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Decorating a second home can present some unique challenges, says Jason Lenox of Anteks.

Now that you have your sought-after weekend retreat on Cedar Creek Lake, what are you going to put in it? Bought a home away from home in Boot Ranch? What do you hang on the walls? Acquired a ski home in Aspen? What is your design inspiration?

Decorating a second home is a huge challenge, especially for those who want a place that feels comfortable and easy without all the fuss of shopping for just the right arm chair, carpet, dining set, linens …  Eeeeeesh. Seems overwhelming, right?

If that sounds familiar, you’ll want to read on to get some sage advice from veteran vacation home interior designer Jason Lenox. Not only does he own two successful home decor stores — Anteks Home in the Dallas Design District and Anteks Curated in the Plaza at Preston Center — but he designs warm, sophisticated, rustic interiors for vacation homes near and far.

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Last week, I described my hard-hat tour through the glorious Museum Tower. I had so much to tell you and yes, was trying to get out of Dodge for a California Thanksgiving celebration, so I may have omitted some juicy news. Like the Residences at the Ritz Carlton, The Palomar, The House and One Arts Plaza, Museum Tower will not be without it’s very own designer-kissed models. To be honest, I have been holding my breath (almost) to tell you this. I mean, MT had to top the designers strutting their stuff at those other high rises, be LOCAL and yet be INTERNATIONAL. It was not easy!

Try Emily Summers, of Emily Summers Design Associates; Ann Schooler, Schooler, Kellogg & Company; and Marco French, of Marco French Studio.  The three featured homes, ranging in size from 2,100 square feet to 3,700 square feet, will reflect the vision of its respective designer and show buyers how they can incorporate contemporary, transitional and traditional treatments into the gleaming glass tower. The model homes at Museum Tower will be completed by early 2012, which means I have to hold my breath a bit longer.

A nationally recognized designer with numerous awards under her belt, Emily Summers of Emily Summers Design Associates is known for her refined interiors and creative eye. Throughout her 30 years in business, her work has been defined by her integration of architecture, art and interior design. In 2007, Summers was named to the AD100, Architectural Digest’s directory of the world’s top 100 designers and architects. Emily Summers Design Associates has consulted and contributed to the interiors at the Wyly Theater and The Winspear Opera House, while Summers herself is currently a member of the Building Committee at the Dallas Museum of Art. Her MT Mission: modern.

Ann Schooler, founder of Schooler, Kellogg & Company, began her career leading groups to England and Virginia to study the great houses of Britain and their influence on American decorative arts.  Her career of over 22 years includes projects in the United States and abroad.  Schooler’s works have been featured in leading shelter publications and she was named one of the Four Under Forty, the four best designers in America under the age of 40, by Southern Accents magazine. Her MT mission: traditional.

Marco French, founder of Marco French Studio, has been on the forefront of interior architectural design for 25 years, with 20 years of international experience working exclusively with five star properties.  His ability to create beautiful and dramatic spaces that don’t sacrifice comfort has been the key to his success. Marco’s attention to detail allows him to develop an individual unique style for each client. His MT Mission: timeless.

“My vision for the model home at Museum Tower is to create a mood of easy elegance with a timeless quality, and an environment that the most discerning buyer can envision as home – very personal, unique and inviting,” French says. “Harmony between a building and its’ interiors has always been of utmost importance to me, and with the architectural feat that is Museum Tower, this will be of special emphasis.”

For French, it is about the experience and the individual client. By utilizing durable yet opulent materials with color and texture, he aims to design a space of timelessness. He is well known for interior projects including luxury residences in Dallas, Palm Springs, New York City, and throughout the East Coast. Most recently, a Moscow design project by French was chosen as the top design for 2004 in the 10 year anniversary issue of Russian Elle Décor Magazine.

There are many wonderful things about utilizing faux finishes when designing a second residence.  Often second residences are vacation homes and lend themselves to be more “theme” inspired, i.e.: a beach house or a mountain home, decorated top to bottom in a style that speaks to the environment.  People typically have more creative leeway for this reason. This makes faux finishing a desirable option given its broad range of possibilities.  For a beach home, you could use textural finishes, like grasscloth or linen.  Large scale graphic prints in monochromatic colors would be wonderful as well.  For a mountain home, a leathered wall technique would be a great choice.  Darker richer colors and textures would bring warmth to the inside.  

A faux artist can completely customize the finish to be in whatever tone, technique, color, and design motif that is desired for the project. Faux offers maximum versatility in a relatively easy manner. Because it is so flexible, you have the ability to use it in almost any design budget with a plethora of options. 

Another great benefit is not having to worry about lead times and backorders, as with traditional wall coverings. They are durable and repairable. But I always recommend that my client’s check references and do their homework on contractors they use prior to committing, particulary if you are a newcomer to the community.

This kitchen-finish speaks to the importance of using experienced artisans. This is a patent crocodile finish used in a soft contemporary styled home. I was looking for a dramatic feature to really contrast the clean, bright aesthetic of the kitchen. Black crocodile popped into my mind. This is not an easy or inexpensive finish, and requires a true artisan to pull it off. Not only does it look like crocodile, it also has a wonderful skin feel to it. 

 This client wanted the appearance of an aged fireplace mantle that had been painted over and over throughout the years, and was chipping in places to reveal its “original” state. An aged look was achieved by using multiple colors and coats of paint that were then knocked down in certain spots to reveal the undercoats. A small amount of top coat crackle finish was added to give it the appearance of years of sun damage and age. Warm and inviting, no?

This faux finish is an example of a  classic lustrestone with stencil application. This application is always beautiful, always refined. The space needed a design that complimented the upholstered walls of the master bedroom but didn’t compete with the pattern. A stencil was chosen with similar elements of the wall upholstery. Then two monochromatic colors were selected for the paint and stencil portion. The final outcome gives the breathtaking appearance of luminescent silk fabric.

There is a strong push these days for a return to the traditional and aesthetically “clean” environments in first or second homes. People no longer want heavy, dark finishes in their homes. Light, bright, and airy is the phrase I am hearing most often. In the world of faux, that translates into lustrestones, venetian plaster and limestone finishes. Fabulous finishes that are complex but unfussy and toned down.

Tiffany McKinzie is owner of the design firm Tiffany McKinzie Interior Design, Inc. Tiffany has been involved in the residential construction industry for the past seven years and has managed more than 35+ large scale projects. She offers full scale design services from pre-construction design and project management to move-in ready finish out. Her specialty is taking the entire construction process and breaking it down into easily managed sections. She will help guide the homeowners through each stage of construction and assist with every decision that must be made Her firm is also capable of handling all the finishing details from furnishings to window treatments, accessorizing, move-in services and more at first AND second homes!