Text: Tiffany Adams
Photos: Michael Hunter
When Diane Calvert’s husband, Jim, returned from an auction with a new home, she was more than a little surprised. Built in 2007, the Colleyville, Texas, house had intrigue but seemed to lack a cohesiveness with an ornate interior style Diane didn’t feel matched its French Country facade. “I realized why it had been tough to sell,” she says.
While flipping through a magazine, Calvert came across an ad for Kristin Mullen Designs. “I loved her style and thought it was very me,” she says. She invited the designer to help with one of the home’s rooms, and after talking through ideas for that space, Mullen began to realize the project entailed more than that area. Calvert confided to her, “I don’t know that I can feel happy or settled in this home; what can I do to make it ours?” Mullen then shared ideas for updating the spaces with a less-is-more approach, and a one-room refresh turned into a journey to revamp the majority of the house.
Employing what she calls a method of “addition by subtraction,” Mullen started by removing some of the home’s architectural features that didn’t align with the couple’s style. For example, a domed ceiling and elaborate crown molding were eliminated in the dining room to create an airy, clean-lined space. In the same vein, coats of white paint now cover the walls and trim of the family room to bring a unified, open appeal.
In the foyer, black wrought-iron railing on the grand staircase was updated with a coat of blue-gray paint, lightening it dramatically. Here, decorative molding was removed and reclaimed beams were added to tie the area in with the nearby living room and kitchen. Mullen also exchanged a number of light fixtures throughout the home for an updated look that coordinates with the new architectural details and suits the owners’ tastes.
In terms of other additions throughout the home, the biggest came in the form of furnishings. “Kristin brought in some Belgian pieces I wouldn’t have thought that I would love, but I do,” says Calvert. “She came into my retail shop and said, ‘I love everything here,’” says Mullen. One of the most treasured pieces already belonged to the Calverts: a bergère chair and ottoman, which sit by the fireplace in the keeping room. These pieces once belonged to Calvert’s mother, and Mullen had them both comfortably upholstered in a fresh fabric.
European influence also played a role in the home’s palette. “I love color with a neutral background,” says Calvert. “I like it to feel like a cottage with the blues, berries, and greens.” These colors weave their way throughout the everyday decor and show up in the holiday scheme—a place where Mullen says she wanted to do something unexpected that complemented the home’s design. “Because there’s so much blue throughout the house, it would’ve seemed strange to have an entirely red-and-green holiday look,” she says.
This is most apparent in the wood-paneled study, where shades of blue and light green adorn the family tree, complementing the room’s everyday furnishings. Here, Mullen employed approachable, unfussy materials, such as antique Belgian fabric stars as ornaments.
Elsewhere, red pairs more prominently with the home’s continuous blue notes. This is, perhaps, most evident in the dining room, where the blue seat backs of the chairs are trimmed with a berry-hued tape for everyday meals and the table is set with a mix of Blue Willow pieces and red glassware for the season. “Kristin is so talented and has such a tremendous eye. I think it’s important when you hire a designer to trust their instincts and let their art and talent flow,” says Calvert.