For many, the “dream home” is something easy, modern, elegant and renovation-free. For one Houston couple, however, the dream home was difficult, very old, somewhat shabby and took over a year of renovation. Does that sound unpleasant and very un-dream like? Yet the grit and determination of Jan and Ron Smulcer paid off. Their 1938 River Oaks home is a true dream home—a dream of a bygone era, of Americana, and of unbelievable beauty.
When they were house-hunting, the home really took the couple by surprise. The remodeling accretions of nearly 70 years had all but disguised the old home’s grandeur. Ron saw past the pseudo-modern accoutrements to the home’s raw original beauty. The oak banister, the dark hardwood flooring, and the simple classic lines of the home’s architecture were what appealed to him at first.
But transforming a vintage 1930s house that had been lived in and worn out for decades is not easy. The new owners went to work right away. Jan Smulcer actually found a 1937 ad in the Houston Chronicle for the then-new home. Working from this sketchy description, they recruited a cadre of highly trained architects, design specialists and history buffs to recreate how the original home must have looked.
A cousin served as a contractor on the restoration team. Thankfully, his Houston contracting company‘s specialty is in remodeling and restoration. A trim company reproduced era-molding for the home. A highly accomplished architect with a delightful medley of letters after her name served as one of the Smulcer’s chief advisors on the project. This restoration team was committed to bringing back as much of the original look of the house as possible. With a stack of magazines, a pair of scissors and a love for original beauty, the Smulcers filled in the rest of the details.
Talk to this couple about dream homes. One year later, the Smulcers are living in a piece of history. The home is a virtual voice for the beauty of American architecture. In recognition of their superior restoration work, the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance will award the Smulcers with the prestigious Good Brick award.