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Inside the Stunning Makeover of the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek

Designer Thomas Pheasant Unveils a Carved Rotunda and Masterful Lobby and Suites

BY // 10.01.20

Cotton baron Sheppard King and his wife built their grand estate on Turtle Creek in 1925 with glorious architectural treasures brought back from trips to Europe, such as doors salvaged from a Spanish cathedral, carved marble columns that once belonged in an ancient Roman palace, and antique stained-glass windows bearing the coats of arms of British nobility. The Kings lavishly installed marble on the cantilevered stairway and enlisted local artisans to carve wood ceilings and plaster columns. Their stucco Italianate masterpiece was saved from certain demolition by Caroline Rose Hunt, who painted it pink and launched her Rosewood empire with the elegant Mansion hotel in 1980.

Interior designer Thomas Pheasant was inspired by the building’s original details for his multi-year overhaul of the hotel, newly unveiled for the Rosewood Mansion’s 40th anniversary. The original mansion — which houses the restaurant, bar, and meeting rooms — wasn’t touched.

“The people who originally built it must have had a fascinating life,” Pheasant tells me from his Washington, D.C., offices. “You see all these European bits and pieces and collections they brought back and made their own. The original interiors have their own sense of escapism.”

188 RWMOT_Lobby2
The magnificent lobby living room designed by Thomas Pheasant.

Pheasant’s redesign is focused in the rotunda, lobby living area, and guest rooms and suites. He likens the rotunda to a folly or gazebo, with an ornate plaster dome carved with cascading vines. The dome was created by Dallas-based Casci OrnamentalPlaster, whose founder collaborated on the library’s original plaster barrel ceiling in 1925. The new dome took more than six months and 12 master craftsmen to complete. The revamped lobby living room now has ample lounge seating furnished with tables and seating designed by Pheasant.

Guest rooms and suites are designed in Pheasant’s signature serene palettes of creamy neutrals mixed with muted blues, greens, lilacs, and terra-cotta tones. “The first time I met with Rosewood’s design team, I asked them what they were looking for,” he recalls. “They put a copy of my book Simply Serene on the table and said, ‘We want this.’” In other words, Pheasant’s mandate was to create interiors that are a calming respite from the outside world — something we all need in 2020.

Damask wall coverings, mahogany paneling, and whitewashed oak floors all harmonize with Pheasant’s Studio Line of custom coffee tables, nightstands, and chairs. To give the public spaces a residential feel, he stocked shelves with books and decorative objects that were sourced locally. Original artwork was created for the redesigned areas, including more than 50 paintings commissioned by Eaton Fine Art in Austin.

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Dallas photographer Sil Azevedo captured the Mansion’s historic architectural details in photographs for rooms and suites, and Bay Area potter Sara Paloma created 128 ceramic vessels to decorate the hallways. In an almost poetic aside, Pheasant teamed on the redesign with Dallas architecture firm Three, whose president, Gary Koerner, worked with Caroline Rose Hunt to design the original Mansion on Turtle Creek in 1980.

“This is a very idiosyncratic hotel,” Pheasant says. Yes, it is. In the best way possible.

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