PICTURE PERFECT

BY JEFF HAMPTON | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

The home on Stratford Avenue appears to have been lifted from the French Riviera and dropped in the middle of Highland Park. With its three-story cast stone facade, Juliet balconies, slate roof and formal entry, it’s a picture-perfect fulfillment of the owner’s vision and the builder’s craft.

Greg Smith, founder and owner of Monaco Homes, says every detail was the personal vision of the owner.

“She was her own designer, and she knew what she wanted. She would show us pictures of what she liked and we worked hand in hand from start to finish,” he says.

The house was developed on the foundation of a longtime relationship between builder and client that encompassed a top-to-bottom remodeling and additions to a previous home. “And then she said, ‘Let’s build a new one,’ and so we did,” says Smith.

A key desire was a larger lot, and the owner found one with almost a half acre of elbowroom. The existing house was removed and design work began on a 9,000-square-foot house that includes six bedrooms, including the guest suite over the garage, and nine and a half bathrooms, with plenty of room for three young boys and elegant features for her husband and their friends.

The elegance is evident right away, with entry floor tile custom fabricated from 10-by- 10 slabs of white marble. The marble also is prominent on a three-story floating staircase with wrought-iron balustrades and gold handrails. Behind the staircase, the white marble is joined with black for a checkerboard pattern in the music room.

The exterior of this custom home is made with cast stone and has imported slate roof tiles.

A herringbone design in walnut was used on the bespoke floors, while the ceiling features a coffered beam finish. The builder selected custom paneling on the walls and imported limestone for the one-of-a-kind, handmade mantel.

Elsewhere in the house much of the flooring is walnut in a variety of parquet patterns. A study/library carries the walnut from floor to ceiling, with paneling, shelves, molding and coffers.

“We drew it out on the walls and built it. It’s all hand finished,” says Smith.

A formal den has paneled walls and a coffered ceiling but all in white. The herringbone walnut floor is complemented by herringbone-arranged bricks in the fireplace—one of five in the house with a custom-carved marble mantel.

The kitchen is scaled for entertaining with a massive black enamel La Cornue range top and hood. The owner flew to France to custom design it for the space. When it arrived, it had to be lifted over the kitchen island and set into place with an A-frame lift system.

The master suite has his-andher baths with tile custom ordered overseas and shipped by boat. Other features include an elevator, full walk-in wine cellar, a swimming pool, and a four-car garage with a guest suite on top. The third floor has a game room for the kids and a bar for the grown-ups.

“There are very few windows. It’s all big double doors, even in the bedrooms,” says Smith. “They can open up the downstairs and people can come and have flow inside and outside.”

Whether entertaining or enjoying everyday living, the owners can set the stage in an instant with programmable Crestron home management and Lutron lighting systems.

“It’s all combined onto one computer, so your phone can pretty much operate most of the house,” says Smith.

In the powder bath, a custom-designed marble backsplash was cut to fit the wall, and a floating vanity with a marble top and wall-mounted fixtures was added.

Like every house it builds, Monaco Homes custom built this one from the ground up. Smith got his start hauling trash for a remodeler while attending college. He worked his way up, learning the trades and crafts, started his own remodeling company, and worked for a homebuilder. In 2005, he and Jamie, his wife and business partner, founded Monaco, and it’s been a gradual progression of larger, more complex and higher-end projects.

While French style and the Monaco name are a perfect match, the Smiths are comfortable building traditional, contemporary, transitional and coastal homes. “We like to travel and look at architecture to get ideas and inspiration,” says Jamie Smith, who helps with design and, as a realtor, sells their speculative projects.

Imported limestone was used to create the bespoke mantel. The hand-finished wood floor is walnut in a custom parquet pattern.

The parquet flooring continues into the dining room. Beyond the dining room is a climate-controlled 3,000-bottle wine cellar with a groin ceiling.

The hand-finished walnut floor provides a contrast to the white custom cabinets in the expansive kitchen. A 12-foot La Cornue bespoke range is the centerpiece of the room.

A three-story floating staircase has a custom railing, with marble treads and flooring. All of the treads and flooring were hand-cut from a single 10-by-10 slab of marble.

In the master bathroom a dome ceiling with hand-finished Venetian plaster was created and accented with two chandeliers. A custom design was created for the marble floor.

The hand-finished, herringbone walnut floor continues into the master bedroom. The builder also designed the wall paneling with a glaze finish to outline the trimwork.

Regardless of the style, one thing never changes: “You’re going to work directly with us,” says Greg Smith. “We’re not one of those companies that sells you something and passes you off to a supervisor.”

You’re also going to get a team effort.

“Most of the people who work for us have worked for me for almost 20 years, even before we started our company when I worked for someone else,” he says. “It’s everybody working in conjunction with each other, everybody helping each other.”

Jeff Hampton is a freelance writer based in Garland, Texas. Find out more at jeffhamptonwriter.com.