Photo by Jeanine Michna-Bales

Photo by Jeanine Michna-Bales

Tours through Stephanie and Scott Zender’s ultramodern home near White Rock Lake are a little backward. They start in the upstairs master bedroom and end at the front door.

That’s because the most important feature of the home is right outside the master bedroom on the second floor: the massive balcony.

“It’s what inspired everything,” Scott says.

The Zenders bought their property four years ago for its view from the hill. (Yes, they found the one hill in Dallas and built a house on it.)

“We’ve heard — we don’t really know if this can be confirmed, but we’ve heard — that it’s the highest point in Dallas aside from Oak Cliff,” Stephanie says. “It meets our needs exactly.”

With the help of East Dallas architect Cliff Welch, who’s known for his clean, modern style, they built their dream home.

Although the Zenders’ home is situated right in the middle of our urban neighborhood, from the upstairs balcony they see only treetops and the downtown Dallas skyline in the distance.

The Zenders’ dog enjoys the view from the upstairs master bedroom. Photo by Jeanine Michna-Bales

The Zenders’ dog enjoys the view from the upstairs master bedroom. Photo by Jeanine Michna-Bales

“When it’s summer and it’s green, you could be anywhere in Texas,” Welch says. “Everything was oriented toward being tucked into the trees and nature, being divorced from everything else.”

As the Zenders and Welch sit on the back porch on a weekday morning, soaking up their own personal view of Dallas, a small animal crawls up the hill and under the Zenders’ decking.

“Oh look! There’s an opossum,” Stephanie says, pausing to acknowledge the unexpected visitor. “And last night there was a raccoon up here. I can’t keep up with it.”

The upstairs balcony overlooks the backyard, which includes a ground-floor deck with small garden areas and an infinity pool along a short drop-off in the yard. There’s also a fire pit and a small covered patio for the grill.

The Zenders let others enjoy their backyard as well.

“We do a lot of entertaining,” Stephanie says. “During the summer all the neighbors bring their kids over to swim, and we have barbecues and host house concerts.”

Both upstairs bedrooms and the upstairs master bathroom have large windows for enjoying the view, and they let in plenty of natural light. A floor-to-ceiling window near the stairs was designed to be both artistic and functional, Welch says.

“One of the things that differentiates modern style is that, instead of decorating it, the architecture itself becomes the detail,” Welch says.

Although Welch’s modern style is apparent throughout the house, the first floor especially showcases it. The living room, kitchen, entryway and dining area are all one space separated by a single wall between the entryway and the kitchen. The outside wall is made entirely of glass, including giant sliding doors that open to make the living room feel more like a large porch.

“We like the simplicity of it, the clean lines,” Stephanie says. “In a house this size it’s the right style to do because it’s not a lot of ornate stuff that takes up a lot of unnecessary space.”


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