Dallas interior designer Tiffany McKinzie is no stranger to a challenge, even when said challenge means coordinating a six-figure renovation of a University Park home in the face of a 13-hour time difference.
Such was the case when a Texas family living and working in Hong Kong set their sights back on the Lone Star State. Through a combination of late night conference calls and a few precious face-to-face meetings, McKinzie achieved the near impossible by transforming a dated family home into a tasteful testament to “East meets West.”
“The clients had already bought the house before we connected,” McKinzie says. “Everything about it was very 1990s. Every room was sectioned off; it was dark and felt like there were walls everywhere.”
In hopes of ushering the property into the 21st century, McKinzie, a storied Dallas designer with almost two decades of experience, knew she had to open up the home’s bottom floor. This meant knocking down a number of unnecessary walls, enlarging existing windows and doorframes as well as providing a more natural flow to the overly partitioned property.
Such tasks were child’s play when compared to the renovation’s biggest challenge: creating storage in the kitchen, which lost an entire wall of cabinets in the reconfiguration.
“We had to get creative with the kitchen,” McKinzie says. “We focused on creating storage anywhere we could. We crafted this great island with lots of storage for dishes, cookbooks, cutlery and so on. We also reclaimed space under the home’s stairway as a pantry. Even with the wall of cabinets gone, the couple has ample storage space for their family.”
After five years of life in Hong Kong, the homeowners amassed an impressive collection of Asian art and artifacts. One of their more distinct finds, a pair of statues resembling China’s famous Terracotta Army, is the focal point of the study.
The designer paired the statues with an impressive reclaimed, adjustable height iron desk from Dallas showroom William & Wesley. The desk, which sits opposite floating wood shelves and grass cloth wallpaper, is a stunning example of how East meets West in practically perfect harmony.
“I love all things Asian, and I was absolutely giddy about these terra-cotta statues,” McKinzie says. “To keep the Asian vibe throughout, I incorporated lots of natural elements and textures. This meant pairing wood with porcelains, grass cloths and metals.”
Harmonious designs come naturally to McKinzie, who started her career after building multiple homes of her own. When she noticed a gap in the marketplace between homebuilders and homeowners, McKinzie knew there was a bridge to build.
“Sometimes, it’s like the contractors are speaking a different language,” McKinzie says. “Luckily, I know what they’re talking about, but a lot of homeowners don’t. I noticed this incredible need for a design liaison, and I basically called any homebuilder I could and said ‘you need me.’ Turns out, they did.”
McKinzie’s collaboration doesn’t stop at homebuilders. For many of her projects, including this property, the designer works with local showrooms to produce custom-made furniture perfectly suited to the client’s need. For this home, McKinzie worked with Dallas’ Benny & Sons Upholstery to create furniture that walked the line between traditional and modern while remaining kid-friendly in consideration of the family’s three children.
Unlike the main floor, the home’s upstairs configuration suited the family’s needs, despite its unique layout, which features a master suite unlike anything McKinzie had seen.
“The master suite took up the whole front of the home. The bathroom was huge, and there is this long hallway connecting the bedroom to the bath. It felt like a luxurious hotel, so I convinced the owners to keep it. I papered the walls in a tonal, contemporary floral pattern and added beautiful light fixtures,” she says.
“From the very first day, I knew this would be a project I would love working on. The home had such good energy,” McKinzie says. “The clients were amazing, open-minded and fun loving. I wanted to do my best to make sure the home represented them and their well traveled experiences.”
Chase Wade is a Texas-based freelance writer. Leave him a note at chasewadewrites.com.