Dallas Elegance

Text: Lydia Somerville
Photography: Jean Allsopp

Author and designer Betty Lou Phillips brings her signature look to a new house by infusing it with traditional designs filtered through a modern perspective.

When out-of-town clients approached Betty Lou Phillips to help them renovate and decorate a Dallas house, she was delighted to deliver her signature mix of elegance and ease. But Phillips, an award-winning designer and author of 14 books on French and Italian style, first endeavored to get to know her new clients and to fashion a home tailored to their tastes.

“For starters, I listened carefully,” she says, “aiming to respect their likes and dislikes. I saw the home not as a showplace but as a welcoming, warm invitation to their friends, children, and grandchildren.”

The house, overlooking a serene park, was in an ideal location, but it needed work. “We replaced existing flooring, opened and enlarged doorways, added windows, and changed the hardware,” she says. Limestone floors in the entry give way to walnut parquet in the dining room and the living room. Pretty French doors allow flow between the house and the pool area.

The entry hall bears hallmarks of Phillips’s sophisticated style. An antique Louis XVI settee backed by a large mirror greets visitors with confidence. “Rather than the expected chair, table, and lamp, a mirror and artwork offset the weight of the staircase and create interest,” says Phillips.

In the dining room, French influences abound. The new walnut floors take on special visual interest from a parquet pattern. French chairs surround a round table from the owner’s previous house. A carved walnut buffet, also from the former house, gets a fresh look in the airy blue and white room. Graceful French doors are flanked with silk panels.

Throughout the living room and dining room, walls are Venetian plaster in a pale champagne color. In a signature Phillips vignette, two paintings hung off center over a chest form a composition with a table lamp. “Arranging art is an art in itself,” she says. “A small painting hung beneath a larger one arouses interest.”

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