Armstrong Bradfield Preschool Association Home Tour Puts Stamp on Christmas

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home tourBuying a ticket for the Armstrong Bradfield Preschool Association’s Homes for the Holidays home tour  is not only a chance to tour some of the most beautiful homes in Highland Park ISD, it’s also a chance to support things like kindergarten Spanish program, instructional materials, books, teacher workshops and more with every step you take through the gorgeously decorated homes.

And it stands to reason that since the tour is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the annual event has also become one of the must-dos of Dallas, just like the Trains at NorthPark, lighting the tree, and queuing up for Santa.

But for the initiated, the ABPA is a nonprofit that supports current and future families of Armstrong and Bradfield elementary schools, through social, community outreach, and fundraising programs. That fundraising supports the kindergarten and first-grade classes at the two schools.

More than 400 member families take part in the association, too. And the ABPA Home for the Holidays Home Tour is the main fundraiser — 97 percent of all the money raised goes to the two schools.

Last year’s tour raised $75,000 for kindergarten and first-grade classes at both schools, with half the funds going to support the kindergarten Spanish program at Armstrong, and the other half purchasing instructional materials, books, technology, math manipulatives and teacher workshops for Bradfield.

This year’s co-chairs are Chelsey Baker, Nina Sachse, and Jane Wallingford. This year’s tour is Friday, Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, and $30 at the door. 

This year five amazing homes have been chosen for the tour, and we’re going to give you teeny sneak peeks at four of them, and a bigger look at another one (and the family that lives there), next week. Ready?


Suzie and Bunker Curnes lovingly restored their 1916 Prairie-style home in 2017.

“When they stumbled upon this home in their search, they found a crumbling chimney, shattered windows, vines growing through windows and around the rooms like wallpaper, knob and tube wiring, and a bamboo and ivy forest in the backyard,” event co-chair Jane Wallingford told us. “Despite these seemingly insurmountable challenges, the Curnes knew this house could become the home of their dreams.”

“They embraced the opportunity to bring back to life a home and give it another hundred years.  You will see some of the finishes are historically inspired, and others are inspired through memories of their favorite restaurants and places around the country.”

And the Curnes definitely took pains to embrace the history of their home, from the beautifully restored windows and eyebrow transom windows, the original wood floors, and the CFA Voysey reproduction wallpaper — a nod to Suzie Curnes’ appreciation of CFA Voysey’s work that began while she was pursuing her art history degree.

“Also be sure to look up to see the chandelier,” Wallingford said. “This light fixture, as well as the one in the dining room, are believed to be original to the home, or at least the time period—the telltale sign was the cloth wiring.  The Curnes had the tin chandeliers fully rewired and placed back in their rightful spots.”

As the Curnes restored their home, they rediscovered a fireplace that had been covered with drywall and shutters, a few windows, and more. The dining room is nearly unchanged from the original home, right down to the plaster walls and floor, another restored chandelier, and Voysey reproduction wallpaper.

The kitchen is part of a newer addition, but was designed to feel like an old restaurant or pharmacy, incorporating historic touches like an eyebrow transom window that is a perfect match to the originals elsewhere in the house, and a table designed by the Curnes and made from wood sourced from the home. Soapstone countertops are both beautiful and useful for a busy family. The tile floor is inspired by the Curnes’ travel to the Wyeth Hotel in Brooklyn, and the copper vent hood was inspired by the homeowners’ favorite restaurant, Canlis, in Seattle.  

The Curnes Home (Photo courtesy Katie Nixon)

Every bathroom has Art Nouveau-style tiles in a different color scheme, and the hex tiles on the floor and rectangular border tiles were color matched and crafted by American Restoration Tile in Mabelvale, Arkansas.

And although many wouldn’t think to include the laundry room in a home tour, the Curnes’ is worth checking out. Originally a bedroom, it’s now a big laundry room that also serves as a craft, painting, sewing, holiday gift wrapping, and general all-things-creative room. The focal point is the backside of an interior plaster wall, enclosed in tempered glass to showcase the historic uniqueness of plaster walls.  It was not the original intent to make the structure itself a piece of art, but when the plaster wall fell off during renovations, the Curnes decided to embrace the opportunity to showcase the past with its present use. Electrical and AV wires run through the wall, demonstrating how an old house can be modernized and provide a dream home to a young family.


The Houghton Home

If Jennifer and Steve Houghton’s home looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen the interior designer’s work on her own home for various holidays in Southern Living.

Jennifer Houghton loves decorating for the holidays. Every holiday. And frequently, her decorating enthusiasm lands her in magazines.

“The reason I go all out is ’cause I love it. I love the joy that it brings to my family,” she told Southern Living. “I just love to see other people happy.”

And although she says she doesn’t do anything twice, you can likely get an inkling of what’s in store when you walk into the Houghton family home during the home tour by checking out her blog, Turtle Creek Lane.

“As I’m doing my decorations, I usually, honestly, have my kids in mind, but I just love that I can share what I love to do with my family and with my friends,” she said. “I truly believe in making our homes a place where there’s joy, and where people want to be. Think about the people that you love most, and make it an environment for them, that they want to be at home.”

“I might describe it as a winter wonderland, with sparkly decor and happy holiday scenes in every room, corner, and countertop of the home,” Wallingford told us when she was describing the home.

If you can’t wait to see what holiday magic Houghton can coax out of her gorgeous backdrop of a home, with its elegant spiral staircase, gorgeous chandeliers and more, you can get an idea with this video of last year’s efforts.


The Allen Home (Photo courtesy Katie Nixon)

Jeff and Heidi Allen’s newly constructed Mediterranean home is punctuated by the work of Traci Cornell Interiors, who took the natural oak, beams, and black metal windows as a backdrop to create a light-filled, soft, modern feel that speaks to a great deal of attention to detail from floor to ceiling.

The Allens worked with Cornell and her team to create a home that felt lush and glamorous, but also felt livable, introducing a myriad of textures and finishes meant to remind of the sun and the sky in its yellow and navy color palette.

And since it is a family home, durable fabrics and rugs were also a need — even though the Allens are empty nesters, their four grown children still visit for family celebrations and to catch various sporting events — and the home was designed to be attractive, but also withstand spilled wine and sticky fingers.

And some of the rooms are meant to be a nod to the family’s personalities, too. One room celebrates the family’s love for sports — and the Dallas Stars in particular, with one wall also displaying a few of the children’s trophies from school days.

And when we say attractive, we mean it. Beautiful woodwork, a coffered ceiling, built-in bookshelves, and pocket doors make for an exceptional living room. The ceiling in the dining room demands that you look up. The master bedroom — with its his-and-hers bathrooms connected by a shower, and a pedestal bathtub in hers.

The kitchen boasts a custom tile backsplash, marble counters, and white cabinets with silver hardware. A long counter and a spacious island accommodate all counter space needs, and keeps an open flow for entertaining.

In nice weather, opening the glass doors to the patio and pool beyond creates even more entertaining options. But bad weather doesn’t necessarily mean the area is unused — they can lower screens and turn on a heater to create an enclosed patio.


The Wilson Home (Photo courtesy Katie Nixon)

When designer Caitlin Wilson and her husband, Brigham, bought their bright, beautiful English Tudor for their young family a year ago, they began extensive renovations.

Caitlin’s passion for color and pattern immediately made an impact on the home, with cheerful and chic designs punctuating a timeless backdrop like a Tudor, creating a happy home that feels magazine-ready, with a fresh perspective that hints at European inspirations as well.

Wilson used patterned wallpapers, hand-knotted rugs, and perfectly coordinated pillows in every room to put her stamp on the home.

While the painted brick exterior with its Tudor-requisite windows and architectural details might say traditional, a clean modern black door shouts modern. Bleached and whitewashed oak floors provide a surface for light to bounce off of, and you immediately can see that Wilson’s vision was to take an outdated 80s home and make it a space that a young family can live in and enjoy.

The showstopper is the kitchen, with classic white cabinets, marble countertops, brass hardware, and a stunning French blue range and hood. Wilson raised the living room floors and dropped kitchen walls, but that wasn’t the only major design change — the master bath was reconfigured to be a multifunctional space with blue and white marble floors accented with natural woods.

The children’s bedrooms and bathrooms are spacious and have darling themes for each of the four young children, captured with whimsical wallpaper and coordinating tiles.

Wilson’s iconic signature palette of blues and pinks are used confidently throughout the home, too.

And once again, you can’t miss the laundry room (let’s face it, they’re often an afterthought), which Wilson covered in her own floral wallpaper, and utilized pops of acrylic hardware. Brass accents and lighting are consistent from room to room, and tie in impeccably with the brass stair handrail.  

And with 19th and 20th-century original paintings adorning the walls, and plush Persian rugs from her own collection on the floors, the home is a splendid example of livable luxury.

Want to know about the Simpton family home on University, our fifth house on the tour? Tune in next Monday. Want to purchase tickets? Click here for more information — but better get a move on, ticket sales close on Dec. 1.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

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