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Dallas Architecture and Real Estate Insights

by Douglas Newby, Real Estate Broker

Dallas Architecture Blog discusses Modern Architecture and Mid Century Modern Homes, Dallas Neighborhoods, Dallas Real Estate and the Aesthetics of the City.

Can a Modern Home Also Be a Good Family Home?

François Lévy Designed Modern Home As Family Home

Modern Home on 6239 Azalea Lane
This home designed by architect Fraçois Lévy is a great example of a modern home that is also a great family home.

Modern homes and homes with a modern aesthetic are becoming increasingly popular with every generation of home buyer. These modern styles of homes include stark white and glass modern homes, midcentury modern homes, Texas Modern homes, and early 20th century Prairie Style homes.

The question remains: Can a modern home also be a good family home? The modern home at 6239 Azalea Lane answers that question. It has the best elements of the following popular modern styles and is specifically designed for a large family.

Stark White and Glass Modern Home

Architect Richard Meier designed modern home
Architect Richard Meier-designed modern home with staircase surrounded by glass.

The stark white and glass modern home has the most dramatic appeal and often comes to mind first when one thinks of a modern home. People respond to the flood of sunlight, the architectural transparency and lack of visual clutter. One of the best examples in the country of this modern style is the Rachofsky house in Dallas, designed by Richard Meier.

It is elegantly stark, open, precise and the spaces beautifully orchestrated. The copious amount of glass provides the sunshine and light that a family loves, but this one-bedroom 10,000 square foot house, like so many homes of this style, is not perfectly suited for a family.

Modern Home at 6239 Azalea Lane Is Designed For a Family

The modern home at 6239 Azalea Lane is designed specifically for a family, with five bedrooms, several formal and informal living areas and separate guest quarters. This modern home on Azalea in Preston Hollow also shares many of the appealing architectural features of the Rachofsky house.

Family Home in Preston Hollow
Glass enclosed staircase shows modern design of this home.

As an example, just as a protruding glass encased staircase is a central design element of the Rachofsky house, the projected staircase on the front façade surrounded by glass is a defining design element of the Azalea modern home. In the spirit of the open, stark, predominantly glass Rachofsky house, the modern home at 6239 Azalea has floor-to-ceiling walls of windows and doors that allow the sunlight to rake across both the ceilings and maple floors. Also similar to the Richard Meier-designed Rachofsky house in Preston Hollow, the François Lévy-designed home in Preston Hollow has rooms open and organized so in many rooms one can see through the home and view the outdoors in four directions.

Modern home designed by François Lévy
Modern home designed by François Lévy has open floor plan and is filled with natural light.

The dining room is flanked by two walls of steel cased windows that look into the east and west gardens and exude the transparency of the home. The dining room has wide pocket doors that open into the kitchen and a wide cased opening to the living room that adds to the modern plan. The natural stained maple floors have the finish of a museum or gallery.

Midcentury Modern Homes Also Have Great Appeal

Midcentury Modern Home
Midcentury modern home designs today are still popular and appeal to buyers.

Midcentury modern homes keep growing in appeal. The attraction to midcentury modern homes is the clean modern lines, the materials, and artisanship involved in the execution of the design. Architect-designed midcentury homes express an architectural intimacy.

Arch Swank Designed Midcentury Modern Home
Arch Swank designed this home in the 1950s and its design still attracts people with affection for architecture and design.

Good examples of midcentury modern homes are 10306 Crittendon Drive and 5303 Waneta Drive. The home on Crittendon is designed by Arch Swank, and the home on Waneta in Greenway Parks is designed by Hidell and Decker. The efficient floor plans and intricate efficiency of these midcentury homes give them great appeal, but the approximate 2,000 square feet limit their appeal to large families.

Cape Cod Stairs Emphasize Modernity of Home
Cape Cod stairs show architect’s crafted architectural solution.

The modern home at 6239 Azalea captures much of the appeal of a midcentury home. Architect François Lévy, similar to Arch Swank at the Crittendon house, created an open floor plan but defined spaces, in part, by different treatment of the ceilings. Both of these midcentury examples, the Crittendon and Waneta homes, have courtyards as does the modern home on Azalea. These homes also share a combination of materials: stucco, stone or brick and wood trim. Often one also sees in midcentury homes clever and intricate cabinets such as sliding cabinet doors that reveal a stylish bar. In the Azalea home the Cape Cod stairs found in the library that leads to the main stair landing is an example of prudently using space with architecturally crafted solutions. The home at 6239 Azalea carries these elements through its 5,000 square feet, a size that so easily appeals to and accommodates a family.

Texas Modern Homes Have Sustained Their Appeal

David Williams Designed Home
Different beam ceiling treatments define rooms that open up to each other. Beams in living room continue outside to covered veranda.

One of the defining features of Texas Modern homes are their courtyards, terraces, balconies and porches that extend the interior living space outside. This can be seen in early Texas Modern homes like the one designed by David Williams on McFarlin Boulevard in 1933 or in recent homes designed in this style.

Home Designed by Frank Welch, FAIA
Home designed in 2004 by Frank Welch, FAIA, shows Texas Modern wood detail.

 

Another characteristic of this popular modern style that pulls from the Modernism of Europe and the indigenous pioneer houses of Texas is the concept of adding additional wings and separate structures to the house, creating almost a residential compound for a growing family. Frank Welch, FAIA, with direct ties to O’Neil Ford and the most prominent architect continuing the Texas Modern tradition, beautifully uses the simple application of natural stained woods to add a geometric pattern of warmth.

Preston Hollow Home
Home designed in 2000 incorporates wood to add warmth to this family home.

The home on Azalea Lane on a double lot in Preston Hollow embraces this modern approach that creates very comfortable living spaces for a family while emphasizing the windows and sunlight in this home. Architect François Lévy also uses straight line patterns of wood trim and detail to add warmth and geometric precision.

Modern Homes From the Early 20th Century

Crafted Front Porch Details
Historic homes emphasize detail and craftsmanship.

The earliest modern homes in Dallas were built in Munger Place or on Swiss Avenue. These Progressive homes were drawn from the Prairie School of Frank Lloyd Wright. While many buyers respond to the historic nature and craftsmanship of the Swiss Avenue homes, many are also drawn to the open connecting rooms, oversized windows, and the clean lined craftsmanship of the trim and detail. When I first looked at the home at 6239 Azalea Lane, I became fascinated by how open and how much glass the home has and yet the home had the simple, well crafted woodwork and cabinetry of the early modern homes on Swiss Avenue that were designed for the most important families in Dallas.

Modern Home in Preston Hollow Neighborhood
The home at 6239 Azalea provides great design and also space for the whole family.

The home at 6239 Azalea is influenced by many modern styles from different eras. Its design pulls from these modern architectural traditions that have sustained their aesthetic appeal and their appeal to families who desire, first and foremost, a livable, enjoyable and accommodating space. The home at 6239 Azalea is a great example of a home that is modern and desirable for a family.

Architect Designed Modern Home
A 5,986 square foot Preston Hollow modern home on .73 acres, designed for a family to enjoy.

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