Quick — name your favorite rite of spring. Spotting hosts of golden daffodils? Shopping for that fresh new frock? For many of us, it’s making our way through other people’s homes and gardens, taking a close look at freshly sparkling interiors and spectacular spring-awakened landscapes. Yes, it’s time to pull out those espadrilles, your favorite sunhat and some sunscreen, and hit the road for the spring grand tours. Here’s a glimpse of this year’s bounty.
Fort Worth AIA Homes Tour
The American Institute of Architects’ annual Fort Worth tour is curated by architects and features some of the city’s most jaw-dropping homes, so it’s fitting that one of the homes belongs to the architect who designed it.
When David Stanford, principal at Hahnfeld Hoffer Stanford, built his dream home in Riverhills for himself and his wife, Terry, he combined their desire for sleek modern lines with a love for traditional Texas style. The limestone, brick and Corten steel construction is one of only two contemporary houses in that part of the old Edwards Ranch. The property’s half-acre sits across the street from the Arborlawn United Methodist Church, also designed by Stanford. “It’s interesting to be able to be on the porch and look across the street and see some of your other creations,” Stanford says.
Stanford’s fondness for porches inspired his vision for this new build. The dwelling consists essentially of three limestone blocks, topped with shed roofs and connected by flat-roofed links sided with Corten steel. Each block — a main living area, a master suite and a guest suite and garage — opens to a central courtyard at the back of the house. The outdoor living space boasts a rectangular azure pool and native Texas landscaping.
Stanford envisioned the design “as a way for family to come together,” he says. “I was trying to create a community space out there.”
South-facing sliding doors and a series of long, horizontal windows at ceiling height flood the living space with natural light. Interior flooring resembles terrazzo but is actually highly polished concrete, which beautifully reflects that light. Neutral white walls pop with color from the Stanfords’ contemporary art collection. He and Terry are not only collectors but also artists themselves, and each has a delightful, light-filled studio space.
Expect to find each home’s architect at the five residences on this year’s tour. The overall goal is to showcase great residential design and get people thinking about options. “Architecture is becoming more relevant to non-architects,” explains Brandon Allen, principal of Allen Architecture. “People have not had choices when buying residences. We want to show them they aren’t shoehorned into cookie-cutter, repetitive styles.” Houses on this year’s tour, he says, reflect “high-end new builds, attainable remodels, and modest budgets.”
In addition to Stanford’s contemporary new home, tourgoers can expect to see a teardown and rebuild in Westover Hills that mimics the original structure’s footprint in order to save the mature trees (Norman D. Ward, architect); an earth ship-style home that emphasizes sustainability with a contemporary second-story addition (Matthijs Melchiors, architect); a Midcentury Modern renovation near Foster Park (Scott Martsolf, architect); and the renovation of a 1932 stone-clad home in Arlington Heights (Gregory S. Ibanez, architect).
Details: Five modern/contemporary homes curated by local architects. Noon-6 p.m. April 9-10. Tickets: $20 at www.aiafw.org, 817-334-0155, or the AIA Fort Worth office at 2821 W. Seventh St., Suite 300, Fort Worth; tour-day tickets $25, $10 for individual homes, available at each site. Tour addresses: 3636 Manderly Place, 456 Remuda Drive, 3849 River Hills View, 850 Washburn Ave., 6205 Juneau Road, all in Fort Worth. Extra: Exhibit and silent auction at Homes Tour Wrap Party, 6-7:30 p.m April 10. 707 W. Vickery Blvd., Suite 101, Fort Worth. Details: www.aiafortworth.org
Nostalgia. Front porches, the things that bring neighbors together.
— Ted Lovato
Fairmount Historic District Tour of Homes
Like many residents of Fairmount, Ted Lovato is both proud and protective of his Fort Worth neighborhood, proudly touted as one of the country’s richest collections of turn-of-the-century housing and well known for its Victorian, Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts and foursquare homes.
Older homes, like Lovato’s 1906 modified foursquare, require vigilant maintenance and TLC, but Lovato is quick to cite their appeal: “Nostalgia. Front porches, the things that bring neighbors together. The architecture of the arts and crafts period.”
The living and dining rooms of the DIYer feature warmly stained floors, original woodwork and an intricately patterned, hand-painted ceiling, all authentic to the period, as is the Mission-style fireplace mantel, which Lovato found at an antiques show and which looks beautiful with a surround of glossy, aqua tiles.
The antique Mission furniture reflects 20-some years of collecting, and lamps, fixtures, and accessories are true to the era. Only three windows in the home lack the multi-paned upper sashes characteristic of Craftsman homes, and for these Lovato has created stained-glass windows. American Indian portraits, blankets, and pillows complement the interiors.
Out back, an enclosed courtyard recalls New Orleans and is beloved as the handiwork of Lovato’s deceased partner, a landscape architect. After 19 years in this house, 23 total in Fairmount, Lovato can’t leave. “There’s a lot of emotional attachment,” he says, echoing the sentiments of many residents of this celebrated, convivial quarter. This year’s Fairmount Historic District Tour features five restored homes, as well as two new constructions.
Details: Five restored historic homes, plus a new build, a work-in-progress, one bonus property. Noon-6 p.m. May 7-8. Tickets: $15 through May 6, at www.historicfairmount.com and Old Home Supply, 1801 College Ave.; Butler’s Antiques, 2221 Eighth Ave.; Old Neighborhood Grill, 1633 Park Place Ave.; SiNaCa Studios, 1013 W. Magnolia Ave., all in Fort Worth; $20 day of tour at SiNaCa Studios, 1013 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth. Extra: Kickoff parade 10 a.m. May 7, and Texas historic marker dedication at the Grammer-Pierce House, 2 p.m. May 7. Details: http://historicfairmount.com
Colleyville Garden Club Promenade
Christina Bealmear had a vision of a European-style garden. And after 18 years of evolution, her yard resembles a bucolic Italian villa with its stone-bordered pool, curtained and mirrored loggia and wood-shuttered outdoor kitchen.
Bealmear, whose garden is one of four in Colleyville’s annual Garden Club Promenade, admits that all that construction left the yard a bit of a “war zone,” and she and her husband, Allen, called in Lambert’s of Dallas to help create the yard they imagined. Today, paths of pea gravel wind around the hardscape, leading to creatively presented surprises.
I just want to share everything I have with everybody!
— Christina Bealmear
Espaliered white star jasmine creates a diamond pattern on a wall behind an antique stone fountain sourced from France. Tall, pink Indian hawthorn topiaries flank the fountain on either side, accompanied by well-trimmed boxwoods on both sides of the path. Around a corner, a row of seven Foster hollies leads to an espaliered pyracantha, fronted by white concrete pots of boxwood topiaries. Stone steps, accented by creeping jenny, rise to a terrace, surrounded by azalea bushes with large white blooms. “Pink Chintz” thyme cushions the spaces between the terrace flagstones, while a display of white mixed perennials and annuals edges the beds.
The Bealmears’ personal style lends an unexpected, whimsical touch: A slate slab tops an iron base they found at the antiques fair at Round Top, while a mirrored, Parisian-style architectural fragment keeps company with a metal settee in a quiet corner. An armillary sphere, also a Round Top find, perches atop a vintage pedestal.
Like many gardeners, Bealmear says, “I just want to share everything I have with everybody!” Her plentiful ideas are ripe for the picking.
Details: Two Colleyville gardens, two Grapevine gardens, plant sale and raffle. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. May 1. Tickets: $12, $15 day of tour, at Foreman’s, 3801 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville; Market Street, 5605 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville; Blooming Colors, 2221 Ira E. Woods Ave., Grapevine; Marshall Grain, 3525 William D. Tate Ave., Grapevine; Calloway’s Nursery, 760 Grapevine Hwy., Hurst, and 291 E. Southlake Blvd., Southlake. Home addresses and maps supplied with ticket. Details: www.colleyvillegardenclub.org
Hidden Gardens of Fort Worth Tour
The spacious 1919 Mission Revival home in Mistletoe Heights carries its age well, as does the two-acre garden, with its darkened stone patinas; ancient, twisting wisteria vines; and original outbuildings that provide scenic backdrops.
“We have so much space to enjoy,” says Susie Mitchell of the home she shares with her husband, Mark.
The couple’s love of entertaining is reflected in the defined outdoor living spaces they’ve created. Central to the back yard is a large, curvy pool, trimmed with brick and surrounded by palm trees. Twin raised planting beds, similarly edged with brick, flank the pool, as do chaise longues. The setting evokes old Hollywood glamour.
A wisteria-covered arbor is Mark’s favorite spot. He retreats to this cozy corner every morning to enjoy his coffee and listen to the sounds of the awakening day. When the Mitchells’ four children are home, the family gathers here to lounge in the seating area and watch television.
Like other yards featured in Historic Fort Worth’s annual Hidden Gardens Tour, which this year focuses on Mistletoe Heights, this one includes secluded surprises. A small greenhouse hosts an orchid collection, tea garden, and several fairy gardens. An ivy-covered topiary, looking remarkably like the Mitchells’ Airedale terrier, stands guard at the greenhouse door.
An iron gate leads to secreted stone stairs, where Susie has installed vertical gardens of succulents along the privacy fencing. She turned to Fort Worth’s Fowlkes, Norman & Associates to create the arresting planters after seeing something similar in a wine country hotel.
Past a wooden door, the property rolls down to the Trinity River. It’s largely left wild here — “It’s really hard to keep life from happening,” she says — and it’s home to wild turkeys and a family of foxes. Stone steps lead down to a deck, where the adventurous are rewarded with a fire pit and table and chairs.
Details: Six gardens in Fort Worth’s historic Mistletoe Heights neighborhood. Noon-6 p.m. May 15. Tickets: $20, starting April 18, and $25 day of tour; sold at Archie’s Gardenland, 6700 Camp Bowie Blvd., C.C.’s Touch of Nature, 3912 W. Vickery Blvd., both in Fort Worth. Garden locations provided with tickets. Details: www.historicfortworth.org
Crossing County Lines: Four Dallas Tours Worth Visiting
15th Annual Turtle Creek Tour of Homes
Tour five ultra-luxurious homes — four in high-rises, including the two-story penthouse of The Warrington once owned by former Dallas mayor and Texas Instruments co-founder Erik Johnson, and one single-family home on the banks of Turtle Creek. Design styles range from Old World European to Midcentury Modern and contemporary. All homeowners are also serious art collectors, and works include rare Staffordshire figures, bronze sculpture, and pieces by Chagall, Picasso and Chihuly.
Details: 1-5 p.m. April 10. Tickets $60 for non-TCA members, online through April 8 ; tour-day tickets at each home or central parking location. For more information, visit www.turtlecreekassociation.org.
11th Annual White Rock Home Tour
See six homes of Midcentury Modern heritage and contemporary design, while helping to raise funds for neighborhood Hexter Elementary School, a Blue Ribbon winner in 2009. New this year: The school will host the White Rock Home Tour Cafe, featuring signature dishes from four area establishments.
Details: Noon-5 p.m. April 23-24. Tickets $15, $20 day of tour, at White Rock Coffee, 10105 E. Northwest Hwy. and other areas retailers, and online. Tour-day tickets at all homes; addresses on website. For more information, visit www.whiterockhometour.org.
Swiss Avenue Historic District’s Mother’s Day Home Tour
Six of the city’s early-20th-century homes are featured: three versions of the classic prairie foursquare — a uniquely American design; a Tudor revival, a Dutch Colonial, and a Spanish Mission Revival. Travel among houses on mini-coaches staffed with guides; free horse-drawn carriage rides, too. Food and beverage vendors, artisans, and live entertainment await at Savage Park on Swiss Avenue. On May 8, a champagne brunch celebrates mothers.
Details: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. May 7, noon-6 p.m. May 8. Tickets $20, $25 on tour days, at Whole Foods, 2118 Abrams Road, and other area retailers, and online. For more information, visit www.sahd.org.
North Texas Water Garden Society Pond Tour
This is a self-guided tour of 20 to 40 North Texas ponds and water gardens across the Metroplex, from Fort Worth to Flower Mound to Dallas and beyond.
Details: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 11-12, plus 8-11 p.m. June 11. Tickets $20 per car, available in May at Whiz-Q-Stone, 4501 E. Loop 820 S., Fort Worth. Tickets include a booklet with tour addresses and photos, as well as helpful articles about constructing and maintaining ponds. For more information, visit www.ntwgs.org.