We had a blast, as usual, at my friend Ken Maxwell’s fun Fourth of July celebration. He’s the creative director for the Dallas office of Weber Shandwick, a mega public relations firm. And when it came to decorating his home, Ken took a cue from Frank Sinatra and did it “his way”.
The Dallas Morning News chronicled his creative process last month in a piece called “Dallas Man’s Exposition Park Townhome Marries Offbeat, Original.” The writer, Miss Brittany Cobb, said he designed his contemporary, clean Exposition Park townhome around a single piece of art that soars more than a dozen feet in the air.
Monday night, I was hoping it was his commissioned Alfredo-Salazar-Caro mobile of tiny white ceramic pistols called “400 Guns” hanging in Maxwell’s 4th story stairwell. Why? Because I had spent 11 hours in a Texas Concealed Handgun Licensing class the previous day and was feeling pistol-crazed. No, Cobb says the art that inspired it all is a piece called “Hello Japan” by Deep Ellum artist Ricardo Paniagua. The painting, he said, was the root for designing the entire house.
I love how Ken decorates, pulling in great art, haut design furniture and the funky from cool consignment stores plus functional items from, like, Design Within Reach.
Ken moved to Exposition Park, “Marfa in Dallas”, to his three-story, 3000 square foot townhome loft designed by Dallas architect Ron Wommack, in 2005. Talk about culture shock, he transferred in from the Park Cities.
Exposition Park is located between the east end of Deep Ellum and the Exposition Avenue entrance to Fair Park. Here’s a smaller listing nearby, 2223 square feet — price reduced — at 3709 Commerce to give you an idea of the townhome/loft: $259,000, reduced from $269,000. Talk about a neighborhood in transition, Ken went from moms and maids to midnight madness — creative types including artists, designers and professors. But you are closer to Baylor, major highways, and downtown Dallas than you would ever be in the Park Cities:
“Exposition Park is like Marfa,” Maxwell says. “The location is strange and offbeat. There are living, working artists in large open spaces, plus it’s quiet and peaceful. When people do come, they are amazed. And when people move in, they rarely leave.”
But Ken loves to entertain, and he fell for the home’s clean, contemporary feel (refreshing after all that Park Cities traditional), the open layout and fifth-floor lookout where we watched the fireworks on the Fourth of July. He created a mini-kitchen on this top (fourth) floor and usually has a bartender up there replenishing drinks. Otherwise, the long, narrow kitchen on the first floor is caterer central.
Not only his friends, including those from the Park Cities and Preston Hollow, but out-of-towners love Ken’s pad. During Super Bowl weekend he made a killing, renting his home for $5,000 a night to a German billionaire in town for P. Diddy’s Fair Park party. Did he worry about anything getting destroyed? Not a bit. The house was kept in perfect shape. In fact, the guests even left behind some “things”.
“I found some underwear under the bed,” Ken told me at the time — I was writing about SuperBowl rentals for AOL. “Really expensive underwear, tags still on.”
The guests had gone shopping but forgotten their purchases it in a moment of — haste!