Interior designer Lynn Rush does not like the ordinary, in her life, her design, or her homes. That’s one reason why she is one of the few, rare designers with foresight and, well, the guts to do something few would try in Texas, or anywhere: build a black house that is 100% sustainable.
Her home at 14651 Winnwood in Addison, listed by Coldwell Banker’s Valerie Van Pelt, is created of dark plaster walls on the exterior that are slowly, carefully being enveloped by swaths of lush green ivy. I have never seen anything quite like it. That same green ivy, though, could just as easily be trimmed back. And the house could be painted stark white. No need, really: though the house is entirely black on the exterior, it earned highest LEED Platinum certification and can actually give more energy back to the grid than it takes.
And lest you think a home of this color, perched on a coveted luxurious residential street in Addison — Emmitt Smith lives up the block — sticks out like a sore gardener’s thumb in a sea of beige Mediterraneans, McMansions and McModerns, you would be wrong. The home, all one story, retains a low profile and dissolves seamlessly into a backdrop of native plantings.
Really, this is a home you would see in the Texas Hill Country, or Austin.
It really is one of the most incredible homes I have seen in a long time. In fact, it reminded me of a stunning $9 million rammed earth home Lake Flato design I saw last week in Henderson, Nevada: gorgeous, green and dark!
The architects for 14651 Winnwood are Yen Ong and Paul Merrill of 5G Studio, who say they “envisioned a solid black mass within an enclosed garden.” Interesting.
“We challenged the idea that Texas is so hot, you cannot have anything other than light-colored stucco.” Yen Ong said in the Dwell Magazine article about this home this past January.
Built by Robert Hopson, the home has a geothermal heat pump, solar roof panels, and complete rainwater harvesting for the .7 acre property, all which helped the project achieve LEED Platinum status, the very highest.
The landscape architect was David Hocker. He delivered a “lush, colorful yard full of texture” to his client who wanted it all, but with very limited use of water in order to achieve that LEED rating. How he did it: masses of native and drought-tolerant grasses, trees, and flowering shrubs, with a cistern to collect rainwater for re-use. Beyond the large west patio and outdoor kitchen, a lawn of zoysia grass offers a place to stroll or play croquet. There is a lowered fire pit area, and tall, 50 plus year old oak and walnut trees, trimmed with Yaupon Hollies, completely block out the neighbor’s behind. Three cattle troughs have been re-purposed as raised fruit and vegetable beds, seedlings from which are then planted in the property’s greenhouse. The home is a study in native, drought-tolerant landscaping mimicking White Rock Creek Park, the conservation greenbelt directly across the street:
Inland sea oats provide the framework for the landscape, starting at the property’s outer woodland edge and transitioning into hardy buffalo grass. Punctuated by flowering perennials, red yucca for evergreen, and redbud and Mexican plum trees for color, multiple layers and big sweeps of grasses create a pastoral scene in the front garden.
“It gives this idea of a prairie even though it’s in a suburban neighborhood,” says Hocker. The site’s proximity to a greenbelt conservation area across the street prompted the home’s architects, Yen Ong and Paul Merrill of 5G Studio, to “create an indoor condition that is very easily mistaken as the outdoors . . . a complete merging of exterior and interior climates,” says Ong. The concept they envisioned was a black pavilion in a garden.
“Into this solid black mass, we carved voids to allow for this relationship from indoors to outdoors to take place,” Ong says. The “voids” are slices of white in the square black structure, giving the impression of a perfectly cut Gothic wedding cake.”
The entrance to the house is covered by a triangular lumber awning, just enough to “protect the front door,” says Merrill.” It sheds water into a small garden between the garage and the house, which is then recaptured and re-used for watering. Absolutely everything is watered by drip irrigation or water-efficient sprayers, utilizing the rainwater-harvesting system. 90 percent of the roof-area rainwater is collected then stored in a 6,000-gallon underground tank. You could almost, says Hocker, shut off the home’s irrigation system and just use it supplementally.
Inside the house is incredibly bright, light and airy.
“I never turn the lights on during the day,” says Lynn, “even on very cloudy days.”
That’s because of myriad cut out openings, the largest being 28 by 14 feet, that allow streams of sunlight to shine through them and the many oversized, retractable windows, allowing the landscape to “paint” itself onto the white plaster walls. Yes, I said plaster. Most magnificently, the atmosphere and scenery changes with seasons and even the time of day. One room, says Merrill, turns a beautiful blue-green, while another turns amber, just from the reflection of the trees.
For evening and night, Lynn has recessed LED lighting, creating an extremely low energy demand for a 4,600 square foot house. In fact, check in the garage to see the home’s energy reading. Thanks to a rooftop photovoltaic solar array and a geothermal heat pump, monthly energy bills run as low as $84 for electrical (3 month average).
You enter the home to a foyer that opens immediately to the sweeping formals, dining and kitchen. The fabulous outdoors can be viewed from every room through 12 foot windows and retractable glass doors, enabling a smooth, invisible transition between indoors and out. Except for the wet areas, floors are all re-claimed stained oak hardwoods, including the kitchen. The focal point of the living room is a centered four foot by twenty foot skylight.
Lynn, being an experience interior designer, had concerns that sometimes skylights can get too hot from the sun and interfere with the home’s even temperatures. She voiced this concern and her afrchitects devised a silver foam on the inner openings of the skylight that reflect the heat back up and out the skylight. Heat problem: averted.
In the center of this skylight is a prism that breathes color and light into the main room. The kitchen is by Bulthaup, completely custom with cabinets that maximize storage and plenty of them. The appliances are top of the line Thermador and Bosch, the center island is a huge slab of thick white neolith Carrera marble. To the back of the kitchen is the mud area/three car garage entrance, laundry room, a huge storage room (wonderful!) and butler’s pantry. There is also a sweeping glass door to the back yard patio and outdoor kitchen.
To the front of the house are four well-sized bedrooms, all with en suite baths. Lynn’s office is in bedroom number four, which doubles as a guest room complete with Murphy bed. Off this room is a pleasant secondary patio to the front of the house. There are three other bedrooms with full baths, including the master bedroom suite.
This room is large, airy and sports a full wall of glass, retractable to a private resting patio. Once again, even here: outdoors in. The king-sized bed is recessed into a custom-built cove with floor-to-ceiling bookcases on either side of the bed. I mean, perfect: my bedside reading always spills onto the floor somehow. There is also an additional built-in shelving system with desk. The attached master spa bath is simply breathtaking: the soaking tub in white carrera marble centers it all, with a wall of cascading marble tile separating the walk-through car wash shower from the rest of the room. While in the tub watch one of two recessed televisions, or gaze at the flickers of an ethanol fireplace. There are separate his and her closets, commodes and washing sinks.
Every inch of the home has been designed for use, not waste, making it the most efficient 4688 square feet ever. Do not be fooled by the exterior tones of this home: we are seeing darker colors on exteriors out west in desert contemporaries starting now, such as those I saw at Ascaya. To borrow their phrase, it’s time to think outside the desert stucco box.
14651 Winnwood has stepped outside the typical Dallas stucco box, and we are so grateful. This property is not active in MLS. Asking price is $2,200,000.