Diane Cheatham’s Urban Reserve Modern Tree House is on the Market!

modern tree house
We could not be more excited to share the news that Diane Cheatham, the developer of Urban Reserve, has put her three-story modern tree house at 1 Vanguard Way, on the market with Dave Perry-Miller’s Charlotte Thompson for $ 3.376 million. This is quite possibly the best opportunity to own a one-of-a-kind, sustainably built modern home in America today.

For newbies to Dallas, Urban Reserve is an eco-friendly neighborhood that is Cheatham’s vision. It was designed for 50 homes, on 14 acres, in a secluded section of Lake Highlands. Any house built here must adhere to the design standards set out by Cheatham. Those standards include sustainable and regionally sourced materials.

The neighborhood is a little slice of heaven, and for years no one knew it existed because it merged beautifully with the landscape. It’s not surprising that seven architects have built homes in Urban Reserve. Where else in America do you find that?

When Cheatham started this adventure, she reserved the first lot for her own home. She designed and built this modern tree house for herself and her husband Chuck. She hired the über talented, New York-based Todd Williams Billie Tsien Architects to bring her architectural dream to life. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because they are designing the Obama library.
moder tree houseThis modern tree house is quite the home, so let’s start the exploration outside first. An exterior screen hangs over the east and south faces of the third floor of the home. It’s made of metal and in fancy architectural circles called a brise soleil. In plain English, it’s a sun breaker or sun baffle. It’s not just decorative — it deflects sunlight and reduces heat. To give you an idea of how cool this feature is, the pioneer of modern architecture, Le Corbusier, popularized it way back in 1933 and Renzo Piano used it a lot more recently on The New York Times building.

modern tree house
The ground floor has two guest rooms with a lovely outdoor sitting area lit by an overhead skylight and featuring a koi pond. There are climate-controlled storage rooms for art and wine, as well as carports for three vehicles and the elevator foyer. This area of the home is wrapped in sandblasted concrete block.
modern tree house

modern tree house

modern tree house


The second floor takes the concept of outdoor living to an entirely new level. Seating areas are shaded by the overhang of the third floor. Dining, gathering areas, and a fully equipped kitchen are all sited perfectly to ensure year-round use. It’s a shame we can’t count exterior square footage when a property is listed. If we could, we’d be looking at about 9,000 square feet of livable space, instead of 4,336 square feet of interior living space.

Then, of course, there is the vanishing-edge pool with limestone coping and pavers and a view of the treetops. You don’t get those views anywhere else in Dallas.

This level also includes a half bath and a room that’s presently being used as an office, but is large enough to be a bedroom or exercise room. If you are keeping track, that puts the bedroom count at four, with three-full-bathrooms and two powder baths.

A complete outdoor kitchen includes a pizza oven and two grills.

If you want to get your steps in each day, an open-air staircase connects the second floor to the third, which is the primary indoor living space. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer the most gorgeous tree-top views. Here you’ll find a gallery for artwork, the living, dining, office, kitchen, and laundry areas, and a pantry that is so spectacular Candy devoted an entire post to it.

If you’re lusting after not just the home, but also the gorgeous custom furniture, Cheatham will make you a deal!

The kitchen is a dream for any serious chef and includes an induction cooktop and a wok burner! Cheatham is known for her love of cooking and entertaining, so you know nothing has been overlooked.

The entire home has polished concrete floors, warm walnut cabinets, and white statuary marble counters. This modern tree house has all of the sustainable features you can imagine, and plenty you cannot. There is geothermal heating and cooling. An 18,000-gallon cistern sitting below the swimming pool stores rainwater and runoff for irrigation, and mechanized window shades on timers are synced with the location of the sun.

You can walk out of the shower on to a private patio.

The bathroom wall tiles are by Heath Ceramics. The black granite tub is built to slope just right for a good soak and is fitted with Vola hardware

“People are amazed when they see this home,” Thompson said. “They are in awe of the second floor because it’s not typical. It’s a multi-generational home, perfect for when kids come home for holidays, and it would also be a great home for empty-nesters.”

So, what’s Cheatham up to you may wonder? Selling her modern tree house after living there over a decade, and keeping a watchful eye on the sustainable world she’s created seems like a bold move. Her neighborhood is all grown up, however, and although she will stay on the Architectural Review Committee, she has something exciting up her sleeve, so stay tuned!


Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager and writer for over 25 years. She teaches the popular Staging to Sell class and is the creator of the online course, The Beginners Guide to Buying Wholesale. She loves dogs, international travel, history, white paint, champagne, artificial turf, and homes with personality. Her father was a spy, and she keeps secrets very well. Find Karen at www.eubankstaging.com.