‘Homes for the Holidays’ Tour Features Southern Coastal Charmer

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The Simpton family’s year-old home on University Boulevard is one of the homes featured on the Armstrong Bradfield Preschool Association’s “Homes for the Holidays” home tour, which is Dec. 7. (Photo courtesy Gittings)

Stephen and Abby Simpton’s home on University Boulevard, which is one of the homes in this year’s Armstrong Bradfield Preschool Association’s “Homes for the Holidays” home tour,  is the seventh home the couple has built.

Abby, you see, really loves building homes. When they moved to San Antonio to Dallas, they began looking for the site for their next family home, and found it — with a 1951 cottage in poor condition sitting on it.

“We moved to Dallas about four years ago,” Abby said. They bought the lot while they were living in a townhome at first, and then moved into the home briefly while plans were being drawn for their new house. “Then we moved to a rental home in the Disney Streets while it was being built,” she said. “It took about 10 months to complete, so we were really pleased with the timeframe.”

The Simptons are a family of six — Stephen and Abby have four children: Luke, 17; Emma, 15; Julia, 14; and Anna Grace, 10.

But don’t expect the home you tour next month to be the Simpton’s final foray into the wide world of home building — Abby has plans for more.

“For 13 years, we owned and ran dental practices, and I spent a lot of time downstairs on my computer doing that. but now that we’ve sold them all, I get to do more of what i want to do — which is build houses,” Abby said. “In fact, we’ve started another project down the street with Ellen and Rob Grasso (of Ellen Grasso & Sons, who also built this home) — we’re building another home on University, and we’ve got that lot cleared, and the foundation framed.”

And from the 13” tall baseboards, the screened back porch, the 7” wide-plank white oak floors, and the shiplap and trim work throughout the home, you can immediately detect the theme the Simptons were going for — Southern Coastal.

Photo courtesy Katie Nixon

At the heart of the open and airy kitchen is a large island that friends and family frequently find themselves congregating around.

Photo courtesy Katie Nixon

On the second floor, a painting in the master bedroom that was a favorite of Stephen’s was the design inspiration for the room, which features a large bed and headboard that is the Simpton’s favorite piece of furniture in the house. It was purchased in San Antonio, and has made it through four moves — and when this home was designed, the main stairwell was designed to accommodate moving the large piece upstairs.

Photo courtesy Katie Nixon
Photo courtesy Katie Nixon

The children were also allowed to help with the design process, choosing the tile and hardware for their own bathrooms, for instance. And when the youngest and oldest daughters requested a pocket door between their closets so they could pop in on each other (they had once shared a bedroom), that was implemented, too.

We talked to Abby about her home, and her preparations for the home tour, which will be held Dec. 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. She said she was recruited by a neighbor, and when we talked, she was already in one of her favorite rooms of the house, creating a garland for one of the mantels.

“These next few weeks will be hectic, but it will all get done,” she said.

CD: If you had to choose one spot — inside or outside — on your property where you could spend all day, where would it be and why?

Abby: “Probably on the screened porch —  the back screened porch. Because it’s screened, so no bugs can get to me, and I can turn on the fans. Between the living room and the back screened porch, we have sliding, telescoping doors that open all the way into the wall, so it creates an open space of about 28 feet long of flow between the living room and the back porch, so it kind of makes the room feel much bigger, and I could go sit there on those swivel chairs that are so comfortable, and put my feet up, and there’s a television out there, and have a glass of wine, and that’s my favorite spot in the whole house.”

Photo courtesy Katie Nixon

CD: Is there any feature or something about your home that tour-goers shouldn’t miss?

Abby: “The biggest feature is the telescoping doors between the back porch and the living room, that I just mentioned, but I also love the craft room upstairs — it’s one of my favorite spots to be. When you first walk in to the house, the study is on the left, and that’s a very comfortable place, that’s where my husband and I work.”

Photo courtesy Katie Nixon

CD: What are you doing to prepare for the home tour?

Abby: “This home tour has really made me get to decorating. Once this home tour is over, this house will be decorated and we plan to be here the next eight to 10 years, at least until my youngest graduates high school.

We’ll have our house finished, and that’s the upside of doing this home tour. Artwork will be in place, seat benches — pads are being custom made right now.

This house is one-year-old, we moved in last Halloween. We pretty well have it furnished, so now it’s just the final little touches. We’ll be decorating the home for Christmas for the home tour — the exterior will be decorated in garland and red bows, and then we got a new Christmas tree for the interior.

One of my favorite hobbies is making flower arrangements, so I’m making the garlands that are going to be on the mantels, and some of the flower arrangements, there’s four that I’m doing for the home tour.”

Photo courtesy Katie Nixon

CD: You built this home and moved in last year — what was that like?

Abby: “Ellen Grasso & Sons is the builder, and  I worked closely with them. And Chuck Israel, is the architect, and I worked very closely with him. So while I don’t do the actual drawing of the plans, architecture, or building of the house, I’m involved in every detail. I like the creative aspect of the design, and I love to see things come to life.”

CD: Why did you fall in love with your home? 

Abby: “We designed and built our home from the ground up, and the inspiration came from trips we had taken to Charleston, South Carolina, and Seaside, Florida. We wanted to do a Southern Coastal theme.

I am a creative soul, so this is our seventh house to build — I love working with builders to build homes, and we’ve done many different styles.”

Photo courtesy Katie Nixon

CD: What drew you to your neighborhood?

Abby: “Each home tells a different story. No two homes are exactly alike. And I like the diversity of that shining through in everybody’s personalities. It’s a cool thing that these older homes are being restored or rebuilt. Our home was built with that kind of theme in mind of, ‘Yes, we’re building a new home, but we want it to have the feeling of an older home.’

Like we have crystal doorknobs, and it’s a pier-and-beam house, and it has lots and lots and lots of trim work in the interior.”

Want to purchase tickets for this year’s home tour? 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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