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Top Dallas Designer and Art Consultant Team Up for a Vibrant Preston Hollow Home

Step Inside Philip Thomas Vanderford and Jennifer Klos' Eye-Catching Dallas Creation

BY // 04.02.20
photography Costa Christ Media

In 2017, Jennifer Klos gave a talk at Heritage Auctions about the country houses of England. In less capable hands, a discussion on centuries-old interiors might creak with age and reek of musty history. But Klos, a 39-year-old art consultant in Dallas, delivered a fresh perspective.

A board member of The American Friends of Attingham for the study of historic houses and collections, she encouraged the crowd to imagine a young 18th-century aristocrat who had just begun buying art. His purchases might have been cutting edge for the era, just as contemporary art is today. And, centuries from now, even the 21st century’s most provocative works are destined to become tomorrow’s Old Masters. Her observations made a big impression on Philip Thomas Vanderford, an interior designer who had recently returned to Dallas after a tour of English country houses.

“Everything Jennifer said really resonated with me,” he says. “Even in design, you have to know the past to look toward the future.”

Vanderford, 37, introduced himself to Klos after the talk, and it was the start of a collaboration of art and design that has included five residences so far. Their take on interiors is youthful, fresh, and refined — although they work in a variety of styles and tastes, and within a range of budgets.

“It’s very much about what the client is ready for, and what’s appropriate for the situation,” Vanderford says.

Philip Thomas Vanderford
Philip Thomas Vanderford teamed up with Jennifer Klos to design a Preston Hollow home. (Photo by Costa Christ Media)

Most recently, the pair teamed on a newly built two-story home in Preston Hollow for a couple in their 30s with two young children.

“This is the third project I’ve done for them,” Vanderford says. “The first one was early in my career, when I was really green, and I did one simple room. They are both in commercial real estate, and they’d just started out in their careers, too. Now they’re very successful in their field, and I feel like we’ve grown together. Each house I’ve done has been taken to a different level.”

This time around, both the house and the budget are bigger. At 6,000 square feet with five bedrooms, the house is sized for a growing family. And the couple has begun to invest in contemporary art.

“For this project, I wanted a certain level of quality and cohesion between art and design, so it was important to bring in someone to interpret their taste in art,” Vanderford says. “Jennifer has an extreme amount of knowledge, and I knew she’d expand our perspective.”

Jennifer Klos (Photo by Costa Christ Media)
Jennifer Klos (Photo by Costa Christ Media)

Klos, an Oklahoma native, was a curator at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, after studying at Vanderbilt University and Bard Graduate Center in New York. She also has a certificate in interior decoration from the prestigious Inchbald School of Design in London. For his part, Vanderford, who hails from the Arkansas Delta, has tackled projects from Aspen to Northern California wine country, and internationally in Paris, the British West Indies, and Shanghai.

For the Dallas house, they began with a solid design plan inspired by their clients’ personal style.

“They are very tailored, and a little edgy,” Vanderford says. “You’ll see her in a classic black Chanel dress with simple jewelry, but making a bold statement with Valentino shoes or a purse.” He’s usually in a tailored dark blue suit, with “some little wow factor, like a Gucci shoe. They both drive Range Rovers — classic, yes, but always the fashion editions, like with a red trim. I used their personal style as a jumping-off point for this house.”

Rooms came together in much the same way one might accessorize a little black dress, says Vanderford, who co-owns Dallas-based Studio Thomas James with business partner Jason James Jones.

“The house already had clean, classic bones,” Vanderford says. “So to give it youthful personality and a little edge, we layered custom-colored Trove wallpaper and Ann Sacks tile everywhere.”

Wallpaper and tile colors inspired other custom elements, such as the dining room’s blue lacquer ceiling, blue console, and blue rug. Think of lighting fixtures, faucets, and sinks as jewelry for the little black dress of a house. “The lighting is a combination of custom creations and Visual Comfort. One thing we love about un-lacquered finishes is after a few months, the patina becomes very soft and complex. And it’s far more understated.”

 

Philip Thomas Vanderford
Miles Aldrige’s photograph, “3D,” is from Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles. The living room’s custom walnut coffee table is designed to pull apart as needed for more intimate gatherings. Lee Jofa chairs, Ralph Lauren light fixture. (Photo by Costa Christ Media)

Keeping things casual is key to a home that feels youthful, especially with so many exquisite surfaces and materials. “For the main living room,” Vanderford says, “they wanted something that was tailored for entertaining, yet with materials that would let them kick their feet up and watch TV.” A pair of sleek custom sofas upholstered in stain-treated white fabric is polished enough for guests but durable enough for children. A large custom walnut coffee table is scaled for family time together but can be pulled apart to create separate intimate cocktail areas. And, a pair of mid-20th-century Warren Platner chairs, upholstered in cozy, indestructible mohair, strikes just the right balance between elegance and livability.

The family uses the open kitchen and casual dining area a lot, so Vanderford made it stylish with a classic black, white, and brass scheme. The area also had to function supremely well. Visual clutter was eliminated with bar stools bolted to the floor to prevent scratching the hardwoods.

“I wanted it to feel less like a kitchen,” Vanderford says, “so I eliminated the upper cabinets. There’s a preconceived notion of what a kitchen Ashould look like — but why not have art instead of cabinets.”

 

Philip Thomas Vanderford
The brass-and-darkened-metal ventilated hood was made by Faulkner Perrin. Westside Kitchen and Bath brass faucet and fittings, Holland Marble countertop, Ann Sacks tile. (Photo by Costa Christ Media)

As an independent art consultant at Collector House, Klos’ job is to help clients find art they truly love that is also a good investment. “I found out a lot about the clients by first showing them a variety of art, and by asking them questions, such as what colors they dislike and what subject matter appeals to them,” Klos says. “These clients were willing to go bold with color, which was really exciting.”

To get started, she took the couple to several local art galleries and to the Dallas Art Fair. Two paintings featuring lemons and strawberries by Stephen D’Onofrio from Galleri Urbane checked all the right boxes for the kitchen. The dark planters referenced the room’s black elements, while the repeating patterns of leaves and fruits hold their own against the graphic tile background.

“These works create an element of surprise in a space that usually doesn’t have art,” Klos says. “I always tell clients, ‘Let’s look at spaces where you’ll be entertaining guests or where family gathers, and generate conversation through your art. Let’s tell stories.’ Those fun paintings really tell a story there.”

101 5×7 4327 Manning-50 (Photo by Costa Christ Media)
Jenny Holzer’s “Conclusion” series is from Talley Dunn Gallery. (Photo by Costa Christ Media)

The fair attracts more than 100 galleries each year, so she narrowed their visit to ones she thought the clients might enjoy. “I do my homework and devise a plan, but it’s also an opportunity for them to discover works on their own that might surprise them.” Case in point: While visiting a booth for The Hole NYC, a rainbow-hued, highly textural painting by Brooklyn artist Caroline Larsen was brought out from the back room on a whim. The artist had literally just painted it before it was put on the plane, and the pigment was still drying. They immediately fell in love with it, and it’s now hanging in the staircase, where the children pass it on the way to their rooms, inspiring the next generation of collectors.

“Art can play that vital role in helping a house feel like a home,” Klos says. “It makes it feel so much more personal and can tell the story of the family. It’s why I do what I do.”

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