Fresh Colors and Finishes Revive This Once-Dated Spanish-Style Home

Designer Susan Bednar Long reinterpreted a classic home’s interiors for modern living.

Many a stalwart Texan backed away after one look at the Tuscan red woodwork, lumbering swaths of green granite countertops, and mother lode of gaudy golds that once defined the interiors of this Dallas home. Designer Susan Bednar Long, however, didn't blink.

"The interiors just needed a facelift," she says. "Paint and pretty fabrics work wonders."

modern Spanish inspired living room
Nathan Schroder

Long could see past the dated decor to the timeless architectural bones of the home—a Spanish-style beauty with a stone exterior, gracious arched doors, and enviable indoor connections to an idyllic pool courtyard.

"That's what drew Michael and me to this house," homeowner Tricia McClure says. "People were scared of the dated interiors, but we thought it could be beautiful."

The amount of work ahead felt a little overwhelming, though—until the McClures teamed with Long.

"We wanted to bring the house back to its classic roots," the designer says. "It needed to be lighter and brighter with a fresh take on traditional Spanish style."

living room with painted blue built-in cabinets
Nathan Schroder

She began by repainting every room. Out went buff-color walls and orange-stained beams. In came a backdrop of white, a clean canvas for the home's dark natural woods and a tasteful collection of art and antiques.

"I like to mix old and new elements," Long says. "Antiques add such great character to a home."

In the living room, scrollwork on antique side tables echoes the curves of the existing fireplace and wood-framed French doors. Playing counterpoint to the doors' arches, a black iron drapery rod draws a straight line—and sets the stage for a lush ensemble of pretty blue-and-white drapery panels. Cabinets painted in Benjamin Moore "Smoky Green" look green or blue, depending on the light.

Soft blues and creams continue on furnishings—an airy foil to the home's dark woodwork. "It's a mix of traditional upholstery styles done in a modern way," Long says. That includes a damask in cream and gray and a cut velvet that's undaunted by the McClures' two children and one lovable Labrador.

Designer Susan Bednar Long

Paint and pretty fabrics work wonders.

—Designer Susan Bednar Long

"In our family, spills happen. Fur happens," Tricia says. "We need performance fabrics. I love that the living room is somewhat formal, but it's also approachable, cozy, and comfortable. It's not one of those rooms that gets dusty because the family never uses it. We really live here."

Fresh attitude also breezes into the dining room, a space cocooned in dark wood paneling. "I wanted to lighten it up," Long says. Now cream draperies accent windows, a silver-gray rug softens wood flooring, and blue paint imbues built-ins with the optimism of a cloudless sky. Even the ceiling feels reinvigorated, thanks to a striated blue-green wallpaper that Long popped into each of the deep coffers.

An old chest with layers of paint to document its decades serves as a sideboard. "Sue found such fabulous antiques," Tricia says. "I love the patina and warmth they bring."

family room with built-in blue-gray cabinetry
Nathan Schroder

In the family room, blue-green paint refreshes cabinetry once slathered in red. "The color transformed this room," Tricia says. "It's a neat shade that takes on different casts depending on the time of day. It's so pretty in a space with pool views." As in other rooms, antique furniture—here, a venerable console—speaks to the home's Spanish heritage. "I had done a Spanish mission house earlier and connected with dealers who specialize in Spanish antiques," Long says. "That was important in finding just the right pieces for this home."

A 17th-century Spanish refectory table adds age to the relaxed gathering space. Cabinets, one of which hides the television, are painted in Benjamin Moore "Night Train."

breakfast table with dark wood table and chairs
Nathan Schroder

Old Spanish rush-seat chairs pair with a new custom table in the breakfast nook off the kitchen, where Long ousted green countertops in favor of white quartzite and lightened green-painted cabinets with a coat of buoyant white. A new backsplash introduces bursts of blue, which repeats on the island base and window trim.

Hand-painted Walker Zanger tile forms a focal-point backsplash. Long removed tile from the range hood, reimagining it with a clean-lined look. Oak millwork in a medium stain defined many of the rooms. "I kept some and painted some so it didn't overpower the house," she says.

curved staircase with carpet runner
Nathan Schroder

A runner softens the original winding staircase, crafted of wood and wrought-iron.

primary bedroom seating area with fireplace
Nathan Schroder

Blue also softens the primary bedroom, where Long employed paint to reinvent the existing fireplace and to break up the volume of a vaulted ceiling. Creamy hues on walls, draperies, and a rug—featuring a modern take on a Spanish motif—complete the calm mood.

An iron chandelier by Vaughan matches the volume of the vaulted space. The frame of the Oly canopy bed repeats the dark tones of the chandelier and floor lamps by Visual Comfort. A spool chair upholstered in blue-and-white fabric softens the desk area and carries through the home's blue thread—also seen on the oversize ottoman, the fireplace surround, and a swath of the ceiling, which is painted in Benjamin Moore "Smoke."

"Our rooms just feel good," Tricia says. "We bought this house knowing it needed a lot of love. But Sue brought in such a great aesthetic. Now it's perfect for our family."

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