caruth boulevard Reisenbichler

The Dallas Center For Architecture hosts some amazing open houses, allowing patrons to tour homes with unique design elements and stunning construction and giving architecture lovers access to some truly one-of-a-kind properties.

This time patrons can tour a Park Cities home that is as sustainable as it is chic. Enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres while touring this incredible 8,300-square-foot home designed by Perkins+Will principal Tom Reisenbichler, designed for himself and his family.

Reisenbichler’s objective was to prove that environmentally sensitive architecture can be both appealing to the eyes and senses. We think he achieved that, with an LEED-H Platinum structure that is absolutely enchanting but doesn’t distract from the natural beauty surrounding it.

“The use of entertaining spaces which flow from inside the home to under the canopy of trees, engages the site and creates wonderful linkages between spaces. The design is a balanced composition of solids and glass with strong horizontal lines tying the building to the site,” the press materials state. “The home uses high-quality reclaimed and recycled materials, such as teak, local stone for interior walls and tile rich in recycled content. The house far surpasses Energy Star efficiencies and uses the highest efficiency materials available in the market for insulation.”

You can see it for yourself on Nov. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person and specific details will be shared after confirmation. Find out more about registering for this event on the Dallas Center For Architecture’s website.

(Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of our “Outside the Frame” series that offers the insights of Dallas’ leading real estate photographers on subjects that are both important and often controversial in the industry. Check out our first installment here.)

Today we have Richard Sharum, founder of one of the area’s most popular real estate photography firms, Shoot2Sell . To read Sharum’s perspective on how much editing is ethical for listing photos, jump. What do you find is the biggest misconception sellers and Realtors have about hiring a professional photographer for MLS photos?

Richard SharumRichard Sharum: That because cameras are so abundant, everyone can shoot architecture for the purposes of marketing it.  Shooting property is a fine art and not be taken lightly.  One inexperienced person can actually make a property look worse than in real life, resulting in no interest and a bad reputation for the listing agent.

CD:  What is the most important shot and why?

Sharum: I believe it is the primary front, or what we call in the industry the “default front exterior”.  But then again, sometimes, especially on older homes, all the greatness is inside.  But first impressions matter.  I am always telling agents that if there are really strong images on the interior or backyard, don’t be afraid to use that as your “primary” to get interest.  Don’t forget, this is marketing.

CD: What is the least important shot and possibly the one to avoid at all costs?

Sharum: The irrelevant ones.  The shots that are being put in as filler as a requirement from the agent or the Seller.  We, as professionals, are looking to bridge the gap between Art and Information when shooting architecture.  That is our style.  But when we are forced to shoot beyond our standards by either an agent or seller who do not know anything about photography, it only weakens the overall portfolio, which is what we are trying to avoid.  We want strong imagery, top to bottom.

CD: How much alteration of a shot is acceptable? Greening the grass? Adding blue sky? Getting rid of cords?Are there quick fixes you can do if a client requests? Where do you draw the line about representing a property?

Sharum: Great question! We are highly ethical in that we will not alter an image if the subject we are altering is a fact of the structure, i.e.- a hole in the wall.  We will green grass because 99% of the time brown grass is not permanent.  Same thing with cords.  Those are not a permanent part of the structure.  We cannot, however, put grass where there is none, or erase stains out of carpet, as those are considered permanent until proven otherwise.  And we get proof from our clients before we go back and alter those images.  These ethics, sadly, are not repeated from some of the other “photography companies” out there.

CD: What is the optimum height to shoot a room photo from? There seem to be lots of creative angles, wide angles, shots from the hip, literally,  these days. Are those helpful or a hindrance.?

Sharum: When shooting architecture properly, every room has a different height theory.  All of our photographers are trained using these theories.  Most bad MLS photos are shot way too high, as if a giant has entered the room.  Too high photos are worse than too low, in my opinion.

CD:  So we have 25 photos we can put on MLS. What if there are not 25 good shots? Do you shoot more angles of the same room? Add photos of the neighborhood?

Sharum: We always try to add amenities shots.  We prefer this method of filling up 25 than shooting irrelevant images .  Great photos of a community pool are much more desirable to buyers than ANOTHER shot of the guest bathroom.

Photographs of amenities offered in a location can help to round out the number of  MLS photos.

Photographs of amenities offered in a location can help to round out the number of MLS photos.


CD:  Have you ever had to decline a shoot or walk away because a home was not ready?

Sharum: Absolutely.  Ever since the beginning, my goal with my company was to raise the standards for the benefit of EVERYONE, including agents.  I believe we have made huge strides in what is considered acceptable marketing for architecture in DFW as a result of our standards.  It only helps the agent, their reputation, their sellers’ experience, the buyers’ experience, and makes our jobs easier. Everyone wins when we all pay attention.  We were also the first to come up with a “photoshoot checklist” that gets sent to the Seller to get them prepared.  At the time we started that, it was almost seen as revolutionary in Dallas as no one had put that kind of effort out there before.

CD:  Any funny stories about having to avoid shooting something unusual in a home?

Sharum: Oh my goodness.  Stories for days.  Some too explicit to even mention unless we are at a bar!

CD: Parting shot?

Sharum: We are still the only Architectural Photography company in Texas who have photographers who are trained to shoot architecture.  Period.  We do it because we love helping people look great at their professions and we love people (sellers and buyers).  We love helping a family move on to their new chapter easier by shooting their property to be sold, and we love having a great relationship with our clients.  That is what makes us.

Sardone 1

You know what? We don’t feature enough homes in the L Streets neighborhood. I really adore this area, which has such an incredibly diverse selection of architecture and style. You can find anything in the L Streets, from Midcentury Moderns, to 1970s contemporary, to post-war traditionals. It’s an amazing neighborhood.

stephan_sardoneThat’s part of the reason Stephan Sardone took on one of his latest projects — an L Streets one-owner traditional home that was in desperate need of vision. Built in 1955, this house in the Lake Highlands area has just 1,200 square feet to work with.

Sardone has an eye for using materials and textures in unexpected ways, with a style that skews more minimalist and modern. Still, he’s known for his personal touch as founder of Sardone Construction. He understands nuance and how to make a space livable.

“Concerning our design philosophy on this particular project, I wanted to both be true to the neighborhood and existing architecture, while updating the space dramatically,” Sardone said.

As you can see from the photos, he has a lot of work ahead of him.

“I took what was a house crammed full of doors and short ceilings and opened up the living space with a vaulted ceiling and a few beams about 10 feet up. We also eliminated the gable on that side of the house to achieve the desired look,” he said. “We wanted to show a few things with this Arts and Crafts style house: you can do a lot with only 1,200 square feet; you can do even more with a great design/remodel company.”

Sardone 4 before

Sardone 3

Isn’t that the truth. Most of the remodel is focused on the living/dining areas, which extend to the outdoor kitchen in the backyard by way of a passthrough on the kitchen counter. The master bath will also get a new look. Lest you think the focus is just on eye candy, Sardone also wants to make this house a modern marvel of earth friendliness.

Sardone 2

“With this size house and some of the efficient and creative designs we’ve incorporated (spray foam insulation, new windows, LED lights), we should reduce the energy bill to below $50 a month,” Sardone said.

That’s incredible, and we can’t wait to see how the project turns out. Stay tuned!


Bernadette Timber Frame

I love that, even though Bernadette Schaeffler has lived in the U.S. for years, she’s still inspired by the architecture and design from her native Germany. The country is known for its architecture and art (and beer!), so when Bernadette professed her love for Germany’s timber frame buildings, we knew her feelings were sincere.

“While touring Germany hunting for beautiful and extraordinary pieces for my Collection I rediscovered our wonderful timber frame buildings,” Schaeffler said. “The structure is always the same the design is different from region to region.”

Bernadette Timber Frame Framing

I’m fascinated by how these homes are built by stacking notched timber over and over again without nails, filling the walls with plaster. Such an interesting, durable way to construct a home. Many of the timber buildings in Germany have been standing for centuries, and will probably last for centuries more.

“Mainly medieval villages like Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Duderstedt, Schorndorf or Schwaebisch Gmuend and all the little well-known cities along the Rhine River still present themselves with this beauty,” Schaeffler said. “Today, Germany put a lot of effort to renovate the historic and beloved architecture and many tourists are visiting yearly to enjoy and study this wonderful craftsmanship.”

Bernadette Timber Frame Ohio

Of course, American architecture has been deeply inspired by this method of construction, and you can see homes throughout Dallas and beyond carrying hallmarks of timber frame building, such as the many Tudors in Lakewood and Hollywood Heights, as well as those in the Park Cities.

Find out more about what inspires Bernadette at the Bernadette Schaeffler Collection in the Design District.

Dave Perry-Miller — his name is now on a luxury real estate boutique company. He has been honored innumerable times as one of Dallas’ top-producing agents, and is a leader in sales of million-dollar properties. With more than $800 million (wowzers!) in sales and 850 satisfied customers, the Wall Street Journal ranked him #27 in sales in the United States in 2006 and as having the most million-dollar residential sales in Texas. For 30 years, Dave has sold many of Dallas’ most significant homes, including Frank Lloyd Wright- and Phillip Johnson-designed properties. His reputation with home buyers and peers in the industry globally is stellar and growing as he recently returned from an international sales conference in Europe. He often represents multiple generations of buyers and sellers in the same family.

Though his name is on the door — Ebby Halliday bought his company in 2007 —  Dave is still an agent at heart and loves to share his passion for architecture, art and design with home buyers, sellers and even other agents. We caught up with him recently to learn just how he does it.

CD: Where are you from? 

Dave: I came down to Dallas in 1980 from Virginia when I graduated from Washington and Lee University where I studied architecture.

CD: Considering that George Washington funded that university, I imagine there was a lot of great architecture to study! Did you plan to be an architect?

Dave: (laughs). No, I’m too dyslexic for that – my buildings would probably all fall down. But I love architecture and selling real estate lets me see a lot of architecturally interesting homes.

CD: Why did you come down to Dallas and how did you get into real estate?

Dave:  I had friends down here from college and had visited the previous year. Sixty days after I’d established my residency, I got my real estate license and nearly starved to death. At one point I gave my watch as collateral for $12 worth of gas. I was four days out from my first closing. Luckily, I didn’t know any better and I sold a number of expensive homes in Lakewood right after that, including Ray Hubbard’s estate which was the most expensive home in Dallas at the time. I never looked back from there.

CD: Where is home for you in Dallas?

Dave: For the past 20 years I’ve lived in a 1930’s colonial revival cottage in Bluffview. It was designed by Henry “Coke” Knight – the same architect who designed the Museum of Fine Art in Fair Park.

CD: And you drive a… let me guess, Mercedes Benz???

Dave: It depends on where I am. I have two vintage Mercedes Convertibles that I drive when I’m visiting my homes in Palm Springs and Tucson.  I drive a Jaguar XJR here in Dallas and I have a Jeep Wagoneer that I drive when I’m in Nantucket.

CD: What’s your favorite ‘hood in Dallas and why?

Dave: Obviously I love Bluffview and I’m a huge fan of old Highland Park and old Preston Hollow, but if I were younger, I think I’d move to Kessler Park. It has such great energy and I love the restaurants and shops that are popping up there. The houses are interesting on these beautiful huge lots with old trees.

CD: What was your best/highest sale?

Dave: Besides the Hubbard estate which helped me get established, the two houses I’m the most proud of were the Frank Lloyd Wright and Phillip Johnson homes. They were in disrepair and in danger of demolition. I was able to sell them to preservationists who have restored them to their former glory and they are magnificent. I hate to think Dallas might have lost two such treasures.

CD: What was your hardest or worst sale?

Dave: Hmm. I guess I’d have to say Candy Evans’ house. It was like herding a cat to get the deal done. And she had seller’s remorse at closing! She’s always running around. I loved the house and Candy. We laughed a lot and are still friends 10 years later.

CD: How quickly have you ever turned a house?

Dave: We often find a buyer before the house even goes on the market – a few hours basically.

CD: How much did you sell last year?

Dave: Although I still sell a few properties myself each year, my associates do a lot of the leg work nowadays. I referred out over $100 million to them last year.

CD: What have you learned in 30 years of selling?

Dave: I tell my agents, “Selling is a mindset.” If I can sell multimillion dollar properties at the age of 23 while living in a $325-a-month apartment eating Ramen noodles, so can they. Customers don’t care if you have expensive houses or cars they only care about what you can do for them and how professionally you do it.

I always looked at my career as a profession, not a transaction. I was in it for the long haul so building relationships was very important to me. I enjoy people and try to bring some fun to my relationships. For example, a client of mine crashed his Porsche 10 days after he got it and was upset. I wrote him a “get well” card from my Jaguar to his Porsche which made him laugh at the situation.

I knew early on that I needed to brand myself and distinguish myself from the competition – just like we do with the houses we sell. I carved out my niche of selling architecturally interesting luxury homes right from the beginning. It fit in with my love of architecture, art and design and it fit with who I am as a person. The most successful agents I see have built businesses that reflect who they are as people as well as professionals.

Most realtors don’t get that. They don’t know how to brand themselves and it holds them back in more than one way. Not only are they not memorable, but a prospective seller will naturally wonder “if he can’t sell himself, how is he going to sell my house?”

I also tell them that if all else fails, get a dog.  I use my dog Tucker as a courier and business development program for my business. He comes to the office with me about four times a week and has helped me find new sellers. He’s very charming. OK, maybe not all dogs are as talented as Tucker, but they all will run right up to a new person and make friends without a moment’s fear or hesitation – a great skill for a salesperson.

CD: If you ever change careers for an encore you’ll…

Dave: I can’t imagine doing anything else. I can only imagine doing it somewhere else like Palm Springs. I’ve sold three homes there already without meaning to in the neighborhood where I have my second home.

CD: How many second homes are we talking about here? And were you part of the inspiration for SecondShelters?

Dave: Quite possibly, you’ll have to ask Candy! A friend of mine told me once “Dave, you can’t go anywhere for six hours without buying a house!” I have too many second homes – which wouldn’t stop me from buying another one if I fell in love with it. There’s the 1920’s Spanish Colonial in Tucson; the 1890 Victorian in southeast Arizona that used to be a B&B; my 1960 Bungalow in Palm Springs which was designed by Rick Harrison – the same architect who designed the Palm Springs airport; and my 1930’s beach cottage on Nantucket Island.  While I have them rented out most of the time, I love to visit often. Each one has furniture and decorations that suit the period and style of the house and neighborhood.