Produced By: Paulette Pearson
Photography: Richard Barnes
Interior Design: Mil Bodron and Dustin Penney, Bodron + Fruit
Architecture: Svend Fruit and Jason Trevino, Bodron + Fruit
Home Builder: Stephen Hardy, Hardy Construction
Landscape Architecture: Coy Talley and Eric Antrim, Talley Associates
or many of his projects, and particularly this one for a Dallas couple, architect Svend Fruit avoids what he refers to as the “big reveal.” Instead of creating the standard home sequence of “street, front door, show-everything-at-once,” he explains, “I wanted the approach from the street to the living spaces to be as long as possible, so it feels private and removed.” Fortunately for him, the homeowners also envisioned a slow unfolding, one that creates a sense of wonder from the moment visitors enter the property and an anticipation of what’s coming next when they continue inside.
Fruit and his partner, interior designer Mil Bodron–both of whom had previously worked with the couple–brought their hand-in-glove approach to the project. “If the interiors are an afterthought, it never all gels together,” says Fruit, whose project manager was Jason Trevino. In this case, with general contractor Stephen Hardy, Fruit and Bodron’s work came together in the form of a low-slung, modern building with expanses of white walls, which were better suited to the owners’ growing collection of paintings and sculptures than their former midcentury-modern residence, also in Dallas. “We’d lived there for 20 years,” the husband says, “but the scale of that relatively small house didn’t support large works of art.” When an exhaustive search for the right home came up short, he and his wife refocused on finding the perfect lot. “I didn’t want a square property with a street running in front of it,” the wife says. Their hunt ended when they became smitten with the beautiful creek and unusual curve of a 1-acre property in Preston Hollow.
Working in collaboration with landscape architect Coy Talley and his senior associate, Eric Antrim, Fruit selected the point created by the arc at the lower end of the site as the starting point for “a long, gently arcing drive approach anticipating an arrival to the residence’s main entry through a natural systems forest landscape,” Talley explains. The drive terminates at the Kansas-limestone-and-mahogany structure, which features a series of protracted flat roofs. “I added wood siding to give it scale,” Fruit says. “The deep shadow lines prevent the house from feeling stark.”
Preferring to draw by hand, Fruit had drafted multiple architectural schemes to present to the owners. Once a plan developed, Bodron joined the conversation with his own schematic furniture plans. “The walls for the art were designated up front, so I started with generic furniture plans to determine how to best arrange rooms compositionally and not block the art,” says Bodron, who worked with designer Dustin Penney. “Based on the sizes and shapes that worked in the space, I then selected pieces that fit.”
An existing Nicos Zographos bench is an organizing feature in the living room, where two seating areas accommodate large gatherings with one-armed sofas, Belgian coffee tables and complementary vintage chairs. “The sofas ground the arrangement, and the soft chairs accent it,” Bodron explains. The former sit in opposite corners away from windows so as to not impede views of the art or the verdant landscape Talley designed–which, at the wife’s request, includes native grasses similar to those he used on the roof of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
The living room’s gray-and-tan color scheme keeps the focus on the Julian Hoeber abstract centered on a wall opposite Teresita Fernandez’s reflective installation of individually attached silvered-glass cubes. “I kept things neutral, because the color and pattern comes from the art and the views outside,” Bodron says. White cabinets in the kitchen and the office, slabs of statuary grigio marble in the master bathroom and wide-plank white-oak flooring throughout help maintain the home’s continuity. As desired by the wife, the look becomes soft and elegant in the master bedroom, where Bodron introduced an upholstered walnut bed flanked by wood-and-parchment side tables topped with lamps resembling faceted jewels. “It’s more of a traditional mindset with feminine touches,” he says.
Bodron also steered the homeowners to Michael E. Thomas, an art adviser specializing in late-20th- and early-21st-century contemporary works. “My role is to enhance knowledge of contemporary art and manage collections,” Thomas explains. He accompanied the couple on trips to galleries and museum exhibitions, oversaw the installation of art in their home and continues the rotation of their collection to maintain the curatorial focus. “I marvel at Michael’s ability to bring painting, sculpture and space together,” the husband says.
The resulting convergence of art and architecture is a welcoming yet stimulating cohesive whole for the owners. “The house is beautiful with every sunrise, sunset and moonrise,” the wife says. “I especially appreciate how the drive up to the front door doesn’t disclose anything, and you have no idea what awaits you on the other side. I like the quiet reveal.”
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