Open communication, trust, forgiveness, financial responsibility—everyone knows they’re the basic tenets of one of the most sacred relationships in life: interior designer and client. It’s not easy to find. We’ve all heard tale of unanswered calls, undelivered furnishings, and unreasonable expectations, but when the right collaborators find one another (and stay together), it rivals anything you’ll find in fairy tales. Spoiler alert: This is one of those stories.
It began simply enough. Once upon a time, Dallas designer Laura Lee Clark Falconer of Laura Lee Clark Interior Design, Inc. was hired by a certain Park Cities couple (they prefer to remain anonymous). It went so well that they’ve been collaborating happily ever after, with no end in sight. “I’ve worked on four homes in Highland Park with them over the past 16 years,” the designer says. “They love to have a constant project going to keep things fresh.”
That goes double for their current residence, a circa-2000, 9,972-square-foot Mediterranean designed by architect Weldon Turner that features four bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and two pool baths with a spa. “We completely renovated this home before they moved there in 2017, but over the past six years, we have redesigned the furnishings and finishes in several of the rooms,” says Falconer.
While Mediterranean-style homes of the early aughts sometimes get a bad rap, this one is in a class of its own. “The architecture of this home has such elegant classical proportions, and the quality of the construction is truly unmatched,” Falconer notes. But while the overall design was timeless, the dated finishes were doing it no favors. “Everything was very dark, heavy handed, and outdated, so we went to work lightening things up,” she says. “This young family wanted the warmth and richness that the architecture provided, but they needed me to give it a modern flair.”
Because the house is rife with formal architectural details—soaring coffered ceilings, arches and columns, grand stone fireplaces—Falconer’s clients asked for “warm, cozy textiles” to help make it feel more inviting. She more than delivered. Take the massive great room where she reined in the scale by dividing it into multiple seating areas that invite intimate conversation. Well-placed accessories like floor lamps and large-scale chandeliers help, too. “A room-sized area rug, along with beautiful textures, give the room a luxurious, cozy ambience,” she explains. “The family loves spending time together here because of the comfortable furnishings, and it’s also drenched in light and has fabulous views of the loggia, pool, and backyard.”
The color blue is featured subtly throughout the home except for two spots where the homeowners’ travels inspired shades that absolutely dominate. After a trip to Capri, Falconer’s clients were drawn to a bold paint for the walls of the library. And the custom shade adorning the curved bar in the living room was the result of a stay at the Four Seasons Miami. “They loved the bar there that was painted a high-gloss green—it was very tropical with palm trees,” Falconer explains. “Since my clients favor blue, we chose a color that was the perfect complement to the adjacent library. Blue just makes you feel good.”
In addition to paint, Falconer transformed ho-hum walls in various rooms into works of art with an abundance of custom wallcoverings, beautiful tiles, and elaborate stonework. Of course, having actual works of art on display helps, too. Luckily, her clients are avid collectors, and she has had the pleasure of finding a place for pieces by artists like David Bates, Sam Reveles, Andrea Rosenberg, Terrell James, Donald Sultan, Mel Bochner, Donald Baechler, Damien Hirst, Ian Davenport, Dale Chihuly, Helen Frankenthaler, and Pablo Picasso.
Part of the beauty of the surprises here—the marble mural in the family powder bath, or the vintage chandelier in the dining room—is that they’re ephemeral. Because things are constantly being refreshed, the next time you visit, the flooring may be totally different, the furnishings switched out for something new, and a Hirst may have taken Picasso’s place. There are two constants, however: a pair of chests by Jan Showers that have found a place in every one of this duo’s projects, and, of course, the bond between designer and clients.
Designer Laura Lee Clark Falconer advises that sometimes all it takes is one big act to transform an entire scene.
Hit the Floor
The foyer was originally clad in very dark wood with a simple limestone floor that carried into the gallery. “When my client wanted a new look in this room, we dialed it up by changing the floor pattern,” says the designer. Now the entry sets the tone for the entire home with an intricate stone floor made of Bianco Bello and Grigio Verona.
Become a Ceiling Fan
There’s a lot to love in the dining room, from the vintage chandelier, elegant furnishings, and classic Gracie pattern on the walls. Still, the designer wanted to give guests one more reason to look up during the soup course. “We added a shimmering, silverleaf, scalloping-pattern Gracie wallpaper on the ceiling.”
Put Some Pow into the Powder
A powder bath will provide a big return on even the smallest investment. Why? Space is limited and it’s the only place where people will experience your home truly on their own. Falconer packed a couple of lovely loos with a high-impact marble mural by Ann Sacks and custom bronze detailing with an exquisite Sodalite vanity.