By Meda Kessler
Photos by Aaron Dougherty
She’s a little bit rock ‘n’ roll; her husband’s tastes run more to blues and jazz. Carrie Sample is a huge fan of the Foo Fighters and skated for the Dallas Derby Devils league for many years. Justin Sample prefers Broadway musicals and is into superheroes.
Opposites do attract, and love conquers all — the couple recently celebrated their first anniversary. “We had both come out of relationships and had been taking things slowly,” says Carrie. “We met through friends/relatives, and we hit it off immediately.” They got engaged at Austin’s funky Hotel Saint Cecilia in March 2019 and married in November of that same year.
The couple is a blended family — Carrie has a daughter from a previous marriage. They also share a cat and two dogs as well as a love of midcentury homes. Carrie and her daughter originally lived near TCU, but she fell hard for a 1965 home in Fort Worth’s Ridglea Hills, which is where Justin’s parents live. The neighborhood has no shortage of houses built in the ’50s and ’60s; this one sits back on a large lot that offers a view of a small lake across the street.
“When you walk in, you’re immediately taken in by all the natural light and the open feel,” says Carrie. “Plus, it had a lot of original features including gorgeous oversize terrazzo tiles.”
There’s also a 742-square-foot atrium with a vaulted ceiling in the middle of the house. Palm trees graze the skylights; ferns, ivy and a pencil cactus happily cohabitate. Flagstone covers the dirt, and water is available via a spigot inside the atrium, which is accessible from sliding glass doors in the main living area and in the hallway near the bedrooms. “I didn’t know too much about plants, but we’ve kept everything alive in there,” says Carrie.
The provenance of the house, including the architect, is a bit of a mystery. But the Samples appreciate the built-in storage, the wraparound design and quirky features such as the bedrooms’ Shoji-style sliding doors, which open to views of the atrium.
While Carrie worked in the furniture industry for many years, she admits she needed a professional to come in and help give the house a distinctive interior design. (Her grandfather, Carl Kisabeth, founded Kisabeth Furniture in 1958, combining midcentury modern design and traditional craftsmanship for commercial and residential projects.) Longtime friend and designer Shauna Glenn (shaunaglenndesign.com), who has a great eye for color as well as mixing and matching new pieces with her clients’ existing inventory, took Carrie’s ideas and went to work.
The open living room gave Shauna and her team plenty to work with. She kept an existing leather sectional, beloved by the household’s people and pets, and anchored it with a colorful rug to create the main sitting area. A space between two built-in bookshelves became home to a console table, ideal for showcasing a pair of vintage lamps that once belonged to Carrie’s grandfather. Accent chairs in a subtle black-and-white geometric print flank the table. The chairs can be pulled out for extra seating. Turquoise garden stools tucked under the console can be used elsewhere as side tables.
The bookshelves now showcase collectibles, such as Carrie’s copy of an old Life magazine cover featuring Raquel Welch wearing roller derby attire to promote her 1972 film Kansas City Bomber. To create a more distinct dining area, Shauna installed a pair of pendant lights over an existing table and added a half-dozen chairs from West Elm. The artwork comes from a Dallas artist known as Captain Casual. The kitchen features Formica-clad cabinets and a large island with plenty of room for the six counter stools. On the opposite side of the island is plentiful open storage space. The second phase of the design upgrade took place in the bedrooms.
Carrie and Justin’s room was all white, like the rest of the house, and the furniture and accessories were in tones of gray. Shauna had other ideas. The feature wall is now covered in a Picasso-esque print wallpaper (Epsilon by Scion). She kept the West Elm bed but added a vintage Moroccan rug sourced from Chairish. A pair of Blu Dot nightstands and the upholstered bench at the end of the bed are in keeping with the midcentury vibe, as are the lamps from West Elm. The Murano glass chandelier came with the house.
Now complete, the house is a reflection of the Sample family’s lifestyle, which is casual and comfortable for adults, pets and kids. “While COVID has us hunkered down, we do like to entertain,” says Carrie. “This house is perfect for that.”