By Chas Fitzgerald and Jackson Hammack | Photos by Jeanine Michna-Bales
Boarded up and foreclosed, this was literally the worst house in a sociable and attractive neighborhood in the Oak Cliff area. The interesting, oversized lot looked toward woodland. That sort of lot is rare in Dallas. So we bought the house and remade it. The kitchen, interior board walls, fireplace and entry tile, and front door are new, not to mention the garden areas.
Before, the house had smallish rooms, a terrible floor plan, and low ceilings. It did have grouped windows at the corners, which we repeated in additions. We emphasized the original rustic rafter tails. A low wall that creates a porch at the entry has cruciform openings in the brick, and we used that original detail as a motif for embossed tiles in a fireplace and at the front door.
The brick façade is original, albeit with new windows custom-made to reproduce the horizontal pattern in the original steel windows. Original hardwoods remain. In the vintage blue-tile bathroom, we simply refaced cabinets.
What was once a crawl space has been converted: Our carpenter devised a way to gain seven extra inches of headroom by removing a structural cross beam and steel support pole and sistering the existing 2 x 6 floor joists. Split-level living space was the big reward for some basic reframing of the floor above.
The old, attached garage was converted to a wonderful new kitchen. The 1960s glazed bricks behind the stove, some repainted, came from landscape beds at our previous house. With small collections of pottery, books, and paintings, rooms have a nice, serene feeling. But the best room in the house is more-or-less outside: the screened porch.
In Texas, a covered porch, properly oriented, gets plenty of use. Our house has become the favorite venue at Thanksgiving because we can seat two parties, one in the dining area and the second in the porch. The kitchen island is set as a buffet. We have both fireplaces blazing.