Serendipity — an unplanned series of happy intersections. It all began when I attended Craig Hall’s 50th anniversary bash for his Hall Group company – as a “plus one” of Dave Perry-Miller agent Sharon Quist. She introduced me to Hall Group VP Lea Anne Laughlin and we spoke about the under-construction Hall Arts project betwixt and between the event’s glittering city sky and non-stop catering (poetic license, it rained that night).
Flash-forward and I spent months finalizing the purchase of Quist’s Claridge double-penthouse listing that I am now gutting, splitting and flipping half (the Penthouse Plunge series). Part of that huge undertaking is sourcing finishes like appliances and plumbing fixtures. For those who’ve read me for a while, you know I’ve had a soft-spot for Gaggenau appliances for quite some decades.
I reached out to BHS (Bosch Siemens Home), owners of the Gaggenau and Thermador (and Bosch) brands, and met with Charles Pizzeck, their district sales manager. During those conversations of my needs, I learned that Hall Arts would also be using Gaggenau appliances. Up until now, Candy has had all the fun writing about the Hall Arts project, now it’s my turn!
Given the vagaries of scheduling, I was finally able to take a tour of the Gaggenau kitchen at Hall Arts, reacquainting myself with Lea Anne and Ellen Marsau Burger, Hall Group’s Communications Director.
Gaggenau is back
Here’s the thing. In the outside world, Gaggenau is the ne plus ultra of appliances. I was immediately drawn to the firm’s unique (at the time) side swing wall-oven doors for my first house. The model I used was a literal oven and a half that was perfect for chronic singleton me. Most of the time that half oven was all I required, until I had friends over. Use a side swing oven for a bit and I swear, you’ll never go back. Drop-down doors on wall ovens are just clunky (don’t get me started on French door ovens – yuck).
Dallas had a dalliance with Gaggenau years ago and the firm pulled back from the market. During that time Sub-Zero and Wolf took hold – which is fine for everything but side-swing wall ovens. There was also a more recent tickle from Miele, but they’ve since closed their Design District showroom.
Appliances have to be more than pretty – what happens after it’s installed? What’s the service like? How many places even offer trained service techs? What about parts? Pizzeck told me that has changed. The Metroplex has a distribution center as well as freshly-minted service personnel with full corporate back-up. This was welcome news. My Athena condo used Gaggenau ovens and I needed service when they were first installed – I couldn’t get the child lock off – and it was literally, calling around town to find someone who could help me out.
So not only are the appliances gorgeous (as much as appliances are gorgeous), there’s back-up for when things go wrong.
Hall Arts and Gaggenau
Above is Hall Arts’ model kitchen. The cabinetry is Bulthaup. The counters white quartz. Centered on the back wall is the 36-inch Vario 200 series gas cooktop. It’s a five-burner model offering a scorching 57,000 BTUs with 12 power settings.
What I like about the cooktop is the completely unplanned trendiness of the brass burners housed within more traditional cast iron grills. And leave it to Gaggenau to offer an optional wok perfectly fitted for the center cooking ring – don’t worry, it’s flat so you can use it with any oversized pot.
I was told that one Hall Arts buyer requested the gas cooktop be swapped out for induction. As you might guess, they’re not from around these parts. In their home country, induction has been the go-to best surface for decades. As someone who’s used induction for the past six years, I will eagerly put it in my Claridge unit, but understand that resale will require me to use the gas model for the A-side I’m selling.
Above the cooktop is what Gaggenau calls a visor ventilation hood. We’ve all seen the restaurant-ready big-bad range vents. Gaggenau is about subtlety – after all they’re German who value craftsmanship and understatement. When not in use it sits about an inch below the upper cabinet and slides out like a shelf to catch any cooking odors (should anyone actually use the cooktop – you laugh, but my Claridge unit’s 1986 Thermador cooktop and double ovens were never used. The instruction manuals are still in plastic bags in the oven).
The main event for me are the ovens. They’re not doing the typical double oven, but rather combining a traditional convection oven with a combination speed convection/microwave oven. One cool feature with the ovens is that if your hands are full, you can stick your pinky out and press a button and the door swings open. Otherwise, grab the concealed handle on the side. For those preferring a steam oven, I’m told one can be swapped in place of the combination oven.
Here’s where I’ll insert my testimonial. I’ve been using Gaggenau ovens for decades. I have never had a problem with uneven temperature or slow pre-heating – I’m a baker, I’d know if one cookie was raw while its neighbor was burned. The standard rotisserie is a treat to use and the controls simple to operate (Germans use pictographs). Just about any heating combination can be dialed up with heating elements top and bottom plus broiler and convection fan. There are optional pizza stones for baking bread or breathing life back into last night’s Grimaldi’s.
Ahhh, refrigeration. The Hall Arts model shows a pair of units. An 18-inch freezer paired with a 30-inch refrigerator. If the insides don’t look pearly-white, that’s because Gaggenau refrigerators are lined with stainless steel, not plastic. Of course everything is pretty much adjustable and lighting is LED. There’s also a charcoal air filter to save you some baking soda money. The door can either be opened with handles or handle-less where you push the door and it swings open (similar to the ovens).
On the wine side, I was momentarily disappointed. You see, the model shows a measly 24-inch under-counter refrigerator that might hold 45 bottles. That’s when I was reminded of the temperature-controlled wine storage each Hall Arts residence gets as part of the shebang. “Ahh” I said, “This is just the wine to get you through the 10 o’clock news!” Disappointment erased.
Oh, and sure, there’s also a dishwasher, but there’s not a lot of glamour in a dishwasher. But there is a little. First, there’s an interior light. Second, you know how dishwashers have gotten spooky-quiet? So quiet that when you mistakenly open them, water flies out like a wet dog having a shake? For a few years, Bosch has had a little red reminder light that projects on the floor when it’s in use. More refined Gaggenau goes a bit further by projecting the remaining cycle time onto the floor.
Remember, this is the Hall Arts model. For those buying shell space or who get in early enough, you can mix things up – as mentioned earlier, one future resident swapped the gas for an induction cooktop.
All in all, it was a good visit to Hall Arts. I like that Gaggenau will be more supportive of the Dallas market with their great products. It also gave me a boost of confidence about my own Penthouse Plunge project. After all, it’s nice to know that if Craig or Kathryn Hall are ever housesitting for me (or the owners of my spin-off A-side) they’ll be right at home in the Gaggenau kitchens.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.