Driving by, you might not notice how unusual it is because of its somewhat familiar aesthetic: native stone, slate roof, Georgian bones. After all, many houses in this Dallas neighborhood are interpretations of quintessentially European styles. But when architects David Stocker and Mark Hoesterey conceived a new Texan-Georgian on an urban lot for a couple and their teenage daughters, they strove to update and modify the regional classic. “This house definitely fits the neighborhood but—inside—has elements of surprise,” says Hoesterey. The trick was not only to simplify the architecture, but also to mix up the interior floor plan. Specifically, they completely flipped it.
“In a traditional home of this style,” explains Stocker, “you’d enter in the middle, with the dining room on one side and the living room on the other. Then, a perpendicular hall would lead you to a kitchen and family room at the back. That’s how 95 percent of the homes in the area work.”
But not this one. “The eave line of the residence is similar to others here and it is made of Texas limestone,” says Hoesterey, “but the way in which the house unfolds makes it unique.” The first distinctive design element greets you upon approach: The house features a side-yard entry while retaining its traditional exterior symmetry.
Because the lot was a tear-down, existing oak trees guided the location of the new house on the site. “They helped us choose where we’d place that side yard,” says Stocker. One of those august oaks creates an ideal canopy over the loggia, where a bubbling fountain of Lueders limestone was incorporated to provide an even greater sense of idyll. “A fountain is a classic water element, but this one was done in a contemporary way, with a long, horizontal line and the use of a pebble basin,” Stocker says.
Inside the front doorway, a spacious living area to the left runs the length of the house. Coffers stripped of ornamentation were darkened to give dimension, and warehouse-style windows face the street. The steel window frames, says Hoesterey, “take advantage of views and light, because their strength allows you to use larger panes of glass.” The finer bars of steel yield an elegant result. “We gained 10-15 percent light level with those steel-frame windows,” he says. Flooring throughout the house in limestone and white oak continues the creamy palette, and its natural plaster walls complement the stone.
Another distinguishing design characteristic of the room? It’s the sole living area in the house. “The owners wanted one large room that could serve several functions, rather than two separate spaces—one formal, one casual,” explains Stocker. The dining room is straight ahead at the end of the hall; its fine furniture is visible upon entering. A perpendicular gallery, which serves as a placement for some of the couple’s fabulous art, leads to the kitchen and the stairway up to the bedrooms. At the rear are a car park and an arbored porch that looks out to a tightly organized courtyard with a pool and a second, larger limestone fountain.
Stocker and Hoesterey carefully considered the neighborhood when drawing up their plans and, in another bid to redefine a classic, designed outdoor areas that engage passersby, such as a terrace that extends along the front of the house and beckons glances from visitors. Upstairs, off the master, where a wood-paneled ceiling nods to tree house living, a terrace sits above the loggia, tucked behind the leaves of one of the oaks. The efforts, says Stocker, encourage interaction with fellow residents of the enclave.
After all, he adds, “helping people to look at things a little differently is what architects are trained to do.”