When Dean and Giang Le Dekker moved into their new Preston Hollow home in February, they didn’t have to acclimate themselves to a new neighborhood.


In fact, the only new component of their move was the house itself. Everything else, including the lot the house stood on, was the same as the Dekkers had left it a year ago.


Dean Dekker, a Dallas architect, and his wife took an unconventional approach to designing and building their own home. They bought an existing house, lived there for six years, then tore it down in February 2001 and built their new, 4,000-square-foot home on the same lot off of

Northport Drive

. Meanwhile, they moved into a one-bedroom apartment and eagerly awaited the fulfillment of their longtime wish.


“It’s been our dream to get to this point,” says Dean, who had planned to design and build his new home for several years. “We’re enjoying it now that we’ve accomplished it.”


The neighborhood, which is close to Dekker’s office in Deep Ellum, was much more appealing to the couple than neighborhoods with cookie-cutter homes, where they could more easily have bought an empty lot and built a house.


“We loved the location and the neighborhood,” explains Giang Le, who moved to from in 1975 and married her husband in September 1998.


Plus, with no homeowners association in the area to dictate detailed housing styles, the Dekkers were free to design something creative and quaint ­ and that it is. On
a street with mostly ranch-style, one-story homes, the Dekker’s two-story house jumps out at passersby with its “Texas Mediterranean” style, to use Dean’s description. The home incorporates elements of stucco and arches and has a metal roof.


In a more conformist neighborhood, Dean says, they could never have gotten away with their house’s distinctive style.


“That’s one of the things we like about this neighborhood; it’s unique,” Dekker says. “We can do our own thing, and we can make a difference.”


Adds Giang Le: “We designed and hand-picked everything; it’s not just another blue print the builders give you.”


The builder, Terry Woldt of Woldt Homes, was instrumental in enhancing the old-world feel of the home.  He was supportive of stepping outside the box to accommodate the Dekkers design, they say, while incorporating the traditional quality of his homes.

Family Additions


One of the most noticeable and stunning features of the Dekker home is the collection of antiques, compliments of the couple’s downstairs roommates, ­Giang Le’s mother and stepfather, Dinh and Lee Bierbrauer.
   The retired Bierbrauers moved in with the Dekkers a few months ago from Lubbock, and Lee Bierbrauer, who owned an antique store during the 1970s in St. Paul, Minn. , brought many of his treasures with him.


“It just makes the house serene,” says Bierbrauer, who lives with his wife in the downstairs master bedroom.


Knowing ahead of time that Giang Le’s parents would soon live with them, Dekker designed their home with a master bedroom on each floor. “We wanted to make it a family home,” Giang Le says.


The decorations leave no doubt about which bedroom the antique enthusiast inhabits.


Located on the east side of the house, the Bierbrauers’ bedroom opens onto the back patio to the greeting of two concrete lion statues. The bedroom is filled with antiques, including an ornate mirror from a German castle that hovers over the fireplace, and lifelike elephant tusks that curve around the fireplace’s perimeter.


“It’s not real,” Bierbrauer says of the tusks. “I wish it were.”


His study, placed just down the hall from the bedroom, is also adorned with antiques that include bronze lion statues, an Asian dragon ship model, and a Michelangelo-style marble statue of a man.


The antique motif extends beyond this section of the house, however. In the living room stand antique chairs made out of teak, carved into scales that resemble dragonheads. Overshadowing them is another Michelangelo-style statue of a male figure that stands about eight feet tall.


In the dining room, two man-sized, elaborate Oriental vases from a Chinese temple tower over the table.


One could easily spend a day beholding the antiques in the Dekker home, absorbing and pondering the history behind each piece, and not have to pay an admission charge.

A Texas Mediterranean Tour


A wall wraps around the front of the house, encasing a patio with statues that point visitors to the front door. The outer wall is another one of the home’s key features, the Dekkers say, because it provides privacy that is difficult to obtain in ranch-style homes where the living room typically looks out onto the front lawn.


“You just never get to use that front room,” Dean says. “People can see in and you’re uncomfortable.”


Another key design component is the fluid, blending nature of the main downstairs area that includes the living room, foyer, kitchen and dining room. The rooms, separated by few walls, seem to melt into one large space.


Other elements, such as the iron railing balcony off the upstairs master bedroom — which reflects the interior stair railing — and the kitchen slate floor that flows out to the terrace, attempt to bring “the outside in.”


Some rooms, such as the kitchen, are in the same location as they were in the previous home. The dining room, standing along the front wall of the house, is adjacent to the kitchen, which is large and handsome with a stainless steel refrigerator and slate tile.


“Whenever you have family over, they gravitate toward the kitchen,” Giang Le says. “We want the kitchen to be open and accessible.”


Many large windows border the main living area, with its protective outer wall for privacy. Such a setup enables light to spill in from the outside and illuminate the home, which was not the case in their old ranch-style home, the Dekkers say.


“We like a lot of light,” Dean says. “And the old home was very dark.”


The home’s second floor includes a loft area, the couple’s master bedroom and bathroom ­ — including a clawfoot bathtub —­ and a guest room, which is decorated with dolls and toys and includes a working area with a desk.


Outside, the Dekkers added an additional 675-square-foot building that houses a garage, another loft and a workout room. Their current project, now that the house is settled, is cultivating the backyard landscape.

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