How many mid-century ranch homes can one couple renovate?


It all started with an unsolicited offer. After completing two renovations in Dallas, Ben and Josh Collins weren’t looking to tackle another project – until a real estate agent contacted them with an offer they couldn’t refuse.

The couple’s home wasn’t on the market, but the agent had a buyer willing to pay $1.2 million for one of the homes they previously purchased and renovated for around $950,000 — which would leave them enough profit for a new project.

“We said, ‘Okay, it’s time to start again,'” said Ben, 42, senior vice president of retail at Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams.

After expanding and updating the two 1950s ranch-style homes that most residents would have considered teardowns, Ben said, they had little doubt they were capable of yet another transformation. Her husband, Josh, 38, is an interior designer who could translate their ideas into building plans, and they already knew many contractors.

The real challenge was finding a home to buy in the white-hot summer 2020 real estate market, so the couple set some parameters: They wanted to stay in the north side of Dallas, where they’d grown accustomed to living with their daughter. , Eleanor, now 3. And they wanted outdoor space — “a good-sized yard with big trees,” Josh said. “That was our main goal.”

As for the style of the house and its condition? This was largely irrelevant, as they intended to make major changes.

When they heard of a new listing for another 1950s ranch house on about 0.4 acres in the Preston Hollow neighborhood with mature oaks and magnolias, they started planning. an offer before you even see it. The asking price was $525,000, and after a bidding war, the couple struck a deal to buy it for around $560,000.

After closing out this month of September and being able to take a closer look, there were a lot of details they didn’t like – which was exactly what they were hoping for. “For us, it’s better than someone putting money into it, because you’re paying for it,” Ben said.

Along with the 1970s style and blue carpet running through the bathrooms, “it was very hectic, with small spaces and eight-foot ceilings,” he said. They wanted the opposite: an open, airy space with high ceilings.

To help realize their vision, they turned to their friend, Raul Baeza, an Austin architect who had been a guest at the couple’s homes and knew their sense of style and way of life. Working primarily via video conference, they planned a complete overhaul, including an addition that expanded the home from approximately 2,500 to 4,300 square feet.

Just inside the front door, they blasted out the interior walls and vaulted the ceiling, positioning the living room and dining room either side of a central fireplace.

They enlarge the openings in the brick facade to make way for huge floor-to-ceiling windows that extend to the floor. “They just bring the outside in, so you get natural daylight and a front yard extension,” Ben said.

One side of the living room is open to the new kitchen, which has a more intimate feel with a lower ceiling and exposed beams and a utility room furnished with four Bridget swivel chairs by Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams.

One of the benefits of working in the furniture industry, Ben says, is that he can combine his professional and personal interests: “I could be a bit selfish.

The Niles bed that the couple chose for their master suite is a good example. When Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams designed it, Ben said, “I knew we were going to use it” in the new house. So he changed the proportions of the bed to make room for the art above their bedroom’s headboard, and included wings on the sides, to create a cocooning feel.

A home office and three additional bedrooms, including one for Eleanor, are on the other side of the house. “We entertain a lot, so we wanted spaces where we could still do that and she would be far enough away that if we had people here a little later she wouldn’t mind,” Ben said. “This side of the house is also reserved for guests. We want them to feel like they are not above us when they stay for a weekend.

Outside, they painted the old dusty orange brick white and replaced the brown roof shingles with heather gray shingles. In the backyard, they added a pool, a sunken area for a gas fireplace, and another seating area under a pergola.

After selling their old home, the family had moved into a rental to give their new home to contractors. Construction began in January 2021 and was completed in November at a cost of around $800,000.

Since then, the house has become a favorite destination for Eleanor’s friends, who take full advantage of the heated swimming pool. Later this month, the couple plan to open the house to a large group of families when they celebrate Eleanor’s fourth birthday.

Recently a friend asked what they would do differently if they had to start all over again. But the couple have now renovated too many houses not to miss anything important.

“We sat down and thought a lot,” Ben said. “And I don’t see anything we would have done differently.”

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