As a family expands, it’s logical to move house to give everyone the space that they need. Finding the perfect property may only be the first step, as Lisa Preece discovers.
New York City trained Heather Garrett has a keen eye for beautiful design. After training in the big apple, studying interior design at Parsons and being tutored by French designer Robert Couturier, she moved to Durham, North Carolina, to open Heather Garrett Interiors and now has clients all the way from Dallas to San Francisco. Since then, she has developed her own style and been able to work on many beautiful homes throughout the USA.
Never one to push design over functionality, her signature style combines the practicality of family life with a variety of sophisticated forms and textures – plaster, hide, velvet, linen – and extraordinary lighting. She also loves to bring nature into her designs, believing that nothing made by man is as beautiful as that found in nature.
Her work has been noticed in the design community, as a member of both the American Society of Interior Designers and the Interior Design Society and has earned the coveted “Best of Houzz: Design” recognition for five years running, 2012–2016.
Recently, Heather was approached by a family who were moving from North Carolina to Dallas. After previously designing their family home, they were on the move and needed her help to design their home interiors around their young family. With two small children, the family needed a functional and welcoming space, not forgetting the importance of soft floors and furnishings for tumbling toddlers.
“When the clients first saw the rambling 1950's red brick Georgian home in the leafy Greenway Park neighbourhood of Dallas, it was designed more for a formal lifestyle than my clients were intending to live,” says Heather. “The estate was previously home to successful businessman Ross Perot, Jr. and his large young family during the 1980s. It retained some of their touches, including a sunroom off the kitchen, with glass mosaic floor. It was beautiful, but impractical for crawling babies.”
Some of the spaces needed to become more family friendly, like the huge music room. With a grand piano, large centre table, wet bar, and polished floors, it was beautiful, but not very easily used. “The dark hardwood flooring through the main level and in the stairwell was gleaming but cold. The space needed added warmth, through textiles on the floor, walls, and furnishings,” explains Heather.
This room was transformed into a cosy family room for TV time, reading, or watching sports with friends, with the handy wet bar nearby.
“The room is en filade with the living room from the home's entry, so it was important that the formal living and informal family spaces could coexist in one line of sight. The exotic carpet print, paired with sophisticated washed linen and zesty teal slipcovered leather, mix comfort and style together to create a welcoming space. The slipcovered acid-washed sofa is hardy enough for children to be messy without threat of ruining it.”
Previously a formal room, the sunroom became the perfect place to enjoy early mornings with a cup of coffee, have weekend family time, or dim the luminous sconce lights in the evening.
“The vaulted ceilings of the sunroom struck me as having the spirit of an aviary. I customized a mural of birds in flight, with New York City based designers Trove, to incorporate the colours of the mosaic floor border. I then filled the room with a soft wool custom rug from Stark Carpet.”
The stairwell was quite echoey , cold and clattery when the family first moved in, but Heather and her team were able to turn it into a warm and inviting space.
“We grounded the stairs with a foyer table and lamp light, a chandelier, and artwork. It almost becomes a room in itself. I always feel it's so important to create ‘miniature rooms’ wherever you can. A perfectly scaled lamp and piece of furniture in a dark hallway, open stairwell, or awkward room corner can change the space completely.
“For the study, my clients loved the carving of the cast mantle , elegance of the stained wood panelling, and the idea of a wood-burning fireplace,” said Heather. “But they agreed that the thick velvet drapes made the space feel heavy, and that the lone desk floating in the centre of the room made it feel cavernous. We decided to invite warmth and intimacy by developing a furniture plan to accommodate areas for both work and relaxation.”
The partner desk allows the user to either work facing the fireplace in winter or garden in summer, and rugs helped to define a seating area with leather club chairs and cocktail table for cosy nights.
“We replaced glass French doors with a pair of solid oak pocket doors, stained to match the wall panels, for privacy (and sound proofing!) when the kids are playing nearby,” revealed Heather.
For more information on Heather Garrett Interior Design, visit their website at www.heathergarrettdesign.com/