This 100-Year-Old Texas Home Gets a Gorgeous Makeover
The first time Sarah Sammis' oldest daughter, Perri, saw this house (which would eventually become her family's home) in the Highland Park neighborhood of Dallas, she balked, saying "It's gross!" And then she retreated to the car and waited for her mother to finish the tour with the real estate agent.
Luckily, on a second-chance visit to the house, this time with husband Bruce in tow, Sarah saw beyond the warped floors and overgrown landscaping and admired the ample outdoor space, sky-high ceilings, and fairly open layout—all quite rare for a home built in the early 1900s. They were sold.
Twelve years later, when the home was due for a major refresh, Perri proved to be much more involved in the process. She was responsible for finding Amy Berry on Instagram and recommending the designer to her parents. Then, at Berry's first meeting with the Sammises, they discovered that they had actually met before at the Dallas hospital where both Berry and Perri were born—on the exact same day.
With kismet on their side, they began working on the home's expansive backyard, hoping to create a poolside outdoor living area that felt as cozy as a living room but with the glamour quotient of a fabulous hotel's cabana. Once Berry finished transforming the space into a heaven-on-earth veranda that's 100% pet- and wet swimsuit-proof, Sarah invited her inside.
While the outdoor living room had been composed mainly of new pieces, Berry's interiors took a different, less shop-heavy route. First, she emptied the house to paint it and then shopped the family's own possessions. From there, she moved pieces into different rooms to play around with scale and reupholstered furniture to create a sunny take on traditional style.
Berry's signs of success came from hearing the veranda had turned into the family's outdoor living area, accommodating everything from morning coffee dates to a baby shower for 20- plus guests, with enough seating for all. See how she pulled it all together.
Designer Amy Berry oversaw the building of the 600-square-foot veranda and made her decorating decisions as if she were planning a living room. "We put mirrors up where windows would have been," she explains. Her thoughtful attention to details, like hardwired sconces and even a painting over the fireplace, made a big impact completing the "room" effect.
There are six separate seating arrangements in the backyard: on the back porch, around the pool, and under the veranda. Berry took another interior decorating move outside—mixing up different styles of furniture rather than using matching sets. Fully upholstered outdoor furniture is an option. This plush Restoration Hardware sofa has foam cushions and a marine-grade wood frame.
While this kitchenette hosts the necessary amenities (a grill, ice-maker, and sink), Berry says it's the Walker Zanger tile that "makes a glamorous impact in such an easygoing space."
With most of the family's time spent outside, Berry reimagined this room as a polished, laid-back space. And the easygoing palette was key. She says, "Just about all blues go together, so it's hard to go wrong with them." Here, ginger jars pair with Schumacher suzani fabric pillows and the Sammises' own striped rug. A cobalt boat from Bruce's childhood also made its way into the room's design scheme, working overtime as a creative storage spot for board games.
Berry softened the boxy-looking foyer with a settee and curtains. The designer also added a celadon-colored linen skirt to the Sammises' old hexagonal table. Sky blue walls (Opal Essence; benjaminmoore.com) and an arrangement of leafy branches channel Mother Nature.
The family room is the last stop before the backyard, so it's a natural high-traffic zone. Berry repurposed or re-covered everything in this space and even shortened the legs of the old entry table to make the coffee table. "I wanted every seat in the house to invite people to sink in, put their feet up, and throw pillows around," says Sarah Sammis.
Showing Off Heirlooms
"The Sammises' home had a treasure trove of heirlooms to pull from," Berry explains. Chief among them was Bruce's grandparents' 1940s chandelier. It's paired with a mint Schumacher wallpaper for a look that's bright and refined. And though the dining room's location, smack in the middle of the home, meant it was the darkest spot in the house, Berry had a solution. "You can't put a window in the center of a home, but you can put in pocket doors," she says. And with that, a closed-off wall became a light-filled pathway to the sun-drenched family room.
"People underestimate small-scale patterns," says Berry. Here, two different prints on the banquette and chairs set up a subtle blue-and-yellow palette that unites the fabrics and keeps them from clashing.
A spa blue ceiling-height valance over the head of the bed helps the large master bedroom feel more personal. A pale blue upholstered headboard, plush coverlet, and lightly patterned duvet prove that a serious sleeping zone doesn't need to be overwhelmed by fussy or fluffy bedding.
Tone on Tone
Working with a single palette is one of Berry's biggest calming design tricks. "I love pink," she says. Dressing the bed in pink plaid (an unusual find in this ladylike colorway) that's slightly darker than the walls adds depth and texture to the space without looking busy.
In lieu of a more formal sofa-and-chair arrangement, Berry centered the living room around four club chairs, creating a conversation zone. She covered the chairs in a tonal geometric pattern and worked in several airy but earthy elements. The blue carpet and the velvet, fringed ottoman warm up the room, while the landscape painting clearly alludes to the outdoors.