Text by Katie Ellis
When interior designer Abbe Fenimore and her husband, Dru, moved into their home nearly three years ago, the circumstances were nothing short of destiny—putting them in the right place at the right time. Just two days before they were supposed to close on a new home in Dallas, Texas, the deal fell through, and the couple was back on the hunt for a house. Much to their surprise, they found a perfect home in a coveted, established neighborhood, and as only fate could have it, they moved in just a week later.
At that time, they began a six-month renovation project, all while living in the 20-square-foot finished garage with their two bird dogs. “We’ve always loved this neighborhood,” Abbe says. “But we never thought we’d move over here because the pricing can be really aggressive at certain times. And it just sort of fell in our lap.”
The Fenimores chose to leave the existing foundation and room locations and gut the interior spaces to expand the living space and the master bedroom. By the end of the renovation, the two-bedroom, two-bath home had four bedrooms and three baths. And it “still has the vibe of the original house, which I love so much,” Abbe says.
One of the major must-haves was a stacked stone fireplace in the living area. “I knew I wanted a really beautiful fireplace up front,” Abbe says. “I wanted it to kind of feel a little bit Texas and a little Colorado. We go to Colorado a lot and I just love a big wood-burning fireplace.” The fireplace anchors the newly added living space and provides the ideal spot for a cozy gathering during the winter months. “It smells great—both outside and inside—and it always feels cozy and is somewhere you just want to be around and gather.”
The open-concept layout connects the comfortable living space to the dining and kitchen areas. And while Abbe’s style leans more playful and bold, her husband enjoys a more rustic aesthetic, so in nearly every design choice, Abbe found creative ways to blend each of their preferences into a cohesive interior design scheme. “I wanted it to be edgy and cool and still carry the same feel that marries little elements of Dru and things that he would love and appreciate,” Abbe says.
And after nearly three years in their home, they have created a great versatile entertaining space that is truly a reflection of their lifestyle and personalities. “That was really a priority when we thought about how we were going to use the house,” Abbe says. “Entertaining is definitely very important, but [the house] works well, too, when it’s just the two of us. We don’t feel overwhelmed by a giant space, so I love that.”
The couple spends a ton of time at the island in their kitchen. Both Abbe and Dru love to cook, and with the bar just off the island and the dining table nestled in between, it provides ample space to gather while still feeling cozy. “The room is extremely long and rectangular, so I love that from the moment you walk in, you’ve got a great place to sit or you can head over to the dining area or the bar,” Abbe says. “We have a lot of great little spots for people, and (no matter where you land) you don’t feel like you’re excluded; you still feel part of the group.”
Throughout the house—and perhaps most notably in the bedrooms—the Fenimores have given fresh life to heirloom pieces passed down from family. Set against a striking wallpaper or dressed in fresh upholstery or paint, pieces they each grew up around have found a way to feel contemporary and special once again. “I spent a ton of time at my dad’s parents’ home [growing up],” Abbe says. “I can’t imagine not seeing those [pieces] again.”
If she could share one piece of design advice—which, she says, she’s constantly reminding herself of as she’s designing her own home—it would be to be true to your gut and what you love. “Making your home look like a magazine isn’t how you actually live. I think it’s important to have that talk with yourself and with your family [as you design] and think about how you use your home and what you really like,” she says. “It’s your home, and it’s not only a reflection of your life and your family but it’s also where your sanctuary is—it’s where everything in your life is tethered. It needs to be right for you.”