AT home

Young moderns Steve and Jan Walter live amidst art for imagination’s sake.

WHEN STEVE AND JAN WALTER return from their travels around the globe, they embark on yet another great adventure. Life within the confines of their home revives memories of other places; their international collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative art commands attention. “We only have to look around us to see where we are and where we have been,” notes Steve.

Combining a discriminating eye for collecting with Jan’s innate sense of design, the Walters have instilled an excitingly young and contemporary outlook into an older residence. Add to that the presence of an appreciative group of friends who relish the Walters’ flair for cooking and entertaining, and the result becomes quite beguiling for all concerned. “Our home gives us so much pleasure,” Jan explains. “We enjoy every room and every day we spend here.”

This happy state of affairs came into being almost by accident. Three and a half years ago, the Walters lived contentedly in another North Dallas home and had no intention of moving. “That home was more contemporary than this one, and we had done it exactly the way we wanted it,” Jan remembers. “We loved it, but we had laughingly told a friend who was a Realtor, ’If you ever find a great house, a great lot, and a great price, call us.’”

He called, and before long, the Walters took their first look at the 1936 Spanish Colonial home sequestered amid dense foliage in the rustic Bluffview residential area. “Steve and 1 walked in the front door, took one look at the house, and decided on the spot to put a contract on it,” Jan recalls. Not only did the residence have the character and the space (5,000 square feet spread over two levels) the couple wanted, but it also afforded a sense of privacy that suited them perfectly. “We can stand on the dining room balcony, looking out over the terrace and pool and the back of the property, and the trees are so thick that we can’t see a single other home. We have the feeling of being all alone,” she explains.

Before the Walters could move in, they directed a six-montn process of remodeling; Jan served as the contractor. “We wanted more of the feel ing of a Mediterranean villa, so we changed the roof outside, redid the kitchen and baths, and did a lot of customizing to our needs.” The structure had already changed drastically from its origins as a rather undistinguished ranch-style dwelling; extensive remodeling in the 1980s had given the house its characteristic arched doorways, terra cotta-colored ceramic tile floors, hard-formed plaster walls, and private courtyards. The Walters updated and refined the look to meet their specifications.

Once ensconced in the remodeled home, the Walters turned their attention to displaying their collection of contemporary and ethnic art from North and South America, Africa, and Asia. Many of the pieces represent journeys taken together by Jan, a custom jewelry designer and part-time airline attendant, and Steve, the president of a sales and marketing firm that serves the apparel industry, in the 14 years of their marriage. “I’m lucky to have a husband who loves to shop as much as I do,” says Jan. “We do seem to like a lot of the same things,” adds Steve.

The Walters don’t view their acquisitions as trophies, however. Instead, they’re “the things we’ve done, the vacations we’ve taken and the people we’ve met,” says Jan. “They make our home even more important to us.” Jan and Steve combine their foreign purchases with art obtained a little closer to home, including three pieces in their living room. A pair of striking, six-foot-tall abstract paintings by Dan Sayles of San Diego, a family friend, hangs on the wall. On the floor is a coffee table built by Jan’s brother Larry Edens, a Dallas artist. It appears to be “melting” its ingredients of wood, gold leaf, and paint. Although not a trained interior designer, Jan has shown her flair for combining these and other disparate elements: the wide-ranging art collection, furniture both old and new, and eclectic accessories. “I really have to give Jan credit for the interiors,” Steve says. “She really has a good eye for putting various things together and making them look wonderful.”

No wonder, then, that both Jan and Steve remain fascinated with their home and its amazing contents. “We love the time we spend traveling together,” Steve says, “but to really escape, we just come home.”

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