All I Want for Christmas is an East Dallas Midcentury with Original Hardwoods

Here's my map to help guide Santa's sleigh. And his real estate agent.

Here’s my map to help guide Santa’s sleigh. And his real estate agent.

I grew up in North Dallas and have lived all over Dallas and the ‘burbs, but when I finally landed in East Dallas in 2007, I knew I had found my happy place.

East Dallas has a culture unlike anywhere else in the city (although North Oak Cliff feels like its cousin). I could spend hours walking or biking through neighborhoods like Little Forest Hills, Buckner Terrace, and the Peninsula. So many beautiful houses! So many trees! And friendly neighbors everywhere!

Circumstances and a new baby moved me to Plano this year, and I have pined over my favorite neighborhoods in East Dallas ever since. I go out of my way to get back to East Dallas as often as possible, and because I’ve been very good this year, I’m asking Santa for a token of his appreciation for Christmas: A midcentury house east of White Rock Lake. With original hardwoods. And mature trees.

That’s not too much, is it?

I’ve got a few ideas for Santa, in case he’s stumped. This Casa Linda cottage has just the kind of curb appeal I love: big trees, tranquil setting, and an expansive yard. Located at 1422 Tranquilla Dr., it’s listed at $348,500 and is a 3-2 with 1,857 feet. That’s not quite large enough for my family of four, so we might have to sell the teenager before we move. But I’m OK with that.

1422 Tranquilla Dr

Looks at those gorgeous original hardwoods! And the built-ins! And a wood-burning fireplace! So much character from when it was built in 1945.  (more…)

Bright and Modern Farmhouse in Forest Hills

8538 San Pedro Front Angle

Photos: Shoot2Sell

Drive by this gorgeous modern farmhouse in Forest Hills and try not to fall in love. Chances are, the house is going to win and you’ll fall head over heels for this beauty, which has clean modern lines throughout and stunning custom interiors.

This is, truly, one of those homes where you think “Why on earth would anyone want to sell this beauty?”

The truth of the matter is that the homeowners are selling their dream home kicking and screaming. Their loss could be your gain, and what an amazing gain it could be.


8630 Angora Front

By now you know the motto of East Dallas’ weirdest neighborhood: “Keep Little Forest Hills Funky.” In this neighborhood that reminds most people of Austin, you’ll find tiny cottages and bungalows with low ceilings and wood siding. Some of them have been added on, some have been remodeled, and some have been renovated inside and out. But the neighborhood remains a bastion of diversity in taste and architecture.

That’s what’s so remarkable about 8630 Angora: It’s so very different from what you’d expect to find in Little Forest Hills. This two-bedroom, two-bathroom 1980s soft contemporary has high ceilings, big windows, and open spaces — all a far cry from the typical cottage lining the hilly streets of the neighborhood.


8200 Forest Hills Front

I have been watching this amazing home for a little while. A reader sent me a link to this incredible Forest Hills home a couple of weeks ago when it first hit the market, and I was in love. Really, the “Father of the Bride” exterior — classic white with pillars flanking the front door and dark shutters — made me weak in the knees. The gorgeous bay windows are show off in the twilight photos. It is All-American like apple pies, rootbeer floats, or a hamburger at Keller’s.

And now, it’s $50,000 cheaper.


Friday Four Hundred: This House Will Definitely Keep Little Forest Hills Funky

9003 Groveland Front

I’m sure you’ve seen the signs in the front yard of homes sandwiched between Old Gate and Lakeland, sporting green lettering admonishing passersby to “Keep Little Forest Hills Funky!” Still, over the years as investors and newcomers have bought up the little cottages that line the hilly streets of this neighborhood, many of the homes have become more bland, more predictable, and decidedly less “funky.”


8205 Forest Hills Front

Josy Cooner-Collins, co-owner of modern furnishings retailer Scott+Cooner, has her fingerprints on many amazing interiors in Dallas, but her most famous would be the W Hotel in Victory Park. With sleek design and fun details, everything Josy touches turns out amazing. Tons of curves and pops of color make her projects stand out.

8205 Forest Hills WalkwayThis design philosophy carries over to Cooner-Collins’ own home, a beautiful, vast Hill-Country-style abode in Forest Hills. A short walk from White Rock Lake and on a huge lot, this six-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath beauty doesn’t disappoint. It has an organic modern vibe, with natural materials and clean lines. For Cooner-Collins, it has been a place her family has loved. However, it’s time to move on, she says.

8205 Forest Hills Living

“Our family is not as big as it once was. We have a total of five children, and only two are still at home,” Cooner-Collins said. “We adore the house but are excited to have a new chance to build another great house by White Rock Lake.”

I, for one, am thrilled to hear that not only will Cooner-Collins stay in the area, but we get another fabulous home designed and decorated with her amazing style. Of course, 8205 Forest Hills Boulevard is a work of art in its own right, with dry-stacked stone on the outside, polished blue limestone inside, and niches and nooks for art and collections of all kinds throughout. This 5,375-square-foot home is listed for $1.7 million by Scott Carlson.

8205 Forest Hills to Kitchen

“I love the layout, as everyone has their own space when in the house,” Cooner-Collins said. “We can have a dinner for 20 and the kids, who range in age from 8 to 33, can have their own space in it.”

It also feels private thanks to the immense front yard, which clocks in at close to an acre, she said. Other features that Cooner-Collins adores include the chef-worthy kitchen, the view of the pool from the master suite, and the way guests can gaze at the Japanese garden from the guest suite.

8205 Forest Hills Kitchen

The location is a gem, too, she said.

“I am an avid runner and love having the lake two blocks away,” Cooner-Collins said. “That has been a wonderful element.”

With a mixture of linear elements and gorgeous natural materials, this family home is, as Cooner-Collins calls it, “warm and modern.” We totally agree.

8205 Forest Hills art 8205 Forest Hills Master Bedroom 8205 Forest Hills Guest suite 8205 Forest Hills Master Bath 8205 Forest Hills Sink 8205 Forest Hills Den 8205 Forest Hills Patio

Grandwick 3 JoEngland

You already know that Grandwick, the former Dallas headquarters of the Church of Scientology, was reduced to ashes by a three-alarm fire Thursday. The owner, David D. Anderson, said that he was unable to obtain insurance on the property because it was vacant.

It would seem like this is a tragic, singular occurrence, but the truth is that Anderson owns several homes throughout east and southern Dallas, and many of them are vacant, overgrown, and generally eyesores.

In total, Anderson, who also owns two music stores in the area, has 23 residential properties in Dallas County according to records pulled from the Dallas County Appraisal District website. Of those 23 properties, four are rated “Unsound,” seven are rated “Poor,” and seven are rated “Fair.” Only five are rated either “Average” or “Good.” Grandwick, which is considered a commercial property, is not rated using the same system.

David Anderson East Dallas Properties

According to an official with DCAD, a property that is rated “Poor” often has more than a few code violations, the most common of which is peeling paint, overgrown landscaping, broken windows, as well as some structural issues. An “Unsound” property is often considered unfit for occupation, with serious structural issues, boarded up windows, along with a significant number of code violations.

Grandwick 2 JoEngland

A firefighter whose station responded to the blaze at Grandwick said that while they are unsure what caused the blaze that reduced the stucco-clad 1950s Spanish estate to a pile of rubble, Anderson told firefighters he suspects students from nearby Gaston Middle School. It’s a popular theory, especially considering the number of nearby residents who complain of vandalism and graffiti, as well as the previous 911 calls to Grandwick after break-ins.

So, if a property is sitting vacant and is a magnet for vandals, why not sell it to someone who could put the time and money into refurbishing it? It’s a good question, especially since vacant properties are many times more likely to be broken into and suffer catastrophic damage.

A neighbor to one of Anderson’s East Dallas homes in Forest Hills said that he visits his property at 8310 Forest Hills Blvd. regularly, but doesn’t live there. According to DCAD, this is the home Anderson uses as his primary address. The neighbor, who declined to be identified, didn’t think Anderson was acquiring all these properties just to let them rot, though. Instead, she said Anderson was amassing an estate for his daughter to inherit.

8310 Forest Hills 3 JoEngland8310 Forest Hills Blvd. is rated in “Poor” condition.

It kind of makes sense, but wouldn’t his daughter benefit more from property that is properly maintained? For example, 8310 Forest Hills Blvd. is rated in “Poor” condition by DCAD. On the flip side, Anderson bought his daughter Belle Nora at 8254 Garland Road, just a few blocks from his Forest Hills Boulevard home, for her 16th birthday. Since then, though, it’s sat empty save for Christmas dinner last year.

After reports from passers by and Forest Hills residents that the property wasn’t being maintained, we asked Realtor Vicki White if she had heard anything adverse about Belle Nora. In a Jan. 28 email, White said that while Anderson wanted to move into the stately mansion overlooking White Rock Lake, he couldn’t move his parents there, who are in poor health.

“He does own several houses, and some of them are in disrepair,” White added. “I don’t think that’s the case with Belle Nora.”

However, since that date, much of the property has become overgrown, and the wrought-iron fence facing White Rock Lake has been held together with some nylon rope for months, rusting without repair. It is rated in “Average” condition by DCAD.

Belle Nora Fence

Is it a pattern of neglect, or is it a property owner spread too thin? As Anderson’s Forest Hills neighbor claims, he’s spending much of his time with his ailing parents, and only visits other homes. She called the fire at Grandwick “a tragedy,” too.

But for some people who have visited his Garland Road music store, they say it’s a pattern of disorganized neglect. Patrons and East Dallas residents have likened the store to a hoarder’s home, with stacks and piles of equipment and very little concern for the structure or contents.

We tried to contact Anderson for this story, but our calls were not returned before deadline. Our attempts to contact Anderson at two different nearby Zoo Music locations were not returned. 

1608 Crest Ridge JoEnglandThe home at 1608 Crest Ridge is considered “Unsound” by DCAD.


Vanderbilt Front

Yes, our market is very, very hot, but it seems that, in the frenzy to capitalize on our scorching market, some sellers are pricing themselves out of a possible sale.

Take this home in Lakewood for instance. This Spanish-style recent build at 6516 Vanderbilt Ave. is a very pretty home, with tons of room and a good layout that makes sense for a family.

When this four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home went on the market 40 days ago, it was priced at $924,999. Considering that this home doesn’t have a pool and has a lot of features you can find in just about any home its age, I can’t say I would see someone paying that much for it. It’s beautiful, yes, but overpriced. Since then it’s dropped $50K to $875,000.

Forest Hills Front

Another home in East Dallas, 8366 Forest Hills Blvd., is a four-bedroom, three-bath traditional with almost 4,000 square feet that has been remodeled with contemporary flair. It’s in Forest Hills — just a few hundred yards from White Rock Lake. It has a pool and a half-acre lot, and there are several mature trees in the large backyard. It was originally priced at $925,000 and has since dropped to $879,000 after being on the market 11 days.

So here’s my question: Of course you want to get top-dollar for your home, but if you price it too high, you’re going to turn off lots of potential buyers. When is a good time to re-evaluate your pricing strategy?