Stephan Sardone did not arrive at his career in home renovation by direct route.
The Flower Mound native headed to graduate school with the intention of earning his masters, then traveling to Papua, New Guinea, to work with indigenous tribes and translate their native languages, as well as aid with microfinance projects and community development.
Now, with two masters degrees in hand, he performs a different kind of community work: helping Dallas homeowners translate their vision for a home remodel into reality.
The transition started with a side business during his undergrad days. Sardone was an eager student with an entrepreneurial spirit and a knack for laying tile. It lasted into his graduate school days, and he drove around in a minivan, filled to the brim with tiles, and took on clients under the name Tile Fast.
“Tile Fast was never supposed to go anywhere, it was just supposed to teach me business and such, but then it turned into kitchen remodeling, then into full-scale remodeling,” he said. “It took about six months after I graduated to realize I was going to stay in the business because I really liked it.”
He changed the name of his company to Sardone Construction in 2010 and has earned accolades as his reputation has grown for creating smart and efficient designs that maximize space in a truly beautiful way.
The most important thing is to do really high quality work, have high standards, and give our clients a good experience,” he said.
Translating what’s in a client’s head to real design elements is indeed a true skill. Many people think they know what they want but can’t quite describe it, or only have a vague idea of where they want to get started.
“I have a very specific homework that I give to the people who engage us before we ever meet,” Sardone said. “Some of that starts to get them thinking, by putting together an ideabook on Houzz, to get them focused on what they like, what they don’t, and why. Sometimes, they’ll say they like traditional [elements], and then they pick all these modern fixtures out.”
Sardone says his job involves lots of listening and discernment.
“I’m here to help advise and consult,” he said. “If I ask them good questions and focus the thinking, a lot more can come to the surface.”
The biggest question is how a client wants to use the space. One of Sardone’s core convictions is that clients don’t have to move or expand to get exactly what they want from their home.
“No matter the size of the home, we can find the smartest and most efficient design,” he said. “Forget the square footage: let’s lay out a list of priorities and talk about what we’re going to put in the house. Everything fits around those priorities in a way that’s appropriate.”
A recent project that let Sardone shine is the complete renovation of a midcentury 1,320-square-foot ranch-style house in the L-Streets in Lake Highlands. He now lives in the house with his wife and it serves double duty as a contractor showcase to show potential clients just what is possible.
“We essentially demolished its entire insides and redesigned it into an open concept that maximized every inch of the home,” he said. “We were able to fit three full bedrooms and three full beds—and the master bath is really large—as well as an incredible open living space and nice-sized kitchen.”
Sardone partnered with Larry Paschall of HPD Architecture in Oak Lawn. Together, they concepted a total overhaul that included moving all interior walls, changing the layout of the space, and creating a vaulted ceiling with wood beams by pushing out a gable on the roof.
“We have an excellent working relationship with them and share the same vision of producing both building and design work that excites our clients,” he said.
Keeping clients in their current home and maximizing space is Sardone’s mantra.
“The trend I would like to see fade is the one where homeowners feel they have to move to get the home they want. Renovating your current footprint is way better!,” he said. “I like to see people living in a home they made their own, rather than having to pony up more cash and move into someone else’s.”
Clearly, that sentiment resonates with clients. The year is off to a strong start for Sardone Construction.
“We hit the ground running, taking on full home renovations, as well as kitchen and master bathroom renovations,” he said. “We tend to attract intelligent, creative, and savvy clients who value smart and efficient design.”
He’s currently at work in the L Streets in Lake Highlands again that has him enthusiastic.
“We are starting new construction on Linkwood Drive that, once it’s done, will be one of the best value homes on the Dallas market this year,” he said. “It’ll have lots of cool stuff like energy efficient products, smart lighting inside and out, brand-new-to-the-market finish materials being used in new ways, and gorgeous design.”
As a Dallas native, Sardone has a strong opinion of the area.
“My heart is here in Dallas. The people, the community, the food, wine, beer, dog parks, the skyline…want me to go on? I met my beautiful wife here and recently rescued my dog on a jobsite in Dallas,” he said. “The business community is great: they’re generous and interested in what you’re doing. It’s strong and built on good values.”
Dallas appears to love him back: he recently won a Best of Houzz 2015 Service Award (his second), and has also earned Readers Choice for Best Remodeler awards in 2011 and 2012, as well as being voted number-one handyman by the Dallas Voice.
This is all quite a journey for the guy who planned to be living in a part of New Guinea where the most advanced piece of technology was a machete. But maybe there is a common thread.
Sardone explained: “We work to improve the quality of life for people and construction happens to be our vehicle.”