Midway Hollow ContemporaryMidway Hollow is beyond hot. With a wide variety of styles from hip midcentury moderns and classic ranch homes to cozy cottages, there is something for everyone, and it seems almost every street comes with a new amenity — a construction crew. If a home is not being renovated, it’s being razed. Builders are everywhere, and the range of price points is dizzying. When I heard about this Midway Hollow contemporary, I could not wait to share it because it’s just a cut above what you typically find anywhere. And that’s because Carolyn Isler, owner of Isler Homes, took it down to the foundation and rebuilt it.


Bluffview Estate
When I spotted this Bluffview estate at 5131 Shadywood Lane, I thought it was one of those iconic homes that had been built almost a century ago. However, according to the listing information, it was built in 2007. I didn’t believe it. I went to DCAD to see if maybe that was the year it was renovated and there was a mistake in the listing information.

There was no mistake. But it’s definitely not the same house that was built in 2007. Seriously, look at that façade. Then take a look at the second photo, and you’ll see what I mean. (more…)


5344 Surrey Circle IHOTW

So, what’s a Santa Barbara Modern you ask?

Take that typical Mediterranean style that comes to mind — you know, terra cotta tile roof, white stucco, etc. — but infuse it with a modern consciousness. The result is an architectural style that is not only gorgeous, but also appeals to a modern family. Our Inwood Home of the Week at 5344 Surrey Circle is a classic example of Santa Barbara Modern.

Meredith Ferrell and Brenda Ray of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International have the 6,996-square-foot, four-bedroom, six-bathroom home listed for $3.89 million.

It has everything. And we mean, everything.

“From the minute you walk in the front door, your jaw drops,” Ferrell said.


3529 Marquette extI am so glad you posted this, Jo. I cannot say I blame her one bit, and there is no telling what we ladies might do when our nests are invaded and ruffled, adrenaline kicks in AND the SOB dares to help himself to beers in your fridge! (I wonder if he left dirty fingerprints, the rascal.)

Still, it is very dangerous to do what carolyn Isler did, and I recall being told in CHL class to avoid a confrontation if at all possible, even if you know how to handle a gun.3529 Marquette master bath 3529 Marquette kit

But this is probably the best PR Carolyn could get as a home builder. Just let those subs try to jack with her, she will show them who’s boss! Carolyn builds a gorgeous home and introduced me to the concept of a Keeping Room, which is a must-have in my next house!keepingroom

I am not seeing as many of these as I used to, but a Keeping Room is pretty standard in any home of 8,000 square feet or larger. The “keeping room” originated in colonial times, before homes were ginormous, or rather, when only a select few had ginormous homes, usually called castles. It was a multi-use room attached to the kitchen or open to it, complete with a fireplace for warmth. Remember, kitchens used to be the place where people cooked, unlike my house. So creating an extra little sitting area is really an old-time concept that adds depth, warmth and activity to modern kitchens.

Or cool: in July, we sip iced tea in the Keeping Room. Come August, mojitos.

“Kitchens are always evolving,” builder Carolyn Isler of Isler Custom Homes once told me. “I have created several keeping rooms for my clients, and they love them.”

The modern keeping room is also a cozy, more comfortable alternative to the bar peninsula with stools, which more homeowners are tiring of. It’s a place where the family can relax on a sofa and nosh, watch television, flip through the ipad or or gaze into the embers in January.

Another place for a Christmas tree come December, too.

Of course, the keeping room does not in any way replace the breakfast room or the family room.

“You’re really not supposed to eat in the family room,” Isler says.

Duh — why in the world do would we have the breakfast room, otherwise!

Which I have been telling my family for years. Now only my husband may eat in the family room for two reasons:

One, designer Michelle Nussbaumer taught me to buy and make a piece of fabric identical to the fabric on the sofa and keep it on the sofa to catch mess and crumbs — an elegant alternative to plastic slipcovers so many of my Chicago friends grew up with. Also great if you pets like to jump on.

Two: He messes the sofas, he pays to reupholster!