Spend More Than a Night at The Museum: 8181 Douglas Lets You Live in Your Own Art Gallery

The axis of 8181 Douglas’s U-shaped Unit 210

Between explaining the housing crunch (here, here), flooding, new Pink Wall development, Dallas Midtown, and of course the latest in the mayor’s Fair Park friends-with-benefits giveaway, I’ve been on a tear these past few weeks. It’s time to break free with a little party, and unit 210 at 8181 Douglas definitely provides the balloons (you’ll see).

You may recall, 8181 Douglas was part of my recent high-rise buyers guide series. At just 14 units, it’s the tallest and smallest high-rise in Dallas.  If you want a whole floor it’s 7,125 square feet. Otherwise, there are two units per floor that start at a pinch over 2,000 square feet and end up at around 4,472 square feet (Note: there is one ground-floor unit that’s 1,349 square feet).

You see, while whole floors are easy, the remaining floors divided up their space differently, sometimes producing two units of equal size or … not.  And no, the two units on any floor do not add up to 7, 125 square feet, because the whole floors get the “public” hallway space. Tip: north-facing units end in “20” while the “10” units face south.

Exterior. “10” units are left, “20” units are right

Unit 210 is currently listed with Sharon Quist from Dave Perry-Miller for $1.75 million and contains two bedrooms with two full and two half bathrooms across 4,472 square feet.  HOA dues are $2,918 per month or $0.65 per square foot. Quist is the latest agent to market this property that’s been for sale since 2015 when it was listed at $2.5 million.  Sure, price was an issue, but also, people just don’t look for luxury housing in Preston Center. More’s the pity when you see this home … especially if you see it the same day you tour the full-floor unit 800 listed with Allie Beth Allman herself for $2.9 million, that apparently never met a zebra print or swag curtain it didn’t like.

Unit 210 is definitely modern and definitely for art lovers. The unit is maximized for wall space without sacrificing the windows that are so important in a high-rise. In fact, you know it’s something special from the hallway. At the front door there’s a display of rotating cards (think a mechanical Rolodex) showing birds that appear to take flight before your eyes. Tip: it’s fragile, don’t stick your finger in it (it wasn’t me).

When you enter the unit, it’s definitely unexpected.  White grid work walls, polished concrete and museum lighting make you wonder if you’ve entered a special exhibit at the DMA.  Between the door and that large canvas is a hidden door leading to one of two half baths. Notice the recessed baseboards offering a subtle signpost that you’re not in Plano anymore.

Floor plan-wise, it will help you to think of the unit as being U-shaped.  The entry is at the top of the right side.  The “public” living areas are on the right side of the U with the kitchen at the bottom before rounding the corner to the more private, family parts of the home.

The living room floats on many levels.  Sure, there’s the artwork suspended on strings, but there’s also a floating, ventless fireplace that you can completely walk around. It’s the mantle you want without the chimney breast blocking the view.  Finally, pay attention to the recessed ceiling with its floating lattice.  While it looks interesting in pictures, trust me, it’s fabulous.  In several places, the owner cut out a portion of the ceiling drywall, exposing the underlying mechanical pipes and such, painted it all black and installed a mahogany lattice.  It’s a box-in-a-box feeling that adds height to an already tall room.  It adds a whole multi-level vibe to the home … which isn’t easy in a high-rise.

Backing up a little you see the open concept of this home.  The photographer is standing in the open kitchen that connects the living areas.  Remember I promised you balloons? Well, there they are — 49 blown glass balloons arranged in a 7-by-7 grid, playing off the ceiling recesses. From this angle, you also get the feel for the length of the windows and the treehouse views.

I have wondered more than once why anyone buys a lower floor unit in a high-rise.  It seems to negate the experience of being in a high-rise.  That said, I think there can be a sweet spot when you’re at tree height.  The feeling of being in a forest is primal and childlike.

The kitchen is as you’d expect.  There’s everything you need to whip up a romantic dinner for two or for the caterers’ culinary ballet for 50 guests. I love that sculpture on the counter.  You should have seen folks flock around them when I said they were the largest salt and pepper shakers I’d seen. They’re not, but it was a pretty good joke.

There’s access to the patio beyond the breakfast peninsula. Regardless of whether you want to eat outside or inside, formal or casual, the kitchen is well placed. Fido even has his own access to the patio through a doggy door.

If it’s a high-rise, you know I’m out on the patio. At around 10 feet deep, there’s plenty of space for a table and chairs and a chaise to relax on. The serene pool is just below you. While this may be a cause for noise concerns, in a building with 14 units, you’re more likely to see the pool boy than a neighbor.

Continuing around the U, there’s a tremendous office complete with fireplace and the second bedroom.  But it’s the family room that’s another unexpected space in high-rises. This is where the more informal action happens … where you’re invited if you’re cozy with the owner.  The single-purpose (and thus rarely used) media room fad is passing. Hopefully this will signal a return of the good, old-fashioned family room and its multi-purpose possibilities.

The master suite can’t be called small. It’s a large space with its own fireplace (right edge of picture), recessed ceiling and plenty of space for your collections.  Of course, I’d be remiss not calling attention to the motorized shades throughout the home.

Sure, there’s a cavernous closet full of custom cabinetry that will make any Prada mule weep, but the master bathroom … wow.  Another thing to be sure to write into your purchase contract is the secret source of those glass spears (the owner’s keeping those).  They really make the space like no gift shop Mona Lisa ever could. Imagine showering (as I never imagine bathing) in the glass box and while you’re rinsing and repeating, you catch that sculpture out of the corner of your eye.  You can go back to bed because that’s the best your day is going to get.

How good of a deal might unit 210 be?  The full-floor unit 800, listed with Allie Beth Allman, is asking $407 per square foot and it’ll need work … unless you’re a fan of outdated antique European design.  Last year’s only sale garnered $217 per square foot, but it’s in the process of being gutted … and at what cost?  At around $391 per foot, unit 210’s meticulous renovation seems to be in the move-in ready ballpark. Considering dumbo DCAD’s sub-$1 million value, and their laziness in reassessing units in this building (go look), you know the home’s priced well.


Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement.  If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.