Twenty-one years ago, Gary Fabro was a computer programmer with Hallmark when he bought a house just south of the Plaza.
Today, Fabro is still with Hallmark, but now as an e-commerce manager and freelance graphic designer. He shares the selfsame house with Mike Mead, a menswear sales associate at Halls on Grand.
And the house, a 1929 low-slung Tudor, continues to evolve. Graphic design meets menswear colors and fabrics. Fabro wouldn’t have it any other way. “I like stability. I like to be comfortable. This house represents 20 years of life and collecting, especially art,” he says.
But that doesn’t mean the house has remained untouched. Almost every surface (except the master bath upstairs) has been renewed to live the way Fabro and Mead want to live: masculine, tonal, monochromatic, and everything in its place. Just like a finely made jacket. “We wanted to respect the integrity of the original house,” says Fabro, “but make it live for today. We kept the textured walls and the wonderful plaster moldings, but we also combined some of the tiny original rooms.”
In taupe, white, and black with clean, modern lines and contemporary art, the house welcomes both of the men’s collecting habits. Mead loves old Seth Thomas school clocks, including one from his junior high classroom. Fabro is intrigued by interconnecting shapes, scooping up chains in sculpture or art whenever he sees them. They both love the black-and-white “grids and nudes” art of Jean Pike, a New York artist they found online. Their dual Hallmark connections have also resulted in contemporary art purchased at periodic Hallmark corporate sales events and furniture from Halls’ fixture sales when the Plaza store closed.
With a combination of resourcefulness (Fabro did most of the renovating) and a graphic designer’s eye for pattern and placement, the home has a quiet sophistication. “What sold me on the house was this ceiling,” says Fabro as he points to the cove ceiling and vintage plaster moldings in the living room. Taupe walls and mirrors everywhere help create a space with dappled, woodsy light. A 1970s armchair that has a shape out of the Space Age came from Mead’s parents’ home in Lake Waukomis. White ginger jars grouped on the armoire lend a graphic look, as do a pair of black leather Barcelona chairs. A sculpture of interlocking rings begins a theme that is picked up in every other room.
In the entry hall, a rustic antique table serves as a console that displays a vignette centered around a Lucite sculpture. Underneath are two upholstered chrome seats, upholstered in black and white.
Dining room walls the color of a classic navy blazer allows the Art Deco-period plaster trim to stand out in high relief. Fabro found one of the oil paintings in a friend’s basement and the long monochromatic oil was purchased from Wild Weldon at the Brookside Art Fair.
Fabro removed the tiny breakfast room to expand on the original kitchen in 2001. He added new cabinetry to complement the originals and found that chrome window sash pulls had the classic look and feel he wanted for drawer handles. Silver champagne buckets stylishly hold kitchen implements.
In the back hallway leading to the second floor, Fabro created a gallery wall. “I laid it out on the floor, then adjusted it on the fly,” he says.
Texture comes to the fore in the study, painted the color of gray flannel slacks. A shaggy flokati pillow contrasts with an oversized carved wooden chain. A painting by Kansas City artist Dean Kube hangs above the sofa.
Upstairs, Fabro and Mead divided the space into an office/sitting area and a sleeping area. A sleek white Parson’s desk is anchored by two Barbara Cosgrove lamps in the office area. The bed is dressed in menswear-influenced gray flannel bedding. On the wall between the two areas, Fabro created another gallery that features a student art project from 1969 from Evanston, Illinois that won a Hallmark Honor Prize.
But the pièce de résistance is the dream closet. Fabro had the ceiling raised in this space, a former nursery. Art hangs from floor to ceiling. A black granite-topped dressing table has display pieces for sunglasses, jewelry, and more. A built-in white “shoecase” organizes all the shoes.
Fabro added drawer space below rods where men’s shirts hang in every hue. “Having stuff where you can see it is a luxury,” says Fabro.
And having a house where a lifetime’s worth of collecting tells your story offers a satisfaction all its own.
J’Adore Home & Garden
ANTIQUES AND ART
Christopher Filley Antiques
1721 W 45th St.
Mission Road Antique Mall
Studio Dan Meiners