PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Fort Worth March 2021

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charming 1920s houses. They lived three blocks from each other but never met until a blind date decades later; they married in 2009. Old houses from their formative years had made a big impression on them — not just the traditional styles but the meticulous craftsmanship and beautiful design that went into them. "One hundred years ago most buildings were built to be beautiful," Sell says. "These days beautiful buildings are more the exception than the rule. The factories of yesterday are more beautiful than the churches of today." Through his membership with The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art in New York, he's spent years studying and visiting the work of great architects, including by England's Sir Edwin Lutyens, David Adler's splendid American country houses and George Washington Smith's elegant Spanish Colonial Revival style houses on the West Coast. He's immersed himself in the architecture of John Staub, whose houses he first discovered as a college student visiting friends in Houston, when they'd drive through the city's most beautiful neighborhoods, particularly Broadacres historic district near Rice University. "I think it's the most beautiful neighborhood in Texas," he says. For their new family home in Fort Worth, Sell borrowed design elements from one of Staub's most recognizable houses in Broadacres, the Palmer Hutcheson House. Early in his career, Staub had worked for H.T. Lindeberg, who specialized in country houses in New York, and the 1924 Colonial Revival is reminiscent of the shingled Long Island estates that the Sells admire. With input from Lizzie, Sell sketched many versions of their house on paper napkins in restaurants and on paper towels in their kitchen until they came up with one that felt like home: a modern take on traditional. "It's a symmetrical design with a traditional stair hall in the middle, formal living on one side, and dining and kitchen on the other," he says. "But we gave it a little pizazz with dramatic wraparound windows in the kitchen and study. And we took a cue from Lindeberg's work in New York, with a long ribbon-style dormer on the attic level to create a playroom for the kids." Local artisans crafted the house in much the same way they might have a hundred years ago, with carved plaster and soapstone fireplaces and coffered wood ceilings. In lieu of sheetrock, a mix of oak paneling and shiplap gives texture and interest to walls. Fine brushwork is an art, and skilled painters used brushes to provide subtle depth to painted surfaces. A traditional pier-and-beam foundation gives the herringbone oak floors a firm but hollow sound when walked upon — something you associate subconsciously with old houses. And rooms vary in ceiling heights and volumes, which Sell says is essential for houses to feel welcoming and comfortable. The large, airy kitchen steps down into a cozy den, where the family often gathers. A low-ceiling pantry and coffee bar — two of Lizzie's favorite rooms — are tucked under the back stairwell. "We A back staircase banister in mahogany. The landing's coffered wood wainscoting, white oak floors, and Ralph Lauren for Visual Comfort light fixture add to the authentic feel. Opposite page: Clockwise A coffee-bar area in the butler's pantry has custom cabinets with refrigerated drawers and handmade brass hardware by Classic Brass, New York. Even back hallways and stair landings are beautiful, with shiplap walls painted in various blues. In the living room, herringbone white oak floors and hand-built windows give the house a crafted, traditional feel. In the living room, draperies are wool Holland & Sherry with Samuel & Sons trim. Chairs covered in Cowtan & Tout cut velvet. Custom sofa in Coraggio mohair. 48

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