Debra Stewart believes good things come from life’s transitions. In fact, an opportunity to live in Great Britain had a far-reaching effect.
“I studied at Oxford. I traveled extensively. It affected my soul to see what I had studied,” says the owner of Debra Stewart Interior Design.
This immersion in European culture changed her approach to interior design. Previously committed to being a modernist, Stewart was influenced by the classic art and architecture surrounding her.
“I saw how beautiful every genre is. I developed an appreciation of classic looks. Since then, I’ve made it my goal to be flexible. I like to mix it up,” Stewart says.
This respect for change framed her approach to a home renovation in North Dallas. Constructed in the 1960s, the rambling ranch on a private lake had been redesigned previously by Stewart six years ago.
“We added a wing to include a second master suite and revised the original master to create larger quarters that met ADA requirements. We also designed the kitchen to be ADA compliant,” says Stewart.
The transformation continued during the second renovation. Focused on maximizing the view of the lake, the owners challenged Stewart to repurpose and open existing rooms facing the water while also enhancing accessibility.
“Universal design to age in place while enjoying the view was paramount. They wanted to see the lake,” Stewart says.
The interior designer also was tasked with adapting the space to accommodate her clients’ hobbies: cooking, fishing, traveling and collecting art.
“The goal was to create an inviting space with multiple functions for cooking and entertaining while improving access to the space. They wanted a quiet elegance to balance the view and highlight their growing collection of art and artifacts,” says Stewart.
Creating the space took ingenuity. To tackle the project, Stewart brought on board Ronny Henderson of Henderson Custom Homes & Remodeling. Multiple rooms were combined and reconfigured to develop the expansive kitchen and living space.
“Six spaces were gutted to make one large kitchen, casual dining and family room for the couple. We gutted the entire wing facing the lake and two rooms on the front wing,” Stewart says.
The former kitchen and casual dining areas fronted the street. Together they were moved to the rear of the house to overlook the lake and adjoin the new living room. Stewart added tray ceilings for visual interest and enhanced lighting.
“The tray ceiling allowed us to break the long linear line of the wing we were renovating. We had varying ceiling heights, some 8-foot, some 9-foot. The tray ceiling allowed us to bridge those variations,” says Stewart.
Designed for two cooks, the kitchen has three prep areas, Sub-Zero and Wolf specialty appliances, and custom cabinetry. The footprint allows for easy accessibility to each area. Two sets of ovens, standard and steam, the range and two sinks are within easy reach of the prep island. Nearby, a baking center designed to fulfill the wife’s favorite hobby is enclosed behind retractable doors. Sensor controlled toe-kick lighting at the base of the island provides illumination.
“They both love to cook and entertain. The kitchen design was established for two full-time cooks with specific stations,” Stewart says.
An adjacent butler’s pantry has additional space for food prep. Within the area is a fullheight cabinet designed to hold the husband’s fishing gear; a small galley sink provides a place to prepare fish. The space is designed to accommodate specific tasks and to serve as a bar for entertaining.
The new kitchen opens into the living room, which now has a full wall of glass facing the lake. The space forms a connection with the outdoors, bringing the ambience of the lake into the home. Comfort seating and multifunctional furnishings define the room’s effortless livability.
“It’s a place to read the newspaper, a place to take a nap, a place to relax,” says Stewart.
A soft hue, Benjamin Moore “Sea Pearl,” merges kitchen, living and bedroom areas with the outdoors, while showcasing the owners’ art.
“Our colors are very neutral. The background highlights the view and the clients’ love of art,” Stewart says.
Designed for efficient, accessible living, the home is both elegant and practical.
“We maintained the integrity of design, while addressing the needs and requests of our client,” says Stewart.
Nancy Baldwin is a Dallas-based freelance writer and editor. Contact her at baldwinwriter @gmail.com.