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A Cedars Home in Black and White

Art directors Jamie Laubhan-Oliver and Larry Oliver like colors just fine—just not where they live.
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photography by Manny Rodriguez

A Cedars Home in Black and White

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The world of Jamie Laubhan-Oliver and Larry Oliver is very black and white. Every Saturday, following a proper breakfast prepared by patient and kind Larry, the duo set course for estate sales all over town. Jamie is compulsive about hitting every single one and handling every item. “Once I get her to the sales, she blacks out and doesn’t remember any of the inventory that currently sits in our garage,” Larry says. “I love the thrill of the hunt and finding that amazing piece for a dollar,” Jamie retorts. “A friend of mine once said that you never regret the things you buy—just the ones you don’t.” It’s safe to say that Jamie has few regrets.

In less able hands, an alabaster bust and old baby doll parts might not be so great. Jamie and Larry are experts at mixing the odd with the opulent in their home. As Jamie explains it, “We are in the business of making things look pretty.” That’s a bit of an understatement. Jamie and Larry scout products and produce photo shoots for a living—Jamie as the art director for D Home and D Weddings and Larry as a designer for Neiman Marcus’ The Book. That’s where the opulent comes in. “Because of Larry, I get fabulous discounts at employee-only sales that provide me with so many great decorative items,” Jamie says.

Everything comes together at the couple’s town home in the Cedars, where Jamie describes the vibe as “industrial glamour” and “urban country.” (Jamie always has more than one of everything, including answers to simple questions.) It’s a setting that is ever-changing. “I’m a compulsive redecorator. I rarely let anything sit in one spot long enough for it to have a permanent place,” Jamie says. That includes everything from furniture to pictures. “My house cleaner hates me. My dogs hide their toys. And my ‘honey-do’ list is actually a book,” she says. The one constant: the almost total absence of color. In Jamie’s perfect world, everything is black and white. “It isn’t that I don’t like color. I just don’t like it for me,” she explains.

Jamie comes by her redecorating compulsion honestly. Sure, some of it can be attributed to her OCD. But a lot of it she blames on her upbringing. She grew up in the Panhandle in a very small town. Like 300 people small. From grade school through high school, she and her class of 19 others rotated through the same three classrooms. And it drove her nuts. So she asked her teachers if she could go to work. “I would redecorate the rooms. I created signs for the hallways, designed academic programs, and that kind of thing,” Jamie says. At the time, she couldn’t imagine a less inspiring setting, but she now says she’s grateful for those surroundings. “I look back and see that so much of my current aesthetic was formed by the piles of rusty metal and the tumbleweeds on my parents’ farm,” she says.

The setting may not have gotten much more romantic after graduation, but romance was definitely in the air. Jamie met Larry at a journalism party at Texas Tech in 2000—not exactly the stuff of romantic comedies. But later in the year, they both switched majors to design, and that was that. “I walked into class the first day, and there he was. From that moment, we were an inseparable team.” They moved to Dallas in 2003, the day after graduation.

After trying out several neighborhoods, they purchased a town home in 2007, and they were able to add some of their own touches. They designed the fireplace, stained the concrete floors and cabinets black, and added a vintage claw foot tub. “The house was a white box with no architectural detail when we moved in, but we are slowly giving it character one project at a time,” she says.

Jamie and Larry married in 2005. “We’re celebrating our fifth anniversary this month,” Jamie says. A word of note: if you’re planning to buy the happy couple a present, try to remember Jamie’s aversion to color.

Styling by Jan Jones | Flowers by Haile Wossen