Text: Margaret Zainey Roux
Photography: Nathan Schroder
To build or not to build, that was the question. And a very difficult one for Anne Williams to answer as she contemplated building anew or renovating her family’s historic home in Dallas’ University Park neighborhood. As newlyweds, the interior designer and her husband purchased the house with the intention of staying there forever, but when the household of two multiplied, they inevitably needed more room to grow.
“We lost a lot of sleep trying to decide whether to stay or go, but our love for this house wasn’t purely driven by sentimentality,” she explains. “Architecturally, it had everything we wanted in a home. Its scale and proportions were perfect, and its inherent charm was unrivaled. At the end of the day, we respected it too much to make any drastic changes, so we let it be and decided to build.”
As fate would have it, a lot on their same block went up for sale just as the Williamses had made up their minds to move on. They jumped at the chance to buy it and enlisted Jonathan Torode to guide them. The Nashville-based architect previously worked with the architecture firm of McAlpine Tankersly around the time Williams was with sister-firm McAlpine Booth & Ferrier so the two shared a special connection and, most importantly, shared the same goal of creating a new house with an old soul.
For the exterior, Torode took cues from the area’s more established residences to conceive a soft yet striking design that fits seamlessly into its surroundings. He describes the style as an “Americanized take on Dutch and English architecture” thanks to its hand-molded brick, elliptical arches, and sweeping Dutch gable. Classic elements abound throughout the interior, as well. Archways and cased openings, coffered and vaulted ceilings, and white oak floors coupled with intricate paneling and molding make their mark on those areas used for formal entertaining while shiplap, stonework, and paneled ceilings set the framework for family-focused spaces. Bespoke furnishings and finishes are thread throughout all of the rooms and tied together by their simple silhouettes, statement-making scale, and sumptuous textures like linen, velvet, and silk. They are also unified by soft whites and taupes peppered with subtle hints of coral, peach, sky blue, and seafoam.
“The entire house is neutral, but the hues become more saturated as you transition from the light-filled formal spaces in the front of the house to the cozier kitchen and den in the back,” says Williams. “Composing the palette this way heightens interest and encourages movement so you can feel the changes in light and mood as you go from room to room and experience a unique connection to each one.”