John had a furniture/cabinetmaker create the walls of the entry. The painting is “Imajica” by Benton Peugh, the sconces are by Max Ingrand for Fontana Arte, and the console is by John Gregory.

A Not-So-Empty Nest

After raising the kids, Kay and Chuck Rankin team with John Gregory to create a couples retreat

“This is the first time my wife and I did something exactly the way we wanted it,”Chuck Rankin says about his home. But it didn’t happen overnight. 

Three years ago, the Rankins were trying to figure out their next move. Their children were grown, and Chuck, a dentist, and Kay, a professor at the Baylor College of Dentistry were looking to downsize. “We lived in the Park Cities, but we always tended to gravitate to the Knox/Henderson area,” Chuck says. “And I really liked Travis Street.” The couple began looking around, and Chuck eventually found a townhome that had the most important qualities he could have asked for: extra space and endless possibilities.

The living room boasts a 1950s Stilnovo chandelier, a custom sofa made of Macassar ebony and leather with turned nickel feet, and a French coffee table in silver and marble. Designer John Gregory found the David Hicks rug before it went up for auction, and it was cut in half to fit the room. “The other half is in John’s showroom if someone wants to buy it,” Chuck Rankin says.

“It was fairly generic. It was built in 2004, and it wasn’t built to my standards, but I liked the way that it was long and deep,” he says. “And upstairs, there was a door in a closet that was labeled ‘More Space Here.’ I opened the door, and there was about 1,000 square feet of unfinished space—maybe more—over the garage plus a little more. I told Kay, ‘I found something we can really make something out of.’”

“I had seen a television show where a woman had a staircase with a singular mid-line beam and glass on the sides. That’s what I wanted.” 

Chuck Rankin
Rankin immediately began mentally reconfiguring the space. He wanted to add bedrooms, move windows, extend the kitchen, add an office, take out a downstairs bathtub, and create a stunning staircase. “I had seen a television show where a woman had a staircase with a singular mid-line beam and glass on the sides. That’s what I wanted,” he says.

Chuck golfs regularly with Joe Estes of Registry Homes and asked if he’d be up for the project. Estes agreed, and they began working with his architect to get things drawn. 

The library is home to a French Deco chandelier, a sofa in Coraggio fabric, and a chair, all from John Gregory. The French soleil mirror is from the 1940s, and the 1970s Italian coffee table is acrylic and glass.
The problems popped up fairly quickly. The space over the garage was two feet lower than the rest of the house. They had to find ways to make changes without disrupting the post-stress foundation. And then there was that staircase. “The architect said, ‘I don’t know how to do this,’” Chuck says. A client put him in touch with Dan Shipley, whom Chuck calls “the architect’s architect,” and the two got to work. “He’s an extremely nice guy, and we have the same personality. We want things to be done within hundredths of a millimeter of fitting.”  

Chuck eventually got the linear stairwell he had been dreaming of. “Dan did an absolutely perfect job. He had a carpenter who worked only by himself and only after hours named Dave. He did it all very simply and by hand. He made those steps by hand, and they are much more intricate than you think they are,” Chuck says.

While Chuck focused on bridging the great divide upstairs, Kay set her sights on creating a kitchen to fit her every need. She selected her cabinets and drawers, an industrial range, and two ovens. The Rankins knew they didn’t want granite, so they opted for silestone. “It looks like marble or granite, but it’s antimicrobial. It will not absorb any type of liquid, and it’s very hygienic,” Chuck says.

“I had seen a television show where a woman had a staircase with a singular mid-line beam and glass on the sides. That’s what I wanted.” —Chuck Rankin

“They both have their own kinds of things that they like to collect, and it all works well together.” 

John Gregory
From the very beginning, the Rankins had designer John Gregory by their side, helping them realize their vision. “John is a good friend of mine. We’ve collected furniture from him for a long time. So for this project, he would come in and say, ‘Why don’t we do the entry in Macassar ebony? I have a guy who is a real craftsman who can do this.’” 

John credits great communication and patience for the success of the project. “They had their own ideas and vision of what they wanted it to be. Chuck is very good at building things and figuring things out. He’s very detail oriented—he’s a dentist,” he says. “But they both have their own kinds of things that they like to collect, and it all works well together.”

Kay Rankin focused on creating a kitchen to meet her every need. She chose the silestone countertops because she liked the look and the fact that they are extremely hygienic. The Tomaso Buzzi chandelier was produced in 1929.
Many of Chuck’s treasures come from Grange Hall. “I’ve known Rajan Patel from when he was doing flowers at Korshak,” he says. “If he were to walk through the house, he’d be pointing at things saying, ‘That’s mine. That’s mine.’” The Rankins also are passionate art collectors. “They have really good taste in art. They buy what they like, and it works,” John says. Their walls are adorned with works by friend Dan Rizzie, Christopher DeGasperi, Jim Lowery, and James Hammock along with pieces produced by Chuck and his daughter. 

The last room of the house to come together was the library. Chuck knew he wanted to tackle that one on his own. He hung a painter’s tarp over the space and toiled on it for a year. He built all the shelves, one at a time, from the bottom up. He created the intricate moldings. And when it came time to choose the glass on the walls, he measured everything exactly. “I told the glass guy, ‘I built this room. I’ll measure it.’ But he didn’t trust me. He came over and measured it. The pieces didn’t fit. He didn’t cut to my dimensions,” he says. 

“This place was a blank canvas, and we could do whatever we wanted. And through trial and error, we created this.”

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