The Inside Man: Michael’s Home in the Design District
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Name: Michael Brandes
Location: Design District, Dallas, Texas
Style: An eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary
The fourth stop on my cross-country tour was Dallas, Texas, where I had the pleasure to meet Michael Brandes. With
Valspar Paint, I’m helping Michael to bring new color and style to his living room.
Before our meeting, Michael gave me a run-through of his situation. About a year ago, he moved from Seattle to the burgeoning Dallas Design District, and he loves the area. “Even though I’ve lived in Dallas for less than a year,” he says, “I already feel acclimated, having dusted off my cowboy boots, pressed my plaid shirts and donned my favorite worn jeans I feel most comfortable in.”
Michael explains, “I need help picking a new wall color and living room furniture. I would like to get away from the “Asian” theme and try something new. I need a space to entertain and lounge and be comfortable. I live in a brand new, cool building overlooking the Dallas skyline, and I need a space that has my personality and blends into the Dallas landscape.”
MICHAEL’S DESIGN DISTRICT PALETTE
In the photos above and below, you can see that Michael has one bright red accent wall that’s the focal point of his living room. It’s a nice red, but he’s ready for a change. His furniture spans a few different styles — from the traditional side chair to the contemporary tables. He’s also got some very nice paintings and photographs. Color could really help to pull everything together and make the room feel more cohesive.
Michael is a warm, open person, and his living room would do well with a warm color — something that’s rich and beautiful and will ground the room. I’m considering a few different coral and rose colors as a starting point for an accent wall, or maybe (as a longshot) a green. At this point, I’m just throwing some options out before I see how Michael responds and what direction we end up taking.
The Dallas skyline from Michael’s balcony!
MICHAEL’S FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD RESOURCES
To give me some background on himself and his neighborhood, Michael sent in a list of local favorites. Here’s his take on Dallas, in his own words.
Michael says, “I moved to Dallas, or as many refer to it as the “Big D,” from Seattle, Washington, in October 2009 after taking a job in Online Marketing. I love the constant sunshine and warmth of Dallas! Having lived in many different places, I feel like the weather here is really indicative of the personality of the locals: very warm, open, inviting, and friendly.”
“The area has an industrial and artistic vibe that I love. For many years I lived in studio apartments in major cities, including Seattle. When I moved to Dallas, I realized I could actually afford a 2-bedroom-2 bath apartment with ample windows, natural light, and more space than I know what to do with!”
“Also, this time instead of “city-living” I’ve opted for a lovely terrace that overlooks Dallas and its skyline. I didn’t think I’d be able to find a skyline view here — I have to say, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with how pretty it is.”
“Dallas is very metropolitan, featuring fantastic restaurants that easily compare to those in other large cities such as Chicago, NYC, Seattle, and LA. What sets Dallas apart is its laid back, easy-going, southern charm. I actually feel like I can stop and breathe here and have a genuine conversation with someone instead of feeling like I always have to be on the run.”
- A brand new restaurant opened next door to my apartment building called Meddlesome Moth. It has quickly become my favorite “neighborhood haunt.” The outside deck is the best place to hang out with friends, plus I’ll order take-out food from there if I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to cook dinner after a long day of work.
- Another restaurant I love and take visitors to is Mia’s Tex-Mex. It has a lot of character and amazing food; located only about 5 minutes from my place off of Lemmon Ave.
- If I were to list three more favorite restaurants, I’d have to include Celebration — situated right near my office near Highland Park, it’s the best traditional southern cooking I have found here thus far — I do believe Paula Deen would approve!
- Another piquant area full of very popular restaurants from bar-style to fancy modern is Lower Greenville off of Henderson Ave. There, I’ll take visitors to Hibiscus.
- Last, but certainly not least is the first restaurant I ate at in Dallas: Neighborhood Services. I fell in love with it immediately, and it’s coincidentally located off of “Lovers” Lane.
Southwestern style — cowboy boots and jeans!
“To be honest with you, I may be one of the few gay men who actually hates shopping — I used to love it, but somewhere along the line it became a necessary evil instead of fun. As many people will joke, the entire city of Dallas is like one big shopping mall. The two malls I frequent are the Galleria Mall, a ten minute drive from Oak Lawn, and the North Park mall, featuring every high-end store imaginable.”
- In the West Village, Assembly has quickly become my favorite clothing store in all of Dallas! The first day I discovered it, I was whisked in, set up with a glass of water and a fitting room, and the fabulous assistants showered me in a parade of cool shirts and shorts. I left with my entire summer Dallas summer wardrobe; not to mention, the shop is gay-owned, and owner, Kurt Haymond, full of Southern charm, kindly invited me over to have dinner with him and his partner to welcome me to Dallas.”
- My choice for cowboy boot shopping, a fashion necessity in the “Big D,” is Wild Bills. Located in downtown Dallas, patrons typically meet and sometimes are helped directly by the owner, Wild Bill, himself. It’s more than shopping — it’s an experience — there are no words to describe. Not only do they have hundreds of boots in stock, Bill and his staff can order anything you’d like, even having boots custom-made to your liking.
MOVIES AND MUSIC
“As far as movies, I totally prefer “independent” or “foreign” films. I’m more about an interesting topic than mainstream box-office hits.”
This is a sneak peek of my first meeting with Michael, when we moved around furniture, planned our shopping list, and zeroed in on colors…keep an eye out for that post on Thursday!
MY INITIAL THOUGHTS ABOUT MICHAEL’S LIVING ROOM
To begin with, this room needs a fresh furniture arrangement. An open plan space like Michael’s can pose some challenges, since the traffic flow moves in a few different directions. Moving the sofa will open up the room and make it feel instantly airier. We’ll also want to create a stronger connection between the open kitchen and the living room — the right set-up could be great for parties.
The red wall has already introduced some strong color into this room. The challenge now is to find a new color that’s bright and unique but will help to harmonize the different styles in the space.
On Thursday I’ll be posting my meeting with Michael. You’ll learn how we started by rearranging furniture, what paint colors we choose, our initial shopping list, and the next steps in our plan!
ABOUT THE INSIDE MAN
We’ve teamed up with
Valspar Paint to create The Inside Man, a special feature dedicated to daily (Monday – Friday) posts from Apartment Therapy and GQ about men’s color conundrums and style questions. From sofas with cup holders to brilliant bachelor pads, we’re focusing on the decor dilemmas men often bring to us.
MORE FROM THE INSIDE MAN
• Read more about guy style at
• Check out GQ’s guide to guy style at
Photos: Courtesy of Michael Brandes, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, Apartment Therapy
Published: Jul 13, 2010