By Meda Kessler
Photos by Jeremy Enlow
For artist Amy Young, her home is her gallery, her studio and her sanctuary.
Step inside Amy Young’s Fort Worth home and you’d swear you are in a California beach house.
It was 100-plus degrees outside the day of our initial visit, but we immediately felt the temperature drop once we were inside — and not just because of the air conditioner.
This 1964 home in the Crestwood neighborhood — an eclectic mix of architectural styles on tree-lined streets — grabs your attention from the outside with its stone walls, agave and cactus plantings and a welcoming entry. Young was looking for something to buy four years ago, and went with her builder to check out a house. “He pointed out the problems and said, ‘You can do better than this.’ We drove two streets over and spotted the ‘For Sale by Owner’ sign in the yard, and he told me, ‘Like this one … this is a great home.’ And he was right.”
Young was attracted to the architectural details, the light and the possibilities. Today, she’s quite content to shelter at home in this rustic-modern oasis. The sunken great room with a vaulted ceiling is filled with comfortable slip-covered sofas and chairs. A wall of windows floods the space with sunshine and, in the evening, offers a view of the twinkling lights strung across the back patio.
She loved the rock walls, but to soften their look she whitewashed them by hand. She also had the beams painted white, too, opening up the space even more. “It’s obvious how much I love color, but I also love a very clean look, too.” Benjamin Moore Intense White is her go-to paint to create a neutral background.
Imbedding small seashells from her beloved Florida beaches into the mortar of the rock walls personalized them even more, and the nooks and crannies hold votives and meaningful little treasures. Wood timbers inset into the rock walls serve as shelves for Young’s oversize paintings. “Instead of hanging them, I can switch them out easily this way. It’s a great way to show canvases to potential clients and allows them to get a feel for the art in a home setting rather than a gallery.”
The kitchen is cozy but roomy. An island offers counter seating and a prime view of what’s cooking. The adjacent dining room is inviting thanks to Young’s nontraditional mix of seating — a high-backed velvet banquette and rustic wood chairs covered with sheepskin — around a heavy table. Floating shelves hold Young’s beloved collection of sturdy vintage bowls and platters, bread boards and pottery.
For a shift in scenery and mood, head to the media room, originally the home’s carport. It’s cool and dark thanks to black-painted walls and a mix of furnishings, both modern (angular Lucite side tables, antelope print carpet) and shabby chic (linen-covered sofas, a worn wood coffee table).
A native of Alabama, Young has always shown a flair for design and art. “I remember rearranging the furniture in my room when I was young. And my mother signed me up for lots of art classes, be it pottery or painting.” At the University of Alabama, she spent a lot of time in the art department and fell even more in love with the creative process.
She was particularly attracted to abstract oils on a large scale, which are now her signature. Young is drawn to texture as much as she is color, and she collects bits and pieces of paper and fabric — antique lace, an old concert poster — that eventually find their way into her paintings.
When she’s working, you’ll find her in a garage that has been transformed into her studio. The concrete floor means no dropcloths are necessary. Inherently organized and neat, Young arranges her bins of supplies by color and medium. Notes, cards, photos and words of inspiration are tacked up between shelves; oversize canvases lie on the floor or against a wall. String lights span the room, and natural light peeks in thanks to all the windows in the garage doors. “When the weather’s nice, I can roll them up, creating an indoor-outdoor studio.” It’s also how she imagines using the space to hold classes.
Young is an art collector herself. Her first job when she moved to Fort Worth was as an assistant with the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. She picked up artist Ellsworth Kelly from the airport and worked with David Bates on a youth project. “When I left, I decided I wanted to own a David Bates,” she says. It now hangs in the hallway near the front door. But some of her favorite pieces are flea market finds, found objects, things with meaning — an old bird’s nest, a wood bread bowl full of antlers, a string of oyster shells cleaned and left out in the sun to bleach, art made by her sons. “Everything should have meaning. It makes holding onto it that much more special.”