Slideshow: Photos of the Fall Home Tour, inside and out

For 36 years, the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League has asked Oak Cliff neighbors to open their houses for its annual fall home tour. Since then, the league has raised tens of thousands of dollars for 29 Oak Cliff neighborhood associations, which have used the money to make our neighborhood a more beautiful, safer place to live.

This year’s tour includes 12 homes, and all of them are spectacular. These are just a taste.

Double house

The house at 845 N. Oak Cliff Blvd. really is two houses.

Mark Niermann and Enrique MacGregor bought a 1,200-square-foot 1950s modern house on Stevens Park Golf Course about four years ago. When neighbors in the adjacent house moved out, they bought that house, too.

“It was a tear-down,” Niermann says of the second house.

So they hired architect Jeffrey Brown of BRW to expand their house to the adjacent lot. He came up with a design that included adding, essentially, a second house that connects to and mirrors the original.

The result is a cohesive 4,000-square-foot house that is one of the showstoppers on this year’s fall home tour.

The front door of the house opens to what its owners call “the box”, a foyer connecting the old and new structures. Concrete floors stretch throughout the new side of the house and expand to an outdoor deck that wraps around the rectangular building, creating visual continuity with the outdoors.

The owners collect art — Ted Kincaid and Arie Van Selm, for example — and the house was designed to showcase it. With its glass walls and skylights, the home floods with natural light. Even on the grayest of days, electric lights aren’t necessary.

The couple has hosted a wine-tasting fundraiser for the Twelve Hills Nature Center four years running.

“We’ve had parties for 400 people,” MacGregor says. “We just open the doors, and it spills out onto the terrace. It doesn’t feel crowded at all.”

But a dinner for six people still feels cozy, he adds.

The original house was reconfigured because “we didn’t want it to seem like ‘the old house’ and ‘the new house’,” MacGregor says.

The original part of the house now includes a master suite with a sitting room and an office overlooking the golf course.

The former kitchen is now a bedroom, and its elegant modern cabinetry was reused in a guesthouse. They also reused as much of the home’s original pendant light fixtures as possible.

“It’s a 21st century take on a 1950s design,” MacGregor says.

After the fire

This isn’t Pam and Dan Williams’ first turn on the fall home tour. Their 1930s grocery store-turned-house on Montclair was on the tour five years ago.

As much as they liked that house, it had little more than a patch of grass for their longhaired dachshunds.

“We really missed having a backyard,” Pam Williams says.

They’re in doggie Disneyland since the Williamses moved to a two-story house in Stevens Park Estates three years ago.

The New Orleans-style house had a fire that started in a second-story bedroom, and they almost didn’t buy it. But they’re no strangers to renovation projects. This is the fifth Oak Cliff house the couple has renovated, and they took every room down to the studs, save a formal living room.

“There’s nothing we didn’t touch,” Dan Williams says.

They knocked down walls, closed in patios, extended rooms for added square footage upstairs and down, closed off doorways, and opened others. A friend created custom metal work for their staircase. Construction took about seven months.

Now the once-burned upstairs includes a master suite with an attached den, a guest suite with a sitting room and the “Mexico room”, a guest bedroom that showcases art from the couple’s frequent getaways. Each bedroom has its own bathroom and balcony.

Although the house has a traditional feel, Pam Williams likes bold colors, and she’s good with them. The home’s entryway is a shade of chartreuse that changes with the light of day. She uses complementary purples and greens throughout the house, and the master bedroom is a powder blue that feels traditional yet fresh.

She also designed the massive backyard, where the three dachshunds can sink into the zoysia grass for hours of exploring. It took 22 truckloads of earth to fill in an enormous, outdated swimming pool. Williams designed the perimeter fence, replacing chain-link with hog wire and cedar. And she designed a network of pathways, gardens and sitting areas with pergolas, fountains and fire pits.

“I always say my parents never sent me to camp, so I built my own campground,” she says.

From cramped to cool

David Wayne and Alex Ste. Marie moved from a condo in Oak Lawn to a 1950s house on Kessler Park’s Shady Lane six years ago.

They loved the old trees, big lots and easy commute — Wayne to Arlington and Ste. Marie to Oak Lawn. But the house wasn’t quite “them”, so they set out to renovate it.

And wow, did they ever. They did the typical remodeling stuff. The house had cheap updates in the ’80s, and nothing was cohesive. So they updated the kitchen, remodeled the pink-and-green subway-tiled bathroom, and placed a stone veneer on the fireplace and one living room wall. They replaced every doorknob, drawer pull, screw and ceiling.

But none of that compares to their biggest, most expensive project. They converted a 400-square-foot garage at the back of the house into a Sinatra-worthy family room. Sounds simple, but it’s not.

Aside from construction, the project required them to install a new air conditioning unit. And since they lost their parking spaces, they added a steel-and-canvas canopy carport, which doubles as an outdoor living space, complete with an outdoor fireplace and chimney.

All told, they spent about $250,000 on the renovation, “which is almost embarrassing,” Ste. Marie says.

“We never intended to purchase the house and spend that much updating it,” he says.

But the result is an open floor plan that invites visitors from the front door, through the kitchen, into the swanky, modern den and the backyard deck with its hot tub and tropical plants. Where the garage had once stunted the house and blocked the backyard, there is now a grown-folks playroom with a fireplace, golden terrazzo tile floors, built-in bookshelves and sleek modern furniture.

So after a six-year remodel, what’s next?

“We’ve used every square inch, and we’ve kept it a 1950s house with modern conveniences,” Ste. Marie says. “We’re done with the house, and we’re enjoying all the work we put into it.” n

Info: The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League’s Fall Home Tour is Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 9-10, from noon-6 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors. Find details at