Photography by Jessica Turner.

There’s a Frank Lloyd Wright essence to the West Lawther Drive house with the orange beam. When you walk around the lake, near the birch trees, you can see the house architect Cliff Welch designed jutting out from trees. It’s the burnt orange beam that catches the eye. 

The three-story modern home, built into the slope in The Cloisters neighborhood, is a forever home for a longtime Lakewood couple, who asked to remain anonymous. They purchased the property, tore down the existing home and approached Welch to design a new one in 2012. 

An abundance of trees, the steep slope and the request for a view of the lake meant terracing the house into three levels. 

“We really nestled the house in where the previous house was because we didn’t want to take trees down and because of that, we were limited to the footprint,” Welch says. 

Residual space underneath was turned into a finished-out basement that serves as a family room with storage and access to the electrical and ductwork. The split-level second floor includes an open-concept kitchen, dining and living room with floor-to-ceiling windows. Welch created a wall of mahogany cabinetry that houses everything from the fridge to china cabinet to TV. 

Their previous home was traditional with formal spaces that didn’t get used often. They wanted a more relaxed home their children and possible grandchildren could enjoy. 

A corner room is dedicated to the “Africa” room, where art, photos and artifacts are held. The husband had lived in a village in Togo for a couple of years immediately after college, sparking several decades of travel to the country. Their three children have all visited. On one eventful trip, their son caught a goat with the help of the local children. There’s a photo of him holding it before he released it. The husband still keeps in touch with the people he met in the village those first two years. 

On the third floor, there’s an alcove with a couch that’s a replica of one in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. 

Between the floor-to-ceiling windows and terrace levels, several cantilevers were necessary to keep the house structurally sound. The orange titanium beam, which stretches from the front of the house all the way through before jutting out at an angle, holds the house up. 

“Anytime you’re doing a modern house, from a structural standpoint when you see the glass is going all the way up to the ceiling, your tolerances get really tight so that you can’t just build to meet code,” Welch says. 

The orange from the beam is incorporated throughout the house in the furniture and accessories by interior design firm Allen Kirsch and Associates, Inc. Lighting consultant Shane Douglas and two gallerists from the Dallas Museum of Art help highlight artwork.

Foremost for the owners was having space to display their growing art collection — a David Bates magnolia, at least a dozen Dallas Nine pieces and Diego Rivera mixed into their own son’s artwork and family photos.

Welch created a blank wall where a row of Dallas Nine pieces, a group of postmodern artists who painted the city’s landscape, hang. On another wall, there is a painting of Florence McClung’s Little Mexico before it became the Harwood District, and her Oak Cliff skyline, and Otis Dozier’s Mckinney Avenue. The limestone on the fireplace is slabbed in straight lines as not to distract from the hanging Everett Spruce painting. 

Welch created a screen mahogany wall that mimics the design of the stairwell to provide privacy and display family photos. From the curb, you see the screen wall and a 50-million-year-old fossil from the Green River Formation in Montana. The owners found it on an online auction, and Welch designed a stand for the massive fossil. Collecting fossils is a hobby they picked up a decade ago.

The backyard, which features an infinity pool, has direct access to the lake trail. The couple often walks the trail. Sometimes they’ll see Welch, who lives on the other side of the lake, cycling. 

“I spend a lot of time at White Rock Lake, so that’s one of my favorite things about getting to do things at White Rock Lake is I get to ride by the projects,” Welch says. 


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