Not all romances begin with love at first sight. Case in point: this was not the house that Regan and Zach Carlile originally wanted when they began their quest last summer. The Carliles were relocating from Longview, and they looked all over town.
“We were here 10 years ago when my husband was at business school at SMU,” Regan says. “We lived in University Park, and we loved that.” So when they returned with three kids in tow, it was only natural to begin their home search in the Park Cities. They hit Greenway Parks and Preston Hollow, too. Then they got to Lakewood—Lakewood Boulevard, specifically—and the stars seemed to align. “Our shoulders dropped when we looked at this neighborhood,” Regan says. They liked that there were fewer tear-downs. They were excited by the eclecticism. They fell madly in love with a house, made an offer, and prepared to move in.
But, as mentioned, this is a love story with complications. In August, the deal fell through, and the Carliles found themselves without a house. They were not to be deterred, however. They reached out to folks in the neighborhood, asking if anyone would be willing to sell. A friend hooked them up with the Dorseys, a family who just happened to live on Lakewood Boulevard in a lovely Mediterranean house. Even better, Chad Dorsey and his company MORE design + build had done extensive work on the house, which until a few years before had been a 1960s classic revival.
“When we bought the house, it was one of the ugliest on the entire street,” Chad says. Inspired by his many trips to Santa Barbara, he and his team transformed the house, taking it down to the studs. “We wanted it to fit in with the architecture of Lakewood Boulevard but make it more California,” he says. They added an exterior staircase and expanded the 2,500-square-foot house to 5,500 square feet. The project was extensive. “Honestly, it was a challenge getting a floor plan that worked and staying true to the Spanish eclectic feel,” Chad says. “Scale was important. We tried to be sensible and have materials that were really special, but having some balance—knowing what’s too little or too much.” The house was completed in September 2008, and although he had bought it with the intention to sell, Chad and his family moved in.
Cut to last August, when the Dorseys’ phone rang. “A friend of ours contacted us and asked if we’d be interested in selling,” Chad says. Open to the idea, he invited Regan over to check it out. She immediately liked what she saw. “The house was just so light and airy—I liked the sleekness of it,” Regan remembers. “My husband wasn’t with me at the time. I called him and told him, ‘It’s such a sexy house.’ I had never said that about a house before.” The Carliles made an offer; the Dorseys accepted. Even better, they said they would move out in three weeks.
Upon move-in, the Carliles didn’t have to don coveralls. “We did not change a paint color,” Regan says. “We had color on every wall at our Longview house, so I had a little question mark about having all white walls.” Instead, she focused on bringing in different light fixtures. One of her favorite items in the house is the boat chandelier, which hangs in the dining room. “I found that at Ceylon et Cie. It’s my ship of fools,” she says.
Regan also wanted to bring a bit of a contemporary edge to the decor. After graduating from Baylor—which is where she and Zach met, by the way—she studied design. She’s worked on projects in Longview and Dallas, so she’s no stranger to shopping here. “I went to Antiques Moderne and Vinya. I love the Design District and Highland Park Village. Mecox has some fun stuff,” she says. She mixes new items like a Knoll table for clean lines with more traditional family heirlooms and their art collection—much of which was purchased on their travels abroad. “My mom says, ‘If you love it, there’s a place for it,’” Regan says.
The mix works. Our stylist Jenny O’Connor maintains that the best thing about the house is everything. No, really. “My favorite thing about this house is the attention to detail—the painted concrete tile in the bathrooms, the wide hallways, the light fixtures in the kitchen, the oversized fireplaces—the overall thoughtfulness that went into the design,” she says.
So, the house is perfect. But has the neighborhood lived up to their expectations? Yes. And right from the start. “Everyone is so friendly. They came down when we moved in. Very neighborly. It’s kind of like how you remember growing up,” Regan says. The kids ride their bikes around nearby White Rock Lake. They grab dinner at Penne Pomodoro. Regan also enjoys the quieter moments the neighborhood affords. The screened-in porch is a favorite place to enjoy morning coffee and check out the view.
The Carliles like to entertain—but don’t everyone show up at once for a home-cooked meal. “Cooking for 12 is intimidating, but I love to cook for close friends,” Regan says. The family kicked off the holidays with a party that gave guests the opportunity to see the whole property. “We lit the fire pit in the backyard and opened up the back doors,” she says. “The house is great for mingling. You can have a party that’s really intimate or something big.”
The family of five has managed to pack a lot in during the last six months—falling in and out and back in love with houses, decorating, throwing a Christmas bash. So what’s next? Could it eventually be time to move on to a new project, or will they live happily ever after here? For the time being, expect them to stay put. “It’s going to be hard to get Zach to ever leave this house,” Regan says.
Styled by Jenny O’Connor | Flowers by Haile Wossen