A Dallas Contemporary Tailor-Made for a Growing Collection

Catherine Hong

As anybody who’s overseen construction of a brand-new house will tell you, there’s a lot of blood, sweat, and stress headaches that comes with the process. Homeowners Kristen and Joe Cole know this well, having obsessed over every inch of a midcentury-style structure in Austin that took them 18 months to build. The couple moved into their dream house in early 2017, figuring that they’d be living there long enough to see a few scratches on the woodwork. Not a chance. By the summer of 2018 the couple had already bid farewell to their new neighbors in Austin and finalized a move to Dallas, where Kristen needed to be for her job as president and chief creative officer for fashion retailer Forty Five Ten. “It was sad to walk away from a home we had built for a year and a half, but Joe and I believe that you have to be fluid in life,” she says. “We rolled with it.”

Designed by architect Lionel Morrison, the house was built in the 1990s for blue-chip art patrons Howard and Cindy Rachofsky. “They are collectors on an entirely different level from us,” says Kristen. “They are an inspiration!” (Fun fact: The Rachofskys still live in the neighborhood, in a Richard Meier–designed house down the street.)

And they rolled fast. “We did not want another construction project,” says Joe, who works as creative director for Headington Companies, which owns Forty Five Ten. “We wanted something easy.” They hoped to find a house that they and their two young sons could move into right away—no architects, building permits, or renovations required. And as luck would have it, the very first one they saw was a contemporary four-bedroom, six-bathroom property in pristine condition, built in 1997 for renowned Dallas art collectors Howard and Cindy Rachofsky. “Honestly, when we saw it, I felt like the universe was on our side,” says Kristen, who also loved the elegant neighborhood, Preston Hollow. “It was meant for us.”

Passionate art collectors themselves, the Coles were especially drawn to the house’s sun-drenched expanses of clean, white space, perfect for their growing collection of contemporary paintings and sculpture by artists like Katherine Bradford, Elizabeth Neel, Sarah Braman, and Al Freeman. “The architecture led the decision,” says Joe. “We loved that it felt so gallerylike.”

A Dallas Contemporary Tailor-Made for a Growing Collection

The stark minimalism of the entry hall in Kristen and Joe Cole's Dallas home is accentuated by a Formica-topped birch plywood console by Waka Waka, a furniture line from Los Angeles sold at Forty Five Ten. The painting is by Julian Stanczak, and the chair is a reupholstered Mies van der Rohe from Coming Soon.
A vintage Karl Springer dining table, found on 1stdibs, was one of the few major pieces the couple bought for the Dallas house. The painting is by Katherine Bradford, and the artwork on the left is a cotton “slab sculpture” by Kevin Beasley.
The couple kept to midcentury classics for the kitchen’s fuss-free dining  area: a Saarinen Tulip table surrounded by Wegner Wishbone chairs. The sliding doors lead to a patio where the couple grills.
“We let our art collection take the lead and hung the art before placing the furniture,” says Joe. In the living room, an Elizabeth Neel painting is flanked by a Richard Phillips work and a sculpture by Sarah Braman. The seating area includes mismatched vintage Pierre Paulin lounge chairs, a Karl Springer coffee table, and a Philippe Malouin for SCP sofa.
The same white limestone in the pool area is used for the first floor of the house. The outdoor furniture is a mix of Blu Dot and vintage Bertoia.
The open-air den on the second floor features seating by Ligne Roset and a vintage coffee table. The artwork is by Sara Cain (pink painting), Al Freeman (power cord soft sculpture), and Andrew Kuo.
“This is where we hang out at night after our kids to go sleep,” says Kristen of the open-air den area outside the master bedroom. The seating is by Ligne Roset, the painting is by Julian Stanczak, and the sculpture is by Zachary Leener.
The stark white hallway leading to the master bedroom was the perfect place to install one of the couple’s favorite pieces: a diminutive Tony Matelli weed sculpture. “It looks like it’s growing out of the corner,” says Kristen.
“When we first moved in, we thought this was the craziest bedroom,” says Kristen of the cavernous master bedroom. “We originally considered buying new furniture to fill it, but then we realized we liked keeping it spare and empty without even any art—it’s totally relaxing.” The bed is a custom built-in that came with the house.
“This is my favorite room!” jokes Kristen, pointing to the maple millwork and skylight in her closet, which is filled with designer goods from Forty Five Ten. “I always hang a few of my favorite pieces face-out— it’s the store merchandiser in me.”
Designed by architect Lionel Morrison, the house was built in the 1990s for blue-chip art patrons Howard and Cindy Rachofsky. “They are collectors on an entirely different level from us,” says Kristen. “They are an inspiration!” (Fun fact: The Rachofskys still live in the neighborhood, in a Richard Meier–designed house down the street.)
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Once the Coles sealed the deal, the process of settling in was equally as smooth. Because the house was such a blank slate, it was a breeze to install their art and rehome most of the contemporary and '60s vintage furniture from their Austin house—like the Karl Springer coffee table, Ligne Roset sofa, and Hans Wegner Wishbone chairs. “Joe and I have a good, quick rhythm for designing together,” says Kristen. The biggest change the couple made was a rather subtle one: the plush wall-to-wall ivory carpeting on the second floor, which runs through the bedrooms and the open-air den, where the couple hang out in the evening after the kids go to bed. “It feels great on bare feet,” says Kristen. “It makes everything cosy.”

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest