By: Malcolm Mayhew
| photography by Alex Lepe | The 2014 Fort Worth, Texas magazine Dream Home blends the traditional lines and styles of the Spanish Colonial architecture common in Florida, Texas, California and across the southern United States in a fusion of concepts that include California Mission and Mediterranean. The home sits on a 16,000-square-foot corner lot at 4800 Estonia Court in Montserrat, off Team Ranch Road in southwest Fort Worth. Montserrat has more than 30 acres of parks and green space and 150-foot cliffs that overlook Mary’s Creek. The exclusive development is virtually sold out.
Tickets for the tour benefit a Wish with Wings, which makes wishes come true for children with life-threatening illnesses. It is the second Dream Home benefiting the charity. Volunteers staff the home, and that’s an opportunity for Wish families to share their stories with visitors, said Executive Director Judy Youngs. “The blessings that you reap from an opportunity like this are truly countless, they’re endless and just literally can’t be defined,” she said.
Designing, Building, Decorating
The Dream Home is being built by HGC Residential Development and sold by HGC Real Estate Services. The interior design and decoration are by the company’s CWI Interior Designs division. A separate division — HGC Commercial Real Estate — is a full-service commercial real estate firm. HGC prides itself in having all the necessary capabilities for building under one roof.
“We are so proud of everyone who has worked to create the Dream Home. The home reflects the maturity of HGC as a company and is a culmination of the last 15 years,” said Rick Wegman, a principal of the company.
“The Dream Home just kind of fell in place. The timing seemed to be right,” said Karl Hahnfeld, a principal and one of the three original founders of the company with John Giordano and Rob Cocanower. “It is something that can display a lot of what we are able to do. I think that one of our strengths, as a company, is the range of what we can design and build.”
It has been a wonderful experience, says Giordano. “We’d love to do it again. It’s given us the ability and freedom to explore other types of finishes and give our design company the freedom to do what they want to do. That’s what’s really fun with these types of houses,” he said.
The house has 7,265 square feet under roof and 5,640 square feet under air conditioning. Hahnfeld is the house designer in the company and draws the initial floor plans and elevations by hand. The Dream Home matches his personal interest.
“I’m fond of it because I personally am drawn to that style home — Spanish Colonial, stucco, white and bright. It’s got a California-comfortable feel. It’s formal, but you can live very casually as well,” Hahnfeld said. “There’s some great, great old homes built in this town that mimic those lines and those styles of stucco and arched windows.”
Celeste Wegman, head of the CWI Design Group, is the interior design and decorating arm of HGC. Wegman is involved from the start of the process. She has a home accessories store and a design operation in Ephraim, Wis., in the famed Door County area. But she has worked with clients in many states, including New York, Florida and California, who sometimes send their planes for her.
She was content with that business until her son, Rick, a principal in HGC, made an irresistible argument. “He said we need a designer within the structure of HGC so if we have people who want to use your design expertise, they can hire you when we are building their house,” she said. “And you get to see your grandkids a whole bunch. That was the carrot.”
Celeste Wegman’s strength is in color. She was what she describes as a “color expert” with Chanel for a number of years. And that strong experience comes through in the 2014 Dream Home. Think earth, grass, sky and water. All are represented throughout the house.
“This wasn’t a typical Mediterranean or Tuscan,” Wegman said. “I like the way it’s very clean and has almost a little bit Mission feel. The walls are very smooth. The outside walls are a white stucco, not the typical pink or yellow. The trim is very minimalistic, so it has more of that Santa Barbara Mediterranean and Mission look.”
That figured heavily into aspects of the interior design from the selection of the color palette to the accessory items scattered throughout. “It feels crisp. It feels clean, so I don’t want to muddy it up with a lot of the heavier materials and colors and fabrics,” she said. The primary wall color throughout the house is a soft white.
Some Mission styles feature heavy beam and dark colors in the style of early Spanish construction in the American Southwest. “What we tried to do here is try to lighten it up a lot,” Hahnfeld said. Wegman adds: “San Antonio has a lot of this type of house.”
Visitors touring the home in daylight will find it brilliantly flooded with sunlight through the large windows. Wegman wants to link the indoors and the outdoors in a seamless experience for visitors and the ultimate resident.
“Color fabrics and textures are all important,” she said. She picked blues and greens — a crisp blue and the green of grass. “It’s funny because I started with those colors 30 years ago, and they are coming right back,” Wegman said. The colors show up in hand-painted pillows, wallpapers, custom-painted Oriental jars and other accessories throughout the house.
Color Focal Point
But color schemes always start from a single location and fan out from that, and in this house that location is the stone top of the kitchen island. “I found an amazing exotic stone, and it feels like it is ocean and sand and water,” Wegman said. “It’s blue, and it has almost what feels like a wave that goes through it.”
The stone is Azul Macaubas Extra Quartzite, and the colors are picked up in the kitchen and repeated throughout the house in paints, finishes and accessories. “It’s just like a wave,” Wegman said. The sand in the stone is reflected in the beige tone in the furniture in the Great Room just across from it.
The touches that make the house a Mission house are subtle but consistent. The entry foyer is paneled in a high-gloss white. “That’s a little bit of a take on a true Mission,” she said. “They would have done that in wood, and they would have stained it or they would have painted it.” But the colors would likely have been darker.
The foyer is also the place where the visitor gets a first look at the hardwood — laid in a herringbone pattern in this room — that is the primary flooring in the house. Carpet is reserved for the bedrooms, and the baths are tiled, but the rest of the house is done in stained hickory with matching stair handrails. All are in a darker stain, as original Mission finish would have been. Hickory is not a common flooring in this area. “I like hickory because it has totally a different look. It looks great in a herringbone,” she said. “I love materials. I’m not an interior decorator — I’m a designer. I like the building products as well as I like a piece of furniture. To me, a house starts from the ground.”
No Bling or Overstatement
What you won’t find in the house is overstatement. “With that house, if I had put ornate things in there, these bling things, it would have gone away from what that house is, because it is simplicity,” she said. She’s minimalist in furniture design with items that are traditional but with sleeker lines than the heavy items often seen in Texas homes. “Everybody overdoes it,” she says.
The same is true of window treatments. “My curtains have a lot of sheer fabric, because I don’t what to block anything. I like seeing what I’m seeing, and I want my windows and my curtains to be there but not to be the main attraction. They will be less heavy than what people are used to seeing,” Wegman said.
One thing the builders of the original Mission-style houses would not have had is the wood-burning pizza oven in the kitchen. “It’s a unique feature,” says Hahnfeld. “Even if you’re not cooking a pizza, it has the ability to add ambiance to the kitchen. It’s a conversation piece. Lots of thought and conversations go into a place: Do we want to do this? We said, ‘Yeah. That’s cool. Let’s put that thing in there.’ It’s a feature that might get used every now and then, but it’s something fun for somebody to entertain with. All good parties end in the kitchen.” Wegman is more direct. “I’m Italian,” she said. But it is not so very different from what might be found in original homes. “They would be cooking at home. They would be baking their bread inside. So that was an important element.”
The kitchen is very important to her. “I’m a cook. I love cooking. Give me a choice of going out to a restaurant, and I’ll say, ‘Come over to my house; I’ll cook,’” she said. There are two unusual items in the kitchen in addition to the island — the hand-finished hood over the stove and the panel of the pizza oven. They give the appearance of masonry of great age, but they are as new as August 2014.
She doesn’t like openly displayed flat-screen television sets in a house, and the solution to that is to build them into a frame with a static display of a painting on screen — Texas bluebonnets in this case — until they are used as a TV. Note the treatment above the fireplace in the Great Room. Smartphones or pads can control all systems in the house.
A Spa in Your Home
Hahnfeld also likes the treatment of the master suite. “I think the master bath is amazing. It’s big; it’s bright. It’s got very unique glass features in the corner. The water closet and the linen closet aren’t in an enclosed walled space. They often are like a dark cave if you utilize them. But the use of frosted glass creates privacy but allow things to remain white and bright,” he said. Wegman describes it as providing “a very spa feel. There’s a shower with three walls of glass, so you walk into the very beautiful, open shower. My vanities are lacquered black on the bottom and white marble on the top. It is so exciting.”
The second floor media room is special because of the wall finish. It’s American Clay, a natural earth plaster product manufactured in New Mexico. The material is sustainable and non-toxic. It picks up the historical look of original finishes in Mission and other architectural styles.
Wegman is an amazing talent, Hahnfeld said. “She has amazing vision. I think she and I are a pretty good team because I think I can give her a pretty good canvas to work with, but she really can take something and make it just amazing — things I never thought of,” he said. “I’d never thought of hickory floors until she brought that up. It’s kind of funny. A lot of times my initial reaction will be like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ But I’ll see it executed, and I’ll think, ‘What was my argument?’ ”
By: Malcolm Mayhew