Even though the Dallas real estate market is scorching hot, Jenni Stolarski and her wife, Val Haskell, are soon going to be living in a box down by the river.
And it’s entirely by choice, too.
You see, for a long time, the couple lived in Oak Cliff’s Kings Highway neighborhood in a large, 2,000-square-foot home, and yet really only used half of that space. Jenni and Val, who have worked on flipping some amazing properties in Oak Cliff, were always on the lookout for the home that would really fit them like a calfskin glove: cozy yet comfortable, and always stylish, of course.
“We realized, you know, that we’re just two people. We really don’t need that much space,” Jenni said. “We wanted a 1,200-square-foot house with tall ceilings and lots of windows, but we could never find a combination of those features.”
Then one day, Val got an out-of-the-blue call from Jenni.
“She said, ‘I found our next house,’ and I said, ‘Sure!’ ” And that was that for the couple. The 1,200-square-foot former mechanic’s garage was shortly under contract, and that’s where the real adventure began. Val, who works as a project manager for their real estate ventures, said that they had their work cut out for them.
For years, this building, which Val and Jenni lovingly refer to as “The Box,” was a catch-all for the owner. Boxes and boxes and shelves upon shelves of unused ephemera were lining the walls and covering the floor. Plus, the only HVAC the building had was a haphazard window unit.
“We love turning raw space into something beautiful,” Jenni said. “When we finish it out, we’re looking for ways to honor what it once was.”
Part of that includes making this building a live/work space, with an office area and half bath in the front of the building, which will maintain its stark commercial facade. There will be full-glass roll-up garage bay doors in front, and the living space will be behind two sliding barn doors. Once past the doors, it’s the living/kitchen/dining areas, which will all be bathed in light from eastern and southern exposures, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling commercial-grade windows.
In the kitchen, Jenni plans a mix of industrial and classical fixtures, with toolboxes storing much of their kitchen supplies, a large stainless steel commercial sink, and beautiful marble counters. The floors will remain sealed concrete, too.
Personally, I was having a hard time envisioning how this project would look when finished. It’s such a departure from the beautiful Tudors and craftsman homes Val and Jenni have transformed from beastly into beautiful. Jenni, though, knew this was the right house for them the moment she saw it. As it turns out, she’s not alone.
“I can’t tell you how many people whom I’ve told what we’re doing have said, ‘Oh my goodness! Do you have another! I want one! That’s my vision!’ ” Jenni said.
Of course, considering the location and unobstructed views of downtown, we can see how this property would inspire that kind of adulation. And not only are the views fantastic, but the backyard is enormous. There are several condo developments nearby, with some mid-rise buildings just across the street from their box, and newer condos and apartments down the road. Of course, make no mistake, this property is still near a very heavily commercial area, with large trucks moving steel and gravel just a stone’s throw behind their property. To Jenni and Val, though, that’s a small sacrifice to make.
Stay tuned to see more photos of this incredible transformation when it’s complete!