Amy Berry Revives a Dallas Home for a Family That Loves Color

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When recalling the former state of a recent project in Dallas, designer Amy Berry chooses her words carefully: “It was very…Texas,” she recalls. In this case, that meant lots of American flags, hunting motifs, and overscaled everything. Subjective opinions aside, it was not a fit for its new owners, a young couple relocating from New York who “love design, love color, love fabrics and pattern,” says Berry. When faced with these stylistic decisions while house hunting, Berry says, “they were feeling so hopeless—they were like, ‘We’re never going to find what we like!’” Plus, they weren’t necessarily ready to undergo a major, all-in-one gut job.

Nathan Schroder Photography

Nathan Schroder Photography

So, Berry focused on small steps: “We started by picking every paint color,” she says. “I was like, ‘We can do this. It won’t be that hard.’” Paint choices progressed to slightly more significant changes: “From there it was, ‘Let’s put soapstone around the fireplace, just get rid of all the granite,’” Berry recalls. Next, she selected new backsplash tile, which immediately refreshed the kitchen’s tired look, then gradually began replacing light fixtures, adding window treatments, and filling in furniture needs.

“We painted a lot, put up a lot of light fixtures. It really was a cosmetic overhaul,” says Berry. The results—a happy, welcoming home that’s at once cozy and classic—are a testament to just how much a good designer can do with only “cosmetics.”

Kitchen

kitchen and breakfast nook

Nathan Schroder Photography

kitchen

Nathan Schroder Photography

The kitchen is proof of how far a good paint job and a few custom touches can go. Berry covered the cabinetry in a creamy white, swapped out the hardware, then replaced the tile with a zellige style from Ann Sacks. To bring in more of the fresh, grandmillennial style her clients loved, she incorporated blue-and-white details on the backsplash, an inset kitchen curtain, and the pendants, which are Circa Lighting fixtures Berry outfitted with custom fabric shades.

In the breakfast nook, Berry paired a table the family found at Round Top with curtains in Pierre Frey Espalier fabric, which nods to the greenery outside.

Library

formal living room, green chairs

Nathan Schroder Photography

“This was the one room where we said, ‘Don’t mess with it,’” Berry states about the built-in shelving. They left the beige color, but swapped the fireplace surround to soapstone for a cleaner look than granite. “It’s honestly the easiest fix on the planet,” says Berry, who advises going with Virginia Black. New hardware and Brunschwig & Fils fabric on the curtains paired with Schuyler Samperton on the armchairs let the creamy hue fade into the background instead of overtaking the palette. A Gray Malin photo of Central Park ties the scheme together and nods to the family’s New York roots.

A new layout also made the space multifunctional: “We laid the room out so that it had some more zones,” explains Berry. A central table can hold books during the day, but also cocktails when the family hosts parties. “They use it as a study, a library, and for entertaining,” Berry says of the room.

Family Room

living room, floral chair and ottoman, pink ottoman

Nathan Schroder Photography

Designated zones come into play in the family room too: “We did two sofas back-to-back to give you your zones,” says Berry. “The furniture layout for me is step one, no matter what.” Here, that double-sided layout allows space for lounging and watching TV, or for spillover from the adjacent kitchen area when hosting.

Dining Room

dining room, wooden console, mirror

Nathan Schroder Photography

dining room, wooden table

Nathan Schroder Photography

The dining room is a prime example of Berry cleverly disguising surface-level solutions as significant changes. “They love Gracie but didn’t want to do a Gracie room, because they knew they weren’t going to be here forever,” she explains. So instead, Berry mounted (removable!) panels of the hand-painted wallpaper atop a textural grasscloth. Meanwhile, for a Bennison fabric they “fell in love with,” she made curtains “with a little extra fabric up in the pocket too, so they can always move them and use them on taller windows.”

An antique mirror and buffet give the room necessary depth, while dining chairs by Mark Sikes for Henredon in an oversize blue check add a fresher note and keep the room from feeling stuffy.

Playroom

family room, stripe wallpaper

Nathan Schroder Photoghraphy

Another high-impact change Berry made early on was to rip up the wall-to-wall carpeting that covered the entire second floor, replacing it with hardwood and area rugs. In the playroom, the red-and-blue theme—anchored by a stripe pattern she had painted on the wall—feels playful but not babyish. “I thought this would be a playroom the kids are going to grow into,” the designer explains.

Bedroom

bedroom, floral curtains

Nathan Schroder Photography

The new floor treatment made all the difference in the primary bedroom too. “Having a rug that’s not the right size kills you,” says Berry. “You know how Oprah said 80 percent of people wear the wrong bra? Same for rugs in bedrooms,” she quips.

Since the room was fairly large, Berry eschewed wallpaper in favor of a fresh coat of paint and curtains along the oversize bay window, which surround a lounge area comprising a more contemporary sofa and a side chair found at an estate sale. She covered the headboard, armchair, and ottoman in the same Cowtan & Tout pattern for a striking (but movable!) effect.

“Pattern can be intimidating to people, but look at what it does,” Berry effuses. “This room has no art, yet it looks full—because of the pattern.”

Nursery

nursery, day bed, pink ottoman

Nathan Schroder Photoghraphy

nursery, pink chair, pink ottoman

Nathan Schroder Photoghraphy

In the nursery, a Lucite crib quite literally disappears against the wallpaper, leaving the focus on the patterns and the art, which was commissioned by a friend of the couple.

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