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The Art of Living
By Jessica Elliott | Photo: by Aaron Fairooz and Poul Ober | October 11, 2017
Designer Melissa Enriquez transforms a collector couple’s Highland Park home into a livable gallery.
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 Match.com—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.
Smith, Ekblad and Associates
Melissa Enriquez and Carrie White
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 Collection Aston sofa in formal living room
Cabinetry in kitchen
Scott + Cooner
Eero Saarinen table in kitchen
Light fixtures over island in kitchen