A Home In Motion
By Shilo Urban
Photos by Ralph Lauer
Timelessly elegant interiors and room to play reflect a Westlake family’s youthful lifestyle.
From the first step into the foyer, a feeling of lighthearted glamour swirls around Vivian Yolpak’s Westlake home. Light bounces off the gleaming marble floors and floats up the sinuous front staircase. A black baby grand poses under the balustrade, its graceful legs echoing the lean lines of the chandeliers that dangle above.
For Yolpak’s children, the soaring foyer is something else: a fantastic place to play. The floors are perfect for roller skates and scooters, and there’s plenty of space for ballgames. “They’ve played volleyball and baseball and hockey right here in the foyer,” says Yolpak, who shares the home with her husband, Tom, son Ty (age 11) and daughter Emily (age 8). Even without the presence of kids on skateboards, a sense of movement fills the house.
Imparting this spirit of youthful vitality was foremost in the mind of Janice Burkhart, principal designer of Burkhart Interiors and Yolpak’s friend. “The family was young, building a really big, nice house. I didn’t want it to look like they were in their 40s and 50s,” she explains. “It’s hard to keep that youth in a 7,400-square-foot house. But that was my goal.”
She succeeded. The home’s modern traditional style balances sophistication with energy, graceful refinement and a splash of playfulness. “This feels almost like an upscale high-rise to me, but then it’s warm and cozy because it’s kind of brought down,” says Burkhart. “We stayed with updated fixtures that will stand the test of time, surfaces that you could use, and be on, and flop on, and all that kind of stuff — but then whenever you have no toys around, it still looks clean and fresh.”
Gazing across the family room into the kitchen, tantalizing glints of metallics and stones give the space a jewelry-box feel. Indeed, Yolpak’s love of jewelry provided endless inspiration for her home design. Founder and creative director of private jewelry label Panacea and Pannee Group jewelry corporation, Yolpak sells her accessories in numerous high-end stores such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Anthropologie.
It all started with a dream — and a rolling bag full of earrings, bracelets and necklaces. After being laid off from her telecommunications job in 2002, Yolpak found a new direction on a trip to Thailand to visit her husband’s family. Inspired by the jewelry that she saw in the markets of Southeast Asia, she joined forces with her mother-in-law to start a business designing and making jewelry. Soon, she began selling her wares door-to-door, rolling her bag of baubles into boutiques from Fort Worth to Highland Park. Trade shows followed, then chain stores, then department stores. Today, customers around the world wear Yolpak’s jewelry. The same sense of style that propelled her business to great success is evident in her swoon-worthy home.
“I gravitate to a lot of colors,” she says. “I like a lot of architectural designs, lines, shapes — like my chandeliers, they look kind of like little jewels.” Unique details make the home’s large rooms feel special and down-to-earth. Dramatic shapes add interest and create movement from room to room. Hexagon tiles energize the foyer, and an oversize herringbone pattern zooms around the kitchen floor. Blues and greens play nice against a chic black-and-white palette. Floor-to-ceiling glass gives the breakfast area excellent views of the outdoor swimming pool, which is cradled by the house’s U-shaped layout.
“I wanted to be able to see the kids, see what they’re doing, and not worry,” says Yolpak. “That was important to us when building the house.” She can keep an eye on the pool from the game room, kitchen and family room, the central gathering spot where the Yolpaks spend the most time. “We’ll be cooking, and I’ll be watching the news or something, and the kids are doing their homework,” she says. “We’re always in the kitchen and in the family room, and outdoors in the patio area. We use that a lot when we’re entertaining.”
Shimmering views of the pool also extend from the master bedroom, a soothing retreat with fuzzy white textiles and hushed neutrals. An assortment of metals continues the jewelry-box vibe, including a burnished bronze chandelier, gold bookshelf and silvery Lucite bed frame. “Metal mixing is good,”
Burkhart says. Although hesitant about the unmatched metallics at first, Vivian is now fully on board. “It worked out really well like that,” she says. “I love it.” Collaborating with Burkhart came naturally for Yolpak. “It was easy to work with her. Janice is great. She has a good eye, she knows what her client wants, she knows how to pick it out and how to put it together.”
For Burkhart, collaboration is the key to creating true design magic in a home. “I can do what I want to all day long, but I really don’t want to,” she says. “I think that collaboration is always the best. If you’re just picking everything for a client, it’s OK — but you really want some input from the client. You want to work together, to pull it back and forth so that you get that exact look.”
With jewelry-inspired glamour, bold shapes and a youthful feel, Burkhart’s design captured the perfect look for Yolpak. “For two years, we have not changed anything,” she says. “I’m not going change it. The only person who’s going to change it is Janice.”