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The Art of Living

Designer Melissa Enriquez transforms a collector couple’s Highland Park home into a livable gallery.

Book-matched Grigio Italia marble from Aria Stone Gallery makes for a dramatic fireplace in the Astons’ master bedroom. “There are surprises in every room,” says Gallerie Noir’s Melissa Enriquez.  

Designer Enriquez oversaw renovations and created custom pieces such as the namesake midnight-blue Aston sofa, which pops against a set of 2009 Otis Jones works: “Untitled White Rectangle With Black Lines” and “Untitled Black Rectangle With White Lines,” from Barry Whistler Gallery. 

The kitchen, with sleek Ornare cabinetry and an island made of Agata granite from Aria Stone Gallery, was inspired by a massive Ann Stautberg oil-on-photograph painting, which was paired with a striking LED chandelier from Lumens and a marble Eero Saarinen for Knoll table. 

Kitchen photo courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery

Joseph Guay’s “Remnants of the Human Condition,” made of bullet casings and resin on wood, hangs in the living room.

The outdoor sanctuary was designed around 11th century bronze Tibetan Buddhas gifted by James Aston’s stepfather, Dick Bass. “We incorporated many items in our home that hold high sentimental value,” Kimberly Aston says.

The homeowners on their patio

The guest room is a respite with a vintage Indonesian bed painted white and a Gallerie Noir Collection Moroccan pendant. “James and I started from scratch,” Kimberly Aston says. “It felt very cleansing and empowering to both of us.” 

When you’re the founder of an art consulting and brokerage business—and married to a fellow collector—it only makes sense that your home would be a gallery of sorts. That was the premise behind Kimberly and James Aston’s polished contemporary—a home literally built around art.

Kimberly, who is also a health care technology executive, and James, who works in a hedge fund, complement each other well. She’s an admitted perfectionist and he’s laid-back. She’s an experienced urban dweller—she has called Paris and Istanbul home—and he’s a fourth-generation Dallasite. They both lived in Greenway Parks before they met. There is little wonder their profiles were compatible on—they clicked instantly.

Fast-forward to marriage, twins (a son and daughter) and, in 2014, house hunting. They looked east to Highland Park and were lucky to find a spacious home in a bucolic spot tucked along the Katy Trail—their ideal location. “The trail feels like a throwback to the ’50s, and other neighborhoods felt too suburban—there’s more energy here,” Kimberly says. “It feels younger, more vibrant and urban. You can walk to Javier’s.”

Designed by Dallas architect Cole Smith and built in the ’80s, the house was traditional, whereas they wanted contemporary. They were looking to start anew with a home that would fit their blended family, including James’ 16-year-old son, and their combined art collection. An anything-but-plain, livable gallery. “I can’t do boring,” Kimberly says.

They found the perfect match to their aesthetic in Melissa Enriquez, owner of the Dallas Design District’s fine art, furnishings and interior design studio, Gallerie Noir. Glance at any Enriquez design and you’ll find simplified eclecticism with an edge—she’s not afraid of drama. Given the Astons’ vision, “It was instantly apparent we were going to gut the house down to the studs,” Enriquez says.

Over a two-year renovation, they tore out all three floors, every window, the walls and the rear exterior. They spread stucco over the red-brick facade, updated the guesthouse and filled in the backyard pool. They tapped the original architect to blueprint a home with strategic living spaces, including a combined kitchen-dining room and a third-floor playroom. “They are incredibly structured people,” Enriquez says. “Rooms needed to be clean and uncluttered—meticulously thoughtful.” 

The overhaul, which included scrapping every piece of furniture the Astons previously owned, afforded the chance to not only devise a seamless layout but also add elements of surprise. Kimberly’s office alcove is now luxurious in embossed Élitis crocodile wallpaper and white-and-gray leopard-print carpet. A powder room is papered in Ralph Lauren shagreen, and the bar is bedecked in mirrors. Bold lighting by Kelly Wearstler abounds. The kitchen, with its striking island made of Agata granite from Aria Stone Gallery, glossy Ornare cabinetry and cement-hued tiles, was designed around artist Ann Stautberg’s “2.19.98 P.M.” oil-on-photograph painting. “Those are the details that make it,” Enriquez says. “There’s drama, but it feels livable and reads like a family house—an incredibly sophisticated, chic family house.”

The majority of the walls were bathed in Benjamin Moore’s White Wisp, which has a hint of gray. “We were nutty about the white,” Enriquez says. It was the optimal backdrop for the key element—the couple’s artwork, which includes numerous pieces by Texas artists, from Otis Jones and David Bates to Eric Cleaver White, Steve Wrubel and Allison V. Smith. “There are plenty of conversation pieces,” Kimberly says. She oversaw placement with precise positioning, down to the centimeter. “I was a bit of a control freak,” she says, laughing. “But everything came together flawlessly.”

James’ stepfather is Dick Bass, the late prominent mountaineering businessman, and the Astons also acquired several pieces from his collection, including rare 11th century bronze Buddhas that inspired the patio design. Even the cactuses in the outdoor space were calculated. “We designed the house down to the dishes—it is organized within an inch of its life,” Enriquez says. “That’s how Kimberly is, and that’s why I loved working with her, because you get that granular level of detail,” she adds. “That’s why it looks spectacular.”

It’s exactly what the Astons wanted. “Ultimately, we created a masculine aesthetic with bullet art, longhorns and skulls softened by luxurious, glamorous touches,” Kimberly says. “It feels peaceful, light, airy and evokes a sense of calm.” Just as any exceptional gallery should.

Single-family home


Cole Smith
Smith, Ekblad and Associates

Charlotte Johnson
PB&J Design

Bill Mead
MCM Services

Melissa Enriquez and Carrie White
Gallerie Noir

Aria Stone Gallery
Granite island in kitchen, marble fireplace in master bedroom

Barry Whistler Gallery
Otis Jones pieces in formal living room

Sconces in formal living room

Gallerie Noir
Gallerie Noir Collection Aston sofa in formal living room

Cabinetry in kitchen

Scott + Cooner
Eero Saarinen table in kitchen

Tom Dixon
Light fixtures over island in kitchen

Patio chairs