Helen Thompson
Helen Thompson
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THE GLASS CEILING

Veteran Dallas-based journalist Lee Cullum is host of CEO, a monthly series of interviews with North Texas business leaders that airs on KERA television and radio.  She is also a commentator for Morning Edition on KERA-FM and contributes columns to The Dallas Morning News. She’s always on the go, and has lived in her two-story townhouse since the 80’s—long enough that the interior was beginning to show its age. She asked architects Jason and Signe Smith to help her refresh her house, but to do it slowly since she didn’t want to move out. The Smiths agreed, renovating one room a year, starting with the two spiral staircases.

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Cullum travels a lot, and hauling her luggage up and down the stairs was getting to be annoying, so the architects devised a plan to remove the stairs and replace them with an elevator. To accommodate the shaft, they enlarged the entry and pushed the front door out, also creating a new landing.

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From the second level, where the bedrooms are, the entry and living areas are visible, as is a modern art collection that Cullum inherited from her father.

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Jason and Signe Smith took a cue for the color palette from Cullum’s wardrobe and from the art on her walls. She wears a lot of orange, which is her favorite color, and tempers it with white.

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Natural light pours into the first floor spaces through the new glassed-in entry, which meant that the old flooring now looked older. Cullum opted for unstained white oak flooring to balance the orange accents throughout.

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The interior of the elevator got a coat of high-gloss lacquer that Cullum named “Nasher Sculpture Center green.”

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The Smiths added a glass bridge on the second floor, so that light now flows through both floors. The glass is low-iron, which means it has less of the usual green tint and is almost completely clear.

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A wrap-around stair well encloses the elevator shaft.

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The first time Cullum stepped out of the elevator onto the second floor, she was completely unnerved and asked if she could replace the clear glass with a frosted version. The architects reminded her that architecture should challenge, and to live with the clear glass for a while to get used to it. Within two weeks, Cullum had changed her mind and now loves her clear glass bridge.

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The elevator exit on the first level is on solid ground.

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The view through the glass ceiling.

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The new master bath. Photo by Jason Smith.

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Another view of the master bath. Photo by Jason Smith.

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A new all-white Bulthaup kitchen was part of the years-long renovation.

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A view down the other side of the kitchen. Photo by Jason Smith.

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High above it all, on the deck. Photo by Jason Smith.

Except as noted, PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEVE WRUBEL

ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN BY JASON AND SIGNE SMITH

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