“We are remodel junkies, always trying to clean up the house and modernize it,” Julie Cohn says of herself and her husband. Cohn is an artist and product designer (She was the lead artist on the new Deep Ellum Station adjacent to the lauded Traveling Man sculptures.) David Ralston, her husband, is a landscape architect, and he sees their backyard paradise as a laboratory for gardening techniques and as a living portfolio of his work.

After Cohn and Rolston bought their 1948 redbrick Colonial on a prime lot — because it backs up to a permanent park — they re-topped it with a standing–seam, metal roof. Unfortunately it turned the house into a giant smoker when a small electrical fire ignited inside. The smoke caused extensive damage.

They decided to completely renovate the home, which took more than a year and almost $500,000. Very little of the visible portion of the Colonial remains; They took the home down to its skeleton and built it back up, adding approximately 400 square feet to its existing 2,600 square feet.

Designer Cohn, with architect Jim Manning and general contractor English Heritage Homes, brought several modern details to the home, such as: clean lines, simple finishes, consistent wood species, large planes of uninterrupted material, hidden door and cabinet hardware, and room divisions via furniture placement. The result is a sophisticated house faced in a dark, putty-grey brick and large panes of glass that focus visitors on the green haven in the back.

Monolithic, riff–sawn white oak hides closets and reminds visitors of Rolston’s garden. The same wood faces one whole wall of the sunken living room, interrupted by a limestone hearth on custom steel supports. The 10–foot wide foyer with a steel-and-wood staircase opens to a second storey TV loft. In the foyer hangs a straw nest chandelier with African influences. Broad 12-inch by 24-inch grey, porcelain tile covers most floor surfaces.

A reflecting pool bubbles next to a screened–in porch, a perfect space to enjoy morning coffee. A two-tiered pond finishes the very rear of Rolston’s backyard. Upstairs, Cohn and Rolston’s 9-year-old daughter has her own rooftop garden, a patch of wild grass that abuts her window.

Cohn and Rolston’s thoroughly modern remodel, located at 7206 Tolkalon, is one of six must-see homes in the Lakewood Home Tour, part of the annual Lakewood Home Festival happening November 13-15.

This year’s festival, with a Caddyshack theme, includes an auction party, the two–day Home Tour ($12), a candlelight tour ($17) and a market/café ($5) at Lakewood Elementary showcasing food, art, jewelry and other works. Tickets for the whole weekend, including the auction party, are $75. Prices increase on November 1. Buy advance tickets online at: lecpta.org/lakewoodhomefestival. Tickets are also available at Lakewood businesses and at the Festival locations on the days of the event. Money raised at the event helps the LECPTA support neighborhood schools. — Alex Knesnik

Julie Cohn’s work can be found at juliecohndesign.com, or view David Rolston’s portfolio at dallasgardens.com.

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