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By Helen Thompson | Photo: Charles Davis Smith | July 24, 2015
A couple of forward-thinking empty nesters ensure that their new house makes every visitor feel right at home.
When Susan and Dave Fiorelli’s three children left for college, the couple decided to make a change: They moved into a bigger house. The Fiorellis—who are retired from the energy business—have their reasons for reversing the predictable downsizing exercise most of their contemporaries are implementing. “We wanted a house for entertaining and that would have room for kids, spouses and grandchildren,” says Dave. The family-oriented Fiorellis have every intention of being ready for that happy time and for all the fun, chaos and togetherness that comes with it.
To inspire the contrarian vision, the pair looked at magazines and websites for architects who could translate their goal into reality. “We wanted modern,” says Dave, “but not white-box modern.” The Dallas architectural firm Bernbaum Magadini’s work stood out for its well-grounded version of modernity that also fits into the Texas landscape, and the Fiorellis quickly hired principal Patricia Magadini. The rest of the team was perfected when the Fiorellis selected Rick Rozas, a frequent collaborator of Magadini. The former architecture student is known for his straightforwardly chic approach to decor. “We liked Rick’s style,” says Susan. “It’s clean and uncluttered.”
The Fiorellis had already purchased a lot in Coppell, less than a mile from the four-bedroom house they were living in. The 5 1/2-acre spread is on a dead-end street it shares with 12 other neighbors. “We look out on 20 acres in back,” says Dave. The wooded setting inspired architect Magadini: “We needed to maximize the view and make the homeowners feel like they are out in the open range.” Designer Rozas used the natural colors, such as the mottled gray and gold bark on the oaks and elms, as inspiration for materials inside and out. “The house seems to disappear behind the trees,” he says about the two-story, 7,500-square-foot dwelling clad in Lueders limestone, Oklahoma multicolor stone and metal that Magadini ended up delivering to the couple. Private in front, but wide open to the view in back, the house engages the vista unequivocally.
But the exterior of the prairie ranch-modern house didn’t arrive first: “I work from the inside out,” Magadini explains. That means that the floor plan determines what the exterior will look like. “It drives the design,” she says. Her method neatly addressed the Fiorellis’ focus on functionality. Rozas responded accordingly by designing nearly every piece of furniture. “It’s a tailored look,” he says, “where everything fits the space.” The idea was important for the Fiorellis because they want to be comfortable, and they want guests to be comfortable too.
“We will be in this house for a long time,” says Susan. “The first floor is for us, and the upstairs is for people staying with us.” Magadini elaborated on the couple’s intentions with a second floor inhabited by a living room, a small kitchen and three bedrooms with en suite baths. The spacious first floor is sliced by a 100-foot-long hallway that extends horizontally from one end of the house to the other. To the right is the master suite; to the left a game room, study and mother-in-law suite. In the center are the public spaces: kitchen, living area and dining. “Dave and Susan were very specific about the eating spaces,” says Magadini. “They didn’t want a giant room that they only used two or three times a year.” Magadini’s solution was to create a dining alcove that opens onto the breakfast area and kitchen. “That way all parts of the living space can be used for big dinners,” she says.
Those guests also figured into Rozas’ mission. “The Fiorellis asked for the house to be durable,” he says. The couple wanted commercial-grade material for every piece of furniture as well as the carpet. In another era that request would have doomed the home’s aesthetic to something along the lines of a bus depot departure lounge. But not anymore. Rozas chose a gray heavy-duty poly-cotton- viscose blend by Pollack for the sofa. In the breakfast area, the six chairs and the bar stools at the island are upholstered in Nobilis blue vinyl. “It looks like stitched leather,” he says.
In anticipation of hungry hordes, Rozas covered the armed chairs in the dining room in a commercial-grade Maharam poly-cotton. “It can pass the Wyzenbeek test,” he says, referencing the way a fabric’s resistance to wear is measured. The chairs’ upholstery can withstand 45,000 double rubs with a wire brush before it shows the first sign of wear. For reference, 30,000 double rubs is the level appropriate for use in hospital waiting areas, airport terminals, fast- food restaurants and stadiums. Accordingly, the Fiorellis are so well-prepared for guests, they don’t even have to keep count: “Once you are invited here,” says Susan, “you are always invited.”
Rick Rozas Design
LANDSCAPE AND HARDSCAPE
David Rolston Landscape Architects
Custom furniture throughout
Kitchen cabinets, bed and night tables in master bedroom
The Bright Group
Game table and chairs
Onyx bowl in living room
Glass tile in master bath
Hollywood pillows in living room
Rug in entry
Coffee table in living room
Rock quartz sconces in kitchen and master bedroom
Shag rug in living room and carpet throughout