A Gathering Place
By Babs Rodriguez
Photos by Ralph Lauer
A 1930 ranch home is reimagined with bright colors and collectibles to accommodate guests and create new memories
There are surprises, and then there are SURPRISES. David Jones’ birthday gift — a 10,000-square-foot historic house and ranch — for wife Sherri McKee Jones was an all-caps stunner.
Seated at an expansive dining table inside the storied 1930 property — think secret tunnels, a third-floor ballroom and high-stakes gambling — Sherri reminisces about her search 25 years ago for a house with some elbow room. “David was the love of my life,” she says of the Fort Worth attorney, who died in 2019. “But his work linked him to his city office. I am more rural at heart.” When she spotted a “For Sale” sign at the gate of the 55-acre Soldier Creek Ranch, she thought she had found the couple’s forever home. But David appeared to be unmoved by the house, which was built by renowned Texas oilman Arch Rowan just west of Interstate 820 and bordered by Mary’s Creek. When he later presented his wife with a birthday card that included a photo of the ranch’s front gate doctored to include the initial “J,” it took Sherri two beats to realize the man she had been married to for over half a century could still catch her off guard.
As for David, surprising the woman who matched his high-octane spirit — they both raced cars, David’s passion, but Sherri also raced motorcycles and sailboats and willingly jumped out of perfectly good planes — was no small feat.
David, a Fort Worth native, met Sherri at TCU in 1960. The couple lived in the Crestwood and Overton Woods neighborhoods before setting down deep roots at the ranch. Introduced to interior designer Rebecca “Becky” Parham by David’s brother in the ’90s, the couple worked closely with her and contractor David Cooke of Westbriar Construction to restore the house, which had sat empty for 10 years.
Becky reimagined the kitchen with a hacienda vibe after Cooke opened it to a dining area and a fireplace-focused den. Pushing out the back of the house enlarged it by 1,000 square feet, and broad windows were installed to frame what is now a serene pool area. It’s a view David especially enjoyed from one of two twin beds placed on the back porch, an al fresco comfort inspired by the couple’s visits to Cibolo Creek Ranch in West Texas.
Sherri still enjoys spending most of her time outside. But without David there to share the property’s many delights, including a vineyard, she reached out to Becky to reimagine the home once again. “When she decided to live in the house a little differently, it was a new challenge that we both enjoyed,” Becky says. “She has gal friends all over the country and envisioned hosting weekendlong pajama parties.” A year ago, Sherri and Becky began to fill the second floor with decor reflecting the homeowner’s joie de vivre — and twin beds.
Sherri’s interests are on view throughout the first floor of the home, from a bountiful collection of vintage Tlaquepaque pottery to ranks of cap pistols and stamped-silver boxes. Blown-glass barware fills glass-fronted custom cabinets above a bar accented with hammered copper. And now, her love of folk art and textiles fills the second floor, too. “Sherri’s style is color, color and more color, always with a sense of humor and a little surprise. She fearlessly combines fine antiques with Mexican street market finds,” says Becky, a designer for the federal government, who is delighted to work with clients who embrace bold interiors.
Converting the upstairs rooms into guest quarters was inspired by Sherri’s enjoyment of Waldemar Women’s Week, a sleepover reunion begun in the ’80s for alumnae of the 1926 girl’s camp in Hunt, Texas. She realized her home, with its six bedrooms (her expansive suite is downstairs), 10 bathrooms and third-floor library hideaway, could easily be converted into a getaway. She partnered with Becky because they share a philosophy about what makes a house a home: welcoming seating vignettes and curated collections of things that hold memories. Becky “shopped” the art, collectibles and furnishings from Sherri’s previous homes and blended custom textiles and vintage treasures with finds from Simple Things, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs. The result is as delightful as it is welcoming.
Each guest room has a distinctive personality and palette, but all ceilings are painted a sky blue. The Otomi Room features blue-and-white Otomi-style embroidery and white linen bedding. The walls are painted Benjamin Moore Terra Bella, a shade that reminds the women of faded flowerpots. The color is echoed by pottery displayed in bookcases with blue-painted interiors. Sherri’s Mexican and Native American textiles are featured in all the bedrooms as art accents and layered atop Belgian flax linens.
In the Yellow Room, colorful drapes feature a Mexican folk art motif that mirrors the carved bird detail on the headboards of the twin beds. White linen pillow shams customized with colorful rickrack trim are reminiscent of Mexican folk dancers’ skirts; framed Mexican magazine covers from the ’30s further set the scene. The adjacent Blue Room also celebrates similar textiles and folk art motifs, and both rooms are enlivened by round jute rugs interwoven with colorful chindi cotton braids
The Gray Room takes a different direction, with its cool Colorado vibe warmed by Pendleton blankets and pillows. A driftwood console table and a kiva ladder add a modern sculptural appeal. Artwork includes a framed vintage Pendleton advertising poster.
Pendleton blankets in the Cowgirl Room inspire the blue and faded-red color scheme. The seasoned look of a classic Ralph Lauren ticking wallcovering is a chic match for the cowboy bark-cloth draperies. Old suitcases at the end of each bed hold extra linens. En suite baths feature covetable Thibaut wallcoverings and textiles, but the Cowgirl’s huge red and black bathroom is the showstopper. Rather than eliminate the formerly all-black color scheme, Becky balanced the black soaking tub and counters with a coral Thibaut Lily Flower wallpaper, a pattern based on a vintage Mexican textile. An oversize ottoman newly upholstered in a gray-blue cut velvet gives the space the feel of an indulgent spa.
Amplifying the luxury-inn sensibility, the guest wing’s central sitting room features four cream-colored boucle-upholstered lounge chairs that invite gathering for coffee or cocktails. A patchwork kilim rug with soft, faded colors centers the space; displays of Mexican pottery echo its tones. Everywhere, artworks reflect David and Sherri’s support for locals such as Greg Westfall, whose acrylic monoprints of an Indian chief and a coyote grace the second floor.
Upstairs and down, inside and out, the ranch is ready for Sherri’s anticipated gatherings. There’s plenty to entertain guests, from swimming to deer- and bird-watching (including flocks of wild turkeys). A drove of five donkeys known by name and disposition, two elderly cows, a retired horse, dogs, cats and chickens round out the menagerie. Dozens of life-size bronzes of wildlife accent outdoor spaces, too — gifts the Joneses gave to each other over the years.
“I’m a critter person, but I love everything that gathers here,” Sherri says.
“I am beyond blessed to have this home. I am spoiled.” She can’t wait to spoil her friends, too.