Open to Entertaining
By Laura Samuel Meyn
Photos by Emery Davis Photography
Empty nesters go with the flow in a custom home designed to welcome friends and family.
The airy Fort Worth home has pitched ceilings, crisp white walls and pale white oak floors. Designed with entertaining in mind, the layout flows seamlessly from an open living area with hearth, past the dining table and into the kitchen before leading out to the patio, petite pool and putting green. For empty nesters Joni and Matt Heinzelmann, their fifth and “forever” home — their first new build — delivers not only the floor plan of their dreams but also lively, colorful fresh furnishings to fill it.
Married for 35 years, the Heinzelmanns envisioned a happy space where family could gather and where they could entertain friends. “It was important to us to all be able to be in one room together; in our old home, we had a closed-off dining room, and I’d have to remind people that there was food in the other room,” says Joni. “We’ve lived in enough homes to know what works for us; my husband is from Corpus Christi, and we love to vacation in South Carolina and Florida — we knew we wanted a low country, coastal farmhouse look.”
From the time they purchased the lot in 2016, Joni began collecting ideas on Pinterest, though it would be a couple years before they broke ground with builder HGC Residential Development. In addition to the downstairs entertaining areas and master suite, the home includes a second story that graciously accommodates overnight visitors. Finishes throughout needed to be comfortable for the couple and their guests, and pet-friendly for the resident dog and two cats.
Kelley Parker Roberts of Beckley Design Studio was in on the plans from the beginning of the build. Joni had fallen in love with Roberts’ work online after hearing about her from a colleague and soon came to appreciate Roberts’ flair, experience and practical side, too. The designer was able to capture the couple’s personality while also pushing them a bit outside their comfort zone for elevated results. “In the beginning, I was thinking neutrals and small pops of color,” says Joni. “She introduced much brighter colors; it all looks great against the white walls.”
A big part of the design plan was sourcing almost all new furniture for the downstairs areas. To that end, the Heinzelmanns invited relatives over to “shop” their collection of inherited pieces, rehoming 90 percent of it. They did keep a 1960s game table and four chairs from Matt’s family to furnish what they call their “chat room,” a nook off the living room that’s painted a dramatic navy blue and fitted with a wall of built-in shelving to display family photos and other treasures. Roberts had the chairs recovered in a green-and-white trellis-patterned fabric, and the legs fitted with new casters. The cozy space has already become a destination for cocktails and games when they entertain friends, and provides overflow seating for larger family gatherings.
Among their favorite new purchases is the French blue sectional sofa, upholstered in a durable fabric, that anchors the living area. “It’s really comfortable, and it seats a lot of people,” says Joni. “The way it’s situated in the room, by the fireplace, makes it a cozy area for everyone to gather.”
The key to the room’s lively color scheme — an appealing mix of blues, greens and hot pink — can be found in the colorful medallion fabric on the sectional’s throw pillows. A pair of wood spool side chairs, separated by a low white side table, show off a peppy green dot fabric. “She wanted something stylish, he wanted something comfortable,” says Roberts. “I didn’t want big upholstered chairs with the upholstered sectional — I wanted something with a frame to it.” A pair of leather ottomans add a masculine touch and a comfortable perch while being forgiving of wear and tear. “If it gets scratched, it just adds to the patina,” says Roberts.
Overhead, a pair of large chandeliers illuminate the room while drawing the eye down from the lofty ceiling. Underfoot, a wool area rug in shades of blue warms up the white oak floors.
The dining room is centered on a mango wood table that Joni found and purchased — once she got the go-ahead from Roberts. It’s large enough to seat the whole family, which includes the Heinzelmanns’ two grown children and their spouses, plus two grandchildren. The designer added white bamboo dining chairs, with dark blue leopard-inspired cushions. Off to the right is a small bar room that overlooks the dining area. Matt helped to design the space, with its leathered black granite countertops, pass-through bar and stained wood cabinetry stocked with glassware, from champagne flutes to martini glasses. “He likes to play bartender — he keeps the party moving,” says Joni.
The kitchen was designed for entertaining, too. Swiveling barstools, upholstered in an indoor-outdoor blue and white ticking, make it easy to join the kitchen conversation or pivot toward the dining and living areas. Given the home’s open concept, Roberts made sure to tie the kitchen in visually with the rest of the house. The vent hood, with a rich band of stained wood at its base, gives a nod to the nearby bar; the kitchen island is painted in the same dark blue as the chat room. Otherwise awash in white, the space includes white cabinetry, white subway tile on the backsplash, set in a herringbone pattern, and white quartz countertops. The brass-lined white metal pendants over the island add warmth and pick up on the cabinetry’s brass pulls and knobs.
While the focus of the home is entertaining, a lot of thought went into a private retreat for the homeowners as well. The master suite features a peacock blue velvet-upholstered bed with euro shams in pale lavender, a subtle nod to the couple’s love of TCU that’s repeated in the trim on the curtains and shades, and echoed in the table lamps, too.
“It was just something I thought they would appreciate,” says Roberts. Two petite white dressers double as nightstands, while a gray-and-white low-pile rug and white walls keep the overall feel serene.
The master bath, with white walls, gray cabinetry and marble countertops and floors, is one of the home’s most muted spaces. Among Joni’s favorite indulgences of the project is the soaking tub with a TV installed above it. “I’m so happy we did it; it was my husband’s idea,” says Joni, who adds that the home’s audiovisual system includes built-in speakers in every room and a universal remote. “The same company, H Customs Audio Video, did my son’s office. It’s amazing.”
While the couple still have some artwork they want to reframe and hang — much of it coastal works from Corpus Christi — they didn’t wait on those finishing touches before opening their new home to friends and family. They hosted Christmas Eve for 24 guests just a few weeks after moving in and, a couple months later, Joni took her turn hosting the neighborhood women’s monthly wine night.
With the pandemic requiring social distancing, spring evenings found the couple stretching out on the sectional to watch favorite TV shows, stepping out onto the patio for an al fresco meal and a little putting practice, and retiring to the chat room to work a puzzle. They look forward to welcoming friends and family back soon to the more frequent, casual style of hosting that their new home has inspired. “Our entertaining usually involves grilling, sitting on the patio and hanging out with family,” says Joni. “We have several friends in the neighborhood, and it’s fun to have them walk over and have dinner with us, too.”