Stephen Arnn

In our ongoing series, Interview with an Architect, we speak with leading voices in the North Texas architecture community and learn about their work, development issues in our community, and good design practices and principals (you can read the last one here).

Stephen Arnn grew up surrounded by and appreciating great architecture. From an early age, he showed talent and interest in art, especially drawing. When his mother suggested he should be an architect when he grew up, the seven-year-old agreed, and from that point forward, Arnn had his career path in mind.

Stephen Arnn

Stephen Arnn

Today, he is a Dallas residential architectural designer, owner of Stephen Arnn Design, which he established in 1976. Arnn graduated from architecture school at Washington University in St. Louis and working at other boutique firms in Nebraska and Dallas.

“I became a different person [at Washington University] and I had a wonderful group of professors who challenged me,” he said. “It was easy in Oklahoma City to be known as talented—it wasn’t easy at Washington because there were a lot of talented people and I had to learn to use my talents and not just slough around.”

Arnn moved to Dallas after a stint in Nebraska at a large firm, joining Pierce Lacey Partnership and working six years with his mentor, Neal Lacey. Lacey taught him something valuable:

“He said, ‘You are in a profession where people tend to preen around each other and you should be in this profession to create beautiful buildings, buildings that work for the client…you’re not doing this to get published in Architectural Digest or Architectural Record—that is simply showing your work to your peers, your competition,” Arnn said. “I want to design a house that is exactly what the client wants, because it’s their money, not mine, and I want them to be embraced by the house and love it.”

We sat down with Arnn and talked shop.

CandysDirt: You’ve had a special gift since childhood that plays an important part in your career. Tell us about it. 

Stephen Arnn: A gift I was given, not one I developed out of education, is two fold: the ability to draw freehand, with a simple stroke, and the gift of seeing things in my head in three dimension. That makes the design process enormously easier. As well, the warmth of hand-drawn sketches or presentation drawings is much easier to sell than is a CAD drawing at this point in technological history. Hand drawings also allow me to be thinking about every stroke. It takes longer, at the inception, but it solves lots of problems later in the design development phase because it’s all been thought through.


Robert Raymond

Photo: Michael Palumbo

In our ongoing series, Interview with an Architect, we speak with leading voices in the North Texas architecture community and learn about their work, development issues in our community, and good design practices and principals (you can read the last one here).

Robert Raymond

Robert Raymond

Robert W. Raymond, AIA, moved to Dallas in 1981 after completing his Masters in Architecture at the University of Michigan. He has never lived more than a few blocks from White Rock Lake in East Dallas, where he built his family’s home and made the transition to residential architecture in 2000.

“The house turned out great and my wife and daughters are still speaking to me,” he said.

With his firm, Raymond Design, he has built houses in neighborhoods ranging from Preston Hollow and the Peninsula, to Richardson and Southlake.

He was named Young Architect of the Year in 1989 by the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architecture, served on the board of trustees of the Dallas Architectural Foundation from 2004 to 2006, and has served on the board of trustees of the White Rock Lake Conservancy from 2008 to present.

CandysDirt: You spent 20 years working on big buildings, like hotels and hospitals, moving into residential design in 2000 by designing and building your family house. What appeals to you about residential architecture?

Rob Raymond: There are two main reasons. First, the ability to work from beginning to end on a project, from the initial concept to final construction.

Second, and most rewarding, is working so closely with the client on projects that are near and dear to them. With corporate clients building hotels or hospitals, it’s a business transaction and commercial architecture, in a big firm, is more specialized and compartmentalized. You rarely get the chance to go from inception of idea to ribbon cutting.

With residential architecture, I’m usually working with couples and I joke that it’s part residential architecture and part marriage counseling. It’s fun to get to know people, understand them, and connect with them.


The spec house at 6115 Desco Dr. will look similar to this. Photo courtesy Shoot2Sell.

The spec house at 6115 Desco Dr. will look similar to this, also built by LRO Residential Development.

Spec homes are a sign of strong builder and bank confidence in a market, as they are created without any specific buyer in mind, just the belief that one will be interested once it is completed. The higher the price tag, the higher the stakes.

In our inventory-parched market, homebuilder Les Owens, President of LRO Residential Development, has that confidence in the Dallas market, even at multi-million-dollar levels. He’s starting two spec houses this month, one in Preston Hollow for $3.15 million, and another in Devonshire for $2.2 million.

Both houses are available for customization, but Owens is breaking ground now and says he will complete them in late summer/early fall this year.

As we reported earlier this month, luxury home sales in Dallas-Fort Worth skyrocketed in 2014—those with prices of $1 million and up grew 15 percent year-over-year, the second highest sales volume in Texas (bested only by Houston).

Luxury home sales in DFW represented 1.2 percent of the market, and top-performing luxury brands are seeing more multi million-dollar sales in areas that have strong resale value and high existing demand.

“Established neighborhoods and homes of significance in coveted areas such as Highland Park, Preston Hollow, Greenway Parks, and The Volk Estates are desperately pursued, and the quality of the design continues to be a driving factor,” said Caroline Summers, a Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s agent. Jump to read about the houses and see photos!


The Trammell Crow home in Highland Park was in that family for more than 50 years. Now it's time for new owners to enjoy the 10,000-square-foot house. Photo: courtesy of Dallas Morning News.

The Trammell Crow home in Highland Park was in that family for more than 50 years. Now it’s time for new owners to enjoy the 10,000-square-foot house. Photo: courtesy of Dallas Morning News & Allie Beth Allman

A slice of local history has hit the market, with the Highland Park estate of the late Dallas real estate developer and art collector Trammell Crow and his late wife Margaret now listed with Allie Beth Allman & Associates.

Located between Preston Road and Turtle Creek Boulevard, the 10,000-square-foot Tudor-style house has a price tag that reflects storied history, palatial size, and tony location: at $59.4 million, this is one of the highest priced properties ever listed in the area. As of now, this is an off-market listing not yet in the MLS.


6239 Park Lane Inwood HOTW

Our house of the week for Inwood Mortgage typifies what a little clean-lined interior design can do for a 14 year old home: make it look brand new! Let’s face it: styles change every few years, but 14 years is almost light years when it comes to design. What I love about 6239 Park Lane is the timelessness of the original structure, the great bones, and the basic room flow that makes it adaptable to just about any decor or taste.

Cindy Musgrove with Blue Sky (see ad to the right, refresh if you do not) went in and made the home so fresh and clean, you might think it was built last year! It helps that the 1999 vintage has been so well taken care of and loved by it’s owners. There are 7207 square feet, five bedrooms, five full and one half baths. There is a large pool and gorgeous outdoor patio. Plus it’s located on that dignified stretch of Park Lane east of Preston with the impressive lawn setbacks and speedbumps, so you never have to worry about traffic here.

Location? A-plus!

6239 Park Lane foyer 6239 Park Lane foyer 2 62309 Park lane living room 6239 Park Lane dining roomWalk in to a generous foyer with traditional curved staircase, custom inlaid hardwoods of walnut and oak in the entry, and oak flooring everywhere. Intimate living room on your right, dining on your left connected to a long Butler’s pantry and the loaded up kitchen. Straight ahead is the family room with beautiful beams, a Juliet balcony from the top hallway, and light everywhere. There is a nice bar nook off the family room. The pool is gorgeous and fills in the view of the backyard. By the way, this lot is .43 of an acre, measures 190 feet deep by 100 wide, almost a half acre, which gives you enough space for pets or tinkering with a veggie garden plus the pool and spa.

6239 Park Lane Master bath6239 Park Lane family beams 6239 Park Lane family room 6239 Park Lane kitchenLike most of the homes in Preston Hollow, the master is on the first floor with a huge master spa bath (I love the view of the pool from the jetted tub) , and enormous closet with built-ins including a cool 3-way, “check my big butt”mirror. There is an adjacent office/sitting room/nursery right off the master. I love this concept sooo much better than having a “sitting area” in the master. I mean really, who actually sits in the master? The action in that room doesn’t require chairs — well, most of the time! If you are a gazillionaire, you are probably off jetting between homes and will not ever need to “sit in the master”.  So I am totally over the master sitting area. I am very much on board with this extra space that can be adapted to your lifestyle, and this is a great example of what thoughtful architectural design can do to a home even when she hits her teen years.

People, I implore you: do NOT skimp on architectural design! Or quality home builders!

6239 Park Lane master 6239 Park Lane Master bath 6239 Park Lane family overviewFour bedrooms are upstairs, each with great baths, plus a media room. The gigantic laundry room is downstairs located near the back stairs. The three-car garage is split into a two-car unit and a single stall. The home was built with insulated wood glass windows on a pier and beam foundation so go ahead, remodel away. I don’t think you will really need to, however.

Listed with my beautiful friend Pam Brannon at Briggs Freeman Sothebys for $2,185,000. And I am just in love! Trot yourself over to Inwood Mortgage to pre-qualify for this puppy… before it gets snatched up!6239 Park Lane patio 6239 Park Lane pool







How this mansion escaped me, I know not. First of all , I know the owners and they are brilliant, wonderful people who work magic with any home they have touched. And this one, well, this is their masterpiece. How I wish I had $12 million because I would snag 9008 Briarwood — this Celtic palace! — in a heartbeat! First of all, location: Briarwood, Bluffview, can it get better? I am a total sucker for stone and this home looks like they just shipped an entire Scottish quarry over to the site: wait, I stand corrected. Those are not just STONES, those are BOULDERS meticulously graduated, designed to get larger towards the bottom. So we not only consumed the entire quarry, we hand-picked the rock in it. Architectural design by the brilliant Wilson Fuqua, contractor the famous and oh-so-particular Cy Barcus. The property is set on almost two acres (1.7 to be exact)  filled with trees and a little stream that winds right through it. The home is an Irish manor house with literally walls of metal encased glass imported from England. Every sight-line view was planned, tested, tweaked and is amazing. The large two story entrance hall welcomes you, and you have your choice of entertaining venues: formal or informal. If formal is your choice, go get in something decent for dinner — your best frock — and that would be served in the large living room, handsome paneled library, or magnificent dining room, all with custom fireplaces. Perhaps you’ll take dinner out on the light-filled rear gallery floored with an ocean of custom Ann Sachs tiles and magnificent views out to the terrace, pool and rock garden. No West Nile here — you can enjoy the outdoors safely behind glass. The informal areas of the house are actually homey, with a kitchen designed by the owner who really cooks! Trust me, I know!  Charming winding stairs take you down to the ground floor with wine cellar, a crafts room to end all crafts rooms, additional storage. A four car attached garage is on the service side of the house. Note: I do wish there was more garage, more car stalls. Whoever buys this house will have at least 4 fine autos. I don’t know, is four enough?  The second floor boasts a huge upstairs entertaining/media room with wet bar and an additional sitting area with fireplace, in case there are not enough places to sit. This reminds me of a family joke — one of my son’s girlfriends came over and they were quite affectionate — she sat on his lap constantly. His sister announced that we needed more chairs in the house, obviously. So there is no excuse for nookie in this palace!

Speaking of nookie, the large master bedroom has an oasis spa bath of course, and in keeping with my two baths for every bedroom formula, we are almost there: there are seven full baths, three half baths, six enormous bedrooms. And oh yes, you are getting a brand-new home essentially: this palace was just finished in 2007. With the kind of uptake and tender loving care my friends give their homes, this home at six years is a baby. Really, if you asked me, and you do, this is high on the list of one of the most beautiful homes in Dallas! Asking price: $12,995,000.