Dallas Design Duo




One of my oldest friends, Julie, whom I first met when we roomed together at UT – and with whom I spend each summer with down at South Padre Island - lives in Dallas.  Her house is a large ranch  – long, in a L shape that overlooks a courtyard with the de rigueur swimming pool.   A few years ago she embarked on an update of her house – doing most of it herself.  She bought a new scrolled iron and glass front door and installed a row of columns with arches along the open gallery that flanks her living room.  She subtly fauxed the room in a neutral peach tone and added a beautiful  French stone mantel.  And then she stopped.   Furnishing the living room herself was above her skills, she admitted.  

Although she had lived in the house for most of her married life – the living room had never been professionally decorated.   The family room, though, had been – and the difference in the two rooms was obvious.  Julie  was more than ready to finally have  her front room  beautifully furnished.   When the time came to choose a decorator, she decided to give a somewhat new designing team a try.  Never mind that they were all friends - Julie had seen their work and knew that they would be perfect for her job.  They, like Julie,  loved French antiques and used them in all their projects.   The two decorators had an appreciation for fine furnishings and a knack for accessorizing and Julie felt since she had waited long enough for a nice living room – she was going to go “all out.”   So the designing du0 who go by their last names, RayWeitman, got the nod and the work commenced.  

Carol Ray and Marlene Weitman work in a different way than many of their peers.  Since they prefer antiques to new furniture – the hunt for furnishings is more labor intensive  than just quickly ordering from a catalogue.  It takes a thorough search of all the shops around town to find just the right piece to fit here or there.   The job therefore may take a while longer than one that is furnished over an afternoon at a showroom.  But Carol and Marlene are up for the long hours.  They love nothing more than a fun hunt for antiques for their clients.  

The two are both from Nebraska, but came to Texas to attend UT and never looked back – they moved to Dallas after graduation.  Neither majored in interior design, but  like so many of us  – they were drafted into the business by friends who had seen what they did with their own houses.   Drawing from their experience in designing their seven  houses between them – they partnered up and enrolled in interior design classes – selecting the courses they felt would best suit their clientele.   Let me take a wild guess – they skipped the class on “Fire retardant fabrics in hospital design.”  The business is now six years old and is growing each year.   By far, the highpoint of the RayWeitman partnership was being featured in The French Room by prolific design book author Betty Lou Phillips.   I remember reading the story about the beautiful house they designed and being intensely interested in who they were.   Phillips tends to showcase the same designers in book after book, but here was a new name with a great look.   When my friend Julie told me that she had hired the pair – I knew her living room was going to turn out great – and it did!!!  




image Once Julie had gotten the bones of the room done herself – she painted the walls and added arches and columns to separate the gallery from the living room, she was at a standstill.   Here is where RayWeitman stepped in, bringing in the first pieces of antiques – a side table and a French settee.  In the end – everything but the piano and a few chairs was replaced.




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This beautiful settee, painted and gilded would be reupholstered for the living room.  It was one of the first antiques RayWeitman bought for the room.




An eclectic mix of contemporary upholstery and antiques totally changed the living room.   The wall of windows were instantly warmed by the gorgeous curtains with beautiful trim down the leading edge.   A large rug defines the seating area.



Two matching chandeliers hang from the vaulted beamed ceiling.   A Spanish styled console table divides the long room into two separate areas.




To create interest, the two niches flanking the fireplace were given very different treatments.   An ottoman doubles as a coffee table for the reupholstered antique settee and the two clean lined club chairs.   The large Louis Philippe mirror does what all mirrors should do  - reflect something beautiful – in this case, the tw0 chandeliers!



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In this picture you can really see how large the chandeliers truly are – they fill the space perfectly. 




I love the brass andirons – so beautiful.   A lot of people don’t focus on the fireplace accessories – but see how wonderful it looks when you do!   This is my favorite part of the room -  I love this vignette with the Swedish chest.




The framed grisaille Zuber mural is my favorite thing in the room – so pretty!!!!!





The view towards the back of the room.  The antique textile pillows pick up the colors found in the rug.



Atop the chest is a collection of framed intaglios.   For information on the best company to buy beautiful, but very very reasonably priced intaglios – go HERE.



juliec2The entry way into the living room has this enfilade – with a beautiful painted trumeau atop it – reflecting the living room.



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RayWeitman also designed Julie’s powder room – using a piece of furniture, they added a sink and custom cut marble top.  I love the curved backsplash with the wall hung faucet!  So pretty.   The antique gilded mirror layered over the wall to wall mirror and the crystal sconces add sophistication to the room.



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And finally, the powder room floor was custom designed with a variety of stone and metallic mosaics that give just a hint of glamour to the room.





When this book by Betty Lou Phillips came out – it was a huge publicity boom for RayWeitman.  It’s not many designers that get the honor of being in a Phillips book, but this design duo made the cut.




Many pages were devoted to the large Dallas house they designed;  filled with French antiques, the house matched the book’s title.



This vignette is found off the entry hall set within an arched niche.  I adore the feminine French tea table and the crystal sconces.




How beautiful – the living room is painted a creamy ivory – as most of the downstairs is.  The simple but elegant stone mantel, with a French trumeau above it, is the focal point here, but the chinoiserie styled Mah-Jong table (set with antique Mah-Jong tiles) is amazing.  It was handed down to the homeowner by her grandmother!  



An assortment of antique textiles made into pillows rest on the sofa. 




The family room is really special – I LOVE the silk skirted console table.  The antique painted leather screen hanging on the wall, surrounded by a collection of blue export plates,  is stunning.



Vintage chairs with leather upholstery surround an urn turned into a table in the family room – check out the limestone walls and steel windows. 





This marble range hood might be the prettiest ever!  You can’t find Cararra like this anymore!!


 scan0020In the breakfast room, a large breakfront holds more of the blue and white transferware collection. 



scan0022The breakfast room has an orangery feel with its steel doors and windows.  



scan0021 My favorite!!!!  An antique French pastry table with a white marble top – I just love these!!!!




The guest room is all toile – notice the cute slipcovered headboard with bows.  Darling!



 Recent Project:image

This kitchen is a recently finished project by RayWeitman – stainless counters, what a luxury.  The hood is marble – I love the transferware platter used as a focal point.  





Another view of the kitchen with a farm sink and glass cabinets filled with more transferware.




And finally - a beautiful carved hanging shelf filled with transferware hangs in the kitchen. 


I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my friend Julie’s new living room  by RayWeitman and all the pictures from their portfolio.   If you live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and would like to talk to the two about a project, you can contact either Carol Ray at 214-649-1406 or Marlene Weitman at 972-365-0200.    I’m sure they would love to hear from you!

OLIVINE: A New Rice Village Neighbor



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If you are like me and Olivine is one of your favorite Houston haunts you might have been wondering just where they disappeared to.  Have no fear, Olivine’s proprietor Helen has moved her charming shop from Uptown to the Rice Village – YEAH!!!!  Finally, Olivine is in my stomping grounds.    Their former location wasn’t that far away,   but with this move to Rice  Boulevard, Olivine is practically in my back yard and I plan on being a fixture in the shop.

And why not?  They carry just about everything you could want for your house:  one of their most popular lines is the gorgeous Bella Notte for the bedroom.    They also carry Aidan Gray lamps and chandeliers and Dash and Albert Rugs.  For the body and nose, Helen tries to stock Oprah’s Favorites – like  the Kai and Lollia brands.  There is als0 the wonderful Les Indiennes fabric line and French Laundry Home brings along a feedbag and burlap vibe.   One particular company provides a lot of the store’s atmosphere - I think Helen bought the entire Vagabond Vintage catalogue for the shop.  I love that company and I think Olivine and  Vagabond Vintage are a great visual match.      In the back of the shop, she has a huge assortment of all things baby – perfect for the Rice Village where I swear almost every family in West University has a toddler or two or three!

The new Rice Village location has been open for only a short time – in fact the former tenant Back Be Nimble’s sign is still out front (soon to be replaced!)   But everything else from the former back store is long gone – Helen spent all of September getting the new shop ready – and if you ever wanted to check out wall to wall seagrass, this is your chance – I think she bought out all the rolls of it available in town.   There’s a very laid-back, warm and friendly vibe to the store – either Helen is working (she drives in from the hour-away Woodlands where she lives) or her trusty Aussie assistant Kathy is manning the shop – as she has been doing since the very beginning.   Between the two of them, they know their merchandise.   There always a shop dog or two laying around, both woman are major animal lovers and heaven knows how many dogs Helen ever has at the moment – the last time I asked it was five.  No wonder her house is done all in white slipcovers.   Which brings me to the point of it all – for the next two weeks, if you write a $25 check to the HSPCA,  Olivine is offering a store wide (including special orders) 20 percent discount.   Helen was spurred on by the recent rescue of over 1,000 animals from one hoarder – which has put a huge strain on the HSPCA.  So, if you want to help out with the animal rescue, but aren’t in the market for a new dog – drop by Olivine and go shopping, your  $25 check will be a great help, and the 20 percent savings will be your thank you gift from Olivine.     The store is located at 2405 Rice Blvd – just look for the Back Be Nimble sign !   Act quickly though – the HSPCA benefit lasts only until November 1st.   


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The exterior is almost as cute as the interior.  Olivine put in a brick porch and a new French door – along with a black trimmed paint job – completely changing the facade.    Rice Village is one of Houston’s oldest shopping destinations.    The narrow streets with door-t0-door shops encourages walking outside, a rarity in Houston shopping.  The Village is filled with mom & pop stores and specialty shops. Only a small number of chains have invaded this area, so the charming, old-town atmosphere still prevails.


olivine 035Outside the front door,  Olivine set up this darling vignette to let shoppers know they are now open for business.  I spy lots of painted gray merchandise in the window that instantly appeals!


olivine 030 In the other window – a reproduction Santos holds court.   I couldn’t resist and had to buy a similar one for Elisabeth’s room! The zinc cherub is too adorable.



olivine 033 The sign says it all.



olivine 040 I have never been in Olivine and not been greeted by one or two dogs!  But if you are afraid of them, Helen will quickly put them in the back room.  Check out the seagrass – freshly laid, it smells soooo good!




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This daybed from Vagabond Vintage is one of my favorite things in the store.  I love its tufted mattress – it’s a wonderful piece, especially for the price.


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Upholstered and slipcovered headboards are hugely popular here.  All the beds are made up with the cutest linens.  Custom orders available too.



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Mercury glass and zinc – how can you go wrong for Christmas gifts? 




olivine 065 I could spend days looking at all the body products and scented candles. 



image The styling is really great – here black and raw wood mixes with white and cream linens.  Notice the charming set of faux books on the night table!!!




olivine 075 The back of the store is dedicated to the baby and toddler.   Stacks of bedding line the walls.



olivine 068 The cutest clothes in the world – awwww, I wish I had a baby or a grandbaby to dress!!   Helen certainly knows babies – she had five of her own.  Yes, you heard me correctly.



olivine 073The hottest thing going – the Market Sling for babies – Helen confessed to me she put her new puppy in one.   You have to understand – her “human” babies have flown the coop and she must be missing them.



olivine 074 Baby nighties.  Everything is displayed so cute – in charming vintage chests or on old shelves with baskets. 




image Theses angels come large or small and are so beautiful – they were hard to resist. 



olivine 079 An antique armoire holds bedding, while a French chair hosts the wonderful Les Indiennes fabric samples. 



image There was a lot of trendy burlap – bags and rugs and wall hangings. 




This chair from French Laundry Home is on order and will be in the shop shortly.   Love, love, love it!!!!!!



olivine 057 A view towards the front window.  This Italian chandelier by Aidan Gray is hard to find – the company can’t keep them in stock.    Olivine has a nice selection of wooden chandeliers and light fixtures and tons of great lamps too. 



If you are out and about in Houston, be sure to stop by the Rice Village and pop in to welcome Olivine to the “hood.”   And don’t forget, for a $25 donation to the Houston Humane  Society – the store is all 20 percent off – including any special orders!! 

Katie Stassi Does it Again



When Ronda Carman from All The Best Blog ran a bedroom contest, I knew immediately who one of my favorite was – I mean, just look at this tiny corner of the submitted bedroom.  You know the rest of the room is going to be as beautiful as this little corner is.   The petite blue painted desk with a gorgeous chair next to it – the set of prints in lovely gilded frames with even lovelier gilded filets.    But – the focal point for me, the thing I couldn’t move my gaze from was the lone sconce.   Oh my.  Is it the prettiest sconce ever?    Certainly it’s in the running.  The delicate arms, with hanging tassels and just a hint of crystals, the patina of green paint, its crown with three curled wires mimicking the arms – are there two of these sconces?  Is it one of a pair?    Probably.  


The bedroom belongs to Katie Scassi, I suppose.  I know she designed it - so I’m assuming it’s hers.  Maybe it’s a client’s.  It really doesn’t matter whom the bedroom belongs to – it’s Katie’s vision that is the important point.   Katie’s star has very quickly risen above the crop of young interior designers in Houston and now New Orleans where she currently lives.   The late domino magazine recognized her as one of their Top Ten Designers, 2008.   She’s been featured several times in different publications and the design blogosphere went absolutely wild over her published Houston house - splashing its pictures everywhere it seemed.    And then there was the beautiful spread in Houston’s Paper City showing a house in River Oaks she had done for a friend, on a budget, though it doesn’t seem that way at all - given Katie’s stylish  and perfect touch.   Stassi likes to mix fine antiques, and I do mean fine, with contemporary pieces.   She’s not a collector, bloated down by possessions and things.   She lets her pieces stand alone and quietly shine.   Her interiors are light and airy, painted in mostly cool palettes of blues or lilacs or aquas mixed with a white or ivory background.   There always seems to be a touch of whimsy about, just to keep it all from being too serious.




Blooming branches set off an antique painted mirror – Stassi Style.


Most impressive about Katie Stassi is that she is much more than just a designer, she is a very deeply spiritual person who credits God for her talents.    Her life centers around her profound belief in the bible and its scriptures.    It must be very special working with her – knowing she is so grounded, centered, and thoughtful, with a heart that is definitely in the right place.    Good things are coming to her and she is most deserving.   

While pictures of Stassi’s past work are well known to blog readers, only Houstonians got to see her newest project featured in last month’s Paper City.    The house is so beautiful, so well done, I just couldn’t let it pass without showing you what we in Houston have been agog over.  When the issue came out – everyone it seemed was talking about it:  “Have you seen the new Paper City?” – I was asked over and over and over again.  Yes, I had.   It had been a long while since a Houston publication had featured such a pretty house – and pretty it is, no other word seems more fitting.    You see, houses this beautiful don’t come around a lot.   You look at magazine after magazine and flip them in the garbage thinking – next!   Not so with this Stassi house.  The pictures made you linger over them, examine the details, and then return to look yet again.  Almost as interesting as the interiors was the story behind the house – a truly one of kind interior design story that left readers wondering about it all.    

My only regret is that I don’t have the PDFs to show you pristine photographs – I have only barely acceptable scanned images.   Though they have promised one for months, Paper City still has no real web site, which is almost unheard of for a media entity in this day and age.   But miracles do happen!  Maybe by next year. 


Original story in Paper City by Laurann Claridge.  Photographs for Paper City by Jack Thompson.

Interview HERE with Katie Stassi from All The Best Blog, by Ronda Carman.


image In the entry hall, a French iron table and an 18th century Italian chandelier sets the scene for what is about to unfold.  Walking through the threshold – you know this house is going to special.


It started with a large, just built house bought by a newly single woman for her and her four daughters.   Months were spent working with an interior designer furnishing it, mostly in earth tones with `lots of checks, toiles, and trims.  The night before the big installation (the time when most designers lie awake with a pit of nervousness in their stomachs) the owner and designer unbelievably parted ways.   A friend gave the frantic homeowner Katie Stassi’s name who helpfully showed up for the installation and placed the new furniture around the house – as best as she could figure out where it all belonged.   A few short weeks later the still frazzled homeowner asked Stassi what she thought about the interior design – she asked of Stassi - what would have done with the house?   “Not this” was the answer heard round Houston.   The details of the Paper City story had tongues wagging, and gossip was flying, but no one can say Stassi wasn’t right.   For the next two years, the homeowner and Stassi completely redecorated the house, erasing all the design elements the former interior designer had put in.    Antique fireplaces went in, all new light fixtures were installed,  floors and window treatments were changed, and the walls were repainted a soft white – in short, everything was lightened, brightened, and turned into the beautiful house the two envisioned.   Stassi finished it all with the furniture and accessories she found in the finest shops in both New Orleans and Houston, the names of which are familiar to those who love French and Swedish antiques.   Stassi went on a search for the prettiest and found it.   Trips to Round Top added the homey touches.   To decorate such a beautiful house, filled with even more beautiful antiques –  takes someone with a fabulous eye, able to acquire so much, so quickly – and still get it so right.   Stassi, with her easy access to both Houston and New Orleans, was probably the only one who could.


 image From Stassi’s web site, the staircase shares space with a feminine French barometer and gray painted antiques.




The view from the entry, through the living room out towards the garden.  The three arched doors are framed by luscious,  silk curtains – a trademark of Stassi’s.    The French settee with its curving arms becomes the focal point. 





Another view of the living room – with its antique mantel from Chateau Domingue, has matching consoles and mirrors on each side.   Here you can see the settee with its soft blue fabric.   A gorgeous jardiniere with a marble top makes a perfect side table.




image  Next to the fireplace, a mirror with antique candlesticks, putti, and tulips.   Just beautiful!




This closeup, from Stassi’s web site, shows the settee’s painted and carved frame. 



image The dining room features a large wood table with a set of cane back, painted chairs.   More silk curtains soften the room.




A close up of the painted trumeau and console, accessorized with candlesticks and a statue of Mother Teresa. 




From Stassi’s web site another view of the dining room showing an angel painting in the trumeau’s reflection.  




The kitchen cabinets were painted a light blue/gray.  




A collection of apothecary jars is found in the kitchen.




In the family room/breakfast room, painted 19th century Italian chairs surround an Empire table.  A large Italian chandelier fits the space perfectly.   A French biot stands next to the stone fireplace mantel.  A pair of slipcovered chairs are in front of the bay window.





The soft blues show up again in the master bedroom.  A beautiful cream and blue rug blends with all the light colors – the curtains are again the full silk beauties found throughout the house.  And, the French mantle from Chateau Domingue becomes the focal point.


 image  Another view of the master bedroom, taken off Stassi’s web site shows the room bathed in a different light.  So beautiful!  




One of the daughter’s bedroom is furnished with French antiques – I adore the bed and pink bench!




And finally, this bedroom, has an antique pediment acting as a canopy.  I love the diminutive desk and blue painted mirror – so feminine and graceful, just like the entire house!   What a wonderful job, Katie!  It’s pretty beyond words!

Below is more from Stassi’s portfolio:


Paper City featured this house in River Oaks which Katie designed for a friend.  The floors were bleached with the walls painted to match – lightening it all up - and turning an old house into something young and fresh.  The beautiful lilac curtains were purchased from West Elm, then lined by Stassi’s workroom – transforming them into custom wonders.   Painted French chairs were treated to more lilac shaded fabric.  The gueridon table acts as a tea table here, grounding a rug that was a splurge.   Just delightful!!




The beautiful Katie Stassi poses in the same living room.



image What started it all – Stassi’s former Houston house – here two gilt French chairs in front of the windows.  I love how she styles her rooms with flowering branches – so pretty!



image Another view of her all white living room.  The contemporary console and art work perfectly mix with all the gilded antiques.




And in a corner of her living room, a Lucite table shares the space with a gorgeous daybed and a whimsical statue.




I love everything here – the color of the curtains, the table, the beautiful mirror, the antique sconces – I think this is  just perfect.



 image  Even her breakfast room was special with its painted blue French trumeau mixed with a banquette, black and white touches, and a bird!




But the picture heard round the blogosphere was without a doubt her Hollywood Regency styled backyard cabana.   Everyone loved this!



I hope you’ve enjoyed this collection of interiors by Katie Stassi.  I know I can’t wait to see what is up next from her and hopefully Ronda will be publishing pictures of the rest of that beautiful bedroom!