The Renowned Team
Living Room with Entry Way
Formal Dining Room
During Remodeling - New Window Installation
Enclosed Terrace - Music Room - Wet Bar
During Remodeling - After Demolition
A Timeless Loyd-Paxton Interior In Turtle Creek
BY JESSICA SHAPARD PUBLISHED IN D HOME MAY-JUNE 2003
A Turtle Creek penthouse enshrined in marble and mirrors is as fresh today as it was when completed by Loyd-Paxton in 1979.
CHINESE TAKEOUT: On the back walls of the dining room, the raspberry Chinese embroidered-silk panels, which were created in 1870 for the Imperial family, are the “single most important acquisition in the apartment,” Paxton says.
Pure glamour. That’s how two young designers envisioned the interior of the Turtle Creek penthouse. From their terrace in an adjacent building, Paxton Gremillion and Loyd Taylor, the principals behind legendary Dallas design firm Loyd-Loyd-Paxton, watched luminaries come and go in a glittering parade of fashionable parties that defined Dallas’ most exclusive social set in the late 1970s. “Loyd and I had this divine illusion of what we would see if we ever walked into that apartment,” Paxton says.
Serendipitously, in 1978, the new owner of the penthouse approached Paxton about redecorating it, and Paxton got his wish. As is so often the case, the interior didn’t live up to his expectations. “I walked in, and I nearly fainted,” he recalls. But the space was enchanting in the early morning light and a celestial wonder once the sun set. “At night, the apartment’s vistas were absolutely heavenly,” he says, “I told the owner, ’I would love to do this.’”
That was late 1978. Only 10 months later, after a whirlwind renovation, the penthouse was finished. “The intensity of doing this in 10 months was a killer,” Paxton recalls. “There were 45 master carpenters on this job. Everyone became personally involved, and a camaraderie developed that I’ve never seen before – so many people of different crafts working together.”
The notion of pure glamour stuck with Paxton while he designed the apartment. “I love mirrors and materials that have shimmer and sheen,” he says. “I guess that was the inspiration for this project.” The result is one of the most unique interiors in the city. Paxton’s design is a study in strong contrasts: icy-white marble floors and pearlescent walls ground bold, striking furniture pieces, such as a black secretary or black baby grand with heavily carved, white-gold accents. Mirrored panels on the walls and ceilings are set in lacquered grids and faceted like gems. A friend of the family described the effect as akin to “standing inside a Faberge egg.”
The main rooms appear to have been washed in silver moonlight, but they’re saved from starkness by bold splashes of color: turquoise Oriental garden stools serve as occasional tables in the now enclosed terrace, and floor-to-ceiling displays of art include brash red, blues, and greens. Paxton introduced an unabashed geometry to the space: throughout the penthouse, furniture is arranged in circular groupings, from the seating areas in the salon to the terrace with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. And the owner’s bedroom is a silvered, domed circle, on the circumference of which sit the study, dressing room, and bath of the lady of the house.
ART & MUSIC: The dining room’s 14-foot-tall embroidered wall panels had not been unrolled since they were created, explaining their amazing, vibrant hue.The baby grand piano was a gift to the homeowner from her mother. The mahogany frame is lacquered in black and gilded in white gold. The keys are mother-of-pearl.
All of these dazzling contrivances might have led to the making of a stage set, rather than a home, were it not for the homeowners’ very personal collections of antiques and art. Their art collection includes everything from Motherwell to Rouault to Gainsborough, but what is equally impressive is the art that does not have a provenance. An extraordinary Thomas Gainsborough portrait hangs above an obscure 19th-century portrait by a complete unknown. These choices, dictated by the collector’s eye rather than the artist’s name, give the apartment an air of true sophistication.
Asked to explain these dramatic results, Paxton says, “My clients ask me to make something for them, and what I give them is a sculpture, a work of art that they can live in.” Defining his finished projects as works of art might be audacious, but there is no question that he is the master of detail.
Paxton wanted the walls in the salon to have an iridescence that he couldn’t find in any conventional paint. “I wanted the walls in the salon to look like mother-of-pearl,” he says. “So we went to every drugstore in town and bought every bottle of iridescent nail polish.” Canvas wall panels were covered with cracked eggshell, and then Paxton’s staff applied three coats of the nail polish.
The project was almost foiled when a shipment of nail enamel was held up by Revlon. “We’d started ordering the color in 50-gallon drums direct from the manufacturer,” Paxton explains. “Revlon suddenly demanded proof that we weren’t re-bottling and re-selling their product. They wouldn’t believe I was painting the walls with it. I had to prove it by sending Revlon a sample of the wall treatment.”
Paxton’s design may have been created and installed more than 20 years ago, but, standing in the apartment today, it’s impossible to connect it to a particular time or place. The interior is ageless and timeless, which, Paxton says, is his aim. “It’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my work,” he says, “that it has no time identification.” Rather than working with trendy materials or patterns that would have quickly appeared dated, Paxton chose top-quality, hand-woven Indian silk upholstery to grace elegantly lined, classic pieces of furniture, such as French bergeres and tufted sofas. His extensive use of mirrors and white gold-leaf lend an air of formality, even aristocracy.
While the penthouse is certainly one of his firm’s masterpieces, he has not returned to it since it was finished almost 24 years ago. “Once I have actually completed every detail and the keys have been given over and it now belongs to someone else, I cannot go back,” says Paxton, who has not accepted a job for the past seven years but has been waiting for something ’terribly important’ to come along. “I couldn’t look at it without thinking of something that should be changed.”
Nothing has changed since Paxton walked out of the front door 24 years ago. While that might pose a painful problem for his perfectionist eye, to find an interior perfectly intact after more than two decades is the greatest compliment any decorator can receive.
REACHING FOR THE STARS: “To make glamour as it should be, it has to be in some way removed from the earthbound,” says Paxton. “This apartment belongs in the heavens.” Four tufted, arching sofas encircle an 18th-century Italian marble table.
Versailles in The Sky: The Ultimate Turtle Creek Penthouse is Finally Available
April 24, 2018 | by Karen Eubank
You’ve never seen anything like this Turtle Creek Penthouse. Never. It’s easily the equivalent of the Palace of Versailles, but 22 stories into the sky. It’s a fantasy, a dream, a love story, and it’s finally available — after 40 years.
When I received a call asking for some input on how to present a Turtle Creek penthouse for sale, I didn’t over think the request because I consult on a lot of luxury properties. So, I jumped in the car and drove over to one of my favorite high-rises, 3525 Turtle Creek, to see the penthouse at 22A. For those of you that are new to Dallas, 22B was owned by film star Greer Garson. I love this building because it has character, class, and history.
Pretty much everyone who is anyone, has lived here at one point or another. I’d never seen 22B. Somehow I’d missed the feature in Architectural Digest in 1981 and the D Home article in 2003.
So, when I met Ebby Halliday listing agent David Saustad high above Turtle Creek, I was completely unprepared for what I was about to see. I’ve seen Versailles. I’ve seen the Taj Mahal. I’ve seen untold gorgeous homes all over the world. I’ve never, ever seen anything that can compare to this Turtle Creek penthouse.
When you walk through the antique gated entrance, you glide into a fantasy world, the dream of visionaries the likes of which Dallas will never see again, and most of all, a visual love story. Although the photographs are breathtaking, they do not prepare you for the glamour, the drama, and the sheer beauty of this home.
The story begins with love, of course. The home is the ultimate valentine. The owner was a much-beloved figure in Dallas society, and she was deeply loved by the men she married. She built this home with her second husband who wanted her to have everything her heart desired. Years spent collecting gorgeous items from around the world meant there needed to be a repository worthy of those treasures.
Who could you trust with such an endeavor back in 1978? There was only one choice in the entire country, the legendary design team of Loyd Taylor and Paxton Gremilion, owners of Loyd-Paxton Gallery.
“Although the scale of the Turtle Creek penthouse was enormous, there was no drama,” Taylor said. “We wanted to create that drama. The owners had multiple homes around the country but wanted something glamorous.
Remember these were the days of black tie seated dinners and formal cocktail parties, and this space would see a lot of entertaining. We explained the concept, and they loved it.”
So, the work began. Taylor and Gremilion had an exterior commercial elevator installed to ensure the process went smoothly, hired 45 carpenters, and got to work.
“We love mirrors,” Taylor said. “We wanted something different, an obscure glass with a pattern on the back so, we had to get creative.”
The designers bought out every bottle of pearlized nail polish in Dallas. When they ran out, they contacted Revlon and purchased 50-gallon containers. To create the obscure appearance the duo cracked thousands of eggshells and glued them onto the back of the glass panels before applying the pearlized nail polish.
They mirrored the walls, the ceilings, pocket doors, and even the shutters that fold back over the windows in the dining room. Walls were opened up so the home could revolve around the central salon.
Although the owners had amassed large collections of art, antiques, and porcelains, the designers brought in a number of additional antique pieces and chandeliers. The marble table in the center of the salon came from the original Crespi Estate. It was donated to the Dallas Museum of Art. Taylor and Gremilion purchased it back in the days when the DMA held auctions.
The curved banquettes were custom made specifically so the skirts of a ball gown would flow perfectly when a lady was seated.
The stunning Terrace Room was created from an existing outdoor terrace. An outside wall of 21 panels, each weighing two tons, was removed to make space for walls of beveled mirror, all assembled on site.
Despite rumors of the Chinese screen being smuggled out of Hong Kong in pieces, Taylor assured me it was handcrafted in Chicago. “We had them made to look as if they are Coramandal. They were also made to be practical as they conceal a great deal of storage.”
The focal point of this room, however, is the sky. “We installed barrel-vaulted glass through the center of the ceiling, Taylor said. “We thought it would be pretty to look up and see the stars at night.” An automatic shade keeps the room from being overly bright in the daytime.
If you think it cannot get better, just wait. A green suede hallway leads to the master suite, and it has to be one of the most beautiful rooms in existence. A round bedroom was created out of metal to ensure no sound or light would penetrate. The walls were covered with a white-on-white striped French silk to mitigate any feeling of coldness from the metal. The pièce de résistance is a domed ceiling covered in silverleaf tea paper with a chandelier that came out of the Palace Theater. The dome was brought in over the city by helicopter.
The dressing room, master bathroom, and a private study wrap the bedroom in what feels like a warm embrace. Despite the elegance, the glamour, and the drama, there is a cozy feel to the entire 5,123–square-foot Turtle Creek penthouse.
The stunning Turtle Creek penthouse took only 10 months to finish. “We were on the project every day, and we went full speed,” Taylor said. “It’s the most exciting project we have ever worked on. It’s a timeless and happy space.”