Category: Article:

Scaling Down the Home for Empty Nesters
by Dr. Oneida Cramer

In the next few hours, Blake Settle will leave his parents home in Caruth Homeplace to begin his first job in Lubbock, Texas, marking yet another stage in the emptying nest of the Karen and Jay Settle family household. Naturally, Karen and Jay have scaled down their home?by about 2000 square feet compared to their previous University Park residence of 21 years, where they raised two boys, Blake being the younger. Now living in the secluded space built for the late Mrs. Helen DeGolyer in the 1980?s, Karen and Jay find themselves tempering an historical setting with their own refined mode of designing?and passions for collecting art, a hobby begun while they were living in a very modern style home.

?We bought our first painting shortly after we moved into our first house in ?75,? Karen said. It?s by Michael Atkinson, a Texas watercolor painter who attended art classes with Karen?s brother when he studied architecture. At that time, they also bought paintings from Dutch artist, Arie Van Selm, who lived across the street from them. ?The first three pieces we bought, we took out a loan, and I went back to work to pay for them. That?s how passionately we wanted them.? Two of those brightly colored abstract paintings now reside in the living room of the Caruth Homeplace home. And close by on the fireplace mantel is a small gold gilt painting.

?It was on my counter this morning,? Karen said for Jay had given the painting to her as a surprise. Eventually, that painting will go in the master bedroom or in the bedroom where Blake has slept, or perhaps, upstairs in the remodeling planned for the guest den with full bath, originally an attic conversion done by the previous owners, Gerald and Gretchen Fronterhouse.

When the Settles first saw the solid Chicago brick front house that they bought a year and a half ago, they felt like the home not only met their practical needs, it would meet their interests and work for entertaining and showing their art. And besides the garden views in every room and just the right number and spaciousness in the rooms, there was also an historical monument built into the foyer. Here, the original homeowner, Helen DeGolyer, had relocated four antique door panels from the DeGoyler estate, built in 1928 at 6701 Turtle Creek.

?She had them crafted just for this location to add a bit of division between the two rooms,? Karen said. ?The owners right before us said that she had even extended the doors slightly.? The new material can be distinguished only by an almost indistinguishable differentiation in color. Overall, that color is outstanding?a faded chocolate-malt, whitewash wood. And the panels not only separate the two front rooms but also direct traffic straight ahead to the library, where the late Mrs. DeGolyer, a member of the Guild of Book Workers-Lone Star Chapter at the time of her death in 1995, could show off her hand bookbinding skills?a noble tradition at that time.

Today, that room remains a library but with added features?a walnut game table, English Wiliam IV, circa 1850, for dominos and cards, leather seating for reading, listening to music, or watching videos, and the original dark-walled shelving?now displaying art, like the 1971 G. Harvey painting of the cow, as well as books. Following this design idea in the library, as suggested by their interior designer Charlotte Taylor, owner of Notable Accents, Karen and Jay added smooth burlap lined wood paneling to the built-in shelves in the living room. So now, dark shelves stand out against pale walls but also complement the historic wood panels in the entry as well as the kaki ness in the window draperies in the dining room.

?We haven?t done any extensive traveling, but we have been to England about five times,? Karen said. ?I see a lot of gas light in England when we drive around and look at the them on the sidewalk attached to the home. That?s part of my expectation?I think of the ironwork. I?ve stayed at the lake country inns, where I?ve seen a mixture of a lot of things that bring the outdoors in with the trees, the dark woods, the lighter woods, the pines.?

Finding these ideas in the Dallas residence can be seen in the entry foyer, where wood is inlaid decoratively in the floor, designed to form an arch that matches the arch molding on the front doors and the arch shaped in the recessed, sculptured ceiling. Adding to this design element are the simple lines in the entry lantern, reminiscent of England, and the custom designed iron table base/leuter stone top, entry table, which complements the arches as well as the iron chandelier hanging in the dining room. Karen picked out the American sideboard and Jay chose the bookcase as part of the democratic approach taken by Karen, Jay, and Taylor. For instance, everyone voted on each idea, including the design to build a circular, extendable inlaid wood dining table. Likewise, the new tapestry upholstery on the two antique French armchairs, circa 1860, in front of the fireplace in the living room came out of the collaboration between Taylor and Karen. And the French chairs tended to broaden the idea of an English design. But Karen didn?t care as long as the chairs fit comfortably into the final picture of their home design, very much influenced by their passion for art and creating beautiful vistas.

?One commonality in every home we?ve had, out of the four homes, is they?ve all had a lot of glass,? Karen said. ?Modern homes often have lots of glass. And in the third home, we added on a den with three sets of French doors across on the hall that overlooks a back yard.? So, in Caruth Homeplace, the Settles landscaped every outdoor view, sinking the courtyard patio, resurfacing with Pennsylvania green stone, and adding a hot tub, all of which can be seen through plantation shutters in the living room, the library, and the bedroom. They also added a fountain to the dining room patio and a barbeque grill with a stonewall backdrop outside the breakfast area. Mixing historic with contemporary?all with an artistic flair?that?s the concept that allows Karen and Jay to build a beautiful museum inside their home.

-by Dr. Oneida Cramer
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