Old. New. Ours
By Meda Kessler
Photos by Ralph Lauer
Judy and John Polak start their own traditions in a 1930 home
n the living room, the Christmas tree is dressed in a contemporary palette of silver, gold and dark blue, as are the swags of faux greenery along the mantel and stairway banister. The tree stands out even more against the soothing monochromatic color scheme of soft grays and white. Mistletoe hangs from arched doorways; swags of rosemary add a bit of greenery to the white-and-silver place settings in the dining room. Miniature lights twinkle, and the rooms’ soft glow is enhanced by antique sconces and chandeliers.
It’s a welcoming mix of old and new in this 1930 house, home to Judy and John Polak, who gave up cathedral ceilings and open-concept design for historic charm when they bought their first home together in Fort Worth.
Before they married about a year and half ago, John had lived in Keller and Southlake and Judy in Colleyville and Arlington.
“But we spent a lot of time in Fort Worth and really enjoyed the restaurants and nightlife,” says John, an energy trader. Judy is a financial adviser who moved her business close to downtown Fort Worth from the HEB area. Her older daughter goes to Texas Christian University. Judy says she loved the small-town feel of Fort Worth and has always wanted to live in a house with more character and history.
“We did some house hunting on our own and drove around some of the established neighborhoods in Fort Worth, especially the Monticello area,” says Judy. But it was a two-story home on a spacious tree-shaded corner lot in the Park Hill area that caught their eye. Stately on the exterior with a side porch and expansive backyard, the house’s colorful interior was a bit disconcerting at first: “Every room was painted a different color, some with big stripes,” says John. But even that didn’t dissuade them one bit, as the couple saw the potential of everything they could do with the house to make it their own. The homeowners had lived there about 20 years, and were looking for buyers who would appreciate the house’s charm and good bones, if not their preference in colors. John and Judy wanted a more neutral look throughout the house, settling upon Agreeable Gray by Sherwin-Williams. “The homeowners gave us the name of their house painter who, admittedly, was a bit sad to cover up all that color,” says John.
The remodel also included changing out the well-used butcher-block counters in the already updated kitchen for solid-surface quartz, but keeping the handcrafted Shaws farmhouse sink. “They’d be happy to know that we did keep the blue-and-white mosaic tile backsplash behind the stove,” says Judy. “It’s part of the home’s history that we wanted to preserve.” For the holidays, Judy brings out a festive nutcracker and cookie jar.
The couple also kept many of the light fixtures, including the sconces over the fireplace and the chandeliers in the living and dining rooms. All the windows are original, and the Polaks chose not to hang draperies in the main rooms to allow for lots of natural light.
This Christmas, their second in the new home, Judy again worked with a friend who is co-owner of Holiday Design Sisters, a decorating company that mainly does commercial projects along with select residential. This year, the decorators added outdoor lights on the trees and the house’s roofline.
John and Judy are thrilled with the addition. “It now feels like Christmas day and night,” says Judy.