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Barbara Gilbert dresses a Dallas transplant’s home in audacious shades


In the living room a coffee-table ottoman is covered in faux navy leather from Vanguard Furniture, part of the Michael Weiss Collection. The twin chairs are covered in fabric by Taylor King. Art by La Montage Fine Art. Phillip Jeffries’ “Bermuda Hemp” in turquoise grasscloth was used to back the shelves and provide a hint of color.

“I did not want a cookie-cutter house at all,” says Dallas transplant Allison Rosario. After seven years spent living in a small, modern Tokyo apartment, the accountant was ready for a change. When Rosario found the ideal home in Frisco—a pristine two-story under construction— she could hardly wait to make it hers.

Faced with several challenges —she wouldn’t be bringing any furnishings or art with her to Texas, and she wanted the traditional home to reflect her more transitional taste—she knew she needed direction. “I had a vision but lacked the ability to implement it well,” Rosario says. This vision included two prerequisites: She wanted an active yet sophisticated space for her sons, 12-year-old twin boys, and daughter, 13, and a bright, welcoming environment. “I love color and wanted to use a lot of different shades in my home,” she says. “Since my kids are older, I also don’t need everything Saran wrapped. I wanted a casual, elegant feel, a place that was comfortable for teenagers but for me as well—a place to entertain.”

In the front entrance glass art from La Montage greets guests on the landing. French doors on the right lead into the homeowner’s office.

Thorough research led her to Barbara Gilbert, associate ASID and IDS professional. Gilbert happens to be an expert in color—she has studied color integration and the resulting psychological effects—and is known for her ability to blend bold textiles and prints with more subtle neutral hues. “It was very clear to me after meeting Barbara that we would have a great experience working together on the house,” Rosario says.

Given that the home was finished out in simple gray and white paint, “we had an empty slate,” Gilbert says. She outlined color mantras for every space, from the entryway to the childrens’ rooms. “Allison is vivacious, smart, focused and sweet, and we wanted to reflect all of that in the design,” Gilbert says. The challenge, she adds, was ensuring each area seamlessly flowed into the next. “We wanted to vary the color scheme while also establishing continuity.”

Variation was immediate. Never one to shy away from wall coverings, Gilbert integrated papers in beautiful patterns and prints in nearly every room. She backed the living room’s custom bookshelves in Phillip Jeffries turquoise grasscloth wallpaper, brought in a salmon-hued paper designed by Winfield Thybony for Kravet in Rosario’s personal office, chose a graphic metallic print by Seabrook for her master bedroom, and, in the dining room, went bold with silver metallic paper on the ceiling and an Anna French silver-on-navy trellis print on the walls. “I would never have done wallpapers without her,” Rosario says. “The prints she brought in are so beautiful and really improved the richness of the home.”

In the game room an octagonal, 8-foot-high custom worktable with Vanguard stools is placed in the center of the room. All the cabinetry and shelving is custom made. The designer used colorful glass tile around the pass-through. Vanguard swivel armchairs, with fabric from Robert Allen and Kravet, line the wall. The custom 10-foot round rug is from Dallas Rugs. Art by artist Melissa McKean via La Montage.

Gilbert deftly married the dining room’s navy backdrop with fuchsia and orange hues in custom chairs, which have gilded nailhead details and fuchsia velvet bands, and in a bold painting from to-the-trade, Lewisville-based gallery La Montage. “I wanted a showcase, a glamorous dining room, and I got what I asked for,” Rosario says. “It’s stunning.”

Gilbert kept the atmosphere equally refined yet far more subdued in Rosario’s bedroom, relying on a soft palette of grays, silvers, creams and lavenders. She found a creamy, luxuriously tufted headboard and silvery ottomans from Vanguard Furniture. “Even with pops of purple, the rooms still flow,” Gilbert says.

In Rosario’s office Gilbert went yet another direction, interspersing a Bernhardt Furniture alabaster desk with pinks and grays, which are also found in custom original art by artist Melissa McKean. Chartreuse mixed with navy, aqua and teal are the foundation in the living room. “Barbara’s use of color makes my guests want to see what each room looks like,” Rosario says. “She captured my vision throughout the entire home.”

A bright abstract painting by artist Melissa McKean via La Monatge hangs over the cozy fireplace in the kitchen/ dining area. The table and chairs are from Vanguard Furniture.

Gilbert used Anna French “Klein Trellis” wallpaper in silver-on-navy in the formal dining area. The table, chairs and console are from Vanguard Furniture.

In the office the wallpaper is from designer Winfield Thybony for Kravet. The Bernhardt Furniture Salon desk with alabaster finish and plated steel sits on a custom-made, hand-tufted wool rug from Dallas Rugs. Original art by Melissa McKean from La Montage Fine Art.

Which is, of course, exactly what Gilbert wants to hear. “Our goal with every client is to truly express their personalities, because we believe a home is the backdrop of their lives,” Gilbert says. “This home is happy and sophisticated while having a homey feel. It’s the perfect reflection of Allison and her family.”

Jessica Elliott is a Dallas-based freelance writer and can be reached at jessicalaneelliott@

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