Art and Soul
By Meda Kessler
Photos by Brian McWeeney
She’s a physical therapist turned professional photographer, and Ferree’s a full-time physician and part-time musician. They met when Kantor was a single mom with three children. One of the first places they lived was a rented home on Belle Place before they settled into a house in Ridglea Hills.
“But we never stopped looking at other neighborhoods,” says Kantor. “And we always loved the area around the Cultural District.”
In late 2017, they heard about a house for sale that happened to be on Belle Place on the north side of Camp Bowie Boulevard. The 1910 three-story house had been updated but still had a lot of charm: high ceilings, wood floors, a big front porch, a walk-out basement. “We immediately saw the potential of making this our home,” says Kantor, who wanted a place with a slightly more modern feel. They turned to Ibañez Shaw Architecture (principal Greg Ibañez also is a neighbor) for help. He tapped Katy Dunaway, who worked on the Chroma building on Montgomery Street, to take the lead. “Loli and I formed a special rapport,” says Dunaway. “She’s a visual person, so whether it was paint samples or light fixtures, I knew she liked to see options.”
Dunaway also visited the couple at their Ridglea Hills home to get a feel for how they live and what they love in a home. “An older home has its challenges, but there was so much to work with there. What it needed to be was a place to show off Loli’s personality along with her amazing art and book collection.” Ferree has his own collectibles, which include guitars and vinyl records, plus a turntable, receivers and all the accompanying audio equipment.
The changes ranged from the subtle to the practical, with a major wow factor.
Exterior changes included painting the cast stone exterior a subtle gray-purple (Sherwin-Williams Quest Gray), swapping out oversized porch columns with a more appropriate style and adding a new railing with clean lines. In the back, the deck got an upgrade with refreshed decking, new metal and steel cable railing and user-friendly stairs. A big statement in the refresh involved removing a decrepit carport and storage building, also in the back of the home. In its place is a new carport, a basalt gravel driveway and a small but spacious 400-square-foot building that Kantor uses as her darkroom. As a fine art photographer, she shoots both digital and film images, which she develops and prints herself.
The basement of the old home also has been turned into a special place, too.
“When we saw this house, we knew we could basically live on the main floor,” says Kantor, who acknowledges that a wariness of steep stairs comes with being older. “But the basement transformation makes walking up and down a form of exercise for me.”
“Before” photos of the basement show utilitarian and ugly flooring and exposed rafters. And, of course, there were flooding issues. Dunaway turned the space into a light and bright room divided into a media area with lots of built-in storage and a studio for Kantor. With artwork everywhere, the room is functional but also inspirational.
Upstairs, Dunaway’s deft touch with design shows in the changes to the stairway. She gave it a more modern look with a custom handrail, an expanded entry, painted treads and contemporary lighting. In the kitchen, she removed all the upper cabinets and added floating shelves for Kantor’s collection of colorful glassware and coffee cups. New bottom cabinets and sleek hardware give everything a fresh look, as does a new slim Miele vent hood over the Wolf rangetop. Porcelanosa brushed aluminum mosaic tile used for the backsplash adds an unexpected shimmer.
Dunaway moved the refrigerator to a more user-friendly spot and clad it in white to match the rest of the kitchen. A metal panel next to it allows Kantor to hang photos with magnets. Her grown children do visit, and she and Ferree hope to entertain them and friends in the future. There’s still art to be hung and some new furniture to add, but the house feels lived in.
“This house is our house,” says Kantor. “We chose it together, and it works for the both of us.”