Builder Ben Coats invites us to his beautiful family home in Bluffview
This story is part of the Dallas Top Builders 2021 feature. Click here to see the 2021 winners.
A few summers ago, Jen and Ben Coats and their five children embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. Packed in an Airstream motorhome, the family of seven traveled 4,000 miles across the expanse of the American West. But when the epic road trip finally came to an end and the family returned to the Park Cities – an area known for lot size which is the exact opposite of expansion – they began to look at their home in a whole new light. . âWe were like, man, these lots are so small,â Ben says, âand you’re so sandwiched with your neighbors.â
But the Coats wouldn’t feel cramped for long. As the owner of Coats Homes, Ben has an inside line on available land in Dallas, and when he first laid eyes on some half-acre beauty in Bluffview, the veteran homebuilder knew he had. found exactly what her outdoor loving family needed. âThere were the more mature 40ft tall magnolias surrounding almost the entire property, front and back, and we just fell in love,â he says. So began a new kind of adventure for Ben and Jen: creating their own custom house. âI build custom homes all the time – that’s what we do – but never for ourselves,â Ben says. âWe have done several complete gut renovations, but this was our first new build.â
With the tables turned and Ben sitting in the client’s seat for a change, he finally had the freedom to build the home he and his family always wanted – and that meant taking an all-no-no approach to everything. which is fashionable. âWe wanted our house to stand out in a way that was super thoughtful, super creative and super personalized,â he says. âWe wanted people to walk by, slow down and say, ‘Wait a minute. I’ve never seen this before. ”
As a result, the Coats’ 6,800 square foot home is packed with exceptional features, from the fully cedar shingled exterior (more common on Cape Cod than in Dallas, TX) to the fully open fireplace in the family room ( âIt’s like you had a campfire going,â Ben says). But the family’s dream home wouldn’t have been possible without the perfect team in place, which is why they recruited longtime collaborator David Stocker of SHM Architects and interior designer Erin Sander. âIt’s fun working with Ben,â Stocker says. âHe’s probably seen as much as we have, so he’s trying to look for new things. It’s always inspiring. “
Ben and Jen’s dedication to a life of their own is also inspiring, from the food they eat and the bath products they use to the building materials chosen for their home. Inside and out, the couple avoided chemicals as much as possible and used water-based sealants throughout, which limited the number of toxins entering the home. From the exterior shingles and diamond polished concrete floors to the white oak kitchen cabinets and white oak ceiling, almost every element has been left in its natural state. âIt was a win-win to keep a lot of things unstained and unfinished because we loved the way they looked, too,â Ben says.
One of the house’s most striking features is the glass-walled shower in the master bathroom.
Made by Orona Metal Creations, the suspended steel fireplace separating the family room from the dining room is Ben’s favorite feature around the house. Completely open on all four sides, it seems to float between the spaces.
Speaking of looks, the home’s interiors had to strike the perfect balance between family comfort and high contemporary. During the day, the hard-working house serves as an offsite hangout for Ben, as well as a home teaching area for Jen and the kids, ages 4-11. Then, at night, it’s a place for the family to entertain friends or relax with a home-cooked meal and a movie. âThey love the richness and organic qualities of many wood tones in the interior,â says Sander, âbut then balancing that with a bit of that edgy, modern sensibility in some of the fixtures and lighting.â Comfortable and chic meet most notably in the office, where Sander mixed a shapely felt pendant and tree root coffee table with a custom sofa in a neutral, durable fabric. Showcasing ridged walnut cubes, the wall-sized metal shelves, another custom design from Sander, appear against the polished plaster walls and ceiling.
These creative custom touches paired with the house’s bold architectural moves and unexpected material choices make Coats House a shining example of the magic that can occur when talent and fearlessness combine. âIn the end, we had to push the boundaries,â says Ben. “And we weren’t afraid to play big or come home.”
Thinking of building your own dream home? Based on his professional – and, now, personal – experience, Ben Coats has a few lessons to teach you.
Be true to yourself. âIt’s important to specialize in a home for your family. That’s why you build a custom house, to make it your own, âsays Ben. âSometimes it’s appropriate to throw resale out the window if you know you’re going to be living in your home forever. So do what’s best for you and your family and how you want your family to live, not what’s best for the market. “
Determine the spaces you really need. âThe biggest thing we’ve learned is that we don’t use more of our rooms,â he says. âSo when you are planning to design a home, take a close look at the spaces you are going to use on a daily basis. And if you don’t plan to use it daily, consider combining two rooms that won’t be used often in one space to get the most out of that room. ”
Build your team early. âThe sooner the better,â says Ben. âYou can get the most out of a project by hiring your designer from day one. I brought my landscape architect [Paper Kites Studio] a bit later in the project, and I think there are things she could have done with the actual architecture to accentuate some of the features of the landscape architecture – because the settings of the house and the foundations were already laid out on the blueprints – so this is the one I did not take my own advice.
And make sure you put together the right team. âWe always tell clients when you hire an architect or designer, that you want to look for three things,â he says. âYou want to get along with them and appreciate them as people. You want to make sure their budget is aligned with your budget and that they can meet your financial goals. And that your styles are aligned. ”
Interior design by Erin sander design
Built by Coats Houses
Architecture by SHM Architects
Landscape architecture by Paper kites studio
Flowers by HWossen wing