Whether they showcase the latest design trends or stick with the tried-and-true classics – or a combination of both – luxury homes are defined by the high level of attention and meticulous care given to every detail. These four homes, the results of sometimes multiple years of renovation, show the best of what Oklahoma’s top designers, architects and homebuilders can create.
’20s Glamour, New Twist
A reluctant demolition of a home near Philbrook leads to a dwelling that’s modern on the inside, ‘old’ on the outside.
Photos by Nathan Harmon
When a Tulsa couple bought a historic home near Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art, they hoped to restore it to its original 1920s splendor. They loved the historical charm of the exterior, and the location was perfect for their lifestyle. They believed the historic home was worth the multiyear restoration interior designer Carolyn Nierenberg and architect/builder Mike Dankbar would achieve.
Sadly, that was not to be.
“The home had been abandoned for several years, and there was great interior damage,” Nierenberg says.
It was a painful decision, but the homeowners leveled the old house to build a new residence reminiscent of the ’20s on the exterior.
“They were very sensitive to the historic feeling in this neighborhood,” Nierenberg says. “They wanted their new home to complement the existing homes in this older area of midtown Tulsa.”
Working with Dankbar and Nierenberg, the couple achieved their plans for a home that seems to have been in this neighborhood for decades and speaks of luxury in a quiet, dignified manner.
The drama of the home’s upscale interior, in style and function, is seen in the transitional design change from the ’20s to today. The entry, reflecting modern trends and living styles, is accented with a tailored, glamorous, custom iron railing typical of the architectural/design details of the 1920s. That handsome railing follows the stairs up to a large bay window on the second floor, overlooking a pleasing lawn vista.
That window is significant to the home’s design theme. It is one of many floor-to-ceiling windows in every room that brings the beauty of the outdoors into elegant, comfortable living areas.
“The couple wanted the outdoors to become part of almost every room,” Nierenberg says. “To make that happen, we chose a neutral color palette – soft grays and whites enhanced with brilliant color notes in contemporary art.”
Nature is an important accessory in this luxurious home. From every room, there is a view of the front lawn or the back patio and pool and beautifully landscaped areas. To accommodate the family’s love for bringing the outdoors inside, there are few draperies throughout the home. Where window coverings are necessary, they are either on remote-controlled roller shades or hidden in valances recessed in the ceilings.
“The couple’s goal was to have a warm, casual home that would be family friendly in every room,” Nierenberg says. “The clients were very dedicated to researching the products and finishes that would make the home look like it belonged in this neighborhood. I enjoyed their dedication to making this home so personal for their family.”
You might call Mike Dankbar a one-man band when it comes to creating new homes. Since 1992, he has been designing and building new homes, most of them in the Utica Square area.
Dankbar’s love of housing led him to earn a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Oklahoma, which led to a job with the commercial firm of Russell L. McGee. In 1983, he joined forces with Braselton & Neel, an alliance that lasted until 1992.
That year was a pivotal turning point in Dankbar’s career. Richard Neel retired. Braselton took all the commercial clients and Dankbar took the residential clients.
“Since then, I’ve built everything I design,” Dankbar notes. “I’m the architect, designer, builder, and I work directly with my clients.” He also does all of his artwork and renderings.
Dankbar is definitely not interested in cookie cutter designs for new homes. “Every plan for a home takes at least a year or a year-and-a-half to create; and another year to year-and-a-half to build,” he explains. “I always have one on the drawing boards and one under construction at the same time. I’m not a volume builder.”