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Art Tracks

By Dena Hill

Contributing Writer

More than 5,000 hand-painted tiles enliven a timeless, stylish haven
 

Tile artist Cathy Schermer works on a vase, a break from her busy schedule of tile design and painting.   Photos:  Jeremy Chesnutt

Most days, tile artist Cathy Schermer spends her time creating works of art for other people. But several years ago, she became her own best client as she and her husband Mike began building the home in which they now reside.

Years before they built their current home, the Schermers found a densely wooded property that they fell in love with and ultimately transformed into a masterpiece. Today, their richly textured, colorful Dallas home reflects the careful planning and design evident in every loving detail.

Drawing from her wealth of experience in creating custom-designed tiles for clients in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow, Mrs. Schermer incorporated her artistry into the very structure of her own home’s interior. With a background in art and watercolor, she had previously created and sold her own lines of clocks and Faience frames, and then a line of custom bowls and accessories which she sold to local gift shops.

“Really, decorators brought the custom tile business to me,” Mrs. Schermer said, thinking back to the beginning of her 15 years in the business. Decorators had approached her to see if she could create the kinds of custom tiles for which she now is known. Her work has become so popular, in fact, that she is already booked through this year.
 

Mike and Cathy Schermer

“The first time I saw her work I knew she was an unusually creative and talented person,” said Dallas-based Interior Designer Sherry Hayslip, who has worked with Mrs. Schermer on many projects. “More than being a tile person, she’s a very fine artist,” Ms. Hayslip noted. “There’s a certain clarity of spirit that’s reflected in her work.”


Walking through each room of her home, Mrs. Schermer, 58, explained her work and the stories behind the tiles that line the walls, countertops, showers, and floors of the house she and her husband share with their beloved dogs, Buster and Greta.
 

Tiles in each room represent a theme or a special icon from the Schermers’ life. Whimsical outlines of clothing on clotheslines add movement and personality to the utility room. Favorite pets both past and present become immortalized in bedrooms and other spaces. Miniature likenesses of the home’s exterior frame the master bedroom fireplace, presented in subtle, intricate detail. All are painted by hand and represent a mere handful of more than 5,000 tiles that are found throughout the house. Each room’s artistry, in turn, represents a major investment of time.
 

The tiles Mrs. Schermer made to frame the bedroom fireplace offer several depictions of the home’s facade.

Cathy Schermer’s “birdbath” mural in her bath overlooks an outdoor waterfall.

A project such as a back splash would take about a week to paint for a client, Mrs. Schermer says, in example. “An average kitchen splash is around 200 tiles,” she noted, discussing the intricate type of Faience painting in which she specializes. “You paint into raw glaze with pigments and then you fire it,” she explained, describing the process.

She took a year off to oversee construction when she and her husband actually began putting their house dream into action. “I treated myself just like I was a customer,” she said of the intense work that ensued. But creating her own project had its special challenges, she says. “I had to ask myself, ‘What do I want to live with forever?’”

Her husband Mike, 65, a semi-retired investor who left most of the home’s planning and design choices to his wife, says he couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome. “I look back on it and really there isn’t anything I would change about it,” he says. “I’m real happy with the house.”
 

This cat mural sits opposite another mural of a bird flying out of a birdcage in the Schermer’s kitchen.

Mrs. Schermer worked with Dallas Architect Cole Smith in the home’s design. “When I got to Cole, I kind of had a floor plan in my mind,” she remembers. As she describes it, Mr. Smith literally “situated the house to take best advantage of the site.”

From the master bedroom the Schermers can hear the sound of the brook outside. Mrs. Schermer’s well-situated bath offers a view of the nearby landscaped waterfall. Graceful birds in flight adorn the tiles near the window. “I call it the birdbath,” she says of the room’s signature mural.

Mrs. Schermer says she told Mr. Smith that she wanted the home to blend in with the environment. As a result, he incorporated a mixture of stones from Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas within the walls and floors. Beams in the central living area were recycled from old barns in Vermont.

The overall effect lends itself to the three-word theme Mrs. Schermer says she initially had in mind for the atmosphere of her home: “Casual, comfortable, and timeless.” As she puts it, “We just love being here.”

For more information about Cathy Schermer’s tile work, visit www.meadowcreststudios.com.

 

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