The barstools are “How to Marry a Millionaire” by Hollywood at Home, and the white vase is from Blue Print. Cody Ulrich

Home Tours

How a University Park Home Became Just the Right Fit

Designer Tracy Hardenburg's goal: To ensure the large space still feels like home.

Caroline and David Ackerman loved their Bluffview home: with a gated yard, long driveway, pool with a shallow wet deck, treehouse, and back house, it was perfect for their two then-small sons. But what happens when those little boys get bigger? “It didn’t feel little when [the kids] were little,” Caroline says. “Now we have a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old, and they’re giant. We felt like we were on top of each other.” 

The couple began searching online not knowing where it would lead. “I excluded the Park Cities [from my searches] because I didn’t think there’d be a house in our price range that would give us everything we wanted,” David says. Enter Realtor Erin Mathews of Allie Beth Allman & Associates, who led the pair to a beautiful two-year-old University Park home designed by architect Christy Blumenfeld and built by Mark Danuser of Tatum Brown Custom Homes. “It was move-in ready, for the most part,” Caroline says. “This house gave us everything we’d wished for, plus two bonus rooms.”

One such room is the glass-encased living area that faces the front of the house. It’s the perfect place for Caroline to host girlfriends who come over, but David loves it for the modern curb appeal it adds to the home’s otherwise symmetrical facade. “This is the room that kind of makes the house,” he says. “It balances everything out with imbalance.”

The couple tapped Danuser and designer Tracy Hardenburg to make it their own and maximize the house’s sprinkle of quiet living spaces throughout—which all help to make the 8,155-square-foot home remain cozy.

“This house gave us everything we’d wished for, plus two bonus rooms.”

Caroline Ackerman, homeowner

The small sitting space off the kitchen originally functioned as an additional eating area, but Hardenburg overhauled it into a morning coffee-and-tea station. In the dining room, she extended a white, square-paneled wall treatment up to the ceiling and updated an adjacent bar with brass details and smoked-glass cabinets that house a wine-glass collection including pieces from David and Caroline’s parents and both of David’s grandmothers. “We wanted to create a cave—a warm spot in the middle of the house,” Hardenburg says. “It’s a smoky, sexy space a little different from the rest of the house.”

Caroline Ackerman calls her “ladies’ room” the perfect space to share wine with friends.

Another beloved space is the screened-in porch just off the living room, where Hardenburg created a more bohemian feel with built-in turquoise leather barstools, a sofa found on a scouting trip to Los Angeles, and a custom table with inlaid Moroccan tile and glass. The bright colors and leather details are a contrast to the rest of the home’s gentle tones of blue and cream.

In a more private space, Hardenburg crafted a masculine, pinstripe-walled office for David—one which occasionally becomes a homework room for the couple’s two boys. In contrast, the couple’s master suite is dominated by a soft, gentle blush tone with notes of silver throughout—like in the papier-mâché silver chandelier. “It turned out pretty enough without being too girly,” Hardenburg says.

It wouldn’t be the Ackermans’ dream home if there wasn’t yet another living space upstairs—the TV room, which admittedly functions mainly as a video-game room—washed in deep blue tones, complete with a table lining the back of the sofa where the boys can eat a snack without worrying about damaging furniture. “This is the kids’ living room,” Caroline jokes. “We all hang out in here. It’s kind of cozy.” 

And that’s the idea behind the whole home—a large space that doesn’t feel too large. The family-friendly floor plan allows kids, parents, and guests to move around from space to space. “I feel like we’re all going to keep migrating together,” says Caroline. “It still feels like a home.” 

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