Midcentury Redux

Dallas homebuilding duo lets the light into modern Texas houses

Dallas homebuilding duo lets the light into modern Texas houses

Dallas midcentury redo by Durham Builders
Durham Builders creates a style that fuses Texas materials and California architecture. Photo courtesy of Clay Stapp
Dallas midcentury redo by Durham Builders
Interiors are opened up to let in the light. Photo courtesy of Clay Stapp
Dallas midcentury redo by Durham Builders
Miles Durham and his wife, Sarah, started with aesthetic they love, and the market responded. Photo courtesy of Clay Stapp
Dallas midcentury redo by Durham Builders
Durham says his Dallas clients want open floor plans and contemporary finishes.  Photo courtesy of Clay Stapp
Dallas midcentury redo by Durham Builders
Dallas midcentury redo by Durham Builders
Dallas midcentury redo by Durham Builders
Dallas midcentury redo by Durham Builders

Miles Durham lives and breathes modern design. The Abilene native and founder of Durham Builders credits his father for instilling a modernist aesthetic. When Durham graduated from Colorado State University in 2002, he went to work for his father’s design-build company as superintendent.

That pedigree and experience helps propel him on his current career path as builder and rebuilder of homes for modern Dallas families, along with his business partner and wife, Sarah. The couple started their company in 2006, when the housing market took a rough turn, and big, expensive new construction simply wasn’t selling.

The Durhams bought a house on Davila Drive in Midway Hollow, and between the two of them designed a contemporary house and sold it.

 Builder Miles Durham says his goal is to create a “transparency between the outside environment and the inside” and allow “as much light as possible in.”

“Really [the company] started as a reaction to new construction not being a viable source for speculative house work anymore,” Durham says. “And so we just focused on that below-jumbo kind of price point and did it the only way knew how.”

Simple, ranch-style houses lend themselves to these sorts of modern Texas redos. Durham streamlines the facades and opens up the interiors, adding contemporary touches to both. He calls it a fusion of Texas materials and California architecture.

Luckily, the market demand for open floor plans and contemporary finishes aligns with the Durhams’ streamlined taste. Think rift and white oak hardwood floors, solid surface countertops, grid-pattern tile, flat rooftops, light colors and minimalist exteriors with simple native landscaping.

Overall, Durham’s goal is to create a “transparency between the outside environment and the inside” and allow “as much light as possible in.” So even if the footprint is smaller by Dallas new-construction standards, the interiors don’t feel cramped.

His last project, a home for Cara and Ben Appleby, with architect Scott Marek, was a midcentury-inspired design, with a simple shed roof, vaulted ceilings, smooth walls and polished concrete floors. “A good architect and good client make a job right there,” he says.

For him, a good client is someone who’s open to different ideas and material and trusts the builder to put everything together. But his primary objective is to design tranquil — and family-friendly — spaces for those clients to come home to.

Durham says he will break ground on a new seven-house development in Lakewood in August, with a quick completion date of February 2014. He said that it’s possible to complete the project in six to seven months, because after working with the architects, he and Sarah handle all of the finishes.

“We don’t work with designers, and a lot of times that’s where delays occur — waiting for materials to show up,” Durham says. “It’s a very well-oiled machine.”

That well-oiled machine is more than just a business for the Durhams, who go on midcentury home tours when they travel and live in their own midcentury treasure in Lake Highlands.

“It’s not just something we do to make a living,” he says. “Making money is just a plus.”