Elizabeth Dodson and her husband, Justin Schaffer, moved into their minimalist home in April and were quickly able to highlight it on the 13th annual American Institute of Architects Dallas Tour of Homes in November.

How can a couple move so fast with two sons, William, 4, and Theo, 2, while still building the deck and sandbox for the boys?

Dodson, who graduated from Harvard Law School, seized the moment. Joshua Nimmo, the architect for her house, asked her to participate in the home tour. “I’m a big design and architecture geek,” she says. “I needed an architect who is an artist, but who is not going to frown on me for having a budget.” In fact, Dodson now works with Nimmo after a 12-year career in the nonprofit sector.

Dodson and Schaffer chose their home on Caladium Drive because he works in Plano and she works Downtown. They needed to be near the Dallas North Tollway.

“My kids have always hated the car, and I love to walk,’’ says Dodson, who listens to podcasts about design and architecture. “I spent most of my 20s in New York and Boston. Neighborhood drove our decision to buy in Dallas.”

The couple zeroed in on a 1965 traditional ranch home, but decided they wanted a modern design.

“We gutted it,” Dodson says. “We kept the shell. We kept the roof. We kept the foundation. We kept the walls, but we made them glass.”

The couple pushed the garage forward to provide room behind the kitchen, which is now a playroom and a guest room.

The kitchen is very black. Her architect asked, “Are you sure you want a kitchen this dark?”

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Dodson likes the simplicity. “I wear black a lot. I prefer the quietness of a limited color palette. It feels more relaxing to come home to.”

During a recent morning, Dodson was overseeing a construction crew building the deck. On a typical morning, the boys wake up between 5:45 and 6:15 a.m., play in their rooms and join their mom in the kitchen for chamomile tea. The boys’ playroom includes a custom-made mini-IKEA kitchen, which can be closed behind cabinets. Dodson is assembling a tent for son William’s room.   

The family found vintage Wegner elbow chairs for the dining room at auction. Additional artwork includes a piece by Dodson’s mother-in-law as well as works from Craigslist, West Elm and textile art from an estate sale.

“I want to spread the gospel,” Dodson says. “This is a way to have space where you can see something beautiful but understated.”


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