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designs FOR LIVING GREAT HOMES

Diana and Kim Esber create an op-art ’50s fantasy.
By Derro Evans |

WHEN DIANA AND KIM BSBER changed homes about a year ago, they moved in two different directions. They jumped laterally to a North Dallas residence only six blocks away, but more dramatically, they skipped hack four decades to the ’50s and a veritable op-art world of Popsicle colors, organically shaped furniture, and jumpin’ with the Jetsons.

In a startling transformation that took only six weeks to achieve, the Esbers grabbed an anonymously ugly 1954 ranchburger, shook it hard to break down its box-like interiors, and gave it some badly needed lessons in style. Now its colors-banana yellow, melon orange, orchid, and turquoise, oh my!-explode like visual exclamation points. Prized ’50s furniture, rescued from oblivion to he reclaimed and recovered, completes the retro picture.

“It’s like living in a fantasy that’s comic and futuristic and like all the TV programs I saw as a kid growing up in the ’50s,” explains Diana. “It’s a style that takes my head away. Now the ’50s things are getting hard to find. They’re all the rage in New York, and the prices are sky high.”

Although Diana had collected ’50s furniture and memorabilia tor years, the Esbers’ move to a different dwelling happened not because of the desire to enter a time warp hut because of a yearning for a new point of view-the house otters a dramatic view of a lake, one of a series of spring-fed bodies of water in the neighborhood.

“We desperately wanted to live in a place where we felt we were removed from the city, hut we didn’t want to spend the time driving to the country,” Diana says.

Overgrown shrubbery obscured the lake and its population of swans and ducks when the Esbers bought the home. But the shrubbery came down, as did the dividing walls between the house’s living room, den, and kitchen, as Kim and a team of workers began to create a sense of space, light, and color.

“The house was godawful ugly,” Kim remembers. “Nothing had been done to it cosmetically in 25 to 30 years. It was just a series of boxes, even though the house had been well maintained structurally.”

Kim put his thumbprints on the remodeling-literally-by texturing all of the walls, painting some in a rainbow of Sherwin-Williams hues and creating the spectacular 8-by-l2-foot fireplace mural of tile shards (a combination of broken tile and custom-made tile) in the den that supplies the color palette for the entire home.

“1 made about 50 percent of the tile to get the right colors, then I spent a lot of time going to tile outlets to search through their leftovers from odd lots,” Kim recalls. “It was like putting together a puzzle, breaking the tiles into the right shapes and making a mosaic in the adhesive.”

The Esbers called upon interior designer Neal Stewart for assistance in coordinating fabrics and colors. “Kim and Diana have vibrant personalities,” he says, “so they wanted to make their home a surprise-up and happy and colorful. Working with them was a great, fun sort of project.”

Soon the residence beckoned for occupancy by Diana and Kim and their household of two tail-wagging dogs, a raucous parrot, and a cooing dove. The completion marked the latest accomplishment for two people who, on first glance, seem polar opposites. Diana, a brainy beauty expert who owns an eponymous women’s clothing and cosmetics salon in North Dallas, stops conversation with her glamour girl looks and designer wardrobe. Kim, on the other hand, fits just as easily into his mold of the pony-tailed, T-shirted artist and landscape designer. But the native Pennsylvanians, married for 17 years, are best friends as well as mates.

The more verbal of the two, Diana sometimes finishes Kim’s sentences; perhaps that ability to think along similar lines is one reason the remodeling of their home turned out to be such a glowing success. Of course, having a few possessions created by names like Saarinen and Thonet didn’t hurt one bit, nor did sharing a sense of purpose. “This house has a real good energy about it, and that’s peace to me,1’ observes Diana. “We both wanted that, and after the remodeling, it’s nice to know that there’s order in chaos.”

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