Scarlet Brothers Transform Mid-Century “Dingbat” Property and Preserve its Retro Style

Team creates modern, open-spaced living while preserving classic aesthetics

HOUSTON, March 22, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Houston-based real estate developers Scarlet unveiled their latest urban-infill project today, a complete transformation of a mid-century, two-story duplex known as a “dingbat.”

Despite the word “dingbat” often carrying negative connotations, the Ron brothers of Scarlet successfully reimagined this 2,250 sq. ft. downtown property into contemporary homes while preserving its mid-century aesthetics. This revitalization has garnered praise within the housing industry.

Initially conceived in 1955 by renowned Houston architect Burdette Keeland, known for his contributions to modernism, the property functioned as a multi-family residence for photographer Fred Winchell and his wife. Situated on Richmond Avenue, the couple resided and worked in the single-story dwelling at the back, leasing the front unit to assist in covering their mortgage expenses.

“The property changed ownership several times before we acquired it in August 2020, during the early stages of the COVID pandemic when everyone thought the sky was falling,” recalled Scarlet co-founder Alexander Ron. “The property had been neglected and was in serious disrepair. Nevertheless, we saw the potential, leasing the property until March 2022, when we chose to redevelop it for our own use.”

The duplex is located in a bustling mixed-use area of downtown Houston. The compact one-eighth acre property efficiently maximizes functionality. Daniel took the upstairs unit with leafy views, located above parking at the front; Alexander took the one-story brick structure nestled in the back. Urban design firm Asakura Robinson redesigned the connecting courtyard as a lush and serene communal meeting point, with reflecting pool and outdoor lounging enclaves. The streetside covered parking was enclosed and secured with industrial steel roll-up doors beneath a white canvas, holding fast to the dingbat retro style.

Alexander’s ground-level unit boasts open spaces, exposed brick walls, eclectic art, and a combination of woods and fabrics, creating a warm atmosphere. Bright windows contribute to a light and uplifting ambiance. In the upstairs unit, Daniel stripped his residence down to the studs and rebuilt it with an airy style. He installed new windows, added floors and built-ins in blonde wood, whitewashed walls and ceilings, and used crisp white fabrics. The design was completed with smart accent colors and a cool gray concrete bathroom. Daniel explained, “The dingbat vernacular is an intriguing development style with huge potential to contribute to more affordable quality housing. Its compact and efficient use of space and utilitarian materials are fundamentally economical, but with a design aesthetic that is clean and pleasing to many.”

This restoration epitomizes the development philosophy we bring to all our projects,” added Alexander. “We had a lot of fun with the duplex, while also securing an investment. The potential is there to do more, a lot more, with the unpretentious dingbat shoebox.”

David Wamsley


SOURCE Scarlet