He is one of the most innovative independent brokers in town.

Last month, David Griffin, founder of the David Griffin & Company real estate firm, asked me to help judge his company’s first-ever Gingerbread House Contest.

“We will hold the event at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture on Routh Street, where there is plenty of space for our agent designers!” he wrote. “Three of our associates have degrees in architecture, so we’re expecting some tough competition!  We’ve got invitations out to two well-known architects to be the other judges.”

The prize was $1000 to be donated to the charity of winner’s choice.

It turned out to be a Project Runway/Top Chef type competition as the contestants worked fingers to the bone gluing, pasting, frosting and decorating, all in an hour or two.

Judging was actually quite hard. Judges were Wilson Fuquay, Bang Dang (both prominent architects) and your’s truly. David and company gathered all the necessary ingredients for making gingerbread homes — surface board, Graham crackers, icing, Fruit Loops, stick pretzels, frosting (huge tubs which I had trouble keeping my finger out of), candy, gumdrops, the usual paraphernalia for creating such homes. Participants were asked to bring hot glue guns, extension cords, pastry bags and anything else creative. 

Shortly after noon, the creators went to work. They were: Janelle Alcantara, Jack Cater, David Collier, Teresa Costa, Kim Dunbar, Lori Ericsson, David Griffin, Robert Kucharski, Jason Melton, Keith Merz, Chris Munoz, Marlis Rossetta, Anastasia Semos, Ali Stewart, Brandon Stewart, Bart Thrasher, and Casey Wileman. Judges were Wilson Fuquay, Bang Dang (both prominent architects) and your’s truly.

At one-forty-five p.m. the alarm went off Sheri Baer’s phone: time! Contestants walked their creations into the Judgement Room, and then left us three judges alone to scrutinize.

We ended up giving each house the “prize” of a name/title best suited to what the house depicted. Then we picked the winner. Or was it winners? Before I tell you, how about you judge the homes for yourself after the jump?

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Some homes have backyard guest quarters for mother in laws, college kids, or kids who never left the nest. But the guest quarters behind this week’s High Caliber Home of the Week, sponsored by Lisa Peters of Caliber Home Loans, was built as a sound-proof recording studio in the early 2000s for its previous musician owner.

You can just imagine the notes of original folk songs would waft out the door of the double-wall guest quarters turned sound studio. Today, it’s an 800+-square-foot detached living quarters with cabana bath, exercise studio, and a spacious guest suite above — a cherry on top of a fantastic 1936-built Kessler Park Conservation District beauty.

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You can tell the homes in Oak Cliff’s Kessler Woods are special. Clearly architect-designed. Mid-century inspired. Breathtaking location. Stunning attention to detail. But David Griffin of David Griffin & Co Realtors is dead on when he says Kessler Woods is one of the most significant modernist developments in the city. That’s why this 3,320-square-foot masterpiece on Kessler Woods Trail is our High Caliber Home of the Week presented by Lisa Peters of Caliber Home Loans. 

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As East Dallas becomes increasingly dense, it has also become increasingly modern, with several architects finding an opportunity to leave there mark on rapidly redeveloping areas. One such enclave, East Village’s Deere Park, has become a magnet for modern architecture, some of which is both beautifully designed and exceptionally livable. 

Our High Caliber Home of the Week presented by Lisa Peters of Caliber Home Loans is a listing from David Griffin of his eponymous brokerage, David Griffin & Co. Realtors.

“This home is located in a neighborhood of many distinguished architect-designed modern townhomes,” Griffin said. “The two-story floor plan is among the best I’ve ever seen.”

That’s high praise from a Realtor with the kind of experience that Griffin can claim.

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rambling Ranch

When you think about the residential architectural styles that define America, the rambling Ranch is one that immediately comes to mind. It’s the definitive 1950s home that many of us grew up in, so it’s not surprising a new generation is gravitating towards these traditional homes as they begin their families. In other words, the rambling Ranch is hip again, in a big way.

These homes have become sought-after for the same reasons our parents and grandparents longed to own them. They promote “a casual, family-oriented lifestyle,” according to our favorite reference book, “A Field Guide to American Houses.” They are also the first homes that were designed to promote the indoor-outdoor connection. Because architects like Cliff May helped to popularize the style throughout America, there are still plenty of them around, and we have a beauty for you today at 5349 Southern Avenue.

rambling Ranch

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East VillageIf you’re a fan of Modern homes, it’s likely a design from the duo of Bang Dang and Rizwan Faruqui, who together bring more than 30 years of experience and design aesthetic to projects all over Dallas — including this East Village condo David Griffin & Company Realtor Eddie Rodriguez pointed us to this week.

East Village, in fact, seems to be a hotbed of new Modern homes, from architects and builders like Joshua Nimmo, Cobalt Homes, Conrad Homes, and Alan Kagan putting up sleek, modern contemporary homes, condos, and townhomes throughout the area.

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Melshire Estates Midcentury Modern

Janelle Alcantara lives and breathes modern architecture. When she spotted this Melshire Estates Midcentury Modern at 5546 Charlestown Drive, it was one of those honey-stop-the-car moments.

Alcantara is not just an architecture lover — she’s also a senior associate with David Griffin & Company Realtors. She sees a lot of homes, and she sees a lot of them get torn down that frankly should have been renovated. She started Galaxy Modern, an architecture-driven real estate service, to make modern architecture accessible and to preserve existing modern homes whenever possible.

This Melshire Estates Midcentury Modern is an exciting example of what can be done when you have vision. It was constructed in 1964 when a lot of architect-designed homes were springing up in the neighborhood. Remember, this was an era when cool was the watchword. The Rat Pack was making headlines, the Ford Mustang appeared on the scene, and Mary Quant brought us the miniskirt. I won’t tell you what the median house price was because you’d just cry.

Dallas has a number of homes from this era that are worthy of saving, but most investors see only the dirt value and scrape away to throw up a generic McModern. Fortunately for all of us, one of the investors Alcantara works with shares her sensibility and enthusiasm for architecturally cool properties.

When Alcantara saw this Melshire Estates Midcentury Modern, she knew what she wanted to do, assembled a crackerjack team, and got to work.

Matt Dimitri Karpenko is known for bringing these midcentury gems to life again,” Alcantara said. “But this is his crown jewel! The house was painstakingly and delicately deconstructed to preserve all that is magnificent about midcentury modern architecture, then slowly and carefully redesigned.”

Melshire Estates Midcentury Modern

Melshire Estates was voted by D Magazine as one of the Top 10 Neighborhoods in North Texas. It’s a beautiful area with large tree-lined streets, deep property setbacks and that sought-after walkability we all want.

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Italian Renaissance Mansion

When I saw this Kessler Park Italian Renaissance mansion, I did a double take. I was pretty darned sure I’d been in it years ago. Indeed, it was a sought-after photography location when I was a photo stylist. There is a very big reason photographers and filmmakers loved shooting here.

It transports you back to the Roaring ‘20s. If they were to remake The Great Gatsby in Dallas, this would be the perfect location. This house represents the plush, wildly successful years of the 1920s, and not a lot of these homes remain.

Listing agent David Griffin wrote the following about this incredible Kessler Park Italian Renaissance mansion at 1177 Lausanne Avenue.

“Often referred to as ‘The Kessler Mansion,’ this circa 1925 Great Gatsby showplace is one of the signature homes in Kessler Park,” he said.

It’s perhaps not a coincidence that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel about the Roaring ’20s and this Italian Renaissance-inspired home both made their debut the same year. If there were ever a home built in Dallas in the 1920s that exemplifies the prosperity and exuberance of that era, this mansion remains one of the finest examples. On over .8 an acre, the beautifully proportioned façade is framed by two elegantly designed loggias with arched columns. With over 6,450 square feet and extensive grounds, a home like this rarely comes on the market in Dallas.

Italian Renaissance Mansion

Italian Renaissance Mansion

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