Lizzie and Dan Routman had no plans to leave their Bluffview home of 21 years. Besides being spacious and beautiful, with a sizable yard, the house had sentimental value, too—it was where the couple had raised their two daughters.
But a quick zip through Zillow’s latest listings a couple of years ago presented an intriguing alternative for the now empty nesters. Tucked away on a secluded street, on a bluff overlooking Turtle Creek, a contemporary stunner designed by influential architect Bud Oglesby caught the couple’s eye. “You walk in, and there’s all this natural light and lots of windows,” Lizzie says of the 1988-built house. “So it’s very welcoming, but it’s clean and contemporary.”
Originally designed for a pair of art collectors, the 5,000-square-foot residence also had plenty of art walls, a feature that appealed to the Routmans as they, too, collect art.
Before the couple closed the deal on the house, however, they asked architect Russell Buchanan to take a look at it as well. As great as it was, the home hadn’t been updated since the ’80s, so they wanted to get a professional opinion. Buchanan confirmed what the Routmans had suspected: the house had exceptional bones, and with just a few fixes, it could soon be ideal for the downsizing couple.
To complete their dream design team, Lizzie and Dan enlisted interior designer Wendy Konradi, who had done some work on their previous home, and builder Bert Smith to work alongside Buchanan. Then they tasked the trio with, among other things, completely remodeling two main spaces: the kitchen and the primary suite.
“The kitchen was a very small space for the scale of the home, yet there were very interesting details that Bud Oglesby had originally designed for the house,” Konradi says, “the best one being a full-height window that overlooks Turtle Creek.”
Originally, a set of glass upper cabinets floated in front of the window, offering a clear view of the outdoors. The Routmans loved the concept but felt a little bit like they were in a fishbowl. Buchanan’s solution: trade the glass cabinets for white oak to create more practical storage and to keep the homeowners from feeling like they were on display. “It was very much respecting the original architecture but making it work better for the new homeowners,” Konradi says.
To maximize the kitchen’s footprint, Buchanan removed an existing fireplace and relocated a nearby laundry room to the second floor. Then, to finish the space, Konradi and project manager Ashley Hunt opted for stainless steel countertops for the Bulthaup cabinetry and cork floors that extended into the adjoining breakfast nook. “Cork is so soft underfoot,” Konradi says. “And with tho- se stainless countertops, it’s such a nice contrast.”
Like the kitchen, the primary bedroom and bathroom also had to be gutted, but unlike the cramped cookery, the two private spaces were bigger than they needed to be. The bathroom area was especially cavernous, so much so that the remodeled space now houses a utility room, an exercise room, dual closets, and a spa-like wet room that Konradi clad in an eye-catching terrazzo, including the walls, floor, and tub surround.
In the bedroom, the design team added a dividing wall between the sleeping area and sitting area, transforming what was once an oversize single space into two separate and intimate spaces. To up the coziness quotient even further, Konradi wrapped the entire bedroom in a soothing blue fabric. “The room just cocoons you in this wool flannel wall upholstery that is so serene,” she says.
For the rest of the house, Konradi focused on adding color and texture throughout, as well as integrating Lizzie and Dan’s various collections. “They didn’t want it to feel like they were in a museum,” the designer says, “but we were very conscientious that nothing competed with the artwork.”
In addition to art, the couple has been collecting exquisite furnishings for many years. They’ve also inherited several outstanding pieces, including a pair of Ward Bennett Scissor chairs that Konradi refinished and reupholstered. “We didn’t buy everything brand new for this home. We reimagined a lot,” Konradi says. “So it’s created this wonderful layered effect, and it gives the home such soul.”
The Magic of the Mix
To keep a room feeling fresh, Konradi looks to the past and present, incorporating pieces from various eras. “I think it’s a testament to good design when you can’t differentiate a space or piece of furniture that is 100 years old versus something contemporary that’s being executed today,” she says. In the Routman house, Konradi’s eye for combining items from different time periods is on full display in the breakfast nook (below), where a pair of chairs designed in 2010 share space with a coffee table from 1947—all resting in a brand-new Bulthaup kitchen. “The space isn’t staid or stuck in any one era,” she says. “These pieces can have this fun coexistence. That happened a lot throughout the home. That’s the fun—getting that magic in the mix and making these pieces work together.”