PaperCity Magazine

May 2019- Dallas

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67 I n 2014, Rae Liu and her husband, Kurt Johnson, were living in a high-rise, planning a wedding and a family. The search was on for a house to kick off their new life together. "I felt strongly about finding a modern home that was a space we could grow into," says Liu, co-owner of Dallas–based Leatherology, an online direct- to-consumer collection of personalized leather goods. Johnson is a banker, with a penchant for woodworking; he crafted their sleek dining-room table as a wedding gift for Liu. The couple discovered their ideal house tucked among the trees near Royal Lane, in a neighborhood of 1960s modern classics. "We walked in and immediately said, 'Yes!'" Liu says. Light flooded through floor-to-ceiling windows in every room, yet the house felt very private — an oasis lush with pecan trees and cherry laurels. An avid gardener, Liu hired noted landscape architect Michael Kinler to create an enclosed garden and entertaining area. Not a mere white box, this modern house has pitched ceilings and wood beams that provide rooms with ample architectural interest. Polished-concrete and wood floors, added by the previous owners, were beautiful enough to keep. But the living and dining areas were fused into one long space that proved awkward to furnish and use. And while the couple both like a modern aesthetic, Johnson leans a little more toward traditional. The answer was to enlist the help of an interior designer to create more usable spaces and blend the couple's design styles. Liu's brother and co-owner of Leatherology, David Liu Jr., introduced them to Joshua Rice, a designer known for a sophisticated, meticulously curated look that is still comfortable and approachable. "We both liked his work right off," Liu says. "It was a nice bridge between both our styles." When Rice looked at the images of the house Liu e-mailed him, he recognized it. The previous homeowners were clients of his, and they had hired him to help with the interiors. The job had stalled when the clients moved out of town, but the happy coincidence turned out to be an advantage. "I had two years to think about that house and what worked and what didn't," Rice says. The beautiful natural light was a plus, so he designed each room to take full advantage. But as Liu and Johnson already knew, the living and dining areas merged awkwardly, with no clear definition of spaces. As a remedy, Rice commissioned a steel tension-rod shelving system to act as a room divider and configured it to hold books and decorative items. A young Brazilian furniture maker, Jader Almeida for Sollos, was tapped for the project and went on to produce other furnishings for the house. A fireplace, which was oddly placed along one wall in the TV room, was replaced with a floating black-ribbed steel rectangle of Rice's design. "We simplified anything that was distracting and made the house appear more minimal," Rice says. "That allowed us to focus on the interior design." T wo children have come along since Johnson and Liu purchased their modern house four years ago. Rice, who has young kids of his own, was sensitive to creating a home that was safe and would stand up to wear and tear. "Almost everything Josh did has a rounded corner," says Liu. "And he was able to play with DESIGNER JOSHUA RICE COMPOSES A LIVABLE COLLECTION OF TEXTURES AND AUTHENTIC MATERIALS FOR ENTREPRENEUR RAE LIU. Pair of Mad lounge chairs by Jader Almeida for Sollos, Brazil.

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