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September 2015 - Dallas

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SEPTEMBER | PAGE 57 | 2015 Inherited pieces from his parents, such as a pair of 1948 walnut-and-leather Finn Juhl chairs, a 10-foot mid-century buffet and a Dunbar double rolltop desk designed by Edward Wormley, had all survived Hurricane Katrina. In the modern mix were the wife's antiques, including a genteel Louis XV fauteuil that had belonged to her grandmother. "There was definitely a leather-and- lace kind of thing going on," says Garzotto, who was charged with refinishing, reupholstering and merging as many of the couple's existing pieces as possible. "This house is a design story, not a shopping story. Even Elsie de Wolfe talked about that, how some houses are really just a transfer of merchandise from the store to home. This is not that house." For direction, Garzotto turned to the Philip Johnson-designed Menil House in Houston, whose interiors were done by Charles James, the great mid-century couturier. In defiance of the prescribed devout modernism of the day, James built furniture for the de Menil family that was voluptuous, sculptural and derivative of 19th-century designs. Johnson may have been outraged, but the result was a house the Dominique and John de Menil loved. "That house played a lot in our thinking," Garzotto says. "The tension between the high mid-century architecture and the high-19th-century interiors is what makes it sexy." Garzotto, like Charles James, is also known as a brilliant colorist. The Menil House, with its muddy gray and tobacco hues — enlivened with vivid pinks, crimson and chartreuse — was a catalyst for the colors Garzotto helped define for his clients. The dramatic palette includes muddy neutrals such as the grayed-out olives of the dining room's Holly Hunt velvet-wrapped walls and high-gloss chalk-gray ceilings in the dining and family rooms. A muted backdrop allows for vibrant hits of oranges, blues and purples in art and upholstery. Other rooms are totally enveloped in color: The living room and master bedroom are a play on lavender and violet, while the library is lacquered in masculine, brooding teal. Finding the right colors took time. Despite the wife's passion for lively hues, she'd drenched the living room walls in gray. "Paul brought in several combinations, including ivory and aqua," she says. "None of them were right. One day, he showed up with all lilac and orange, and I loved it. He had noticed I wore the same lilac workout shirt all the time, and I mentioned I'd have a whole house in lilac if I could. The next thing I knew, I had almost a whole house in lilac. It turned out [my husband's] favorite color is purple, and I had no idea. Thank God it is, because there's a lot of it. It's a spiritual color for me, so I never tire of it." Not everyone wants to live in a house with purple rooms, she admits, but isn't that beside the Top: The library's peacock lacquered walls and ceiling were hand-painted by Barry A. Martin Painting Contractors. The 1948 Finn Juhl chairs in walnut and new saddle leather belonged to the husband's parents in New Orleans. The distressed vintage leather club chairs were restored by Marcelena Racatune of Larru Leathers. The Barn Owls is an original John James Audubon painting purchased at a Louisiana plantation estate sale. Photographs of Japanese fetish dolls by David Levinthal. Above left: The study has European walnut ceilings and a rare double roll top desk designed by designer Edward Wormley for Dunbar, which belonged to the husband's father in New Orleans. Above: Designer Paul Garzotto in the library. point? Like the de Menil residence, hers is an intensely personal house. "It really feels like us," she says, remembering a dinner party she hosted earlier this year. After looking around and soaking it all in, a guest turned to her and asked, "Did you do all the work on the house yourself? It's so you!" For a decorator who prefers to fade into the background so that his clients can shine through, Garzotto could not have been paid a bigger compliment.

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