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It’s Coco Chanel Meets Diana Vreeland in This Glamorous Mansion Residence Apartment

Joseph Minton and Paula Lowes Mix Old-School Inspiration and Fresh Glamour

BY // 10.22.21

Like many women whose children are grown and married, the idea of being at loose ends in a large house by herself wasn’t appealing for this widow, a member of one of Dallas’ prominent automobile dealership families. So, five years ago she bought an apartment in the Mansion Residences and was soon faced with another dilemma: a vast open space in need of a facelift, and furniture and art to arrange. “Friends kept asking me, ‘Who are you going to get to do this?’ The first person I called was Joe Minton,” she says of interior designer Joseph Minton, who has a roster of blue-blood Dallas and Fort Worth clients. She’d seen his design work at friends’ homes and in the pages of magazines such as Architectural Digest, which has featured a dozen of Minton’s interiors over the years. It turned out to be a good match.

“She wanted to use the furniture she owned, and luckily she has great taste,” Minton says. “I was delighted to see her collection of 18th-and 19th-century antiques. I have learned that wonderful furniture — especially antiques — often works for multiple residences in later years.” Minton knows a good antique when he sees it. He began buying antiques in France and England in 1971 for interior design clients and opened Joseph Minton antique showroom in Dallas in 1997.

Joseph Minton
Walls and ceiling are lacquered red. Shelves hold objects picked up during the homeowner’s travels. The ornately carved chair is an antique from Asia. (Photo: Emily Minton Redfield)

Although his client’s new apartment has elegant features such as arched windows and marble floors, the contemporary open-space plan felt too stark for her traditional furnishings and classic personal style. Noted architect Robbie Fusch of Fusch Architects stepped in to reconfigure the apartment with custom-designed classical pilasters and columns, which helped define separate dining and living areas. The client wanted to recreate a red-lacquer library from her previous house, so Fusch walled in a corner of the living room for this purpose and added a classical pediment over the doorway for architectural interest. A handsome old marble fireplace from her former house was repurposed for the living room, and Minton designed a massive wood arch with antiqued mirror from Italy to go around it, to play off the room’s graceful arched windows.

Joseph Minton is old school when it comes to creating furniture plans, so one of the first things his team did was to carefully measure and photograph all the client’s furniture, art, and objects. Then, just as his former design partner David Corley taught him 50 years earlier, Minton sketched each room’s furniture arrangement precisely by hand at quarter-inch scale. Sketching by hand is almost a lost art, now replaced by CAD, but Minton’s drawings have never let him down. “If it works on paper, it always works in the room,” he says.

The client has collected antiques for decades and discovered much of her furniture, art, and rugs from noteworthy local dealers and on travels to Paris and England with her late husband, stopping at flea markets and antique shops along the way. She also has some prized heirlooms passed down from her parents. Minton enhanced her treasure trove with striking backdrops, setting the tone with a dramatic entryway of black-lacquered walls, mirrored panels custom-made in Italy, and a ceiling covered in silver leaf. “I wasn’t a bit concerned about having a black-lacquer entryway,” she says. “I love it, and everyone who sees it loves it.”

Amid her French and Italian antiques in the entry are cherished pieces such as a large trunk that belonged to her mother and a charming antique tricycle that she and her husband spotted in a shop in Bath, England, which he purchased in secret and surprised her with at Christmas.

Joseph Minton
Dining-room wallpaper is de Gournay’s Coco Coromandel. Antique Baccarat candlestick lamps were purchased in New Orleans, an anniversary gift from the homeowner’s father to her mother. the table is 18th-century English Georgian, and the chairs, 19th-century French. (Photo: Emily Minton Redfield)

Minton covered the dining room walls in de Gournay’s sumptuous Coco Coromandel hand-painted wallpaper, which is based on the iconic lacquered screens in Coco Chanel’s apartment on rue Cambon in Paris. “De Gournay had just introduced it when we started work on the apartment, and I was crazy about it,” Minton says. “My client wasn’t sure at first that she wanted to use wallpaper, but I was determined.” Not only did she end up loving it, but the dark background color of the wallpaper perfectly sets off her 19th-
century French black-leather dining chairs. Simple, sheer white curtains let in daylight, and a textural sisal rug underneath her polished 18th-century English Georgian dining table keeps things casual. She and her husband found the mid-20th- century Lucite buffet at a flea market in Paris; it holds a pair of signed antique Baccarat candlesticks from New Orleans, which her father gave her mother for their 40th wedding anniversary.

The wallpaper’s pink flowers inspired the pale-pink hue for the dining-room ceiling, which is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Old Country. Pink is a flattering color, and Minton enveloped the living room in it, including the ceiling. “I always paint the ceiling the same color as the walls, because it makes the room more intimate — and prettier,” Minton says. As it happens, the apartment’s cream stone floors also have hints of pink, so it all ties together. Minton used the client’s antique oriental rugs to delineate multiple seating areas in the living room.

A nine-foot sofa, lavishly covered in Italian silk velvet tiger stripe, has been in the client’s various homes for years. “It has stood up to six grandchildren and lots of entertaining, and it still looks great,” she says. Joseph Minton also devised a cozy conversation nook in a corner of the room, with custom banquette and a vintage zebra hide underfoot. The client is clearly fond of animal patterns — there are leopard-print pillows on some of the chairs — but they all harmonize. “To me, animal prints are the same as florals,” Minton says. “They are celebrating animals, just like floral prints celebrate flowers.”

Joseph Minton
Marbleized chairs, a vintage zebra-hide bench, and a red gourd lamp set off an unusual antique backgammon table. (Photo: Emily Minton Redfield)

Glimpsed from the whisper-pink living room is the dazzling red library, which the client wanted recreated exactly as it was in her previous home. The library, which has a red-lacquered ceiling and fireplace along with walls, windows, and seating covered in red Persian chintz by Colefax and Fowler, was a challenge, Minton says. The fabric had been discontinued, but no other red chintz would do in its place. The pattern was made famous by Billy Baldwin, who used it to cover the walls, windows, and upholstery of Diana Vreeland’s Park Avenue living room. Minton loved the idea of using it again for this project and called Colefax and Fowler in London, who helped him get the fabric printed in England. With dozens of yards of the famous chintz in place, the library is an exhilarating place to read or play cards with friends.

“Not everyone is brave enough to do black lacquer walls or an all-red room, but my client went along with bold suggestions and was open to everything — and we created the most glamorous apartment imaginable,” Minton says.

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