This house blends with the vintage ’hood, even though it’s only four years old
Dan Guenther and Tom Fowler almost moved out of Oak Cliff four years ago.
They had lived in two 1920s Tudor-style houses in the neighborhood since 1997, and they were tired.
“Living in an old house, there’s always something that needs to be done,” Fowler says.
They redid all the ceilings and walls in their first house because the tape and bed was coming apart, and the sheetrock was cracking.
In their second house, one wall was pulling away from the rest of the structure, and they had to have it shored up before it damaged the roof. That cost $15,000.
They wanted a new house.
At a neighborhood meeting, they met Pam and Dan Williams, an Oak Cliff couple known for their interesting renovated homes.
At the time, the Williamses lived in a former 1930s grocery store on Montclair, which they had converted to a loft-style home.
“We saw their house on the [Old Oak Cliff Conservation League] home tour,” Fowler says. “And we loved it.”
The Williamses had just bought an old duplex at 905 N. Montclair. At first, they thought they would renovate the structure, but it had too many foundation problems, so they decided to scrape it and build a new house there.
Guenther and Fowler made their acquaintance at the perfect time.
“The foundation had been poured a week before we met them,” Guenther says.
In their neighborhood, the Kings Highway Conservation District, there are four types of architecture — Tudor, prairie, craftsman and bungalow. Pam Williams, who was the home’s general contractor, wanted to make sure the new house fit the neighborhood.
Almost everyone who sees it assumes the home was built in the 1940s, like other houses on the block, Guenther and Fowler say.
It has the low-pitched roof, overhanging eaves and tapered columns common in American Craftsman architecture.
But inside, it is thoroughly modern.
The front door opens to a living/dining room of about 800 square feet. And there are 10-foot ceilings throughout the house. An aged-metal bar separates the dining area from the kitchen, which features a sunny breakfast nook that leads to a patio and garden.
“We liked the open floor plan,” Guenther says. “We liked the way [Pam Williams] laid it out, so we didn’t change much of anything.”
Guenther and Fowler helped Williams pick some of the finish-outs — dark wood cabinetry in the kitchen and living room, taupe granite countertops — but for the most part, they trusted her design sense, too.
The homeowners’ personal style is drawn from their extensive world travels — India, Morocco, Australia and South America are represented throughout the home in an eclectic mix of rugs, textiles and artwork.
Their favorite part about the home, of course, is its low maintenance.
“The No. 1 thing for us is the energy-efficiency of the house,” Guenther says. “It has insulation in the walls, which old houses generally don’t have. It has double-pane windows and energy-efficient appliances.”
Almost as remarkable as the home is the landscaping. When they moved in, Texas was in a severe drought. And since they were starting from scratch with no landscaping, they decided to put in water-saving plants.
They hired Oak Cliff-based Picture Perfect Landscaping to put in the xeriscape design Guenther envisioned. And they put in a vegetable garden, which the homeowners use in their cooking almost every day.
They put in a crushed-granite driveway to blend in with the landscape of native plants.
“It’s really porous, so we don’t need any drainage, and it was actually the cheapest option for a new driveway,” Guenther says.
Their home was on the Dallas Water Wise Garden Tour last year.
“Everyone who came through the water wise tour thought our house was old,” he says.