Tis the season for home tours, when design aficionados and nosy neighbors can sightsee their way through modern abodes and traditional homes. At the White Rock Home Tour, established in 2005 as a fundraiser for Hexter Elementary, attendees can walk through seven mid-century and contemporary houses. Tour these homes to satisfy your home design cravings without your daily dose of HGTV.  

Photography by Angela Flournoy.


The 2-year-old house in the 2400 block of Loving Avenue is just four walls and a roof. What makes it home is the artwork that owner Sarita Rao displays from her travels. A painting from Vietnam is mounted in the kitchen. An old ox cart from Thailand sits in the backyard. 

“I believe in having art in the house and stuff you can relate to,” she says.

Rao has filled the two-story, 4,200-square-foot house with art from Chicago, New York and all the places she’s lived. She’s quickly accumulating works from her new home in Dallas. 

In the front yard, neighbors can borrow a book from a lending library made as a mini replica of the house. In the back, she’s hung a metal sign that says, “All hat and no cattle.”

 Two glass fire pits filled with stone are also located in a sitting area in the backyard, landscaped with flowerbeds and artificial turf.

Floor-to-ceiling windows and large, open spaces in the four-bedroom residence make inhabitants feel like they’re in a courtyard. When the trees are in bloom, the foliage reduces visibility through the glass walls in an upstairs sitting room that Rao calls “the treehouse room.”

Despite its location several miles from downtown, Rao says the house feels like a loft. The master bedroom, which includes a bed handmade by a Dallas artist, is located on the first floor. A hallway from the bedroom opens into a large living room and a kitchen with a fridge in the middle of the room.

Rao’s one complaint: There’s no wine cellar. As a result, more than 2,000 bottles of wine are stowed throughout the house in various closets and wine racks.

“It’s been a good house,” she says. “I love the diversity of the architecture here. It doesn’t feel like everyone is living in the same house.”

Photography by Angela Flournoy.


Scott and Melissa Powell wanted to bring the outdoors in when they built their home in the 8000 block of Forest Trail five years ago. But the Powells don’t just enjoy nature in their home. They protect it. The building is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified and boasts green features that reduce the family’s environmental footprint. Solar panels installed on the roof, low-flow plumbing and motion-censored lights also reduce utility costs for the family of six.  

The two-story, 5,800-square-foot home channels mid-century inspiration with bright, warm colors and sliding wooden doors reclaimed from old fences on the property. A floating staircase is the architectural exclamation point in the large entryway.

Floor-to-ceiling windows in the master bedroom can be opened on a timer to reveal the sunrise. And during the afternoons, the Powells can look through the glass wall at their children playing in an expansive backyard that includes a playhouse, swimming pool, zip line, sandbox and in-ground trampoline. 

There’s plenty to marvel at within the house, but with four kids, it’s also designed practically. 

“On moving day, the kids disappeared upstairs, and we were downstairs unboxing,” Scott says. “We went to go check on them, and our two boys’ names were scratched into the wall with the edge of an airplane wing. As nice as you want your house to be, if you have kids, it’s only a matter of time before stuff happens.” 

The house has two dishwashers, two sinks, a walk-in pantry and an oversized shower with a freestanding tub in the back. The house is also free of carpet after Scott caught his 3-year-old son peeing in the bedroom at their previous house.

The home’s spaciousness and durability also make it great for entertaining guests in the community.

“We want our house to be the culminating place in the neighborhood,” Scott says.

White Rock Home Tour
When: April 27-28, noon to 5 p.m.
Cost: $15 in advance, $20 during the tour
More info: whiterockhometour.com

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.