43 rooms full of silk velvet chairs, chandeliers dipped in brass, walls textured in seashells, along with a chunk of gold rock sitting in the shower are features only fit for the home of a king. An international royal family found residence in Dallas, Texas, with the help of West Hollywood interior designer Kari Whitman. Specializing in high-end luxury residential properties, Whitman used her inventive and versatile design techniques to create an old world modern eclectic home for one of the richest families in the world.
As she did with previous clients Jessica Alba, Kristen Bell, Emilio Estevez, Antonio Banderas, and Melanie Griffith, Whitman reached to the bottom of the sea to find original, vintage, and custom pieces to bring the royal family an interior design that has never been seen before. “Internationally, they have been everywhere and seen everything, so people want to see something that other people haven’t seen, and that’s what makes it cool for them,” said Whitman. Within one year, Whitman travelled the world to shop her favorite stores, search through antique shows, furniture shows, and art shows, and custom designed multiple furniture pieces specifically for this estate. The end result: a visionary design worthy of the dignified and distinguished.
Step into an impassioned entryway with huge 12-inch plank wood floors, a fiery red carpet, a mid-century modern light fixture, and a hand blown glass centerpiece that contribute to a dramatic entrance. Leading to the stairway, hand plaster walls mimicking the inside of an oyster shell have an iridescent feel with cool silver undertones. To get the pure lustrous look that the inside of an oyster holds, Whitman took a shell from the sea to her plaster maker where he mixed and matched over 50 samples until the modern plaster was perfect. “The walls are hand rubbed so that they’re soft to the touch, but still jump out at you,” said Whitman. A $12,000 Holly Hunt bench and a funky vintage NYC skyline light combined with three neutral toned wall art pieces mix together thrifty finds with expensive art for an offbeat staircase décor totaling to over $50,000.
Moving to the dining room, a grand rolling wall made of stainless steel, brass, and wood sits against a white background to mirror the design of the whole room. The table seats 12-16 guests with fabric chairs made from mohair, a boxed light fixture filled with hand blown glass balls glowing with gold leaf and silver leaf, peacock, white dove, and red feathers, finished with a handpicked accent rug made out of silk bamboo and refined wool. Every detail adds up to a roomy, yet intimate space for dining.
Whitman made sure the royal family’s home made guests feel just as superior by designing a powder room that rules all other bathrooms. The back wall is crafted from seashells collected from the Philippines, and the cabinets are made of vintage veneers topped with a custom colored, 2” slab countertop of recycled Bioglass. The master bathroom holds a treasure of its own with a huge chunk of gold rock seated in the impressive room the rich use for bathing. A large custom stainless steel tub accompanied by a vintage Murano Glass chandelier from Itlay, adjacent to Aspen tree branches dipped in brass and white birch wood cabinets offer a classic 1940’s appeal.
From the lady of the house’s suite to the teenager’s sanctuary, every bedroom in this estate is filled with personalized features and furniture to embody the personality and emotion pertaining to each family member. For the lady of the house, her bedroom consists of designer fashion artwork and feminine touches. Surprised by the fact the clients left all of the art choices to her selection, Whitman explained, “this client was really into art, but didn’t know a lot about it, so with a big budget they took my direction on buying pieces and now their art has doubled in value.” The first child’s bedroom poses an ultramodern design with a custom made bed by Whitman, art painted on top of a coffee table, and a metal pole running from floor to ceiling that swivels in every angle so that doing schoolwork, makeup, or watching TV can easily be done. A butterfly bedroom for the daughter of the royal family blows away all other artistic bedroom design with modernized plaster on top of black and white butterfly wallpaper so that when you touch it, it feels like silk. A mid-century modern hanging light floats above a blue accent chair, next to an Italian side table that balances on a corner at a 45-degree angle.
For an entertainment room, this mansion holds a sensational movie theater with comfortable massage chairs that lay down to a bed. Brought in from Germany, the theater chairs mix old with new, covered in silk velvet and piping. Out of all the breathtaking rooms this Dallas estate holds, Whitman felt the deepest emotional connection to the breakfast room. “Difficult and inexpensive, I’m really proud of the creativity,” says Whitman. The breakfast room presents a massive Chanel art piece that was custom made to hold delicate silverware and teacups. Aside from the impressive artwork, the ceiling is the true captivating point of this room. Bought from a French company, the beautiful flat felt carpet was moved from the floor to the ceiling for an interior design like no other.
Ending under budget and before her deadline date, Whitman handcrafted the masterpiece that this estate is, from her endless efforts to go above and beyond the ordinary interior design. “I love what I could bring to them, and what they allowed me to do,” said Whitman. Out of all the riches this royal family has, visiting their modernized contemporary-colonial home in Dallas will always be worth a fortune.
Kari Whitman Interior pieces can be ordered via phone 310.652.8684.