Round Top, Texas

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Round Top, Texas - population 77, except for the first two weeks in April and October each year. This is home to one of the largest antiques fairs in the United States. Started 40 years ago by Emma Lee Turney, the festival has grown from one location into a festival that overflows to all the tiny towns that surround Round Top. During the festival, large temporary, makeshift tent cities spring up where thousands upon thousands of dealers sell their wares. Once, the Round Top Antique Festival meant Americana and Texana antiques. Today, French, Swedish, and English antiques have overtaken the prominence that Americana and Texana once enjoyed. Now highbrow antiques share space with the very lowbrow: vintage, bric a brac, and just plain junk are plentiful in areas where the rent for stalls is cheap. If you love antiques and love to have a good time - Round Top is something to experience at least once in a lifetime. Situated between Austin, San Antonio and Houston, Round Top is a few hours drive through gorgeous countryside. The spring show is an especially nice time to go because the Texas wildflowers are in full bloom and the fields are a vibrant shade of blue from the bluebonnets. Until Round Top has been experienced, it's hard to explain the vastness of it all, and yet, despite it's size, it's still just down home Texas at its core. Web site of the Round Top Register is a good place to start if you plan to come next spring.

Round Top is a charming, tiny town halfway between Houston and Austin. Usually it's a sleepy, quiet place.



Round Top, before the invasion, nice and quiet.



The Big Red Barn. And no, that woman is not in my party!



Country Home Magazine always has a booth up front.



and Mary Emmerling always comes to sign books.


White ironstone is everywhere. I love ironstone and collect it.


Garden antiques and furniture were popular this year.


Trend alert: Silver domes.


My idea of heaven: English ironstone, Staffordshire, transferware and Mason.


I collect Mason ironstone and just had to buy a few pieces for my collection.


And two transferware plates. Notice the vendor excitedly adding up my purchases in the back.


Leaving the Big Red Barn, we head to a different area of vendors. Stuff is everywhere, overflowing.


A pumpkin patch of antique vases.



This tent city advertised itself as European Antiques, one tent of many.



Swedish sofa and French chair. At this point I am wondering why I wasted two hours in the Big Red Barn.


French settee. Painted antiques are much more in demand now than those with typical fruitwood finishes.


A Swedish tall clock. I want one of these, but pass this up.



Another booth with more painted French antiques.



This booth was huge and specialized in European antique linens.



A petite French woman owned this booth filled with both Swedish and French antiques. She has stores in L.A. and Dallas.



A yard full of muslin covered furniture.



Further along, we come to Marburger Farms. Relatively new to the Round Top festival, this tent city has grown from one tent to six huge ones.



A booth at Marburger Farms. Known for a more European look than that at Round Top, Marburger Farms has become a huge presence at the festival. It takes at least two days to cover it properly. I tried to do it two hours and only made it to one tent.



Of course this sign lured me in here.



Trend alert: large clock face.



Antique books by the yard. Had to pass these by, no more room for books that only look good, but won't read.



This statute was a standout at Marburger Farms.



Trend alert: Faux deer heads and intaglios.



This booth was one of my favorites. African and Eastern goodies. Kelly Wearstler has dozens of these Chinese calligraphy brushes in her home. I have one now.


More African goodies.


Ethiopian crosses. George Cameron Nash showroom sells these at quite a markup.



The best was outside behind the booth. A stack of zebra rugs which I could not say no to.


Now, this is a gorgeous chandelier: wood, gilded column and crystals. Too pricey, but a one of a kind piece I hated to leave behind. At this point I'm really regretting the money I spent at the Big Red Barn. Note to self: skip the Big Red Barn altogether next time.


This sofa reminded me of my new one.



Display of antique bottles.



I love French settees. If I had the space, I would have a settee in every room.



This dealer became incensed when I politely asked if something was a reproduction. Sorry, I still don't believe him. His prices were too cheap. All I could think of was how disappointed in me House of Beauty would be!


Hollywood Regency: there is virtually none here at Round Top and there is no mid century modern that I saw except for the junk from grandma's attic type.


Leaving Marburger Farms, tent cities pop up all along the way to Warrenton, Texas.



Only in Texas: A suburban with a longhorn rack on it's hood. Edit: Liberty Post asked me whether I saw the Junk Gypsies, a trio of vintage-styled glam ladies who set up shop in Warrenton during Round Top. This suburban actually belongs to them. Thanks Liberty for the reminder. Check out the Junk Gypsies' web site for all kinds of wild merchandise: chandeliers, t shirts, pillows and coffee mugs are a small offering.


Warrenton, Texas: fields and fields of vendors everywhere. Lured by the low rental rates, thousands of people sell mostly bric a brac and vintage goods in Warrenton. You couldn't see it all even if you spent days looking.



Going home: Wait, one last stop! The Lone Ranger sells Swedish antiques out in the open in Warrenton. He informed me that he had sold a truckload that morning to top Houston interior designers who had beat me there. I couldn't say no to a gray Swedish clock that is now living on my landing. Imagine how I felt when I got home and discovered the insides had been replaced by a battery operated chime. Ebay anyone?

Chappell Hill, Texas and the KW Ranch

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This is the downtown area of a little town about an hour southwest of Houston called Chappell Hill. Five years ago my husband's brother Kirk and his wife Shannon left the big city to become country folks. Now, keep in mind that Shannon was a city person to the core, someone who knows everybody who is somebody in Houston's social circles. Kirk on the other hand was a faux cowboy who liked to fish, hunt, and listen to country music. The family thought they'd last a year at most in their new country home. Now, they are so entrenched in the small town life, we'd be surprised if they moved back to the big city. Big entertainers, they host Christmas for the Webb family and a multitude of parties throughout the year. Their ranch is perfect for the throngs of people they love to have. Recently, I came to spend some time with my country family. Here's a glimpse of how they live, a combination of Kirk's love of everything western, and Shannon's love of everything French.



The entrance gate to the KW Ranch. You can almost make out their brand at the top of the gate. The Lone Star flag of Texas hangs proudly on the right.


The gravel drive, looking back towards the front gate. Live oaks overhang the sides of the drive. In the spring, the front lawn is a mass of bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas.

The first glimpse of the house. Shannon and Kirk took the home down to its studs last year. Everything in it is new: windows, doors, moldings, floor, roof, kitchen, bathrooms, and more.


The front doors are old, huge and heavy. Little windows open through iron grills. It's almost Halloween, so that's a witch hanging from the door.


The address and KW Ranch spelled out in Mexican tile.


The flagstoned front patio is a perfect place for coffee in the morning.


A fountain splashes water on the patio by the front door.



Tin mariachi men provide whimsy on the porch. Shannon and Kirk both have a great joie de vie and their ranch is a perfect example of it.


The big red barn is home to 3 horses, 3 donkeys, throngs of rabbits, and masses of chickens who aren't eaten, but are treasured for the pastel colored eggs they lay.


The stately Captain, my daughter's horse. We surprised her one Christmas with him.


Three of the friendliest donkeys you'll ever meet. They love the camera! Aren't they the cutest?


The proud roosters! So loud in the morning and mean too!


More of the Webb's sense of whimsy. Three antique outhouses lined up in the vegetable garden. If you miss a shower, they force you to use these.


My favorite spot to hide away at the KW ranch. A red swing and two chairs under a huge live oak. The dogs love to sit here with me, waiting for a bite of my morning biscotti.


This table and chair is set up by the shooting range where Kirk and the kids have target practice.

The back pasture where the horses and donkeys roam.


Of course there's a swimming pool and fountain. It gets hot during the day, but the nights are much cooler than Houston's.


A statue in a secret garden.


Kirk's hunting truck, a must for Texas hunters. They also have golf carts to ride around the property and go down to the lake and fish. My daughter Elisabeth learned to drive on their carts.


The guest house with the red door. Shannon's mother has claimed her stake here, the sign read's Dottie's Casista.


The foyer to the KW ranch house. The Spanish door and Spanish floors contrast with the gorgeous antique display case that houses a monumental collection of Rose Medallion.


The Great Room includes a living area and a dining area. This picture isn't too styled! There's a Halloween toy hiding behind the sofa and a red paper cup.

The dining area with the large table that holds throngs of Webb and Wills family members.


At every turn, there's an antique French commode with a tablescape of accessories. Antique French convex mirror above.



Another antique commode with matching convex mirror - the pair sit on each side of the large fireplace mantel.


A large antique buffet. The pair of antique rose oil paintings are my personal favorites. Antique French clock and pair of table sconces complete the vignette.


The upholstery is matching linen slipcovers. A zebra skin covers the ottoman.


Down filled cushions make this sofa a perfect place for a nap.


Antique oriental buffet juxtaposed with western chair, horns, and hide lampshades.


The linen press hides the plasma tv.


My favorite book!


Another antique French buffet with oil painting above.


The new kitchen, a little messy from breakfast. Mexican tiles line the backsplash.


Shannon and Kirk both love to cook on the large stove. Some of my best meals have been eaten here.



The kitchen window overlooks the pool and the back pasture.



The bar, an essential part of a house built for entertaining. This bar was built around the antique painted buffet.



The family room doubles as a library. It sits off the breakfast area and overlooks the backyard.



The mud room. In the country, a mud room is essential because shoes quickly get dirty outdoors. All three of the Webb brothers have English springer spaniels from the same litter. Shannon and Kirk have four in all: Quila, Cuero, Sarita, and Quatro. Will there be a Cinco one day? Each dog has its own monogrammed bed. Quila (short for Tequila) is waiting for permission to come inside with me. Behind the dogs, you can just see the cubbies, one for each member of the human family.




OK: the actress on the left is Sarita, the grinning dog. She actually smiles like this when she greets you. The night before this picture was taken, Sarita, the grinning dog, was sprayed by a skunk. We weren't too happy about that.


Shannon's bedroom is all white linen.


Shannon's vanity area, yes another antique French buffet, antique mirror and sconces.


Shannon and Kirk's new bathroom. One half is pure Shannon: French and feminine. The other half is all Kirk: western. A crystal chandelier lights the bath area. Oriental rugs on the floor, no bathmats, of course.


The shelves over the tub. All the towels have the KW brand monogrammed on them.


The sink is inset into, yes, an anitque French buffet.



Instead of built ins or a linen closet, Shannon bought these tall cabinets to house their towels and bath essentials.


Kirk's side: the sinks were inset into this piece of Mexican style buffet.


Kirk's large shower is lined in tile from the ceiling to the floor. There are two showerheads, one is an overhead rain faucet. On the niche to the right, you can just make out the University of Texas longhorn tiles.


The guests sleep here.


Wills Webb has his pick of beds in the bunkroom.


Caroline Webb's room is all girly pink.


And lastly, Shannon's father's self portrait. J. Anthony Wills was an important portrait painter. His portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower hangs in the White House.


Shannon, as a young girl, painted by her father. This painting, and a matching one of her sister, was a surprise gift from her father to her mother. For those who know her, it's amazing Shannon could sit still long enough for her father to paint her in such life like detail.



Prints of four of J. Anthony Wills' portraits hang in the library: Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Henry Kissinger. Yes, it is safe to say, unfortunately, - these Webbs are Republicans!

Thanks for taking the tour of my brother and sister in law's ranch. I hope you enjoyed it!