Real Estate / Houses

Inside the Nest

* Mary Ella Gabler Bitzer

BY Rebecca Sherman // 07.02.15
photography Chris Plavidal / Sisterbrother Mgmt.
Mary Ella Bitzer
Mary Ella Gabler Bitzer

For Mary Ella Gabler Bitzer, founder of Peacock Alley luxury linens, Fort Worth is an ideal central hub between weekend trips to the family farm in Granbury and the Peacock Alley showroom and corporate offices in Dallas. It’s also an easy drive to DFW Airport, where she hops a plane to meet husband John at their homes in Martha’s Vineyard and Pine Cay, a resort island off Turks and Caicos. “I’m always either driving to Dallas or to the farm, or flying somewhere,” she says, laughing. So, when she’s at home in Fort Worth, it’s all about laidback luxury. Located in the restored 1921 Neil P. Anderson building near Sundance Square downtown, the loft was an empty shell when they purchased it three years ago. Bitzer enlisted the help of Dallas interior designer Joe Don Watts to handle the finish-out and help with furnishings. “I really loved the open loft feel and wanted to keep it that way,” Bitzer says. A custom sliding wall separates the living area from the study when privacy is needed; thanks to a sleeper sofa, the area becomes an impromptu guest room. Clean and spare, the loft holds many of Bitzer’s favorite things, including early limited-edition lithographs by Georges Braque and Joan Miró, which she purchased in the 1960s in New York (where she worked as one of the country’s first female stockbrokers) and her collection of Baker furniture, which she lovingly re-covered in linens made by Peacock Alley’s own mills in Italy and Portugal.

Describe your personal style.
I am definitely a neutral-palette person, as I find it creates a serene environment, but I love to play with splashes of color. Because I love living with whites and neutrals, the backdrop of my personal style is one of clean lines, simplicity and a focus on textures and classics with a modern attitude. Mixtures of new and vintage give a personal touch of the personalities that live in the space. I strive to create an environment that has a sophisticated and elegant flair, yet is welcoming and comfortable.

Favorite paint colors?
Benjamin Moore‘s London Fog and Healing Aloe.

Favorite room in the house?
The bedroom, of course! But I love the open design of the kitchen, dining and living areas, and they are great spaces to entertain and be with friends.

Latest splurge?
I reupholstered all my furniture in Peacock Alley linens. It feels like a whole new environment.

What’s on your coffee table?
Flowers, a Nantucket basket and books, including one on Fort Worth artist David Bates; The Bed by Alicia Beldegreen; my memoirs, Uncommon Thread; and Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Interiors.


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Favorite thank-you gesture?
Monogrammed hand towels. I love giving personal gifts that let the recipient know you were thinking of them.

What is your personal stationery?
I use William Arthur, among others. I like personalized postcards and lined envelopes. I love writing and receiving a handwritten note — there’s nothing like it, especially in this digital world we live in.

Describe your bed linens.
Primarily white. I love the crispness of a fine percale sheet. My coverlet and bedskirt are nearly always white with an interesting texture. Because I love the mixture of old and new, antique linens in shams or boudoir pillows are always a nice addition. I always start with a wool mattress pad and pure down pillows. Because we live in Texas, I can use a summer-weight down or silk duvet all year. Beauty, warmth, comfort and tactile are my key ingredients.

Next purchase for your home?
A piece of sculpture for the living room. I would love to have a David Bates.

Favorite candle?
I adore the new line of Italian candles we carry at Peacock Alley called Culti. There’s one fragrance I especially like from them called Aqua — very fresh and clean.

What do you collect?
Vintage quilts and linens. I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country in a family where my mother and grandmother prided themselves in the quilts they either collected or made themselves. I have taken great pride in preserving this collection but using them on many beds over the years. I love using them on as many beds as I can. My collection of antique linens started long ago, when Peacock Alley was in its infancy. I have just always loved the combination of new and old, especially with white-on-white embroideries combining with fine white and ivory sheets.

Do you wash your own sheets?
I splurge and send them out to be laundered at Sunshine Laundry & Dry Cleaners in Dallas. But when I say “splurge,” let me explain. Sunshine is a family-owned cleaner that launders and presses my linens for a very reasonable price, so why wouldn’t I? Once you have slept on freshly pressed sheets, you are hooked. It simply is a luxury.

For those who do their own linens, there a couple of rules that I live by. Wash your linens in cold water and stay away from bleaches and harsh detergents. When you dry your linens, never dry them 100 percent. If you pull them from the dryer when slightly damp, then make the bed, it helps to reduce wrinkles and give a fresh, crisp finish to linens.

Another nest you admire?
My dear friend Emy Lou Baldridge‘s loft in Dallas and home in Santa Fe are a combination of everything that I admire: eclectic, an interesting mixture of old and new, fabulous art, a contemporary edge but warm and inviting at the same time.

Fave destination city?
Paris. I love the inspiration I get from retail shopping there, particularly on the Left Bank, and going to the flea markets.

Last trip or vacation?
My husband and I most recently traveled to Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky, for the Kentucky Derby. We were fortunate to stay with a dear friend in Lexington who owns a wonderful store called Mulberry & Lime. She sells every kind of gift item you can think of, from the finest linens (Peacock Alley, of course) to jewelry to home decor.

Where do you shop in Fort Worth?
Wright at Home for their interesting accessories; Wrest for linens; M.L. Leddy’s for fine western belts, hats and amazing boots.


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