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For the Fun of It

Allan Knight and Cearan Henley design a spirited house for an equally spirited couple.

Designers Allan Knight and Cearan Henley added drama and romance in the University Park home of fun-loving couple Kathleen Hutchinson and John Nolan. In the kitchen, Hutchinson chose a mirrored brick-tile backsplash, which gleams against black lacquered cabinets. Knight designed the branch chandelier in black burnished clay. 

“While Kathleen is feminine and likes the softer and more delicate side of things, John is a rough-and-tumble guy who likes to hunt,” Knight says. “It was a blending of things that meant something to both of them.” In the den, Allan Knight and Associates’ Van Ness sofa and lounge chair front a scenic panel by Jakob Schlaepfer. 

The designers created a cozy breakfast lounge with pieces by Allan Knight and Associates: the 54 banquette, Parker floor lamp and Ribbon dining table. Nolan’s animal trophies—in this case, an antelope—fit right in with the decor. “It looks sophisticated and cool without being lodge-y,” Hutchinson says.  

The living room’s antique mirror was initially en route to Knight and Henley’s own guest bedroom until Hutchinson nabbed it. It reflects the room’s stunning Area Environments wallcovering, which sparkles alongside the acrylic Altar NW cocktail table and the chandelier featuring Swarovski crystals set in silver flowers, both by Allan Knight and Associates. 

Henley and Knight designed the dining room table. The Capri chandelier, also designed by Knight, is Nolan’s favorite piece in the home.

llan Knight was thumbing through Facebook when he saw a video posted by Kathleen Hutchinson. Her three adult daughters—Tess, Holly and Rachel—were dancing on the furniture. But it wasn’t just any furniture—they were pieces Knight and his partner, Cearan Henley, had selected from Knight’s namesake collection for Hutchinson’s den. The Van Ness sofas in J. Robert Scott fabrics came with a promise that they couldn’t be destroyed. “They were jumping on the sofas and running across the cocktail tables, playing music,” Knight says, laughing. “All we could say was, ‘Warranty voided.’” Enter the fun house.

A beautiful place where families could converge and enjoy each other’s company was exactly the intention when Knight and Henley handled the interior design of a University Park home for Hutchinson and her partner, John Nolan. Hutchinson is a perennially happy, straight-talking blonde. Nolan, her silvery haired sidekick, is, as she puts it, her opposite.

“We are Green Acres,” she says. “I am Zsa Zsa Gábor and he’s my Louisiana gray-haired fox—and a talented hunter and a fabulous father figure. I go to Café Pacific and he goes to Ray’s Sporting Goods—but it works.” Hutchinson has amassed a following on Instagram for her humorous videos documenting the couple’s everyday happenings, under the apt handle @funthingstodoinlife. They have an infectious, fun-loving outlook that makes you want to be at all of their gatherings—and ensure they are at yours.

But just one year ago, they were lacking a party pad. “My girls stay with me all the time, so I wanted something they would enjoy that would be cool for dinner parties and fashion-forward people,” Hutchinson says. They also wanted their first home together to be a good fit for Nolan’s two sons—and to inspire romance. “It’s the second time around, so that’s what our relationship is about,” she says.

They found a 5,000-square-foot house adjacent to a park and not even a dozen blocks from Highland Park Village. It was the right size, but it needed oomph. On happenstance, Hutchinson swung through Knight’s eponymous Dallas showroom, which he founded with Ben Goldfarb. “I felt like I was in the living room of Gucci, Pucci, Prada—all the designers I loved,” she says. She soon became “blissful friends” with Knight and Henley, who had a solution for her home: creating a series of lounges. “You just keep moving from salon to salon,” Knight says.

There’s the formal living room, with its 18th century Italian mirror and moody Area Environments wallcovering made of silvers and aubergines over Mylar. “As the sun goes down, the fire comes on, and the love bugs are drawn to the flame,” Henley says. The den’s equally magnificent scenic panel by Swiss textile and wallcovering specialist Jakob Schlaepfer somehow seamlessly mixes with Nolan’s deer trophies. An edgy Capri chandelier—one of Knight’s custom designs—dangles from the dining room ceiling, which gleams with Venetian plaster. And in the breakfast room, one of Nolan’s antelope trophies overlooks a banquette sofa where the couple cuddle and sip coffee while looking out onto the loggia.

Now, Hutchinson hosts daily happy hours while Nolan plays shuffleboard with friends. “It’s an entertaining house—a warm house, but design-forward,” she says. “You’re not going to see a plaid couch.” (To that end, Nolan no longer owns a La-Z-Boy.) What you will find: sophisticated furnishings that can handle the antics. “The next time I went to their home, I was looking at the Van Ness couch, and Kathleen was like, ‘I know what you’re inspecting,’” Knight says, laughing. It had nary a scratch.


Single-family home

University Park

Jackson Custom Homes

Allan Knight and Cearan Henley

Allan Knight and Associates
Furnishings, textiles, art and decor throughout, except where noted

Side table in breakfast room

Nancy Corzine
Chairs in dining room

Truett Fine Carpets & Rugs
Rugs throughout