Attorney’s Sharla and John Smart looked at 20 houses in Munger Place before they found the right combination on Tremont in 1993. The couple had moved here after John’s discharge from the military and were renting a property on La Vista while they decided on a home purchase.
John, who now works for a large downtown law firm, says: “I drove through this neighborhood almost every day on my way home from work and liked the neighborly feel of it, the amount of home we could get for the money and the fact that architecturally the homes are, in my opinion, nicer to look at than what you get farther north.
“My dad was a professor of architecture at the University of Arkansas for 20 years, so I’ve always been around…well, the thought of moving into a drab house was more than I could stomach.”
John also says that there is “a ton of socializing in this neighborhood. Most of the people seem to know each other block to block.”
“I think it’s because of the front porches,” says Sharla. “I read an article about that once. When the weather’s nice, people are always sitting out. And there are sidewalks, so people go for walks.”
John agrees: “People are out walking their dogs and their neighbor says: Hey, come on up.
“Next thing you know, you’ve been hanging out on someone’s porch for an hour and a half.”
Indoors, the generous proportions of the large, square rooms leave plenty of romping room for the Smart’s three boys: John 9; Duncan, 7; and Phillip, 3. The interior is also an ideal stage for the antiques that Pamela says came largely “from family – his and mine. My grandmother had an antique store when I was growing up, and then my mom had antiques.”
“So you like old stuff,” jokes John.
“Well…yes!” she admits.
John prefers to balance Sharla’s vintage furniture and glassware with contrasting appointments, such as his African mask collection, and contemporary art that includes New Orleans painter Jane Maisey Craddock and Dallas painter Marty Ruiz: “We have sort of traditional looking furniture, I guess. But I don’t really like old art. Just about everything we buy to hang on the walls is new – so we have an eclectic combination of new and old here.”
And there’s ample space for everything, whether from the 18th or 21st century. (The decorating compromise is interesting in light of the fact that Sharla is a mediation attorney.)
“Also, now that we have a big kitchen with the breakfast area, and three living areas that are contiguous, it’s a good house for entertaining…not that we entertain all that frequently,” John says.
“Of course,” reminds Sharla, “we are having about 40 people over tomorrow night. Three wives in the neighborhood are pregnant, so we’re having a ‘block shower’.
“We can use the room.”
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.