Scott Baker wears his aesthetic preference on his face. Literally.
“They’re my Buddy Holly glasses,” he says, chuckling. “Dark horn-rims.”
The spectacles are relatively new, but Baker’s love of 1950s style is not. He grew up in a mid-century modern home on Melissa Lane and developed an affinity for the “clean, minimalistic design” of the period. He now lives with his wife, Terri, in a house from the same era, just a couple of miles away.
The residence was built in 1952 to the specifications of architect Gordon Nichols. Its white brick exterior has plenty of curb appeal.
“We get about five letters a year from people wanting to buy this house,” Baker says. Perhaps the prospective buyers crave privacy. The home has tons of it. In lieu of a front door there’s a tall wooden gate, which leads to a courtyard. It’s decorated with succulents, thanks to Terri, a master gardener.
Stepping inside the abode feels a bit like going back in time. And that’s intentional. Baker, who considers himself a “purist,” has filled the space with period-appropriate furniture — a red sofa by Florence Knoll, a coffee table by Cassina, dressers and night stands by Heywood Wakefield and, of course, several pieces by Eames. He says he tried adding contemporary touches, but didn’t like the results. “It’s like having an old antique car,” he explains. Terri finishes the thought: “You don’t want to put a modern fender on it.”
This can be a difficult concept to convey. A few years back Baker decided to remodel the bathrooms, but he wanted to maintain the integrity of the original design, which featured slanted cabinets.
“[The contractor] said ‘I can make them straight,’” he remembers. “I said, ‘No. I want them at a diagonal.’ People want to come in and modernize [the house].”
For the most part Baker has resisted. There is, however, one sign of the 21st century: a flat screen TV, mounted on the living room wall. Though their home looks like something from the set of “Mad Men,” the couple swears they’ve never watched the show. Terri sews for entertainment while Baker listens to records. He estimates he has at least 10,000.
“… there are some he’s had since high school and you can see where he’s written his name on them,” Terri says.
It’s a good thing the couple appreciates the past, because their house backs up to a cemetery. Through a chain link fence, you can glimpse tombstones.
“It gives you a sense of mortality,” Baker admits. Terri has fun with it. Playing off the old adage that the dead make for good neighbors, she says: “They’re very quiet and they never complain.”
The Geft Residence
Year built: 1954
Backstory: Although it was in disrepair, Irvin Geft saw oodles of potential in this house on Coppedge Lane. But his fiancée, Jessica, needed some convincing. “We made a deal that if she didn’t like it [after the remodel] I’d sell it right away,” Geft explains. He rolled up his sleeves, got to work and about four months later Jessica was thrilled with the results.
About the art: It’s quirky and reminiscent of Andy Warhol. Geft created some of the pieces, such as the brightly colored vampire mouths lining the breakfast nook wall. Others are “on permanent loan” from his parents.
The backyard: Huge and shaded by a massive oak tree, Jessica refers to it as the “dog park.” She and Geft have two pooches, Oliver and Mishka.
General vibe: Youthful and impossibly hip.
The Bulban Residence
Year built: 1955
Backstory: Pete Bulban grew up in Preston Hollow and always loved this house on Somerton Drive. When the original owners were ready to sell in 1989, he was ready to buy. He and his wife, Jenny, now have a teenage son who attends Greenhill.
About the art: Decidedly southwestern. Most paintings are of deserts or cowboys on horseback.
The backyard: The Bulban’s spend a lot of time on their wooden deck, which jets into the same creek Pete played in as a child. “We see lots of owls, turtles, bobcats,” Pete says, trailing off.
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