When I spotted this Bluffview estate at 5131 Shadywood Lane, I thought it was one of those iconic homes that had been built almost a century ago. However, according to the listing information, it was built in 2007. I didn’t believe it. I went to DCAD to see if maybe that was the year it was renovated and there was a mistake in the listing information.
There was no mistake. But it’s definitely not the same house that was built in 2007. Seriously, look at that façade. Then take a look at the second photo, and you’ll see what I mean. That’s some serious updating.
When you sell any home today, you need to be smart, serious, motivated, and surround yourself with the best possible team of professionals. That’s particularly true for luxury homes. So often, sellers don’t do a darned thing, and luxury estates sit forever with their taste-specific dated wallpapers and bold colors. Unless a luxury property has some historical appeal that warrants dark cabinetry and wallpaper, today’s buyer wants a fresh, updated 2017 look. And that is what owner Mark Giambrone accomplished.
When he bought the Bluffview estate in 2012, it suited his needs. With 13,305 square feet, five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, two powder baths and — let me catch my breath — a library, movie theater, playroom, wine cellar, and a pool, it was pretty darned perfect. There was also plenty of room for his art collection. Three kids later, it was time to make a change, and Giambrone knew it was also time to freshen up his gorgeous Bluffview estate.
“He wanted it to be the best of what people want in a luxury estate today,” Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s listing agent Caroline Summers said. “People are spending money but are more careful than ever, and they’re not buying outdated homes. He took a well-built house and made the quality even better. It’s now a true transitional classic home that will stand the test of time.”
What I love about this guy is he not only knew what had to happen to bring this house into a new era, he listened to the professionals.
Giambrone started the updates with a museum Level 5 finish on the walls. You may think you’ve seen Level 5 finish. In a museum, maybe, but seldom do you see this in a home and it will knock your socks off.
Then he called Summers who in turn called Caroyln Isler of Isler Homes. This group makes me want to weep with joy. A smart seller with great taste, a brilliant Realtor with great taste, and a sensitive, intelligent, third-generation builder with great taste. This dream team collaborated on bringing the estate into today’s modern luxury market and boy, have they succeeded.
Over the summer, Isler reworked the façade into a timeless look. Remember it’s what had me fooled into thinking it was built in the 1920s, not 2007.
“We wanted to edit the exterior and give it more classic clean lines,” Isler said.” We do a lot of work in the Park Cities renovating old homes. So, we tried to take the look of those homes that have been there since the 1920’s and think about why they look timeless.”
Isler took that visual information and translated it into what would become the new look of this Bluffview estate.
“The biggest issue was the ornate cast stone on the home,” Isler said. “The architectural embellishments dated the house. It was not in keeping with a classic stately look.”
Isler replaced a lot of the ornate stone with brick. For instance, the corners of the arches had rococo styling. They were removed and replaced with clean panels. This may seem simple, but it’s not. Brick has to be replaced from the foundation up. That means the structure has to be supported throughout the process. And the landscaping has to be protected. Isler had boxes built around established hedges so an errant piece of cast iron would not fall and do any damage. She also removed the evergreens by the entry that detracted from the front of the house.
“We cleaned up the exterior,” Isler said. “We opened up the overgrown landscaping and simplified it so you could see the full potential of the yard.”
The other enormous aspect of updating the exterior was that pink brick. Summers, fortunately, has not only inherited her mother’s good taste, she also has her mom on tap for all things design related. For those of you that are new to Dallas, Caroline’s mom is Emily Summers, president and CEO of Emily Summers Design Associates, and without a doubt one of the most talented and respected interior designers in America. She also has the best eye for getting paint color exactly right that I’ve ever seen. Creating a white that appears as if it has been painted that color for a century is not easy. “What people don’t realize about paint color is how hard it is to select the right white,” Summers said.
The exterior was made to look timeless, but the interior is another story. It was brought into 2017 with the same skill and grace as the exterior.
“The house has amazing bones it is very well built,” Isler said.
She renovated and updated the kitchen turning it into the light, bright space today’s buyer wants. The original cabinets were stained a dark color. There were gold and brown granite countertops, and the backsplash was tumbled stone. Isler modified the kitchen cabinets, painted them, and replaced the countertops and backsplashes. She also added 500 square feet of slab marble
It’s a huge house, but the original builder knew this Bluffview estate would be a family home. After all, the location is in prime private school territory on over an acre of land. There’s plenty of room for tag football games and lacrosse practice. If you want to add a tennis court, it’s not going to impinge on either of those activities.
“It’s big, but it lives like a small house, and that’s important,” Summers said. “The bedrooms are close together. The layout works perfectly for a family and also for the most sophisticated entertaining because every bit of the downstairs flows beautifully. It’s a true transitional, a classic home that will stand the test of time.”
Summers is right. Whether you have modern taste or traditional, this house is going to work. You can hang 18th century art or contemporary art, furnish it with antiques, transitional pieces, or extreme modern furniture. It has the bones, and now it has the important modern amenities.
“It’s basically a new house,” Summer said.
If you want an up-close-and-personal look at this $6.995 million Bluffview estate, give Summers a call. Her phone has been ringing off the hook!
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