Art Is Furniture and Furniture Is Art in The Citizenry Cofounder’s Dallas Home
Carly Nance's Texas retreat was a "late-night love affair."
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:56 AM
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Carly Nance’s Dallas, Texas, home was designed between the hours of 12 am and 3 am. It sounds unconventional, mulling over fabric swatches and tile samples in the middle of the night, but for Nance, it was when she could be the most creative. Because when the sun rises, her full attention returns to The Citizenry, the sustainable, artisan-focused decor brand she runs alongside fellow cofounder Rachel Bentley. “The house became a late-night love affair,” she remembers.
Shortly before Nance, her husband, Micah, and their 3-year-old daughter, Sullivan, moved into their 1950s farmhouse three years ago, it had undergone a renovation. “It was 80 percent there,” recalls Nance. The Texas native recruited L.A. designer Natalie Myers, whom she’d long admired from afar and followed on Instagram, to figure out the final 20. The only catch: Myers never actually met her client (or saw the space!) in person. “I’ve done remote projects before, but never with a house this large,” says Myers. Fortunately, Micah’s architect brother armed her with foolproof floorplans. “I know this place like the back of my hand,” says the designer.
As one would expect, the house is filled with Citizenry staples (Nance is particularly proud of the leather safari chair in the living room), as well as new products that are still in the testing phase. Furnishings from U.S. makers and framed works by her favorite female artists fill in the gaps. Here, the decor pro reveals five lessons learned from creating her happy place.
Choose Materials Wisely
For everyone’s sake, the home had to be durable. Easily etched marble countertops in the kitchen wouldn’t fly, but quartz? Practically indestructible, not to mention easy to wipe down with a simple household cleaner. Distressed vintage rugs protect high-traffic passageways, and upholstered pieces of furniture are swathed in outdoor performance fabrics. “Natalie would send me swatches for the sofa, and I would test them by splattering red wine,” laughs Nance.
Crypton textiles, walnut tables, subway tiles—none of the materials are too precious. “It’s not a serious, design-y, grown-up house, which is what I think people would expect from her,” says Myers.
Start Them Young
The well-traveled aesthetic that’s come to define The Citizenry is most evident in Sullivan’s bedroom. Nance and Bentley sourced the majority of the small treasures (stuffed animals from Japan, a wedding blanket from Morocco) from their business trips abroad, and to top it all off, the toddler refers to her accent mural as her “magical jungle wall.” “I want her to aspire to travel the world, to go out of her comfort zone,” says Nance. Sullivan is taking after Mom in more ways than one. “She’ll move things around and say that she’s ‘styling.’ It’s very much a collaboration at this point,” Nance jokes.
Toss Out the Rulebook
When you walk through someone’s front door, the first thing you expect to see is the kitchen or maybe a sliver of the family room. But at the Nance’s, friends and family who come over for Thursday night dinners aren’t welcomed by an L-shaped sofa or a stretch of island—they’re greeted by an eight-person table. What would have been an obvious choice for the living room is now the dining room. “There’s a Southern hospitality to the house, and I think it shows in the layout,” says Myers.
Designate a Tie-Breaker
The biggest constraint on the design was time; the couple was eager to have their home up and running. So when a decision seemed impossible or second-guessing sunk in, Nance turned to her husband for the final call. “I could spend three years thinking about the right shade of white, but he’s decisive,” she says. “He’s become a huge decor buff.”
For her part, Myers narrowed down the couple’s tile choices for the master bathroom and dining room fireplace to pieces that were in-stock and quick-ship. “That’s the dirty secret of this house,” says Myers. Instead of going through the rigmarole of finding a third tile option for the accent wall in the shower, the designer opted for two slabs of marble and called it a day.
Blur the Lines Between Furniture and Art
Growing up with an art teacher for a mother, Nance knows canvases can do so much more than fill empty wall space. Where most would put a piece of a side table or mount a TV, she’ll casually prop a framed drawing or two. “I do it with my favorite pieces. You instantly notice them,” explains Nance.
If art can be furniture, furniture can also be art. Nance purchased the sculptural wood chair that sits in the living room because she thought it looked exactly like the Metropol Parasol, the elaborate wooden structure in Seville, Spain, she and her husband encountered on their honeymoon. Backward-facing sconces add gravitas and ambiance to the dining room. In the master bedroom, the two-toned, walnut-and-maple bed by Chris Earl “practically glows” in front of the second-floor window.
Nance might not be pondering over paint colors at 2 am anymore, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of exciting projects keeping her up at night. (Psst: There are a few major 2020 launches peppered throughout her home). Once a night owl, always a night owl.
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