Azalea Residence – Dallas, Texas

Bob Borson —  March 2, 2011 — 26 Comments

Today I thought I would showcase one of my projects.


drystack stone modern interior

This house was completed in 2008 and was a unique project for us. In this case, our client was actually the developer and general contractor – ArtHouse Homes. For those of you who aren’t from the Dallas area, there is a lot of speculative middle to high-end residential that is traditional in style. This developer sought to fill a gap that he perceived – that basically modern residential projects weren’t readily available in this price point … I for one think he is onto something.

Are traditional styles homes what people want and as a result that is what the speculative market delivers? I think so to a very large degree – people shop and choose from the houses that are for sale. Realtors have an easier time selling something that looks familiar and end up pushing the market towards tradition style development. I have overly-simplified this description but I still think it’s true. In 2008 when this project finished and sold, the residential market started going south so we haven’t continued running this theory up the flagpole. The properties that ArtHouse Homes developed all sold and were not victims to the glut of residential product available so I am hopeful that we will continue developing these sorts of projects.


drystack stone modern exterior

I have written about ArtHouse homes before and the process we went through during the design phase. Despite this project being developed speculatively, we still created a fictional user and program to help organize priorities and drive decisions. I really like this house and think that it would be a pleasant home to live in – which is always a sort of internal criteria I have when working on projects like this one.


drystack stone modern exterior

A major feature on the exterior is the dry-stacked stone on the base of the house. Stone is a material we felt would properly ground this project considering its linear presentation to the street but the construction technique of the dry-stack stone helps bring the scale of the elevation down and I think reduce some of the visual weight of the massing.


drystack stone modern exterior patio dining porch


drystack stone modern exterior

Another feature that is common in our work are exterior living spaces. We go to great lengths to organize the plans so that we can collect the typical wasted side yard spaces and make them into usable spaces – either by extending an interior view out into the yard or by creating an actual exterior room.


modern interior Dallas architecture Eames chair


modern interior Dallas Architecture open living room kitchen


modern kitchen Dallas large island wood floors

I wrote a post on the Top 10 Modern Kitchen Design Trends and I can’t believe I didn’t think to use this photo considering how many of the items from my list are represented here. (Look! No pendants over the island – ooooohhh).

I hope you like this project as much as I do, I would love to hear what you think. Cheers!


The project team consisted of:

Architects: Bernbaum Magadini Architects

General Contractor: ArtHouse Homes

all photos ©Charles Davis Smith




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  • Ryan Carpico

    Great looking place, Bob. While I can see the modernist ideals in this home, I’d say that it’s marketability is strong because it doesn’t stray too far from the traditional on the exterior. The gable roof and stacked stone keep it feeling like it belongs in an established mid-century modern neighborhood. The interior is gorgeous, and definitely modern, and the overall detailing does set it apart.

    I also don’t think you overly-simplified the reasoning behind market-driven traditional style developments. It IS just that simple – the masses want ‘safe’ homes with a broad market for resale. Yeah, they might go a little modern on the inside, but by and large, the majority of home buyers want to fit in, not stand out. (Okay, so affordability plays into it a little, as the perception is that modern cost more – must be all that glass and attention to detail.) I do think more modern and contemporary spec homes on the market would sell, especially to younger buyers. And as the younger generations, the Gen X-ers and especially the Gen Y-ers, continue to gain home buying power, modern homes may become more ‘trusted’ and thus more marketable. Until then, though, the developers will plan and build to their market studies. It’s a shame because the work ArtHouse Homes, and other like-minded, design-oriented developers, are doing is refreshing and encouraging – I’d just love to see it happen more often.

    • Bob Borson


      I keep having this conversation with some of the contractors we work with but most think with their wallets and not their guts – something I can appreciate. Slowly I think we will get there.


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  • Marcela Abadi Rhoads

    Very nice!!! glad your are showing us some of your work…I thought all you did was Blog
    In all seriousness, I also really like Charles photos! Great job Bob!

    • Bob Borson

      Thanks Marcela,

      Chuck’s got some skill doesn’t he? And he’s a nice guy on top of all that.

  • Jeromy Murphy

    Beautiful! Nice work.
    I find it interesting that contemporary and modern dominates the Houston innerloop townhome construction, but once you move out to the suburbs, it’s all traditional. The silver lining is that more and more modern design is sneaking it’s way into the interiors. Many of those traditional suburban boxes have sleek contemporary kitchens or modern living areas hidden within.

    • Bob Borson


      I think you are right. That’s a pattern that we see emerging as well. The house will have one personality on the inside and a completely different one on the outside.

      thanks for commenting

  • Tonia

    Bob, lovely work! Now when I save a few coins I’ll be calling you to revamp my 50s ranch

    • Bob Borson


      You should, we specialize in revamping 50’s ranch-style houses! I know you will nail the interior – can you imagine how great the photography would look? One a different note, think of someone who might need the ‘Lamps of Lost Souls’. I think their days are numbered.


      • Daniel

        Hi Bob, I’ve been following you through twitter for some time now. I didn’t know your firm specializes in revamping ranch-style houses? That is great! I am about to close on a ’74 ranch house with plans to renovate/update and add that texas modern feel to it. Where can I see photographs for your revamping projects on ranch-style houses? Thanks.

  • Cooper Smith Koch

    Beautiful home. And I think you’re completely correct, the speculative market and the realtors advising the builders are so conservative in pushing the same traditional thing over and over again. Modern doesn’t sell because there’s none of it to buy!

    Unfortunately, the only homes that you find with a modern sensibility always tend to be very expensive (look at Kessler Woods, for example).

    • Bob Borson


      I knew I couldn’t be the only one who thought that if there were other modern homes on the market, people would buy them. That style – both it’s appearance and the lifestyle it conveys – is so pervasive in other aspects of our lives that it just seems difficult to imagine that people wouldn’t want this sort of soft contemporary house.

      I think attitudes are changing, it’s just a little slow in coming. Thanks for taking time to comment – I appreciate it.

  • David Mathias

    Love the interiors, Bob. Beautiful and inviting.

  • Richard

    I like what I see. The interior to exterior transformation comes across well enough. I like the mix between the modern style with natural products…I’m a sucker for stone work. Nice job Bob…

  • Small Town

    Very clean and crisp. The photography is amazing on these projects.

  • Brenda Lynn

    I love this one, Bob, it is stunningly beautiful. Good job, yet again.

    Brenda Lynn

    • Bob Borson

      Thanks Brenda – feel free to leave comments all the time!

  • Damian Trostinetzky


    First I want to tell you that the house looks great. The only thing that in my mind is not very well achieved is that there is no connection in the language between the exterior and the interior and I think it’s a missed oportunity there.

    Sorry if I’m blunt sometimes, I don’t suscribe to political correctness.

    • Bob Borson


      No worries – I understand what you mean – your comment on the Life of an Architect Facebook fan page made sense. One thing that might help explain some of the interior/exterior connections are some pictures that I didn’t post. The landscape wasn’t fully in (or installed yet) and we went to some lengths to mask that fact.

      As far as the appearance of the interior, I like it although we didn’t choose the furnishings. Despite living in Dallas, I don’t think any of our clients have wagon wheel tables of barbed-wire picture frames. But I could be wrong as well :)

  • Greg

    I like this home very much. I agree that the stock of more modern/contemporary styles needs to be boosted, as the experience of ArtHouse shows. I think that look is particularly well suited to the Texas landscape and am glad Dallas is breaking out of the conservative mold in housing.

    • Bob Borson


      This process has been really slow in developing but to my very pleasant surprise, we have modern style developments popping up around town. I don’t have a problem with traditional homes, in fact, I rather like them – but this has more to do with having choices I think.


  • Ryan Fasan

    I’ve often pondered along a similar bent in relation to speculative realty. I’d love to find out how fast this elegant habitat moved in relation to comparables in the area. Kudos to you and your client Bob, for stepping outside the crown-moulding & shaker cabinet box.

    This is a beautiful home with simple & refined lines. I understand the whole monolithic floor installation thing but I’m really looking forward to North America moving away from hardwood in the kitchen.

    Thanks for sharing Bob. As usual it’s progressive, thought provoking and beautiful!

    • Bob Borson

      Thanks Ryan, I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

      I can probably count on my fingers the number of kitchens that had tile floors in the kitchen. I’ve used cork once before – looked great and the client requested it but they complained about it’s maintenance with their active lifestyle (re: dogs).

      With large format tiles becoming more available and more cost effective, I think you may live to see your wish come true!

  • Kerrie

    Beautiful house, nice project & photography! I swear, Chuck could shoot a pothole & make it look good, couldn’t he!? He did an exceptional job bringing out the stonework on this house…stunning!

    • Bob Borson

      Thanks Kerrie! Chuck is a good photographer and a good guy, I’m glad we get to use him on our projects.