It has been nearly 20 years since interior designer Toni McAllister, of McAllister Designs, moved her family from their sprawling historic house in Monte Vista to a contemporary one in Marymont. The upkeep of the older home was overwhelming, so the more contemporary one had its advantages.
Originally, McAllister didn’t much care for the new house, which was built in the early 1970s and already dated in appearance when she acquired it. In fact, it was the sort of project that she would advise her clients not to undertake. Yet the stunning results of one of McAllister’s most challenging projects, her own personal residence, are pictured here.
She took pages from the script she tells her clients and made sure to play to the house’s strengths, while letting her own lifestyle and personality shine through. She started by creating a warm and inviting library to house the voluminous quantity of books her avid reading family possessed. Her advice to clients on libraries is that the shelves should literally be “groaning with books.” From there, she created an equally cozy breakfast room off the kitchen as a place to gather because, as McAllister advises her clients, a kitchen ends up being an entertaining area, whether you intend fhat or not.
The high ceilings of the main rooms afford lots of natural light, and she laid bare the windows to capture as much sunlight as she could. McAllister and her husband painstakingly painted over the outdated parquet lacquered floors and then lightened the walls of the central space to give a formerly dark house an airiness of subtle grandeur. This room previously housed a built-in bar that McAllister says was reminiscent of the one from the old television series, Dallas. As much as she disliked the looks of the 1980s “Ewing’s bar,” McAllister acknowledged that it seemed to be a favorite draw for gathering friends and family. “The old watering hole,” she laughs, so instead of removing it entirely, she replaced it with a more tasteful bar placed on a lovely French sideboard and topped with antique heirloom silver pieces. She then had a custom painting done to serve as the new watering hole’s backdrop.
“Acknowledging how we actually live is a trick for successful decorating,” she adds. McAllister’s signature style is filling a house with an eclectic mix of antiques and newer items. This reflects her personal affinity for both. Does she miss the historic house? She laughs, looking at her beautiful surroundings: “Not anymore.”
By Keli Davidson
Photography by Al Rendon