FRESH STARTS ARE SOMETHING interior designers like Kay Genua live for, but when her longtime clients decided to completely begin anew, demolishing their once-traditional home in the west side of Fort Worth in order to rebuild a sparkling new contemporary home, the news was bittersweet.
Genua, principal and owner of Kay Genua Designs since 2002, had shaped the home’s interiors for more than a decade, and it held a special place in her heart for the bathrooms that she’d swathed in beautifully handcrafted Ann Sacks tiles. As the wrecking ball began flattening the home, Genua (momentarily) felt crushed, too. “It was hard to watch,” says Genua with a laugh. “Those tiles are not something you can take with you, they died with the house.”
While the old home, with its ’70s design and quirky layout, diminished into rubble, Genua and the homeowners resurrected a new plan for the two-story, 12,000-square-foot home constructed by Larry Sebastian. Genua, who’s known for her use of color and scale, would stray from her traditional style and love of decorating with antiques to design her first top-to-bottom soft-contemporary space. “This was the wife’s dream home. She had pictures from magazines and a board on Pinterest of what this new beginning would look like,” says Genua, who enveloped the home in the desired muted palette, but also splashed the owner’s favorite hues of pink and turquoise throughout the living areas and the master bedroom.
What the designer didn’t alter is her long-running obsession with fabrics; custom, very stylized upholstery still peppers the home, though the fabrics are quieter than what Genua normally chooses. “I never repeat fabrics, which makes it tricky for me. We probably went through a thousand fabrics before coming up with the perfect one for every room,” she reveals. “That’s very true to form for me. I will hang in there with the client until I get what they consider perfection.”
A preview of what’s to come begins in the home’s entryway, where clean lines and a floating custom wood and iron staircase with a contrasting stone feature wall immediately garners attention. When she couldn’t find the right buffet to fit the space, Genua sourced a custom entry console with Tribeca pulls from Pierce Hardware in Forth Worth. “The lines of the cabinet are very simple, so I chose standout handles that complemented the silver that goes up the staircase,” explains Genua. “The cabinets also serve as a place for ladies to stash their purses when attending parties at the home.”
In true Southern style, the homeowners love to entertain, hosting everything from weekly football parties to Bible studies and extravagant holiday parties, so a large focus went into designing a welcoming living room and game room. “The living room takes my breath away,” Genua says, “but the downstairs game room was the most challenging because it was the hardest to fit everything they wanted into the room.” The couple holds a football watch party for the Cowboys every Sunday afternoon, so stylish yet comfortable seating in the game room was a priority. Genua brought in vibrant pink custom barrel chairs that swivel and are masked in fabric from Fabricut; a plush custom sofa is enveloped in a gray Donghia fabric. Agate and quartz side tables from Kravet edge the seating area for easy relaxation. Genua also made way for a bar (that she redesigned four times) to be centered around a TV. The countertop is made of Tuscan travertine, the backsplash is fashioned with tile from favored Ann Sacks and quartz pendants from Pettigrew Luxury Furnishings weightlessly dangle above. For added entertainment, there’s also a custom poker table with game chairs from Style Upholstering.
Hosts with the Most
In the informal living/family room, hosting was also a priority, especially when accommodating their large family during Christmas. “This is where I got to show off my love of fabric.
The homeowner wanted the palette to be quiet with pops of color, so I chose fabrics with personality,” says Genua, who planned the entire room around a Pampa sofa from Holly Hunt covered in a Zoffany fabric. “We sat on every sofa in the Design District about 10 times and finally narrowed it down to this one. I like that the sofa is solid, which is a good base for the room, but the fabric’s geometric design adds detail without being too loud.” She also crowned the couches with pillows in a Casamance fabric and brought in hints of blue with a glass bowl from Pettigrew and stools by the fireplace in turquoise Garrett Leather. An eglomise mirrored nesting cocktail table from Pettigrew Luxury Furnishings anchors the seating area. Another bar made of Horizon marble conveniently rests just off the living room, designed for more formal parties when a bartender is needed. Genua once again added a dash of color with barstools from Worlds Away covered in a bright Designers Guild fabric.
The ease of entertaining flows from the living room to the adjoining kitchen and breakfast room, where the showstopper is two waterfall islands topped with Calacatta Carrara Gold polished marble countertops from Walker Zanger, which were installed by Natural Stone & Granite, Genua’s go-to in Fort Worth. One island is used for storage, while the other is flanked by counter stools from Worlds Away and beautiful blown glass pendants (each with slight differences thanks to the glassblowing process) from The Bright Group, which capture your attention. Move over to the custom breakfast table with its concrete top and wood base—which was a collaboration of all the things the designer liked combined into one—to settle into chairs from Blue Print Store in Dallas, reupholstered in a turquoise Osborne & Little fabric. A light pendant from Pettigrew punctuates the space, but light also pours in from the custom iron windows, which offer an architectural detail to the room along with stunning views of the pool and backyard.
Right at Home
Another challenge came with the expansive master bedroom, where the designer wanted it to feel cozy yet didn’t want to overfill the large space with furniture. Plush carpet from Interior Resources, along with draperies in a Kravet fabric, bestow a warm feeling.
“Funny enough, the husband never had the chance to choose their bed during the marriage, so he wanted to pick out the new bed,” says Genua of the custom bed from Wright At Home, flanked by a Kravet bench covered in a Designers Guild Trasimeno fabric. Custom club chairs in a Donghia fabric were also a must, as the husband desired a snug place to read in front of the fireplace and windows, which present a view of the pool. The floating bedside tables were smartly made from leftover slab from the master bath.
The study is now the wife’s command central, with big windows that overlook the courtyard, and it’s where Genua was finally allowed an explosion of color and an abundance of her coveted fabrics.
Custom swivel chairs in a Designers Guild fuchsia fabric are paired with a contrasting ottoman in a Stark fabric, inviting a creative day of work. Draperies in a multicolored, striped Casamance fabric are a standout feature as well. More whimsy is added to walls with fine artwork from King’s Daughters.
“This home makes my heart sing,” says Genua of the project that was completed in 2018 after three years of construction and work. While designing the home was a departure from her typical traditional style, Genua feels that it’s always good to constantly be growing and evolving in her work. “I never want people to recognize my work. I want them to walk into every home and say, ‘This is stunning. Who designed it?’ It should always reflect my individual client’s lifestyle and taste.” New beginnings for all.
Angela Caraway-Carlton is a Miami-based freelance writer, travel and lifestyle expert, and television producer. Her works have appeared in Indulge Magazine, Time Out, Elysian, Aventura, South Florida Luxury Guide and Modern Luxury Weddings South Florida & the Caribbean. Caraway-Carlton has covered lifestyle trends in South Florida and beyond for more than a decade.