Sherry Sicking has set a new standard for Texana interiors. Not that there is such a thing, but there could be. And after a morning spent at her new house in Gainesville, I’m convinced this is it.
Texana has all the expected Texan components — big, and really big plus-size cowhides, tooled leather, tile that looks like leather, conchos, decorative iron, portraits of cows, horses and cowboys and serape stripes. Those are the main ingredients. Decorative accessories are brighter and blingier.
She cooks up her visual recipes from a closet lair. “It’s my favorite place,” she confesses. “It’s my haven.” This room is super-styled with her cowgirl boot collection, jeweled flip-flops, handbags, and ropes of turquoise jewelry displayed as if shoppers were expected any second. The CD player is cued and the longhair sheepskin vanity chair is fluffed. From this throne, she conjured her dream house.
Her husband, Tim Sicking, lives here too, but, “This is my dream house, not his,” Sherry says. His only input was to request she shop locally.
For a year and a half Sherry and her daughter, Heather Martin, spiked the GDP of Gainesville, Whitesboro, and Valley View. From these modestly-sized towns, they kitted out the Sickings’ house. They found local contractor Pat Fuhrmann of Fuhrmann Builders, Inc. in Lindsay, and he introduced them to Metroplex-based interior designer Stephanie Milford. The team was assembled.
The resulting 10,000-square-foot home, completed in 2015, sits on a crest just south of Gainesville with a view that allows the Sickings to see for miles with Oklahoma in the distance. Their vantage point is spectacular.
It is one of the reasons the large windows are free of drapes. Tim likes the view and window coverings aren’t needed when you live on the highest point for miles.
The scale of the house is large with big rooms and tall ceilings. The grand piano looks dainty near the dining room with its 33-foot ceiling. The total room count is not extreme — just four bedrooms and five bathrooms but there are specialty rooms to make up the footage. Sherry has a craft/storage room and there are two quiet sitting rooms on the second floor just for enjoying the views. One has a Christmas tree on display year-round because, “I love my Christmas tree so much I keep it up,” she says.
They entertain a great deal. Sherry invites her family from Paris, Texas, every Thanksgiving and that can mean seating 85 people. So she has a butler’s pantry with shelves that accommodate all the serving pieces needed for such a crowd. Plus, there is a secondary refrigerator even though the Sub-Zero one in the kitchen is a six-door model. A guesthouse for visitor overflow is a miniature version of the Sickings home, decorated in the same exuberant style, with a single bedroom.
Their daughter and her family live nearby and their son, Ryan, is in his last semester at Texas Christian University. Sherry already took the music room, adjacent to his bedroom, and appropriated it for additional visitors. Out went the drum set and in came another welcome mat.
Throughout the house there are custom touches. Milford ordered doors from Jeld-Wen — many had to be custom-sized — then scoured local iron and woodworker’s shops for embellishments. Each door was uniquely detailed. Cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms were also bedecked. On a single vanity, Milford used 40 pieces of decorative iron — not an excessive number. Every room has some door, or drawer unit that was glammed up. It took months of work for Sherry and Milford to layout the patterns they wanted and then the pair had to strong-arm the carpenters to make it happen.
Milford says she rarely has this extensive a project. “Designers don’t usually do this many neat things in a home, but it was great and we forged a wonderful friendship,” she says.
The large pieces in the dining room, living room and family room were sourced locally at Otts Furniture & Appliance in Gainesville and were upholstered to Sherry’s specifications. She mixed printed fabrics with leather or cowhide, and almost everything was given a skirt of leather fringe.
One of the most unusual resources was Dennards, a farm and ranch store in Whitesboro. It carries boots and cattle guards, as expected, but also leather furniture, rugs and art work.
Some of Sherry’s regular haunts have gotten to know her and her style so well, they lookout for things that will please her. The charming vanity in her closet was found at an estate sale by the folks at Rustic Ranch in Valley View and was primped, painted and reupholstered just for her.
She admits not realizing what a large job it was building a house and all the decisions that go into it. And she is aware this kind of opportunity, to build and furnish a house of this size, is a rarity. For 30 years, Sherry worked as an elementary school teacher. Her husband owns farm and ranching businesses. “He worked hard, and we were blessed,” says the former educator who reminds herself of that often. It is one of the things that makes visiting her so pleasant. She didn’t always have the wherewithal to be so indulgent, but when she did, it was with gusto.
Shopping with her daughter and working with Milford was great but, just as the last corner of the home was filled (or as her daughter would say ‘over-filled’), her husband said it was to time to quit spending money and finish up. So she did.
Now she and Tim share their house with an extended church family, relatives, children and their families in a place that looks like Dale Evans’ Heaven.