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A traditional family home gets a bold, modern makeover


Interior designer monica wilcox’s clients called her as they were about to close on a 6,000-square-foot, six-bedroom, six-bath home in Allen, Texas. It had taken them two years to find their dream home, and they knew all along that when they found it, they wanted Wilcox to reimagine it.

Before renovations, the home was a brown stone farmhouse with Tudor elements and lots of rustic details. The homeowners are a young, fun couple with contemporary tastes and a large family. They wanted a modern vibe with glamourous touches and comfortable gathering spaces where the family could be together.

Wilcox painted the exterior white and replaced the traditional arched doors with contemporary black metal doors. “I didn’t want the home to feel rustic outside, then you walk in and there’s a modern vibe inside,” Wilcox says. “We didn’t want to erase the history of the home, but we did need it to be updated.”

Inside, Wilcox created a bright, inviting two-story entry. It’s minimal and uncluttered and introduces the colors you see in the adjoining living room and home office. Initially, the office was painted brown and had floor-to-ceiling dark wood bookcases, an aesthetic that was far too traditional for the homeowner. Instead, she wanted it to feel bold, cozy and elegant. Wilcox suggested they paint the entire room blue to coordinate with the dining room, with a funky sputnik fixture and white and cognac accents to keep it light. “Like everyone these days, she does a lot of Zoom calls,” Wilcox says. “We wanted to create a pretty, sophisticated backdrop so we incorporated her personal objects on the bookcase behind the desk.”

Slabs of Panda marble are the focal point of the kitchen. Two islands provide ample seating for this large family, who also like to entertain.

On the other side of the entry, an arched doorway leads to the formal dining room. The homeowner knew she wanted chairs with color, so Wilcox chose royal blue velvet barrel chairs with gold details and elegant crossed legs. On the feature wall, nine white glass squares with mirrored oval insets contrast with the charcoal wall and reflect light into the room. “I wanted something that would run the height of the wall,” Wilcox says. “The ovals add a retro ’70s glam, but they also feel very modern.” The dining room is also home to a large-scale painting of a face that Wilcox added as a final touch. “She knew she wanted a face, so we worked together to find an abstract that also picked up the colors in the room.”

The kitchen and living room form the open-plan heart of the home. This is where the family gathers, so they needed plenty of seating and lots of surface space. Initially, the kitchen was as rustic as the rest of the home, with a white and brown tin ceiling, a brown wood vent hood and black granite counters. When Wilcox took her client to the stone yard to choose new countertops, she fell in love with the bold panda marble. Using it in a waterfall pattern that shows off the opulent natural pattern, the designer created two islands that serve as informal eating areas and a focal point for the room. The white and brown tin ceiling didn’t fit the contemporary aesthetic, but it would have been costly to tear out and replace it. Instead, she minimized it with a glossy black finish.

Wilcox replaced the red brick fireplace in the living room with 60-by-30-inch porcelain tiles that look like black marble. The existing light fixture was a ceiling fan, which she replaced with a massive, funky linear light that perfectly juxtaposes the rustic hand-hewn beams. In one of the many lighthearted touches that keep this sophisticated home friendly, Wilcox added a wall of gold and white faces, each with a different expression.

Royal blue chairs and floor-to-ceiling shelving add continuity to the elegant, colorful interiors throughout the home.

One wing of the home leads to the master suite. The unusual design features a rotunda that leads to a bedroom, bathroom and coffee bar, much like an elegant hotel suite. However, the bedroom was a challenge for the homeowners as it felt small compared to the scale of the rest of the house. It also has a curved room beside the bed that the original owners used as a library. The client told Wilcox she wanted a romantic, sexy vibe in her bedroom, so the designer saw an opportunity to have some fun.

So far, her clients had trusted her instincts, so she pulled out all the stops. Wilcox knew right away she wanted to paint the entire room black, but she eased her clients into the idea. “I knew she liked big, bold wallpaper,” Wilcox says. “I found this large botanical print with deep burgundies, greens and blacks. It was soft but not too feminine because I had to convince him too.”

Once again, her clients told her to go for it. Wilcox used the wallpaper to create a feature wall with a band of high-gloss wainscotting along the bottom. Burgundy swivel chairs and a green marble table bring out the colors in the wallpaper. The client wanted a low headboard, so the designer had a headboard custom made to run the width of the wall. Instead of lamps on nightstands, she added pendant lights.

In the primary bedroom, Wilcox turned a circular room that was formerly a library into an accessories display room with a boutique feel.

As for the unusual round room, the designer proposed turning it into an accessories annex. “My client has a fabulous collection of shoes and handbags, so I staged it as a boutique. It’s so beautiful; all of her pretty things are on display along with family photos. It’s just fun to be in there,” she says.

The home is a perfect example of how, when done thoughtfully, blended styles can enhance each other, and elegant interiors can also be family friendly. In fact, Wilcox says what she loves most is the reveal video she made of the family seeing the renovations for the first time. “I hadn’t realized how important design is to children,” she says. “When the kids ran in, they were screaming. They were really excited about how pretty their home looked.” This is a house for grown-ups with excellent taste, but it’s a home for a family too. *

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