Design-and-build team Sheri and Raegan Barringer firmly believe in bringing old homes back to life—even when that requires a lot more ingenuity than starting from scratch. “So many are built and then torn down a couple generations later,” says Raegan. “It’s wonderful to find a grand old house still in good enough condition to become incredible given some time and money.”
That mentality made the married duo a natural fit for a Dallas couple seeking a fresh, family-friendly style for their 1939 Southern Colonial-style residence. The structure had withstood many dated alterations over the years, but its vast potential charmed the owners out of the new build they had been considering and right into a top-to-bottom remodel.
“The last thing we wanted to do was tear down a beautiful house with great bones—it just needed to be reworked,” says the husband, who fell for the abode’s curb appeal, sprawling backyard and 8,000-square-foot interior.
Though outdated and compartmentalized, the home also offered a variety of enticing features the couple would never have considered cost-effective for a new build, including a grand formal dining room with a fireplace and a 42-foot-long gallery spanning the rear of the residence. “We wanted a home where our children can grow up,” notes the wife, “with a big yard for running around and lots of space inside to spread out and play.”
With that in mind, “Imagine there were no walls” was a mantra the Barringers—who developed the plans with drawings executed by architect of record Virginia Carson—repeated as a way of helping their clients understand what the formerly closed-off rooms could become.
On the main level, a narrow stairwell was opened “to create a grand foyer and center hallway with a view to the backyard,” says Sheri, and most interior walls were removed in order to further open up the layout, transform a large bedroom into a light-filled great room and incorporate a screened-in outdoor living room. On the second floor, designed for the owners’ children, space was carved out for a trio of bedrooms and a large playroom with four built-in bunk beds to lodge visiting friends and cousins. And on the third level, a center stairwell was pushed to the side to accommodate an additional bunk room with four trundle beds tucked beneath the eaves.
Tearing down walls and adding ample glass—including French doors along the rear gallery and floor-to-ceiling windows flanking the kitchen stove—brightened every inch of the interiors, but the Barringers were just getting started. In the kitchen, for example, they concocted a plan to emphasize the 8-foot ceilings by applying beams and tongue-and-groove paneling. “Adding something that catches the eye created the illusion of higher ceilings,” Sheri explains. A crisp, white palette encompassing not just those ceilings but also the subway-tiled walls, marble countertops and Shaker-style cabinetry amplifies the effect.
The open and airy vibe continues in the adjacent family room, where classic furnishings upholstered with durable indoor-outdoor fabrics and accented with soft, sea glass-hued pillows and throws call to mind the airy beach houses prevalent in the couple’s respective coastal hometowns—his in California and hers in New Jersey. A nearby powder bathroom, featuring a leafy Schumacher wallcovering and a pale blue vanity with Chippendale-style fretwork, strikes a similarly breezy note. “Our clients love the beach, and he grew up surfing,” says Sheri, “so I think that’s an aesthetic they both gravitated toward.”
On the opposite side of the residence, where the family congregates during the evening hours, the ambience feels downright moody in comparison. A formal bar—with built-in stools that swivel to face an intimate seating area—sports masculine wood and leather finishes. The adjacent den pays homage to classic Ralph Lauren style, with paneled walls painted a rich navy blue, ceilings accented with white-oak beams and an inlaid wood veneer wallcovering, and menswear-inspired drapery fabric. “I was admittedly nervous when Sheri suggested doing plaid draperies influenced by one of my husband’s sport coats,” the wife laughs, “but the trust we established was crucial, and she knew I’d love it.”
Other bold moves took less convincing. In fact, it was the wife’s suggestion to paint the laundry room cabinets a fresh mint green and to wallpaper a daughter’s bedroom with a lush pattern of blooming botanicals. “It’s not as scary to play with pattern and color in kids’ spaces,” the wife says. For her, the process of remodeling in lieu of building from scratch also brought comfort. “It was nice just going room-by-room and filling in the blanks to make it our own,” she adds.
Thanks to their efforts, this grand old house is primed to thrive for yet another generation. “Our goal was to plan not for the next couple of years, but rather the next 20 or 30 years,” Raegan explains. “I think they’re going to settle in and be here for quite a while.”