Lori Burson’s Fresh Beginning
Finding comfort in a peace-filled residence
Photos by Don Risi
The eyes have it: “This wallpaper design is from Italian artist Pietro Fornasetti, and I found matching plates last year on a trip to Milan,” says Lori Burson, owner of Stella Modern Italian Cuisine. “I also used this same design in my restaurant.”
It’s a warm early summer day as the heavy double doors swing open to Lori Burson’s Northwest Oklahoma City home. The gracious owner of Oklahoma City’s classy Stella Modern Italian Cuisine is welcoming me into her private oasis.
“I have been rushing all morning,” Burson says. “In fact, I just spilled an entire bottle of makeup on the bathroom floor! I was cleaning that up when I heard the doorbell.”
Settling into a cozy spot in her kitchen, Burson shared the journey that led to her charming new home.
“I first saw the house online, and loved it immediately,” Burson says. “When my good friend and Realtor Rhonda Bratton showed it to me, I think we both knew it would be a really good fit. It was completely different from my old house, and I began thinking how nice it would be to have a fresh start.”
She enlisted the help of a couple of decorators to design her new living space. They helped combine some favorite old pieces with a few new furnishings.
“I was living in Heritage Hills,” she says. “That house was enormous and filled with so much furniture. I knew I would need to downsize when I moved here, so I carefully chose the pieces I wanted to keep.”
The house was built in 1978 by famed Oklahoma City designer Raymond Carter. It sits on a corner lot and has just under 3,000 square feet.
“This is where I can relax and be myself,” Burson says. “I love the garden room off the kitchen. It’s where I spend most of my time. I also love the courtyards in both the front and back of the house. It is so quiet and peaceful here, and just what I need for this phase of my life.”
Abundant natural light spills through the large expanses of windows and full-length glass doors leading to the courtyard. Colorful paintings, carved wooden paneling and high ceilings make the space warm and inviting. And all through the house are mementos of happy times spent with good friends.
“I have so many things I love,” Burson says. “In my kitchen is a small silver pitcher given to me on my 50th birthday by my friend, Chef John Bennett. He is an enormously talented chef and is part of the culinary foundation of Oklahoma City. For those of us who have the privilege of calling him a friend, we get to visit his house and see his pieces of silver and crystal. So when he gave me that pitcher, I knew it was something from his home that he was sharing with me, and it’s something I will always treasure.”
Much of Burson’s afternoons and evenings are spent greeting guests at her Midtown restaurant. Stella has been in business about nine years, she said, and she is working on plans for a 10th anniversary celebration.
When she designed the restaurant, Burson said, she wanted it to be different from the Heritage Hills house she lived in at that time. The result was a dining experience that was modern yet comfortable, with some antique touches here and there.
“That’s the same look and feel I wanted to bring to my new home,” she adds. “Just like at my restaurant, I want guests in my home to be comfortable. I used to entertain with maybe one large party a year. Since this space is smaller, I will entertain with smaller parties at different times. I am very happy and content with my life today. And this new house feels like me – but maybe ‘me’ with a fresh start!”