Thursday, July 28, 2011

Staircase Renovation

The renovated stair with a new balustrade by John Tackett Design compliments the original style of the house.  The custom stencilled decorative painting was executed by the late Robert Jackson and his crew.
Photo by Pieter Estersohn.
As a continuation of the series of posts on the house in Volk Estates, University Park, Dallas, the improvements for the main staircase in the Entrance Hall are presented here.  Although the house was built in the Tudor Revival style in 1934, it had been remodelled in the 1950s with many of the original details replaced by more modern and eclectic features.  The Fifties iron stair balustrade was the first thing noticed on entering the house, and it was the feature at the top of the list that the new owners were most eager to change.
A BEFORE view of the Fifties balustrade showing the new oak handrail.
Photo by John Tackett Design.
New wood balusters, newel and handrail were designed to compliment the architecture and comply with safety requirements.  The curve of the stairs was continued above, with the floor opening altered and a curved second floor partition added to redefine the space.
An IN PROGRESS view showing the new balustrade and the altered floor opening to continue the curve.
Photo by John Tackett Design.
These changes led to a reconstruction of the entrance to the second floor bedroom located above the main entrance.  Although the bedroom had an attractive triple exposure, the original locations of the doors prevented a comfortable placement of furniture.  The new plan proposed by John Tackett Design shown below was realized, relocating the entrance to a large walk-through closet that also provided acess to an adjacent second guest bathroom and guest bedroom (not shown).

The Proposed Plan of the renovated second floor Stair Hall and the Guest Bedroom.
Drawing by John Tackett Design.

On the exterior, the unique original oriel window of Douglas fir, copper, and leaded glass placed against the exterior wall of random Texas fieldstone and diaper-patterned brick makes the house memorable.  The original architect was Clyde H. Griesenbeck, noted for his picturesque Tudor manors in both University Park and adjacent Highland Park.

An Exterior view of the main entrance with the Guest Bedroom above.

The 2008 book THE HOMES OF THE PARK CITIES, DALLAS:  GREAT AMERICAN SUBURBS may be purchased through The Devoted Classicist Library at a discount of 37% off the published price and the option of free shipping by clicking here.


  1. As a local resident, I expected to see some reports of drownings after the waves of envy swept Dallas after the completion of your improvements to this house! This entrance hall is so beautifully appropriate!

  2. Wonderful. I hope folks click on the pictures to enlarge them. I'm always grateful to see a plan. What do you mean by "triple exposure?"

    "Memorable exterior" is an understatement. Wow.

    Personally: When I saw the picture of the stair it seemed familiar so I ran to our modest stair to compare. I'm happy to report that ours is similar though far less refined: white riser, natural tread, understated molding, solid carpet. It makes me appreciate Bill, Susan, and Gordon who knew our stair would look good that way.

  3. Thank you for the compliment, D.D. It was satisfying that the uniqueness of the finished house was so appreciated.

  4. Terry, by triple exposure I referred to that bedroom having a window on three sides of the room, a true asset in the days before air-conditioning. But it is also a benefit today by providing natural light. All the principle rooms of the original house had at least two exposures, a feature I incorporate in new house design today.

  5. I have known this house since I was a kid. Located on a big lot in the original Volk Estates and so simplified on the interior, I was glad when your clients bought it and renovated rather than razing it. Also, I am glad the stone and brick exterior was not painted as is common in the Park Cities "redo's". I wish the picture showed your very sensitive additions to both sides of the original house, though.

  6. Bob, you are correct that too many houses in University Park and Highland Park have painted the masonry, giving a bland coating to massing that was intended to show rich variation. Because of the lushness of the new landscaping, it is not possible to get back far enough for an unobstructed view of the front of the house now. But thanks for the compliment for the additions.

  7. I like the renovated staircase, great work!

  8. M.L.H.B., thanks. I know you have seen many while choosing interesting properties for your blog.

  9. Dear Lord! Do you mean that Robert Jackson.....(I knew and admired him greatly!) worked for you and these clients on this house? How many years ago did you begin? (sorry, not asking your age! I have worked for some clients 40 years! It's a good thing!)



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