When you walk into the home at 154 Bon Aire Drive on the northeast side of White Rock Lake, a decorating wall opposite the entrance blocks your view of the interior. It’s an unusual concept, considering open spaces have been the dominant architectural trend in residential design for decades.
But the wall is there for a reason.
When you walk around, you’ll see a terraced oasis bordered by lush woods through large, red doors. It’s the “ah-ha” moment owner Suzy Renz was hoping for when she and her husband remodeled the 3,400-square-foot home three years ago.
“I didn’t know what it was going to be,” she says. “I just knew it could be changed.”
The industrial, eclectic farmhouse is perched atop two creek valleys and shielded by an old grove of trees. Renz — a Master Gardener since 2002 — set about transforming the 1-acre property into a modern, eco-friendly garden that works with nature, not against it.
Instead of grass, which requires consistent watering and mowing, she opted for a backyard covered in decomposed granite, like the kind found in nature. The steep landscape is divided into two levels with stone switchbacks that protect the hill from excessive erosion.
A fire pit is on the bottom level, and on the top, a waterfall cascades into a swimming pool that looks more like a pond. To the left of the pool sits a multicolored garden shed. Push on the old, rusty rake that serves as a door handle and enter the space filled with gardening tools, bags of soil and antique birdhouses.
“I didn’t grow up in a gardening family, but I had pride of ownership and wanted to make it pretty,” Renz says. “I realized I had a real love for plants.”
“We’re colorful people. We don’t want a generic house because we’re not generic people.”
The animals love them too. The couple has seen all types of wildlife — from coyotes and bobcats to birds, raccoons and possums. A queen bee found the pollinator paradise and established her colony in a nearby tree. On cool summer evenings, the homeowners can hear frogs while they watch TV in their screened-in porch.
“We’re surrounded by all this nature, and it’s so serene,” Renz says. “It really feels like we’re living in a treehouse.”
Renz is a self-proclaimed “plantaholic.” The 400-foot flowerbed in front of the house contains hundreds of plants, including green shrubs for year-round interest and perennials that fill her garden with colorful blooms all spring, summer and fall.
DID YOU KNOW?
The home’s interior is just as colorful as its exterior.
One of the most striking features is the “ruler wall,” which is covered in brightly colored measuring sticks that once served as advertisements for railroads, banks, businesses and more. Renz’s collection features 188 yardsticks from Texas, Kansas and Nebraska that she laid out and organized on the floor before securing to her wall. Extras became trim in the upstairs bathroom.
“We like color,” Renz says. “We’re colorful people. We don’t want a generic house because we’re not generic people. I don’t want a brand new build because that’s not me.”
The one-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home mixes modern, industrial and farmhouse styles to evoke an appreciation for the past. The couple eschews cookie-cutter pieces and opts for fixtures and furnishings plucked from flea markets, vintage shops and antique shows.
The top of the dining room table was once the floor of an 18-wheeler. The light fixture above it was from a chicken coop. A lamp made from a wallpaper spool sits on an end table in the living room. A 1940s-era factory mold hangs above the fireplace. A green box on a metal stand in their bedroom served as the post office for a Kansas town in the 1880s. The knobs on the kitchen cabinets are garden hose faucets.
“We’re collectors,” Renz says. “I like things with a story, even if I don’t know it. I like to know that it had a previous a life.”
The couple’s maximalist philosophy doesn’t stop with the décor. A mix of reclaimed wooden beams, shiplap paneling and corrugated metal lines the walls, vying for the eye’s attention against the patterned floors and colorful doors. Even the washroom in the garage is covered from floor to ceiling in bottle caps.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and look out the home’s large windows that bring the outside in.
“When I saw [the property] in person, I said, ‘This is home,’” Renz says. “I loved my old house, but this is it. This is the one.”