They realized it was far too small for the both of them to hustle and bustle in. It was “generally a stressful place to be,” Rebecca says. “We were too cramped. That made the house itself feel cramped.”


Problem: Their Preston Hollow home’s original walk-in closet was essentially big enough only for one person to be in at a time—a detriment for a fast-paced couple. There wasn’t enough storage, and the closet definitely lacked personality.

Solution: After meeting with designer Joyce Schiska, the pair was encouraged to remodel, not move. By bumping out one corner of their home, a much larger, 225-square-foot dressing retreat was created—one the duo now refers to as their “Taj Ma-Closet” for its numerous well-proportioned clothing areas with 28 opaque doors, 21 drawers, and 25 shelves for shoes, handbags, and baskets for small essentials. The chic setting is an organized haven of maple cabinetry stained for a warm look; soft textured carpet offers a soft touch. At the center of it all is a storage peninsula measuring 8 feet by 3 feet, with a mirror reaching from the island’s counter to the top of the 11-foot ceiling. The couple primarily uses the spot as their packing peninsula, where a suitcase or two can be tossed onto the Santa Cecilia granite counter, and everything is within reach—“no matter what climate we’re going to,” Rebecca says. (A ladder can access winter clothing stored up high during summer, and vice versa.) Windows add light and allow plants to thrive in the space, where sueded pale-peach paint complements skin tones for dressing and ensures fabric tones are true. “This has made all the difference,” Rebecca says. “Now we can really live here.”

How Clever: One heel in, one toe out. That’s the way Rebecca can see a shoe’s style and heel size at the same time—helping her easily spot just the right pick.



Designer: Joyce Schiska, ASID, 972-484-2336.
Contractor: Caulton Contracting, 972-770-5433.
Custom cabinetry: Daycor Enterprises, 972-838-2700.
Granite: The Granite Guy, 972-317-4448.
Glass and mirror: JPON Glass Company, 214-349-1400.


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