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chairs circle a rustic farm table. And, an arched sitting area in the main bedroom becomes a serene retreat with a curvaceous Vladimir Kagan chaise and a pair of 1950s rattan chairs by French designer Louis Sognot. Good furnishings make for good rooms, but really great interiors rely on the push-pull of opposites. "A really great room has to have tension to be sophisticated and draw me in," Spearman says. "You can do that by playing with texture, proportion, and scale. For instance, in the living room, we hung a really small antique French portrait over the really big fireplace. The old painting is also next to the Fritz Hansen chairs, which are modern. There's a difference in time periods, and the scale of everything is off. That creates both tension and mood." Negative spaces also create tension, and what you leave out can be more important than what you put in a room. "There's such an art to editing, and I've studied that over my career," he says. "You have to know when to back off and have a quiet moment, and when to let certain pieces stand on their own." The main bedroom is a perfect example of the kind of restraint Spearman is known for. He nixed a hanging ceiling fixture because it would have interfered with the calm vibe of the room. "The discipline of restraint is an important part of my philosophy," he says. "There's always that one thing that can tip a room to becoming decorated or too glamorous. Each piece really does make a difference." The bed is draped in gleaming wool sateen — a simple gesture that is remarkably elegant and would be ruined by the addition of decorative pillows. The austere bed also shifts the focus to the gracious vaulted niche by the window. "It's a pretty space, and I like void spaces, so we worked with that. Nothing is lined up or centered — the chaise floats to one side, chairs are scattered. There's a juxtaposition of asymmetry and symmetry. It's one of my favorite moments in the house." Not bad for a business major who fell into design after his family built a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing and office facility, then put him in charge of working with the interior designers. He was just 22, but showed such creative potential that a designer told him he should do it for a living — and he listened. He's learned the ropes from constant study, travel, and exposure. "All that builds on itself," he says. "Everything I've seen or experienced or worked on for the past two decades goes into what I'm doing now." One of his biggest influences is the work of Belgian designer and antiques dealer Axel Vervoordt, renowned for his rustically refined interiors. He also takes inspiration from French architect and designer Joseph Dirand, a master of layering contemporary furnishings and antiques against the ornate bones of 18th- century Paris apartments. Spearman's focus and efforts have paid off: His Houston- based firm has done projects from coast to coast and around the globe, including a townhouse in The Netherlands and a Tel Aviv villa that was photographed by François Halard for Veranda. Many of his clients are in the Houston area, but he doesn't think of himself as a regional designer. "Good design," he says, "is global." A textural vignette on the stair landing focuses on an organic, rustic wood planter and iron railing. The wall sculpture from Reeves Antiques is made entirely of nails, creating shadows to form the shape. Kevin Spearman 85

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