I have had a love affair with this Preston Hollow French chateau at 5939 Deloache Avenue longer than I can remember. It began a couple of years after it was built in 1985. I was a photography stylist scouting locations for Neiman Marcus. The directive was to find the most beautiful French estate possible for a Christmas catalog shoot. We were advertising, of all things, bright red trash bags with the Neiman’s logo emblazoned on them — in which to ostensibly dispose of your Christmas wrapping paper. A uniformed butler was to hold the bag gingerly on the steps of the chateau. So off I went to scout.
It seemed a tall order to find a French chateau in Dallas. Remember it was the ‘80s. But I did find this stunner, and with great trepidation rang the bell. A woman answered in a head scarf and house coat. I thought she must be the maid but no, I’d struck gold, and this was the very down-to-earth, proud homeowner.
Not only was she intrigued by my request, but she also invited me in for an afternoon of story-telling. She and her husband had built the home based on chateaux they’d toured during their many trips to France. She’d taken endless photographs and done reams of research to create her dream home. And it is indeed a dream home. There is nothing more exciting than building the house you have spent years planning and plotting. Her love for this house was palpable.
We got our shot, and the home went on to be the scene for more photo shoots than I can count. Another project I scouted for resulted in the facade of the home being used as the cover image of a board game by Parker Brothers called “Mystery Mansion.” It’s still available on eBay for only $89.95. Don’t I wish I’d kept a copy!
The estate continued to be featured in countless magazines and catalogs when it changed hands and was purchased by Ralph and Bonnie Purvis. You can still get a copy of interior designer Betty Lou Phillip’s book Unmistakably French featuring the estate. The dramatic entry staircase is on the cover although the gold floral embellishments have since been removed.
Having toured my fair share of chateaux, this one is indeed unmistakably French. The original owner delighted in telling me she’d designed the layout of bedrooms with historical accuracy and discretion. One guest cannot see the door to another bedroom. They are on a curve to ensure an impromptu midnight visit goes unseen. Those French!
Purvis hired the incredibly talented Gillian Bradshaw-Smith to create what must be the loveliest powder room in the world. What looks like Delft tile is in fact trompe l’oeil painting.
The Purvis family sold the home in 2005, so it has only had three owners, always a bonus.
Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s Realtor Penny Cook has the property listed for $4.425 million. From my perch, this is the best block in town, and that’s a terrific price knowing what’s gone into this home. Of course, you can always continue to offset your mortgage with those lovely photography location fees!
Not only is the house absolute perfection, but the neighborhood also boasts just a few names you may know. We’re not telling, but any guide to Deloache Avenue, if it existed, would be a Who’s Who of Dallas.
I could tell you stories for days about this home, but let’s get down to the brass tacks. The house is three stories of luxury living with a guest house so nice you had better take care who you invite as they won’t leave. The formals are breathtakingly beautiful, and the breakfast room, overlooking the grounds may be one of the happiest spots on earth.
“It’s very livable and charming,” Cook said. “It’s not a predictable square box that looks like every other house.” Thank goodness. It’s refreshing to see a home decorated in a distinctive style, with a rich character.
There are five living areas, four bedrooms, six bathrooms and two powder baths. There are also five fireplaces, another truly French characteristic.
If you are touring the home, don’t overlook one of my favorite spots, the ladies master dressing room. It’s beyond words. I’d never leave it — if I had someone to bring me a steady stream of champagne that is.
The chateau is absolute French perfection, but the grounds — ooh la la.
There is nothing like this in Dallas. It’s not overdone; it’s exactly right. From the pool and the wrap-around terrace with a wood-burning fireplace, to the outdoor kitchen and formal gardens, you want to sit and drink in the atmosphere and never leave.
From its inception, this house has been a story of love. Love of architecture, design, style, and a love of the true French chateau.
There is truly nothing like it.
Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager for more than 25 years. She’s been a professional writer for 20 years. Karen is the mother of a son who’s studying music at The University of Miami. An ardent animal lover, she doesn’t mind one bit if your fur baby jumps right into her lap. Find Karen at www.eubankstaging.com