Lori and Ian Wolfman’s home is one of those places where, seconds after you walk in, you could almost swear you’ve somehow morphed into another time or place.

This is especially true because they live in the Hillside neighborhood northeast of Mockingbird and Abrams. Most of the homes here were built ranch-style in the 1950s and, while affordable and quaint, many lack the architectural detail, both inside and out, that homes in other parts of our community possess.

Though they looked in the Lakewood and M Street areas, the Wolfmans will eagerly tell you they stumbled upon a treasure when they found this three-bedroom, two-bath house.

That’s thanks in large part to its former inhabitants.

“The previous owners were the most marvelous home craftspeople we’ve ever encountered,” says Ian Wolfman. “Even before they shared the ‘before’ pictures with us, we were instantly taken by the detail of the finish out.”

Some of the things that particularly impressed them were exactly what gives the home its otherworldly feel: wood-carved molding, a tin-tiled kitchen ceiling, imported tile that lined the bottom of the master-bath tub, and the home’s old, weathered backyard fence posts refashioned into a breakfast-room ceiling.

“They were so passionate about the work they had invested in the house,” Lori says. “We thought it would be fun to renovate a house ourselves, but they had already done it and had a bigger vision than I think we could have.”

The effect of the previous owners’ craftsmanship, coupled with the new owners’ furnishings, gives the home an aura of charm with details reminiscent of a Tuscan or Mexican villa.

This is especially evident in the kitchen/breakfast area. Here, old-fashioned elements such as the wood ceiling, bubble-texture glass-fronted cabinets, a slate-tiled floor, wooden cabinets and old-world faux-painted walls combine with modern, sleek items such as stainless steel Jenn-Air appliances to add to the home’s complexity.

The kitchen is the Wolfman’s favorite place to spend time because of it’s “functional beauty and open-view design,” Ian says. The back of the room is filled with floor-to-ceiling windows on two walls, which look out onto the back yard that the couple renovated themselves, adding multi-level decks and some stonework. They also have one of Hillside’s many creek views.

“It’s a wonderful place to spend time, watching all the birds and animals while you cook and eat,” he adds.

Though they’ve focused a lot of attention on their kitchen, the other rooms extend on the “country/Southwestern villa” theme, as the Wolfmans call it.

Even with all the home’s original graces, it wouldn’t be what it is without some thoughtful decorating by the couple.

“We were both raised in homes that emphasized beauty and comfort that speak to a variety of tastes,” Ian says, adding that previous homeowners’ vision was “a beautiful platform for us to furnish, decorate and apply our personal touches.”

One of their most intriguing pieces of furniture is a coffee table made from the door of an antique Mexican jail-cell door.

“We really like the rustic style,” Lori says.

And, though they’ve only lived here a year, they’ve quickly become taken with the neighborhood and its lake, trees, and particularly, Hillside’s backyard creeks.

“We love waking up to that view.”

Adds Ian: “When we first walked through the house, it was the first one we’d viewed in the neighborhood, but we fell in love immediately, and we noticed how quiet and well kept the neighborhood was. There were really no ‘spotty’ areas… just nice homes and residents.”

Lori agrees in her assessment of the neighborhood.

“It’s the people. We really like the feeling of it being so laid back. A lot of people around here like the outdoors. There are bikers, joggers, people walking their dogs,” says Lori, who frequently runs at White Rock Lake.

“There’s just so much character in these homes, way more so than in other parts of Dallas.”

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