Viva la Padre!

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And so, last Friday, the three of us, Ben, Elisabeth and myself took off in my new Jeep Commander for our annual trip to the southern most tip of Texas, South Padre Island. We'll be here for about three weeks, not doing much of anything except sitting on the beach and eating shrimp and crab.

It's a long car ride as you can see from the map - Houston to South Padre Island (where the red star is!). It takes about six hours with a few stops along the way.

And here is an aerial shot of the little island, in fact, I think it really is considered a sandbar!

This is the view to the right from our condo taken at about 7:00 pm today. Nice house on the right, always empty and boarded up. Hey, we'll take it!


And, the view to the left. Slightly hazy because the lens on my camera kept fogging up. There is no sunset because this is facing east!


The most exciting thing happening on the island visually is the new town called The Shores. As you can see, it is modeled on all those trendy Florida beach towns like Seaside and Rosemary Beach. It may be cheesy to be excited about copying Florida, but the lack of town planning on this little island has left a lot to be desired design wise, so The Shores is a breath of fresh air. It's been slow going for a long time, but this summer Ben and I are pleasantly surprised at the amount of building that happened over the winter. Many, many new homes on both the beach and bay side sprang up since we were last here. This is exactly where we want to live when we don't have to work anymore.

I love the picket fences, it reminds me of Seaside, Florida.


The portal to the beach. This reminds me of Seaside, Florida (see a pattern here?)


Front row viewing of the beach.


Now, this is what I call paradise.





Michael Smith in Malibu

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Architectural Digest published an article in 2005 on this Malibu house decorated by Michael Smith. It was my first introduction to the now very famous designer. I loved this house then and I love it still today. I think it was the blue checks that sold me on him, because I love checks and I love blue and white, so there would be no question about me loving Michael. Some of these pictures didn't make his book, so for your viewing pleasure, earlier Michael Smith.


I love this Dutch door.


The infamous blue checked living room with chintz draperies.


Another view. Note the green garden seat with shells.


Bennison fabric on sofa, Chelsea Editions on blinds.


Love the mirror. Note the sofa.


The master bedroom, carrying the red, white and light blue theme throughout the house.


Love the black bed.


Typical Californian outdoor room.


Aw, so cute! And so young looking here! This is pre-debonair Michael, no one styled his hair!!

Stalking Houston Real Estate: Part Deux

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Persuing a favorite pastime of mine (see earlier article: Stalking Houston Real Estate) while on vacation in not-so-sunny South Padre Island (more about that another time!), I struck oil! It isn't often that a home published in Architectural Digest goes up for sale in Houston, but one has and it is fabulous. Designed by Michael Siller for himself and his partner, the owner of Hokanson custom rugs, the house is located in River Oaks, Houston's most exclusive neighborhood. More of a townhouse, than a home, the interiors are filled with Russian antiques and paintings. The house is so perfect, I am wondering, where are they possibly moving to?

For the truly eagled eye, if this looks vaguely familiar, featured in this April's AD, is the house next door, a sort of "sister project," also designed by Michael Siller. For those who missed the original story in AD, here are some pictures from the Houston Associates of Realtors web site. Enjoy!

The piano nobile living room. Note the detailed moldings.


Checks, done by Michael Siller. Love this!

Green library, note the rug, by the owner Larry Hokanson.
Very formal dining room.

Master bedroom, rug again by Hokanson. Note the doorway pediments.


Gorgeous multifloor stairwell with parquet wood floors. Again, note the doorways.





Houston, French Style: Indulge

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It seems people who read this blog were interested in this pink headboard I posted under "A Touch of Pink." The headboard is the design of a darling, fair-haired shop owner named Cynthia Davis. Her charming store, Indulge, is located in Houston's tony River Oaks area in an even more charming building rebuilt by her husband, noted architect Issac Preminger. The Provencal inspired gardens and interiors of Indulge are so overwhelmingly beautiful, that shopping is sometimes a secondary excuse to visit. The entry, guarded by her three large Briard dogs, is shaded by an awning. Just inside the front door is a room fauxed the most beautiful shade of blue. In the foyer, Cynthia has displayed the entire Juliska glass collection. Upstairs are baby goods. To the left and right are plates, glass, kitchenware, gardening goods, bath linens, and furniture. Weekly delivered orchids of every variety are available, along with French home magazines. Though this location is still new, Cynthia has already outgrown the space and is opening a second location to showcase her furniture. Truly an indulgence of the senses from the fragrances to the eye candy - Indulge is a delight.


A faux bois vase sits on a table styled by Cynthia.



The soft spoken Cynthia and her debonair husband Issac at home with their three "babies."



The entry, with stucco walls. Note the stone doorway on the left.




The powder room at Indulge.



The "Issac" headboard available from the web site.

Another headboard custom designed by Cynthia lies under a typical french window.

Furniture by the French based Blanc d' Ivoire, a personal favorite of mine.


Cynthia and Issac's bungalow was the cover story of Cottage Living this spring.


Gates custom designed by Issac lead to the front courtyard, allowing the couple to utilize the outdoor area for extra living space.


Provencal inspired landscaping.



Rattan, iron tables, and wood antiques give the house it's French charm.


That touch of pink with a faux bois table and antique French leather chairs.


The original "Issac" bed that started it all.

French Design in Houston: Pam Pierce

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The living room: note the thickness of the doorway arches. Mirrors, iron tables, linen fabrics, down cushions - all add to Pierce's style.

This is the home of Pam Pierce, a well-known Houston designer who does French, Houston style. These photos come from the cover story of the May 2006 issue of Veranda. Pierce uses gorgeous period pieces along with non-period pieces, but, certainly, you will find no cheap reproductions here. Authenticity is the key. The look is spare, the accessories are highly edited, the mood is calm. Pierce uses lots of gold mirrors, peeling painted pieces, Santos, limestone, Swedish antiques sprinkled here and there along with an Italian piece or two, iron tables, down cushions, seagrass, stucco, and other details that when mixed together produce a visual that is breathtaking. She eschews any pattern in her fabrics and favors linens and checks.

The house is a gorgeous old Mediterranean in a very fashionable area of town within walking distance of all the great museums and the heady Rice University. Huge live oak trees, ancient hedges, and overgrown ivy all add to the Southern mystique and beauty of her circular street that lies behind an original, stately entrance. Pierce completely remodeled the house, using architectural antiques imported from France and Europe, mostly purchased by Chateau Domingue which is owned by her friend and client Ruth Gay. (Watch here for a future entry on her home to note Gay's version of French, Houston style.)


More living room: french day bed, the popular, must-have crowns on the side table.


Pierce and a small number of other interior designers from Houston have carved a niche out for themselves with this style. Their clients tend to be younger couples with enormous wealth who can afford this look. It doesn't come cheap. Several stores (mostly owned by these same said designers) provide the french antiques to fill the mansions (some are Mac-mansions) these young people inhabit. The oil & gas business which is headquartered here in Houston has been very good to us and these upper level designers have ridden the waves of this industry's ups and down. When the price of oil is low, they are scratching for clients. When oil is high, these designers are living in gorgeous Mediterranean villas themselves.

This indulgence does not stop in the house, it continues outside, of course. Pierce's yard is small by any one's standards, yet every square inch is manicured and furnished with centuries old pots and statues and with a small army of faux bois and curly iron work. Danny McNair is her landscape architect, and there are several other companies who do this look just as well: Thompson+Hansen for one. Truth be told, Gardens in Austin, led the way for these others to follow. Pierce is at the top of her game; these photos are the proof.

Chelsea Edition checks on slipcovers. That touch of pink. Layers of linen frame the bookcases.

Original large Santos greet visitors. Truly antique limestone fireplace from France. The photostylist is moving the pink flowers around.


The breakfast room: note how thickly she framed out the shelves. Large, vintage apothecary jars - the real thing.


The charming newly remodeled kitchen.

Outside with old faux bois, french fountain and gravel (probably imported from France?)


A secret garden lies behind the antique door.