Zen House: An Interior Designer’s Own Home Shows Luxury Needn’t be Over the TopBY Patricia Mora // 07.28.15
Cleverly orchestrated in the living area are tonal keepsake boxes, textures and shapes. Attending them, a pair of Barcelona chairs topped by zebra-print pillows.
Clair’s daughter Slayton channels a ballerina on a Moroccan rug by Beni Ouarain — curls courtesy of outstanding DNA.
In the dining room, faux elephant tusks dramatically frame the walnut live-edge table, which is topped by a tangle of vintage faux antlers. Flos chandelier. Set of eight chrome Thonet dining chairs, sourced from Give & Take. Pearl Blocks cowhide rug from Neiman Marcus.
Clair in a jumpsuit from Narciso Rodriguez, Lanvin necklace, Fendi belt, Miu Miu heels. Hair and makeup Kate Yancey.
Living room overview
Black-skull candle, part of the Modern Alchemy Burn & Sniff Candles line, from D.L. & Co. Collection of boxes from R+Y Augousti.
David's (Clair's husband) office features a vintage ’70s desk fabricated of burled wood and chrome. Vintage chandelier from David Weeks.
Open-plan view across the living room and kitchen.
Zebra and horns
Mixed materials work magic on the custom smoked-mirror cube coffee table: R+Y Augousti shagreen tray and boxes, Baccarat bowl, gold crow’s-feet sculptures from D.L. & Co. and a crystal found at an estate sale.
In the dining room, Nadara Goodwin’s Sea Mouth with Hook hovers above a vintage Mastercraft mirrored console from Give and Take. Two vintage Cleo Renault Lucite column lamps flank a bronze sculpture by Nigel Richie from the family collection of Clair’s husband, David.
Light and skull
Side by side: Adjacent to David’s office is a mirrored-and-brass Ello credenza from Scout Design Studio, topped by a white Kelly Wearstler sculpture from Forty Five Ten. Suspended wire-mesh chandeliers from Revolve Modern illuminate a metallic-fabric Mezzo sofa from Bo Concepts. Artwork Paul Rotterdam.
Skull and soap
Shadows on design
Bordering the kitchen is a Calacatta marble counter, juxtaposed with walnut. Ceramic ram sculpture found at an estate sale. Knoll Bertoia bar stools marry white leather with stainless steel.
Clair, Slayton and 4-month-old Rhett.
Sitting with style
An artful study in the master bedroom.
Bold and calming
Farrow & Ball Tanner’s Brown No. 255 gives the master bedroom a subdued and moody feel. Custom white-linen headboard. Vintage Chinese chests with engraved brass dragons, which Clair purchased at an estate sale. Provocative black-and-white photo by L. A. fashion photographer Tatiana Gerusova from Gallerie Noir. Vintage Venini Italian chandelier. White Kidassia goat-fur rug.
A child's domain.
In Slayton’s room, a white giraffe nightlight from Land of Nod tops a vintage Eero Saarinen Tulip table.
Study in white and pink
In the bedroom of Clair’s daughter, Slayton, vintage Emilio Pucci scarf is framed above the bed. Pink-and-red coordinating print by Super Rural, For Like Ever. Vintage Lucite chandelier from Scout Design Studio.
Clair Parker Tompkins, partner in the highly successful interior design firm Tompkins Lloyd Interiors, has designed her home in ways that are fabulous on many counts. Its elegance and contemporary sheen afford guests the ultimate luxury: An invitation to thoroughly jettison the outside world.
Just past the heavy, pivoting metal front door, a Zen-like aura induces a mode of soothing damage control that makes the city, by contrast, seem hopped up and overly laden with visual chatter. Just a short distance from White Rock Lake, the 4,000-square-foot home is a reminder of what can be done when a talented, well-traveled designer indulges in a simple yet artful combination of textures, color and light. Tompkins, you see, lists London, New York and the infinitely fascinating terrain of North Africa among her favorite destinations. Ergo, this is the closest you’ll come to a Casbah sensibility within the confines of North Texas. An apt analogue for Tompkins’ home in the realm of apéritifs would surely be Lillet. It reliably conjures the zone for which we most ardently long — the blurred and buzzy, not to mention oft celebrated luxury of a time outside of time. Let it be known that a home deserves massive kudos when it encompasses serious booty without resorting to stuffily daunting swagger. In fact, isn’t it great when spaces make you take in the angle of sunlight striking walls and the toothy texture of a sofa?
Natural light streams comfortably through a multitude of windows, while ample space allows for an ideal hybrid of privacy and revelatory views of an aqua pool flanked by pared-back deck chairs and an outdoor dining table. The latter accommodates an undulating piece of driftwood with broad indentations for bromeliads — the perfect touch. After all, less exotic specimens would hardly suit this chic oasis, which is obviously the result of l’oeil du maître, or the eye of the master — or, in this case, maîtres. Tompkins says that she and her husband, David, “found the property when it was still being framed. That made it a perfect fit, because I was able to make adjustments and work with the builder, Randy Kienast, until it was exactly what we wanted.”
Apparently what she wanted was something impeccable. She defines space masterfully with rugs that pull rooms together as reliably as compasses point to true north. She is especially fond of a Beni Ouarain rug from Morocco that delineates a living area; it resonates with an amalgam of design books, glass, metal, rich fabric and an ambiance that is irrevocably hip without relinquishing its ambitious dose of elegance. If rooms have theme songs, this one would surely be Shirley Bassey’s “Get The Party Started,” as the space is ideally suited to both low-key conversation and ambitious entertaining.
Tompkins also has a penchant for “burled wood and tusk-shaped ornaments and lamps. Some people find them too masculine, but they can work well in a lot of settings,” she says. “I love it when clients are adventurous enough to let me use things like that, things that I choose for my own home … Many times they shy away from colors that are bold. In the end, they often opt for what they are most familiar with, and that works fine, too. After all, the space is theirs, and my role is to make something that works perfectly for them.”
Favorite places for terrific decorative finds.
There are so many. Nest for the perfect finishing touches and accessories — Donald Fowler, the manager, is so on point. Gallerie Noir for unusual pieces that pull rooms together and Nick Brock for antiques.
Tell us about your history in Dallas.
I was born in Dallas and grew up here, although I have lived in several other cities post-college. In high school, I was voted “Least Likely to Live in Dallas,” and yet here I am, and I absolutely love living in Dallas. Family is very important to me, and my family is here. My roots are here. I also think that Dallas has really transformed into an interesting and dynamic city, specifically over the past 10 years. Dallas has an amazing social scene, and it’s easy for me to be private or to be involved at my own discretion. I like that ability to ebb and flow without the pressure to always be present at every social event.
Right now, a modern Parisian flat. I am very into French design as of late. It is so effortlessly chic and luxurious and still timeless all at once.
On balancing work and home life with a husband and children.
It’s a constant give and take. I work really hard at trying to be present in the moment. When I am with my family, I strive to focus on spending that precious time with them and enjoying every moment. I apply the same mindset to my work and personal life. When I am installing a project or spending time with clients or friends, I want to be fully engaged. It is a continual struggle, and I am always trying to improve upon it.
Is there a place you go to in the city for inspiration?
My living room with a glass of red wine, some good music and a huge stack of art books.
Travels that have impacted your sense of design.
Several come to mind. But London and New York have probably been the most influential. I have lived in both places and loved them equally, but for different reasons. I love the rock ’n’ roll vibe and the edginess that they both evoke; it’s fresh and chic and always progressing. I also recently visited Morocco and fell in love with all of the textures and the energy of the country; it is rich and visceral on so many levels.
Favorite pieces in your home.
My vintage black-and-brass Mastercraft credenza, a large black-and-white photograph by Tatiana Gerusova and a pair of Cleo Renault vintage Lucite lamps from Leslie Pritchard at Again & Again.
Artwork closest to your heart.
Probably a piece by Henry Whiddon that my mother gave me. She purchased it in the ’70s from the DMA. It used to hang in my grandmother’s house, and it always feels like home to me. It is a beautiful modern abstract collage, and I will have it for the rest of my life.
First choice you make when designing a room.
When my business partner, Julie Lloyd, and I are designing for a client, there is always a jumping-off point, a plan. It varies dependent on the space, but we are always very precise and organized. It can be a rug, a color, a chair or a chandelier. It’s never the same for any room. When I am designing for my own home, I purchase out of sheer passion for a piece. There is a feeling I get if I see something that I want in my home; it is often sporadic and illogical, but somehow it all works. I have a very specific look at my house, and I know when something will fit into the mix.
When did you decide to become a designer? What were your most profound influences?
I feel like design has always been in my life one way or another, through art and fashion and my travels. Julie and I formally started our company, Tompkins Lloyd Interiors, two years ago . I would say fashion has a large influence on my design. One of my favorite interior designers, Ryan Korban, is actually very involved in the fashion world as well. I feel like the two are seamlessly integrated. Korban says, “When I’m asked to describe my style, I often say that it has three critical elements: sex, romance and fantasy. When I say sex, I’m talking about allure, seduction and mystery.” I could not agree more.
What do you imagine your future will look like 10 years from now?
I hope the same as it does now.
[Editors’ note: This story originally appeared in the July 2014 Dallas issue of PaperCity Magazine.]