WAn elegant enclave on Fort Worth’s westernmost edge, estover Hills is prized for its rolling terrain, spring-fed creeks and tall homes on lushly wooded lots. The land was originally owned by a legendary civic and art patron Amon Carter and developed in the 1930s and became its own city in 1939. With just 277 homes, Westover Hills remains one of the most desirable and affluent places to live in Texas. Dallas Architect Weldon Turner has built countless homes there and across the country since Turner Boaz Architecture opened in 1993, and has a reputation for honoring the country. “We try to design a house to respect the existing tree cover and leave as many trees on a lot as necessary,” he says.
When a couple commissioned him to build a home in Westover Hills on a five-acre lot that included a grove of mature live oak trees, he looked to the trees for guidance. Instead of a single large structure, Turner designed several buildings connected by galleries, allowing him to maneuver around the largest trees. This description is a bit oversimplified for such a complex layout, but as unconventional as it is, the house itself works seamlessly and brilliantly with the site. Gnarled and majestic, the live oaks are now framed by windows and draped in courtyards like exquisite specimens. “Some of the trees are at least 60 or 70 years old, so they immediately add size to the house,” he says.
A taste of Palm Springs in Fort Worth, Texas
Not every customer is brave enough to embrace unusual design, but when they do, the results can be spectacular. “It takes a good client to make a good project,” says Turner. “If the client allows you to think a little bit outside the box, you can create something that is unique to them.” For this project, the clients hired a dream team of professionals – alongside Turner and his project manager, Celestial Martin – including Maria Ellen Cowen the MESA landscape architecture, Julia hay by Simms Hayes Design and Builders of Fort Worth Rick Yuill by JSZY Construction. Turner has worked with all of them on previous projects. “As a team, we conceptualized the house with the client and started sharing ideas to make it all come together,” he says.
The concept focuses on a clean and modern vibe reminiscent of Palm Springs, where customers spend a lot of time. Her new Westover Hills home features white walls and high ceilings perfect for hanging large artworks, and is “essentially a very white space,” says Turner, who spices things up with an array of cedar wood beams and rectangular ceiling molding throughout the main warmed gallery, which organizes the living, dining, kitchen and bar area. The wooden elements also provide visual interest, which is enhanced when light falls from the skylights above.
Courtyards abound in Palm Springs, and they play an important role in the design of this home, as they do in many of Turner’s projects. The arrangement of buildings around trees created natural pockets of what Turner refers to as passive and active spaces, which Mesa’s Mary Ellen Cowan interpreted into landscaped courtyards, many with exquisite vistas. Some of the courtyards are just there to be admired, while others draw you outside to spend time in them. “It’s a beautiful journey as you walk through the house,” says Turner.
Clean and colorful with a touch of history
interior architect Julia hay has designed interiors for high profile Fort Worth clients as well as art collectors Kami and John Goff. She is also responsible for the colorful interiors of Dallas boutiques Canary, Cabana and Clover, owned by Happy Voss. When it comes to interiors, “I’m a total color person,” says Hayes.
For the Westover Hills project, she carefully balanced the couple’s seemingly opposing preferences – the husband wanted lots of color while the wife wanted lots of white. “Basically, we created clean white surfaces with splashes of paint,” says Hayes. The designer focused on a narrow palette to unify each space – chartreuse, orange and lemon yellow, three of women’s favorite colors. “It was so much fun because chartreuse is such a departure from everyone else’s favorite color and I never get to use it,” says Hayes, who sheathed the dining room windows in yards of bright green wool gabardine and laid a custom-dyed yellow-green mohair carpet underfoot. She swathed a guest room in orange, including a velvet bed, custom-colored rug, and chairs and ottomans covered in an orange-and-white print.
A stylish sunken bar with a set of lemon-yellow Tulip chairs and stools designed by Pierre Paulin in 1965 is reminiscent of Rat Packera Palm Springs. For the family room, Hayes chose a lemon yellow Eames womb chair and ottoman and designed a custom rug that incorporates chartreuse, orange, and other hues used in adjacent rooms.
Mixing vintage and antique pieces with custom-made furniture, she helped the couple choose artwork to round out their growing collection. The look could be described as an edgy transition – two design styles that she loves to combine. New fixtures like the custom Brazilian rosewood dining table mix with older pieces, including a massive ’70s Murano glass chandelier she found in France.
“If there’s a lot of new furniture in a room, I like to give it some history,” she says.
All natural art
The white inner shell provides the backdrop to Hayes’ carefully selected, impactful pieces, such as the dramatic ’60s Parisian geometric chrome sconces that flank the sunken bar. Assembled by the dealer from several smaller sconces salvaged from a hotel, they are easily mistaken for wall sculptures. At the end of a gallery, a bright multicolored abstract rug was positioned under a large painting by a Texas artist Frosted adhesive g. Another rug is prominently placed in the entryway beneath a white leather bench leading to a massive window overlooking an inner courtyard.
It’s one of the first things you see upon entering the home, but as striking as this seating vignette is, your attention is drawn to the beautiful scene behind it: a towering ancient live oak tree.