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Sale of the the (Mid)Century

Gregg Lovell and Eric Bivins didn’t let the fact that their Fort Worth dream home wasn’t on the market stop them from making an offer.
By Laura Kostelny |
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photography by Ann Stratton

Eric Bivins is not afraid to knock on the doors of strangers. “He has done it a couple of times,” partner Gregg Lovell says. A few years ago, the couple was out running the roads, doing errands. Between stops, they decided to drive through a Fort Worth neighborhood they knew and liked. That’s when they saw it: the perfect house. The couple knew immediately it was the house for them—the midcentury modern architecture, the flat roof, and the large lot on the golf course were ideal. “We’re very big on Palm Springs, and we thought, ‘Man, this looks like it was plopped right out of Palm Springs into Fort Worth,’” he says.

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They stopped the car, and Bivins headed directly for the front door. “It was not on the market, but Eric made the decision to knock on the door and leave a business card,” Lovell explains. His efforts were rewarded. Not only did the homeowner answer the door, he also expressed interest in selling. A month later, they closed on the house and made the move from Dallas to Fort Worth.

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Although the house was built in the 1960s, it had only had two owners—neither of whom had children at home—and was in great condition. It helped that it was exceptionally built. “The  original owners were a merge of two prominent families. George Brandt owned the Brandt Furniture Company. His wife was part of the Childs family, and Childs Construction Company built a lot of the buildings downtown. Because of their contacts, this house is built like a tank. The quality of work here is so high. People from the Brandt factory did all the bookcases and the bar,” Lovell says. “It’s amazing because this house has anything that was considered new technology at the time. All of the draperies are motorized. All of the patios have phone jacks. They were living the high life.”

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The house—with the entry, dining room, and living area all open in one large space—is ideal for throwing parties. Lovell says they entertain more now than they did when they were in Dallas. “This house was really designed for entertaining. It’s 3,300 square feet, but there are only two bedrooms. It’s perfect for large parties,” he says. There are also several side patios and courtyards that are made for cocktail hour. “When the weather is nice, we’re out there all the time,” Lovell says. “We always kind of pinch ourselves. We sit out there, and we feel like we’re on vacation.”

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Furnishing the house was not a problem. Lovell is a visual director at home goods purveyor Global Views, and Bivins works in the corporate offices of Goodwill. Lovell says they’re always on the lookout for treasures. “We find stuff high and low,” he says. The couple found a pair of Brno chairs in a trash pile while driving around Houston. And Bivins found the headboard in their master bedroom at Goodwill for $26. After refurbishing, Lovell estimates they spent about $50 total on the piece. “We shop galleries to Goodwill. We are of the mindset that we don’t care about pedigree. If something looks good and keeps our interest, we get it. We will work with whatever we find and like,” he says. The mix of pieces from Knoll and Baughman with estate sale finds works well with the architecture. Everything seems like it’s meant to be.

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Lovell and Bivins’ good fortune has inspired many of their friends. When they find a house they like, they’re a bit more likely to take a chance. “We have quite a few friends who are knocking on doors these days,” Lovell says. “If you wait a lifetime for the perfect house to come on the market, you run the risk of losing it. You have to change your strategy.”