Less than 10 miles from downtown, this Oak Cliff house is a world away
he world falls away when Barry Gream enters his tree-shaded home on a Gladiolus Lane highpoint.
It’s not just a home; it’s a sanctuary.
“I wanted to make this house about nature,” Gream says.
A cedar patio runs the length of the western side of the house, where Gream’s collection of Paolo Soleri bells softly chime. There is an outdoor shower right outside the master bedroom, completely private even while out in the open. The house sits on a heavily treed double lot with a small studio, an outdoor theater and a big goat pen.
It’s a 1963 modern house that Gream found at an estate sale.
It was 2007, and Gream saw a newspaper ad for a sale on Gladiolus.
Gladiolus is a special street. About a mile southwest of Kiest Park, it has two lanes with no shoulder and a few rolling hills. There are tall trees and a collection of one-story traditional and mid-century modern homes on oversized lots, some of them wooded. Take a slow drive down Gladiolus and imagine for a second you’re in the Smoky Mountain foothills or somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
Anyway, Gream attended this estate sale, where it so happened that the home’s original owners were manning the sale.
They had retired from homebuilding, and they were ready to move.
The house had never been renovated; it was architecturally untouched.
Gream, a furniture dealer whose 20c Design specializes in high-end mid-century modern styles, knew he had to have it. The home couldn’t have gone to a better steward.
He removed some walls to open up the floor plan, and he renovated the home’s one original bathroom as well as the kitchen.
A two-car garage was converted to a master bedroom and spectacular master bath.
The retail price of the renovation and materials would’ve cost more than the actual price of the house, Gream suspects. But a few factors worked in his favor to bring the price down drastically.
His brother, Brian Gream, is a builder whose specialties include historic home renovations, for starters. Second, he used his decades of experience in home design to bargain shop for materials.
He noticed luxury tile showroom Ann Sacks was having a moving sale, but he was a little late to find anything dirt-cheap. He wound up finding a cache of Ann Sacks tile from a guy on Craigslist — so much tile that the Volvo station wagon he was driving at the time could barely carry it all — for $100. He used them to tile the entire guest bathroom and the kitchen countertops.
He found some of the kitchen cabinetry still in the boxes that another Design District showroom had left on the curb. The rest he bought cheap just after the recession hit in 2008, when luxury products were harder to sell and thus were often discounted.
Landscaping was a big part of his vision as well. The property was heavily wooded overgrown so that the “forest” came all the way up to the house. It took weeks to cut it back and begin work on the patio and outdoor amenities.
A stone pathway now leads down into the second lot, where Gream created a clearing. There he set up a big movie screen with seating and complimentary metal artwork. The theater is only about 20 feet from the backdoor, but once down there, it feels like you’re someplace else.
And then there are the goats. Gream popped into a moving sale in Little Forest Hills a few years back. The owners had two adorable goats and Gream asked, jokingly, “how much for the goats?” It turned out the goats were for sale, but only to someone who had the appropriate home for them — they’re pets.
“They’re smarter animals than we give them credit for,” Gream says.
Gream’s uncle in Tennessee had raised goats, and he’d always been fond of them. Plus, he had plenty of room. So with all the house renovations completed, he set up a luxury goat enclosure with a shed and a gazebo.