Carson and Marsha See live in a home that was born with a pedigree. Located in an historic area near downtown Oklahoma City, the couple’s Georgian-style home gives the impression of Old World tradition. Among the home’s claims to fame is it was built by designers of the Oklahoma State Capitol, Layton-Smith-Forsyth Architects.
Ascend the cast stone porch, open the front door and you are in an art museum. A contemporary sculpture fashioned from canoe bark is an immediate eye-catcher.
Continue the journey and experience a world of design styles and period furnishings. Some of the most famous are represented: 18th-century French, Louis XVI, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Ming Dynasty, Memphis-Milano and Modern. There’s a nod to Western decor with paintings by Taos masters Bert Phillips and Nicolai Fechin and contemporary artists John Moyers and Ned Jacobs.
As one of Oklahoma’s preeminent interior designers, Carson See doesn’t follow trends. The home reflects the couple’s zest for creating an eclectic showcase within the 5,000-square-foot, stately interior.
The home is a travelogue – a global journey through hemispheres of unique furnishings and accessories. Every room reveals a different design period along with artifacts from sojourns abroad.
The 1920s home has not always expressed its museum-quality stature. It had none of the amenities homeowners now expect when the couple purchased the home 25 years ago.
“There was no air conditioning, dishwasher or laundry facilities,” See recalls. The plumbing and wiring would soon reveal their inadequacies. The Sees purchased the home knowing they faced months of renovation.
“I lived in Nichols Hills for 12 years, and I wanted a big house with rooms proportioned for our lifestyle,” he says.
Structurally, the home had exquisite bones. Few walls were removed, so the home’s architectural character remained intact throughout several renovations. Air conditioning was installed, plumbing updated and the original red tile roof was removed and a new one installed.
See also painted the interior in soft paint colors he invented, including “Carson Beige” – his signature hue. These muted tones enhance the comfortable spirit of each room, providing a neutral backdrop for brilliant colors found in furnishings and accessories.
For 30 years, See’s design studio was a fixture in Nichols Hills Plaza. A decade later, his desire to live and work near downtown prompted the purchase of a vintage drug store, now his studio.
The Sees’ sons, Corbin and Ross, worked with their father while in high school. Now, both are partners in the family business, Sees Design. Corbin See’s wife, Sara, joined the team in 2004. The family creates cutting edge interiors, including a line of furnishings featured in David Sutherland’s prestigious Dallas showroom.
With an interest in all things vintage, the couple enjoys adding unique heirlooms to their home.
“I’ve collected art glass from Paris for years,” See says. “Whenever we travel, I find things I want to take home, especially if they are old, authentic, look 18th century or even modern.”
Throughout each home renovation, the Sees have taken care not to disturb the home’s character.
“Having done so much work on the home, I don’t know why I would ever want to move again,” See says, laughing.
Editor’s note: Carson and Marsha See recently sold their long-time family home to their son, Corbin See, and have since moved to a 1930s Art Deco home in another Oklahoma City historic neighborhood. The family plans to continue celebrating holidays and gatherings in the old home. The Sees, no doubt, have plans for their new house in the works.