Vincent and Roula Jarrard had done contemporary. This time, they wanted to do contemporary with an “elegant” touch.

Which is why, when they saw the condo in the Royal Arms building just north of Northwest Highway, in the shadow of Athena Condominiums, they knew it would probably be their next home.

“We immediately liked it,” says Vincent. “It had a real cool ‘60s contemporary feel to it outside, yet it was still sort of warm – not too stark.”

Problem was, the 2,000-square-foot interior didn’t match the exterior. The condo’s previous owner, a woman who worked for the Home Shopping Network, had kept the space very traditional – a style the Jarrards weren’t too fond of.

“The bones were good,” Jarrard says, referring to features such as the nine-foot high ceilings, original built-ins and private courtyard – but much of the rest of it had to go if they were to achieve the more modern feel they’d grown to love in many of their past homes.

It was a renovation challenge the Jarrards – who were moving from a contemporary-style Lake Highlands home – were up for.

In four months last winter and spring, they pretty much gutted the place and started from scratch. Their oldest son Alex did much of the demolition, and Vincent, an architect, and Roula, a loan officer, did the rest.

“We served as our own general contractor,” Jarrard says.

They put down white oak flooring, installed ambient lighting that complemented their collection of pieces by Texas artists, totally redesigned the kitchen, and reconfigured the closet and bathroom space in the master suite. They used a lot of local resources, such as Ann Sacks’ tiling and CabinetMasters for the kitchen and bathroom.

The result is an airy, uncluttered, sparsely furnished space.

“We’ve just been really tricking it out,” says Vincent, referring to their furnishings, which range from high-end contemporary designers such as Cassina and Nambe to finds that are more aptly described as garage-sale chic, such as the Scandinavian teak sideboard buffet in the dining room.

It’s a look that suits the couple just fine.

“We like contemporary design because of its simplicity – furniture and art take on a more sculptural quality that defines the space,” Vincent says. “A clutter-free home is liberating for us, but that doesn’t mean we can always find our car keys.”

Completing the redesign is one of the building’s original features – a sculptural grid pattern attached to the condo’s front windows, which makes the living room one of their favorite areas in the house, Jarrard says.

“In the morning, the sun comes in off of the exterior grills over the windows, and it makes a neat pattern of light on the wall.”

With their youngest son, Peter, graduating from Lake Highlands High School this year, the Jarrards say the condo will be a perfect place for them to transition into their new role as “empty-nesters.”

“We consider it sort of a jewel box for us,” Vincent says. “If we want to leave and go to Europe, we can just lock the door and go.”

Part of that feeling of security comes from the building itself and their neighbors, who they say have been very welcoming, even leaving little gifts outside their door during the holidays.

“It’s got a really cool kind of community feel to it,” Jarrard says of the Royal Arms, built in 1959.

And that’s not the only thing they like about the area, he notes.

“We bought here mainly for location. The Tollway and Central are nearby, NorthPark is right around the corner, and we’re surrounded by great shopping and great neighbors.

“This area is kind of one of those best-kept secrets.”

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