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The Mayborns’ home overflows with antique finds and the joy of family.
By Derro Evans |

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL WALK IN HARMONY IN THE peaceable kingdom of Ward and Nancey Maybom. From children and grandchildren to a tail-wagging pack of four-footed friends to Bernice, the starling that sings along to Beethoven’s Fifth from her kitchen cage, humans and animals lavish love upon one another and flourish upon its return. As a result, the Mayborns’ Noahs Ark of a home in North Dallas reverberates with the sounds of contentment.

In fact, so much happens at any given moment here that the distinctive surroundings sometimes have to play second fiddle for a little while. That’s not easy, considering the fact that the Maybom residence just about overflows with hundreds of vintage objects from England and France. Ward and Nancey even imported an entire room-walls, bookcases, columns, mantel, and coffered ceiling, all once an 1868 conference room in London-to transform into a den for their growing family.

“I guess you can just say that I like ’things,’” explains Ward. “There is no rhyme or reason to it. Something just catches my eye, and I have to get it.”

“We’ve spent thousands of man-hours working on this house, just hecause we love to do that,” adds Nancey. “When we had the house built for us in 1965, we had trouble getting the bank loan approved because we wanted the builder to leave so much of the house unfinished. We bought a basic shell and went on from there.”

Between working on the house, raising a family, and adopting sick or unwanted animals, the Mayborns would seem to have time for little else. But in 1971, working with Ward’s brother Don, they opened an antique store, the Uncommon Market, dealing in English decorative and display antiques and light fixtures. (Thirteen years ago, son Scott joined the family business as well.)

From this wealth of antiques, the Mayborns have kept more than a few pieces for themselves. From furniture and carpets to art and shelf after shelf of small collectibles, the family’s possessions now fill every room of their home with a fascinating procession of history. “Nancey keeps up with all of it,” Ward claims. “Not really,” disagrees Nancey in mock exasperation. “You should see the closets! But it all does seem to evolve somehow. We get new things, and the rest just sort of fades into the scenery.”

The possessions and the people who own them have turned this once fairly average dwelling into an uncommon one, despite limited space. With a standard Dallas floor plan that places living and dining rooms in the center of the house with the bedrooms to one side and the kitchen to the other, the house seemed to grow smaller with the new children, animals, and antiques. So the den addition, coupled with an expansion of the existing kitchen, gave the home much-needed breathing room five years ago.

“A friend in Philadelphia who is also a dealer told us that he had this English room-everything hut the floors-from 1868,” Ward says. “It was once the conference room for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors on Parliament Square in London. Its all in oak, from the mid-Victorian period.”

With a few judicious changes, including tile floors and the addition of a hay of windows in the back, the conference room became an accommodating den. Ceilings stretch up for 13 feet, making the 38-by-26-foot size of the room a natural gathering place for the family’s frequent reunions.

“We get together at least once a month for birthdays, holidays, or any other excuse we can come up with,” says Nancey. It doesn’t take long at one of these gatherings for a visitor to see that Ward and Nancey are walking advertisements for parenting, grandparenting, and animal husbandry.

The Mayborns raised their own four children and, from time to time, took in a few more troubled ones who needed a home. (One such young visitor stayed for a year and eventually went to work at the antique store.) Now six grandchil-dren bounce in and out of the house, always finding a grandparent with waiting arms and hugs.

And then there are the animals. As a birthday gift for Nancey a few years hack, Ward {an accomplished artist in his own right) carved from pine an ark populated by miniature replicas of the 17 dogs he and Nancey have owned in their 36 years of marriage. (Literally childhood sweethearts, they eloped during their senior year in high school.) It’s a merry metaphor for the protected life afforded to creatures within the four walls of the Maybom home. Some of them, like Sunny, the three-legged beagle, knew a few troubled times in the past, but those days have been forgotten. The five dogs, three cats, one starling, and one desert tortoise join in the great adventure that transpires daily for Ward and Nancey Maybom, who wouldn’t have it any other way.

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