If you have ever driven down Turtle Creek Boulevard, you know this home. In fact, you have probably almost crashed your Jaguar at the corner of Turtle Creek and Avondale as you drooled over 4001 Turtle Creek Blvd.
This house has Hollywood glam written all over it. Built in the 1920s, she won’t say exactly how old she is, but she smiles coyly from her corner lot.
A hip pocket for a bit last spring, the home is now listed with Mark Godson over at Allie Beth Allman for an amazing asking price of $3,750,000 — and worth every penny. It has five bedrooms, 6.2 baths, two dining areas, a wine cellar, three living areas and a music room.
Others thought she should let it be. But Susan Baten, a self-described “serial renovator,” would never let a home with these bones wither.
Like most of us, this grand dame has had her challenges. In 2007, the house was a teardown listed by Eleanor Mowery Sheets. Years of disrepair had led to a major interior mess: peeling paint, a hole in the kitchen ceiling and lord knows what else.
Interior designer Susan Baten and her husband, Greg, had seen the home from afar, like most people driving down Turtle Creek. And Susan and Greg love to take in house orphans.
“I always thought it looked worthy,” Susan says. “It just needed a little help.”
Others thought she should let it be. But Susan, a self-described “serial renovator,” would never let a home with these bones wither. She rolled up her sleeves and added a master and a den and turned the foyer into a music room — effectively doubling the size of the former home. It took three-and-a-half years to transform the place from decrepit to dynamo.
The Batens have a vacation home in Palm Springs — a midcentury modern mecca and, I hear, the hottest new vacation home hot spot. Palm Springs is where Susan found her stockpile of interiors for this home: Saarinen womb chairs and tulip tables and a pair of lamps once owned by Nancy Sinatra.
When you walk in, definitely keep on your sunglasses: The interior is dipped in Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White paint. Susan worked with Highland Park’s Veritas Developers Group to accentuate the high ceilings, step-down living room and very handsome moldings.
One of the home’s most dramatic architectural features is the grand staircase’s wrought-iron railings, salvaged from a 1920s Pittsburgh home and signed by artisan Hyman Blum.
Susan reconfigured the floor plan and got rid of the small, choppy rooms, so the interior flows more smoothly. And I love the wide-plank hardwood floors: “Chocolate Lab — not black, not brown, but chocolate Lab,” Susan says.
So dedicated are these art collectors that Susan measured for paintings when the house was still a construction zone. She sent an SOS to her friend and art adviser, Kenneth Craighead, co-owner of Craighead Green Gallery.
Sibylle Bauer did the floral photos on Plexiglas in the living room. There is a large, dotted abstract by Brad Ellis in the dining room, which changes as the sun moves. Craighead “studied the piece in the room at different times of day to make sure it looked as spectacular during coffee at 7 am as it did during candlelight dinner at 7 pm,” Susan says.
The Batens eat among and even on their art. Dallas artisan Brad Oldham created the “bird’s nest” dining table for them and also created three smiling, round faces just outside the breakfast-room window. Oldham says the concrete sculpture was inspired by a “melodic mass of cypress tree roots” he’d seen jutting from the ground near Fair Park.
There is almost nothing that blue and white will not fix — no amount of depression or angst — and this home has plenty of it. Susan filled the space with Jonathan Adler and flea market bamboo garden furniture, and just about everything is lacquered white. “If you stand still long enough, she’ll lacquer you,” Greg warns.
One of the home’s most dramatic architectural features is the grand staircase’s wrought-iron railings, salvaged from a 1920s Pittsburgh home and signed by artisan Hyman Blum. (His work is in the Louvre, BTW.) Susan found the railings at Nick Brock Antiques, and they fit like a glove.
Oh! I saved the best for last: the blue-tiled roof. Replacing the home’s crumbling red Spanish roof with aqua tiles was at the top of Susan’s want list. When they were installed, her contractor said to her, “We hope you like blue.”
That’s when Baten asked her husband if he liked pancakes.
“Because this house,” she said to Greg, “is going to look like the pancake house.”