Fort Worth's Smashing Designer Showhouse

Designer Showhouse Chairman Gail Landreth

Text and Photos by Rebecca Sherman

Make a mad dash....The Fran & Eddie Chiles Estate Designer Showhouse closes on Sunday, October 24. Haven't been yet? These pictures will give you an idea of what you'll experience when you go, but nothing takes the place of being able to walk through this extraordinary estate and stroll across its rolling terrain. Tours are every 30 minutes. Go here to buy your tickets online. The proceeds benefit Historic Fort Worth.

Designed by the great California architect A. Quincy Jones in 1966 for Fort Worth oilman Eddie Chiles and his wife Fran, the sprawling modernist estate is located on a stunning terraced hillside in Fort Worth's dramatic Westover Hills neighborhood.

The Chiles estate is located at 1300 Shady Oaks Lane

The entrance to the Chiles estate

William "Billy" Haines designed the original interiors for the house. The original hardware, floors, wallpapers, paneling and architectural finishes remain in perfect condition and are worth making the trip to see alone. Haines, once a silent film actor himself, designed houses for some of Hollywood's most glamorous women including Gloria Swanson, Carole Lombard, and Joan Crawford. Eddie Chiles was glam in an outspoken and flamboyant way (It was in this house that he recorded his legendary radio commentaries during the 70s that signed on with, "I'm Eddie Chiles and I'm mad as hell!").

More than a dozen designers from Dallas and Fort Worth decorated rooms in the estate, many of which I've photographed here. I didn't show it all, but wish I could have. They're all showstopping rooms. I think Billy Haines would have agreed.

The Entry
Joseph Minton, RID, ASID, TAID
Paula Lowes, RID, TAID

Haines also used some of this original, gently tattered 18th century Chinese wallpaper in the American ambassador's residence in London. Here, it's the inspiration for a vignette of giltwood antiques from Joseph Minton Antiques.

Pair of George II style giltwood console tables from Joseph Minton Antiques. Chinese Chippendale antique mirrors from Minton-Corley Collection.

Lifesize Thai Temple figure from Joseph Minton Antiques.
Polychrome pedestal base from Herringbone Home

Living Room
John Bobbitt
Bobbitt & Company

The sheer size of the 45' x 30' living room was Bobbitt's biggest challenge. Here you can see more of the 18th century Chinese handpainted paper on the flipside of the wall. Persian carpet from Abrash Decorative Rug Gallery.

The sofa was designed by Axel Vervoordt in the 70s and is from East & Orient. All the custom upholstery was donated by Marroquin Custom Upholstery. Table base made from an antique clockworks is from Bobbitt's own collection. 17th century Italian mirror from East & Orient.

Wax, gumpaste, and plaster floral sculpture and French crystal bush, both from Grange Hall.

Fortuny chandelier from John Bobbitt's collection;
Daybed designed by Bobbitt; Artwork from Kristy Stubbs Gallery

View from the living room onto the terrace

Artwork in the living room from Kristy Stubbs Gallery

View from the living room into the dining room. Additional credits:Art of Old India, furniture and accessories; French-Brown Floors; Hull Homes; Gholson Electric, Inc., Jay Cantrell Interior and architectural drawings.

Dining Room
Justin Seitz

The dining room was inspired by homes of Yves Saint Laurent and Tony Duquette. Moroccan rug by Farzin Rugs & Design. French-Brown Floors. Lighting by Gholson Electric, Inc.

17th Century Japanese "Foating Worlds" paintings inspired the wall murals,
which were painted by Shaun Christopher Designs.

Napkins are embroidered with the names of some of William Haines' glamorous clients.

Additional credits include Art of Old India; Herringbone Home;
and Thistles and Tumbleweeds

Eddie's Bedroom & Dressing Room
Brad Allford, ASID
Tyler Cobb
G. Bradley Alford & Associates

Brad Alford was a neighbor of the Chiles' for many years and was
inspired by the way Eddie always stood up for what he believed in.

Custom bed designed by G. Bradley Alford & Associates.

Every square inch of the walls in the room are paneled in walnut. Credits:William Campbell contemporary artwork; Keith Fritz; French-Brown Floors; H&E Movers; John Shaw, Home Audio Video; F Schumacher Co.; Farzin Rugs; EC Dicken.

Eddie's Vanity

The Reagan Room
Cathy Kincaid, ASID

Ronald and Nancy Reagan slept here, so designer Cathy Kincaid used red,
their favorite colors, as inspiration, as well as rooms from the 60s and 70s.

Wallpaper and fabrics are original designs by Sister Parish/Albert Hadley
(Sister Parish John Rosselli and Associates fabric and wallpaper);
IDS made the bed linens and draperies

Cathy Kincaid pays homage to Ronald Reagan's penchant for Jelly Bellys

The closet inside the Reagan Bedroom

The Card Room
Deborah Reed, ASID
Deborah Reed Interior Design

The card room is inspired by "Palm springs, Hollywood's Rat Pack, tuxedos and martinis." Feizy Rugs; Hickory Chair sofa, wing chair, ottoman, leather game chairs, chest, and tables. Yang's Double Happiness custom lamps; William Campbell Contemporary Art.

Duralee table skirt and pillow fabrics; Bausman and Company Accessories;
Frontier Paint Co. (Benjamin Moore, Georgian green HC-115).

Texas regional artists courtesy of William Campbell Contemporary Art.

Master Sitting Room
Tad Watts
Domain XCIV/DH Collection

Downstairs Guest Bedroom & Bathroom
Joe Don Conger, ASID
Joe Don Conger Interiors

Joe Don Conger took inspiration from the house's clean architecture and design.

Credits: Artful Hand; B. Gover Ltd.; Crandale Gallery; Culp Associates; Duralee Fabrics; Frontier Paint Co.; Herringbone Home; John Lanford; Kravet Fabrics; Mary Kay Winchell; Marty and Pat's Frame Shop; Robert Lwrence Designers; Sonya Edwards; The Whitely Collection; William Campbell Contemporary Art; Yves Delorme

The bathroom's pristine, beveled marble vanity is original to the house.

Upper Hall
Lisa Richards Arbogast
Herringbone Home

19th Century Zuber wall panels; tufted benches from Herringbone Home

Fran's Bedroom

Paula Brown

Nancy Courtney

Steven Mayfield

Fran's bedroom is flooded with light from the windows overlooking the terrace and swimming pool.

Fran's Closet
Tamara Novak
A Touch of Vintage

William Haines Hardware

All the knobs and hardware in the house are original William Haines custom designs.

Maps and Plans of the Chiles Estate

Showhouse workers discovered dozens of early plans and renderings by A. Quincy Jones inside closets.

The Butler's Pantry

A vintage book on parties was discovered to have a photo of the Butler's Pantry in the Chiles house. The photo shows how Fran Chiles used to carefully lay out dishes for hors d'oeuvres and crystal for drinks, all labeled with instructions for the staff.

The vintage photograph from the book was meticulously copied, down to each handwritten instructions for the staff, for the Showhouse.

And wouldn't he have loved every minute of it all.