Impeccably restored Midway Hills home highlights beauty of midcentury modern design


Dallas couple Robert Baldwin and Paul Echart have long been fans of midcentury modern architecture and design. The well-traveled pair, who previously lived in Asia and New York City, have been collecting iconic midcentury pieces and art for decades. So when friend and real estate agent John Weber came to Baldwin and Echart with a rare 1950s home in the Disney Streets of Midway Hills, they had to see it.

“He warned us it was in really rough condition,” says Echart. “He was not wrong.” The couple was living in a ranch-style 1960s home in East Dallas’ Forest Hills, and they weren’t sure they were ready to move. They initially visited the property thinking it would be a good investment — they’d redo it, flip it, move on. But when they toured the grounds, they knew it was perfect for them.

Originally designed by architect Thomas Scott Dean in 1954, the residence was built as a show home to help sell the newly developed Midway Hills neighborhood. It was purchased by architect Brenda Stubel in 1970, and she lived there until 2017. “You could tell she kept the original character of the home,” says Echart. “She was really into Frank Lloyd Wright, who we always admired. We fell in love with it.”

Architect Manolo Banda worked with the homeowners to restore and renovate this 1950s home designed by Thomas Scott Dean. Styled by Jenny O’Connor Studio.(Stephen Karlisch)

Echart and Baldwin’s plan was to document all of the minute details — down to the original brick patterns and drip edges of the roof — and restore the home to its original glory. As these projects tend to go, once they started to demo, the straightforward strategy kept unraveling. “We had foundation issues and other structural issues,” says Echart. “Plus all the duct work had to be replaced. The list of structural items kept growing. We quickly realized that instead of a restoration, we’d have to do a renovation.” Down came the walls.

With the help of architect Manolo Banda, owner of Manolo Design Studio, the couple drew up plans to add about 1,000 square feet to the existing 1,583-square-foot main house while maintaining the integrity of Dean’s original plans. For instance, they continued with the same construction method (pier and beam) and stuck to the same general layout (all three bedrooms on one side of the home). They expanded the kitchen and primary bedroom without changing the configuration of the original floor plan.

“The idea was always to stay true to the midcentury rhythm,” says Banda. “But we need a master suite. We need a pantry. Well, we can’t fit it in the current house, so we have to bring it up to date.”

An original brick fireplace separates the dining room from the kitchen.
The original fireplace divides the dining room from the kitchen. An Industry West table and “Cassina” chairs by Mario Bellini complement the painting “Knowing” by Dou Rong Jun. A Hubbardton Forge lighting fixture, “H is for Humming Sounds” sculpture by Val Bertoia, and Arteriors art above the fireplace add artful and sculptural interest to the room. Styled by Jenny O’Connor Studio.(Stephen Karlisch)

Other major updates included transforming the original carport into a 400-square-foot studio/pool house, moving the driveway off Royal Drive and into the alley, closing in an exterior atrium for the living room and adding a swimming pool. They were able to keep some original components of the home, such as exterior bricks and the fireplace that now divides the kitchen and the dining room.

A built-in bar features walnut cabinetry and the couple's collection of vintage glassware.
The bar features walnut wood, a trademark of midcentury design. It holds Versace champagne flutes, as well as the couple’s collection of vintage glasses and decanters. Styled by Jenny O’Connor Studio.(Stephen Karlisch)

The couple hired designer Chryssi Eddy (former principal of Harding Eddy Designs and now a designer with Manolo Design Studio) to help them with the interiors. She designed their Forest Hills home and, as Echart puts it, “She and I joke about sharing a design brain.” Eddy came in at the beginning of the two-and-a-half-year process, planning furniture placement and drilling into the details. For instance, the living room (which features midcentury masters like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Florence Knoll) was designed before construction even started. “It helped when it all came together,” says Echart. “It was nice to see it go from paper to 3D.”

The powder room features a pink custom sink vanity, a wood mirror, and graphic wallpaper.
“This was the room that [Baldwin] said, ‘Go do whatever you want to do,’” says Echart. “So Chryssi [Eddy] and I wanted to do something fun and bold and a little bit more feminine.” Echart and Eddy chose Rollout wallpaper, a pink custom sink vanity by Vazquez Carpentry, a Jamie Young Co. mirror, Modern Matter hardware and a Robert Baldwin ceramic vase. The “Fandango Suspension” lighting fixture by Kenneth Cobonpue adds to the playful vibe. Styled by Jenny O’Connor Studio.(Stephen Karlisch)

Echart, Baldwin and Eddy made design choices to reflect the era, such as terrazzo tiles, pink in the powder bath (“That high-gloss paint belonged in a midcentury house,” Echart says) and walnut wood cabinetry. The ode to the ’50s architecture carried through to the exterior as well. “As for the details of the brick, you don’t know where [the original bricks] start and stop,” Banda says. “We took out all the brick and saved it on site.” They reinstalled the brick with its original pattern according to Banda’s meticulous notes. The couple also purchased Eichler siding from California that is a replica of the original.

The shower in the primary features blue hand-glazed tiles, as well as Caesarstone...
The Heath Ceramics hand-glazed tiles in the shower make a statement in the bathroom. “We liked the wabi-sabi nature of the tiles,” says Echart. “They aren’t all perfectly the same, and they have movement and shape.” They also chose clean-lined Caesarstone countertops and a vintage Alvar Aalto bench to complete the space. Styled by Jenny O’Connor Studio.(Stephen Karlisch)

While the home is an ode to the past, it also will take the couple into the future. They installed Moen Flo (a smart system that can detect leaks and shut off the water), Delta VoiceIQ (which pairs a faucet with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant devices to dispense water via voice activation), battery-controlled shades, Lutron smart lighting, heated bathroom floors and a Samsung frame television — tech details that elevate the home’s functionality and ease of living. Sprinkled throughout the midcentury interiors are contemporary pieces such as kitchen lighting fixtures by Gubi, tile from Heath Ceramics and Ann Sacks, and ceramic pieces by Baldwin, who owns White Rock Pottery. “It was more important to us to have a smaller space with high quality,” says Echart. “We wanted to do it small but do it well.” We think Thomas Scott Dean would approve.