When Cathy Kincaid was hired to renovate her clients’ new house, she had a strong head start. The house was quite familiar since she had lived near it for a time and watched as it passed through various hands. “At one point, the previous owners had given the home a style that leaned French,” says Cathy. “But it’s really a classic English house.” So the designer set out to restore those English bones and bring the house back to its origins.
While her clients moved into a condominium for the duration of the three-year project, Cathy started the process of reconfiguring spaces, adding paneling and wainscoting, and papering the dining room in an exuberant landscape mural. The designer, who frequently describes her style as “pretty,” lavished the house with floral motifs in the form of English chintzes and needlepoint cushions, while also bringing in plenty of antique porcelains.
In a serendipitous twist, Cathy’s favorite floral designer, Margaret Kane Ryder of Kane & Co., was also intimately familiar with the house. “My great-grandfather built it,” Margaret says. “My grandparents lived in it, and then my parents did.” She has many fond memories of the elegant, sophisticated rooms of her childhood. “My father designed the Chippendale staircase. He was a hobby carpenter.” Thrilled at the opportunity to add her floral touches to the home, Margaret notes that she was fully onboard with the new iteration of the treasured house. “They even papered the dining room in the original Scenic America wallpaper,” she says.
Over the years, Cathy’s clients had amassed an impressive collection of fine English antiques, which provided the backbone of her design. Collections of Majolica and blue-and-white chinoiserie containers lend the English Country look that Cathy deploys so expertly. In the living room, a timeless arrangement of furniture—a velvet sofa, club chairs, a Chinese lacquered coffee table—exudes permanence, with layers of botanical-themed pillows and landscape paintings adding a collected look. The dining room, distinguished by the scenic wallpaper, features an English antique pedestal table, Chippendale chairs, and Adamesque gilt mirror over a sideboard. “This beautiful antique furniture has been in the owners’ collection for a long time,” says the designer. “We added mirrored wainscoting to bring some shimmer.”
A singular piece of furniture inspired the breakfast room design. “The space was created around the owners’ Gothic bookcase,” says Cathy. “We added beadboard paneled walls and plaster moldings to complement it. The Gothic door was a custom design by the home’s architect, Alex Eskenasy.” Margaret brought in botanical elements with an arrangement of garden roses, blue thistle, and Italian ruscus. The casual, unfussy centerpiece sits on a Swedish table with Gothic skirting.
In the family room, Cathy installed a new fireplace surround in an Arts and Crafts style, which then inspired the design of the new paneling. “We glazed the paneling with a butter yellow custom mix for a warm effect,” she says. Floral needlepoint pillows in the club chairs, along with botanical porcelains on display, add that essential dose of pretty to the mix. Likewise, floral fabrics for the window treatments in both rooms bring the depth of pattern to the walls.
In the bedrooms, Cathy continued the botanical theme with wallpaper and fabric by Bennison. A pair of reproduction twin beds features embroidered linens and quilts. In another guest room, a Pierre Frey floral fabric on the bamboo headboard inspired the colors of the Leontine Linens bedding and satin comforters.
The kitchen epitomizes English Country style, with copper pots on display, built-in bookshelves for cookbooks, and a formidable range. And, like many other rooms in the house, it features a lacquered ceiling. “Lacquer makes the ceilings appear higher, while also brightening the room,” Cathy says. And, as she is often heard to say, “It’s just really pretty”—the hallmark of a Cathy Kincaid design.
• Avant Garden (Dallas) always has a unique assortment of flowers, as well as interesting vases and decorative objects.
• Ellis Hill (Dallas) sells embroidered linens, hand-painted china, and porcelain tableware with botanical motifs. They also have stationery, invitations, and Christmas cards. Scalloped linen handkerchiefs with Liberty print appliqué hearts make wonderful gifts, as do their Liberty print cocktail napkins.
• KRB (New York), owned by Kate Rheinstein Brodsky, offers custom Marian McEvoy botanical collages and decorative lampshades. Kate also carries Frances Palmer porcelain vases. She will often get in sets of vintage glass bud jars in gorgeous jewel tones like amethyst and amber, which look beautiful in a kitchen window.
• Madison (Dallas) features beautiful tableware and china. I recently purchased a set of Richard Ginori Vermiglio in petal pink.
• Kane & Co. (Dallas), owned by Margaret Kane Ryder, covers all things floral and event planning.
• Les Indiennes (New York) stocks great floral fabrics and wallpapers. I love to place their soft cotton quilts at the foot of a bed.
• Mish (Palm Beach) showcases beautiful, floral-themed jewelry. I found the prettiest peony earrings with diamond centers.
• La Grenouille restaurant (New York) always has the prettiest and most abundant flowers. I love the tiny table lamps with red silk shades that add a spark of glamour. The old-world sensibility of the dining room never goes out of style.
• Canary and its sister store Cabana (both in Dallas) feature fun, floral apparel by designers you don’t see in larger stores.
- Interior Design: Cathy Kincaid, Cathy Kincaid Interiors
- Architectural Design: Alex Eskenasy, Eskenasy Ferguson Architecture
- Floral Design: Margaret Kane Ryder, Kane & Co.
- Wallpaper, Zuber
- Lantern, Urban Electric
By Lydia Somerville | Photography by Nathan Schroder