Stephan SardoneParting is such sweet sorrow. At least it is for us at CandysDirt when one of our favorite homebuilders puts his sensational reno on the market.

Stephan Sardone, owner of Sardone Construction, took the L-Streets house at 10229 Linkwood Dr. in Lake Highlands to the studs and reimagined the space entirely. What emerged is extraordinary—we’ve written about it twice, here and here.

“We essentially demolished its entire insides and redesigned it into an open concept that maximized every inch of the home,” he said. “We were able to fit three full bedrooms and two full bathrooms—and the master bath is really large—as well as an incredible open living space and nice-sized kitchen.”

Stephan SardoneTo make this house happen, Sardone partnered with Larry Paschall of HPD Architecture in Oak Lawn. Together, they totally overhauled the 1,320-square-foot interior. They moved all interior walls, changed the layout of the space, and created a vaulted ceiling with wood beams by pushing out a gable on the roof.

Sardone’s abode served both as a home for him and his wife, and as a contractor showcase to show potential clients just how to create a smart, efficient design. It was a no-brainer to choose it as today’s Thursday Three Hundred. It was listed Friday by Michael Cassell at Gilchrist & Company Real Estate for $379,900.

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Reno sign

We think we’ll stay in Reno. We’d never have dreamed as much — not if we could dial back to early 2012, anyway — but that’s the same story everyone has.

One of my fiancé’s colleagues has family members who promised, despairingly, that they’d “pray for” him when he relocated here. Naturally, he’s fine now.

“People come for an internship or something,” a local woman told me at a dinner party last week, as wine began to swirl up the part of my brain that’d prompt me to get her contact information, “and they wind up staying forever.”

We also know a couple in their 60s, a well-traveled pair with roots overseas, who quickly rented a place in Reno so they could stall long enough to find permanent property in California. That was decades ago. They never left.

Others, like my mother, hope to move here because her (sainted) future son-in-law and I arrived first, and because my stepdad would like all the classic cars and semi-rural properties. Mom is also 60, so she gets hot a lot — which makes her pretty livid during Texas summers. I get it. And I’m thrilled.

At any rate, we all hope to capitalize on Reno’s real estate market as it continues to recover.

Our neighborhood isn’t one for starter homes, though, and we haven’t mustered the guts to ask our landlady if she’ll sell.

Off Mayberry Drive, for instance — a nearby area with fewer historic buildings but better views and supposedly lower prices — I picked up an info sheet for a tiny, bare-bones 2/1, just for reference.

The house was nothing special, with boxy lines and no real landscaping or tree growth. Its asking price? $240,000.

Gulp.

That’s no real estate fortune, especially by Dallas standards, but the place was boring, and visually very similar to a mobile home. Ours is brick, nearly three times as big, full of mahogany trim and stained glass, and walking distance from trendy little bars and the Nevada Museum of Art.

This isn’t boasting. It suggests we may be renting well beyond our means, and that we should save for a down payment rather than get used to luxury we don’t own.  Even if it’s not a stunner, our future abode will be ours — ours to paint, ours to landscape, ours to mess with until it feels like a self-portrait.

Buying art and furniture to match our rental isn’t exactly a genius move, either, but I’ve been doing it. I’m too smitten to stop. And the fact that our neighbor’s ivy-covered house makes our living-room window into a postcard is no help.

TahoeMatt

 

Georgia Fisher’s fiancee, Matt, on the shores of Lake Tahoe, which is a matter of minutes from Reno.

“No offense,” my old friend Eric told me when he and his DFW-born wife, April, visited earlier this month, “but we didn’t think Reno’d be anywhere near this nice.” (“You see a lot of bare trees this time of year,” I’d warned them, “which’ll give you a clear view of all the titty bars. It’s general nekkidness.”)

Actually, it’s nothing like that. Not really.

We took our friends to nearby Lake Tahoe, of course, winding through heavy pines and early snow as our car made the roughly 2,000-foot climb.

April Thedford and Eric Reynolds

 

Georgia Fisher’s friends, April and Eric, were amazed by Reno and plan to move there, too.

“It’s like this is supposed to be home,” April murmured, her gaze fixed on an endless stretch of turquoise-clear water. “I just feel it.”

Another day, we zipped out to Virginia City — a touristy but convincing homage to the gold and silver rush that first brought prospectors to the area. The olde-tyme, hokey stores are one thing, but the mine carved into a mountain is real, as are the winding switchbacks that’ll lead you into town, and the striking old cemetery that seems to hang suspended over valleys as vast and quiet as the ocean.

Our guests liked Reno itself, though; the Middle Eastern food and hip secondhand joints on Virginia Street, for one, and the sweet people who’ll come out of the woodwork if you let them.

“That dude’s walking his cat on a leash,” Eric chortled as we made the very short drive from home to downtown.

“Yer cat’s beautiful,” I hollered from the car window, wondering if the longhaired old guy would take it as harassment. But his face broke into an ear-to-ear grin, and he waved hard as we took off.

By the time they left for Texas, our friends had decided in earnest to look for jobs here. April’s parents will be joining them, wherever they settle. This makes us so happy that we could scream loud enough to endanger the friendship itself, so we’re playing it cool.

They say Reno is how Austin used to be: friendly and funky and sort of small. We’ll take it.

Georgia and Matt2

Editor’s Note: Meet Georgia Fisher. She’s a talented writer, and we are just pleased as punch to have her on the CandysDirt.com team. A seasoned journalist and feature writer, Georgia is pulling up stakes and moving from Dallas to Reno, Nevada, with her surgeon fiancée, Matt. Here’s the very first installment of “Renting in Reno.” Enjoy!

By Georgia Fisher

Coming from Dallas, I had little interest in Reno real estate. Not at first, anyway.

It started with a glum sigh on the flight to Nevada from Love Field last December, when my fiancée brought me along for his big job interview. Sometimes the desert looks gorgeous from the air, like a moonscape or a giant, sediment-dragged fossil that’s been splashed here and there with gemlike water. Other times, it just makes you feel thirsty and alone. Or so says a native Texan who’s never lived more than a few hours from her mama.

Take this from the same genius who thought Las Vegas was a couple hours away — try seven and change — and that trees can’t grow in the desert. Actually, the Biggest Little City in the World has an artistic, outdoorsy soul all its own, with mild summers, countless festivals, and quick access to coveted hiking trails and ski slopes in luxurious Lake Tahoe.

Even so, if the property ads I’d found online were any indication, our home would probably be a beige-painted, beige-carpeted dwelling on a treeless lot with convenient beige gravel in place of grass.

I was wrong about that, too.

“There’s no shortage of beautiful homes,” said Reno real estate agent Paul Studebaker. “There’s a shortage of beautiful homes that are for sale.

And rentals — one of which we’d be needing — comprise more than half the houses on Reno’s market, which bottomed out famously a few years ago. In May, the city’s median sale price was up 32 percent from that of a year before, however, to $218,000.

It was through an indirect correspondence on CraigsList that we finally found our dream house — a three-bedroom, two-bath Chicago Bungalow with two studies and around 2,200 square feet that we’d kill to buy someday — in the city’s Old Southwest neighborhood.

Reno Home

Architecturally, Old Southwest is a bit like the love child of Dallas’ Kings Highway Conservation District and the M Streets, perhaps with a Park Cities auntie in the mix, thanks to its insular feel and top-flight public schools.

It’s a walkable area near trendy businesses, the Truckee River, and a natural food co-op — a place where kids zip around on scooters in a bubble of Rockwellian safety, and where at least one street sign is overgrown with ornamental vines that turn all shades of fire in autumn. The houses are often small, built with brick and full of exquisite details from a bygone era.

Ours, as luck would have it, belongs to Nancy Gilbert, a construction attorney who’s made an art of bringing distressed properties back to life. She and her husband, Tim, recently pulled off an impeccable Spanish revival, among others. And right next door to it on Joaquin Miller Drive — one of various Old Southwest streets named for writers — is their picture-perfect English Cotswold cottage.

Decor is my obsession, but something about our new landlady rocks the little perfectionist in me to sleep. She’s combed the country and the world in search of the right vintage light and window fixtures, for one, and can rattle off the home’s historical stats in a long breath.

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Had Nancy not approved us as tenants, we would’ve debated taking a place in Reno’s Mayberry neighborhood with a dated, borderline-heinous 1970s interior that stands in contrast to its stunning mountain views (at a cost of around $2,200 a month, though we saw plenty of prettier, smaller Nevada homes listed for $1,200 or less), or a high-rise, two-bedroom apartment in a so-so, seedy-after-dark part of downtown for around $1,900 a month. That one was chic inside, but it wasn’t right.

Reno, however, is just fine. Or it will be if our Dallas friends come visit.

Y’all had better.

Georgia Fisher is a freelance writer currently vacationing in Europe before taking leave of her senses and settling in Reno, Nevada. Leave a nice note or freelance writing lead for her at georgia.fisher@gmail.com.