Photo courtesy of Clifford Welch

In a time of teardowns, gentrification and home tours, neighbors debate what makes a house a home. Is it the square footage, location, elaborate finishes or state-of-the-art technology? Less tangible elements give a home its heart and soul, according to Clifford Welch, architect at Welch/Hall. Architecture can be a thoughtful balance of restraint, he says. Welch and his wife, Donna, bought 1019 Waterford Drive in 1996. Designed by Glenn Allen Galaway for John Houseman and Esther Webb in 1953, the house has been honored by Dallas American Institute of Architects and Preservation Dallas. Here’s how the Welch family turned a mid-century modern into a home well-lived after buying it from the Housemans’ daughter.

Why did you buy the house?

In 1995, when Donna and I were looking for our first home, we had narrowed down our search to East Dallas. We wanted to be close to downtown and White Rock Lake. We had always appreciated the character of older neighborhoods, especially those that had some mid-century modern homes. After spending many evenings and weekends driving around Lakewood, Forest Hills, the M Streets, Casa Linda, Hollywood Heights and Lake Highlands, we discovered Lake Park Estates by accident. We were drawn by the mature trees and creek visible from Buckner and Lake Highlands Drive. We were fortunate to come across one of the few classic mid-century modern homes just as it was about to be put on the market. 

What was your redesign strategy?

It had lived through several decades of style and trends. We spent several years restoring it back to its original roots. All the bones were there. We just needed to pull out the green shag carpet and period wallpaper and bring the original colors, materials and finishes back to life. We haven’t moved any major walls.

What made it a home for your family?

This is the only home our son, Dylan, has ever known. We’ve watched his room go from an office/guest room to a nursery, to a kid’s room, and is now full of college students playing video games whenever he and his friends are back during breaks. It’s been the venue for numerous parties, showers, fundraisers and countless fire-pit nights. It’s no different from any other family home, other than perhaps the openness and seamless connection from the inside to the outside. The home’s backyard backs up to Dixon Branch and Old Lake Highlands Park.

How did the house come to appear in commercials?

I believe the clean lines provide a nice modern backdrop, while still having a warm material palette — red Ferris brick, cork and wood. We have extensive natural light, so it works well for photo shoots. Our favorite commercial was for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo. The premise was that children growing up in a modern suburban house were sheltered and had never seen a pony. The parents had a pony in the backyard for a birthday party as a surprise. The commercial shows all the children getting up from eating birthday cake, running out to the backyard, seeing a pony standing in the middle of the yard, then screaming and running back inside. Dylan was the youngest extra in the commercial. The most memorable part was when the cows got loose and wandered toward Buckner Boulevard. The film crew had to stop traffic and herd them back to our house.

What’s it like when your son leaves?

It’s taken us a while to get used to the house being quiet while Dylan is at school. Now we’ve come to appreciate the weekends full of activity, balanced with the quiet respite of being empty nesters.