21 July 2009

Lauren Ross – The Beginning

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I started emailing with a “Lauren” from Austin through the blog of course, and soon realized it was THE Lauren – Lauren Ross – of slipcover fame.   I was star struck at first – after all, I had long admired - no, make that lusted after - her decorating style.  It was in 2004 when Lauren first came to my attention.   A story on her house was in the local design magazine, Houston House and Home, and I studied every picture and description as if I was cramming for a final exam.   Lauren lived in my neighborhood – at least that was what our zip codes said, but her house was so different than my typical West University version.  Her street is without a doubt, one of the nicest in our small town, and her house was not new, but original to the neighborhood, a rather increasing rarity.   Lauren had promised the owners she would lovingly care for the once happy home where children had been raised.   And, she did.    She tended to the house, nurturing it just as she vowed.    It is on a huge lot for West U, a large lot for any inner city, really.  It is full of romance - small rooms with nooks and crannies so absent in today’s architecture.   There is a large, enclosed sun porch and a bright garage apartment, the bathrooms boast the original vintage tile, while the kitchen is a warm, happy spot – small and enclosed  – the way kitchens ought to be.  

When Lauren’s story was first published, I had no idea who she was, but I was determined to find out just who it was that had  a house full of wonderful slipped covered furniture, exactly the same pieces that I myself should have had instead!   Talk about envy!  It wasn’t hard to learn about Lauren  - the entire city was buzzing about her house, it was just that magical.  And Lauren was perfectly suited for the role as its caretaker – a precious blond - intelligent and talented with four small children, and a handsome husband to boot.    Her life was as storybook beautiful as her house.  So, I stalked her, of course!  What design-crazed person wouldn’t have?  The first time I stalked her, I didn’t know the exact address, but her street was short so I took a chance and at dusk (the best time for these things) set out.  I sat in my car and stared at the wrong house for about 30 minutes before I realized my mistake.   Driving by her charming house just to gaze at it became part of my daily routine.   The landscaping and pink roses were certainly an allure, but I was particularly taken with the scrolled iron railings that guarded the French doors.     It’s strange when you stalk a house – you know all about it, but the owners are blissfully unaware of its suitor.    It all came to an end one day when Lauren, et al, upped and moved to Austin, a move I felt so sorry she had to make!       My heart ached for this woman I never had met.    How could she leave her beautiful house that she had poured her heart and soul into?   In truth, I’m sure it was somewhat bittersweet, but the Rosses were excited to embark on their new adventure in a city that most Texans would prefer to live in themselves.      The most pathetic thing is I still stalk her former house and pretend it all looks the same as it did when she lived there and grew her antique roses and tended to her overflowing window boxes and rested on her white day bed in the back yard.   No, the house isn’t the same without Lauren there, her personality and style is too large to be replaced so easily. 

Her move to Austin provided another opportunity to flex her design muscles.   Her house there is the opposite of what she had in Houston.   It is new.   It is Austin-styled – with lots of creamy limestone and charming, large living spaces.  Yes, the house is different, but it is just as beautiful, if not more so.  Of course the magazines came calling again, and Country Living did a spread on Lauren and her wonderful  slipcovers.  Today, I see Lauren everywhere.  It seems that many design bloggers have pictures of her Austin house and every  week or so, I forward another blog to Lauren to show her how much we all adore her.   As much as I love her Austin house, the Houston three-story will always be special to me.   Oh, to have been able to afford it, I would have bought it in a heartbeat and lived out the fairy tale for Lauren.   And so, while everyone in blogdom is  familiar with the white slipcovers from her Austin house, her Houston house is fading from memory.  Here, for your enjoyment, is the Houston house of my fantasies and Lauren’s reality.   But have no fear, soon I will show the Austin house, as seen through Lauren’s eyes.   But for today, enjoy the house that was magical if only for a few short years:

 

 

image The house was built in 1936.   Lauren painted the brick and added the copper canopy and window boxes, the so sweet iron railings, the walkway, the French doors, and a wonderful family room onto the back.    At the right is the large, enclosed sun porch.   The architect on the project was Byrlan Shively.

 

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The back of the house.  The sun porch is on the left.  The large room coming out from the back is the added on family room with a game room above.  And separate from the house is the charming garage with an apartment upstairs.

 

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This shows the sun porch, the living room, and to the right – the family room. 

 

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The space between the house with the garage on the right. 

 

 

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Lauren added these garage doors for extra romance.

 

  

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Under the porch of the garage, there is an assortment of antique iron furniture, painted white, with white slipcovers, of course.  Look how charming the window boxes are!  The patio was added by Lauren.

 

 

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I apologize for some of the pictures which were taken with a cell phone!   But walking into the house – this was the view from the dining room, looking through to the foyer, then to the living room, on past to the sun porch.  Lauren uses seagrass rugs, custom cut to fit around the room almost like wall to wall, but not quite – exactly as it should be.   All the furniture in this house was brought to Austin and was used in her new home, so you might recognize certain pieces from Country Living magazine.  

 

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The breakfast room was wallpapered in a damask, and had corner cabinets – this room was added on along with a master sitting room above it.    Lauren’s style is introduced here:  seagrass, white slipcovers, and crystal chandeliers.  Almost every room has all three design elements which keeps a continuity throughout.

 

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You can see the wallpaper better in this picture – taken with a cell phone!

 

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The living room again has white slips – here two small settees face each other in front of the fireplace.  The sun porch is through the two sets of French doors flanking the original, scalloped mantel.  This photograph came from the book, New Cottage Style,  that featured the Ross’ Houston house. 

 

 

 

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In the front window, two antique fan chairs in white, a Swedish Mora clock, and a French armoire.    The slips had not yet arrived for the chairs when this picture was taken, but I think they look fabulous even without them!

 

 

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Looking the other way, against the wall is another slipcovered sofa and two slipped armchairs.   This is the most colorful Lauren was in her Houston house – in  Austin, everything is predominantly white now.  

 

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The sun porch adjoins the living room.  With French doors and windows on three sides, the room is very bright, perfect for morning coffee with its eastern exposure.  Here Lauren used white slipcovered furniture and antique white wicker.   The ceiling is beadboard, the floor is painted wood.

 

 

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The other side of the sun porch with its slipcovered sofa and white wicker rocker.

 

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Another view of the sun porch.

 

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Lauren’s kitchen was all white, with the focal point a wonderful center island that she skirted.    This island was my favorite part of the kitchen!  The kitchen looks original, but it was gutted and rebuilt.    Tile was used on the counters and backsplash – just as it would have been originally.

 

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Did Lauren have the first Shaw sink in Houston?   Maybe!   Notice her charming wall mounted faucet and what looks like original doors under the sink.   The pass through was originally a window before the room was added on. 

 

 

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The family room that was added on to the back of the house.   A bench is against the windows with shades and white linen.  I love the window treatments in this room.  

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The other side of the added on family room with the gameroom above it.  All white slips, seagrass, and crystal chandelier mixed with English bamboo furniture.

 

 

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The master bedroom is upstairs with a large adjoining sitting room that was added on when the Ross’ remodeled.   Lauren wallpapered the sitting area and filled it with seagrass, white slipcovers, and a crystal chandelier.  The bed is reflected in a large, white painted armoire.  The pillow on the bed is Bennison linen.

 

 

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From the real estate photograph, you can see the beautiful armoire better.   I love master bedrooms with adjoining sitting rooms – what a luxury!

 

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The Princess room!     With one daughter and three sons, the Princess gets a pink wallpapered room with blue accents – to match her bathroom.

 

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The other side of the Princess’ room with her vanity and slipped chairs.   Lauren designed the built ins and window seat using pictures from the era the house was built.

 

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The Princess’ bathroom – with the original turquoise blue tiles.    Lauren put in the pink toile wallpaper.  I think this bathroom is to die for!  She skirted the sink, and notice the wonderful tufted chair on casters!  A closed off door became a toiletry closet complete with chicken wire and fabric.  What a wonderful bathroom!!!!!  

 

 

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And one more sitting/game room area upstairs with white slips, burlap,  and seagrass – do you see why I love Lauren’s style?

 

 

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And finally, one of my favorite spaces, the upstairs room over the garage.  Lauren used this room as her office.  The floor is painted white.   I adore how she furnished this with wonderful pleated slips that allow the antique feet to show.    In the back, the desk is styled like the kitchen island,  an old wood top with a skirt.  Dreamy.

 

 

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After the Ross Family sold the house,  they moved to Austin, a short 3 hour drive from Houston.  There, in a house with a distinctive Austin look, Lauren used all her furniture, barely having the replace anything.    Next, we will tour her new house seen through Lauren’s lens – her own camera.   Be sure to check back to see the warm, cozy home she has created in Austin!

67 comments:

  1. Oh, Joni! I can't wait to see her home in Austin. The sunroom, the kitchen and the upstairs room are my favorites. So much to love!

    Thanks for the tour {to both you and Mrs. Ross!}
    Hugs~

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  2. Oh, Joni! I can't wait to see her home in Austin. The sunroom, the kitchen and the upstairs room are my favorites. So much to love!

    Thanks for the tour {to both you and Mrs. Ross!}
    Hugs~

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  3. ...I bow to your stalking skills!

    Lovely old home...You have me wondering what/which house in Austin she has?? I must have seen it!

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  4. I am going to be brutally honest..I love the look, but I am not sure I would want it in every single room. Looking at these photos it becomes difficult to differentiate the rooms and the sofas and chairs almost look as if they have been moved from room to room. That being said, I get the appeal, it is very pretty.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing these pictures! As you know I love Lauren and her dining room chair slipcovers. Simply divine!

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  6. You crack me up!! I love reading about your stalking adventures!! I always get a little melancholy and think we would have STALKED Houston together had life turned out differently. I know you were sad to see Lauren go, but what fun to see what she has done in Austin - of course, in a limestone, hill country house?! Can't wait for the next post!

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  7. Have loved her look for years recently rediscovering who she is! Pretty coffee tables throughout too. Looking forward to her Austin home!
    Roberta

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  8. I completely understand why you would stalk this house. It is beautiful. I like everything about it.

    Have been thinking of seagrass rugs for my house. What is the best place to get them?

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  9. Wow. Joni. That was a very special post and I really really enjoyed it. Lauren's style (and Shabby Chic in general) was what started my love affair with design.
    Great way to start my day!
    xx
    Kara
    You da best.

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  10. What a beautiful home. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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  11. I am in love with the pink and aqua bathroom. I think that I might just spend my life there.

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  12. Delightful eye candy! Such a sweet way to start my day ... thanks, Joni!

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  13. such a sumptuous style, loving it>!

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  14. This truly is a wonderful and beautiful home. I love her style of decorating. So very individual. Hugs, Marty

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  15. The Princess bathroom is mine I tell you!! I shall have such a bathroom before I die. It's on my bucket list, as of today.

    Thanks so much Joni, for all you do. Your photo essays are wonderful.

    P.S. I've added the skirted kitchen island to the bucket list also.

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  16. I can see why you fell in love with all her slipcovers AND her house- both are just beautiful!

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  17. OMG! Joni! I have been reading this while at work! And now I am supposed to just close this out and go back to my desk full of papers and phone calls to return?!!! I would rather pour over every single frame of photography and memorize her incredible style! Great post!!! Mrs Ross has got it goin' ON!!!!!
    Can't wait to see Austin!

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  18. It is like you are inside my head! I was just looking up inspiration for slips for my "new" wing back chairs and was pouring over Lauren Ross' Austin home pics from Country Living thinking it is too bad I can't find pics of her Houston home. So I was elated when I saw this post this morning - Thank You!

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  19. Joni,
    I ADORE her style here....I wonder just how many yards of fabric she has used throughout! I like too how she uses trays on tables for added dimension for arranging things and on the kitchen counter with the silver tray upright with a basket of ceramic canisters arranged inside! Perfection. So many great details.
    Are you still on vacation?
    Blessings Girl...

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  20. I have stalked Lauren for years on the printed page.So glad to know someone who got to do it for real.:) Can't wait for the next post!

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  21. Thanks for your posts!! So beautiful!!! You should be doing a design book??

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  22. Loved the house tour - that bathroom will stick with me forever - fabulous.

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  23. What a lovely coincidence to be chatting her up!

    And wow wow wow... that mirrored coffee table... if for whatever reason she ever tires of it...

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  24. Joni I am in awe.The slipcovers and design are all amazing. This is the kind of home I love to tour!

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  25. Thanks for the lovely pics of Lauren's Houston home, Joni - I really enjoyed posting photos of her Austin home on my blog. I hold Lauren in high regard and feel most fortunate to count her as a friend! If you ever make it to Austin, I would love to meet you!

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  26. Oh Joni, you know i just love this post.i am a huge Lauren R fan..and she is the sweetest most gracious person..i met her in a shop in Tomball years ago and she invited me to come see her home..what a treat..i was blown away..and such an inspiration to see a young mom living with FOUR children and a beautiful home.. my faves were the entry, her white slipcovered KITCHEN ISLAND, the blue papered dining room off the kitchen, the little girls bath...the boys room..really everything.her details on pillows, curtains etc are just amazing..

    and the house itself is wonderful..cute little window above the front door (her daughters bath i think..love that original tile and toile paper!) and she used a little monogram linen towel inthe window i think..just precious.

    I hope Lauren loves Austin..cant wait to see the next post! does she have a blog??

    Holly

    Holly Mathis
    www.hollymathisinteriors.com

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  27. Joni... this is one amazing house, and I love all of her slipcovers and attention to detail! I don't even know where to start with the compliments, so let me say, I would buy it furnished! It's adorable. Thank you and Lauren for sharing this amazing house with your readers. I'm in love!

    XO,

    Sheila :-)

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  28. What a large lot for West U, and what a charming home. I look forward to seeing the new Austin digs!

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  29. "but the Rosses were excited to embark on their new adventure in a city that most Texans would prefer to live in themselves. "

    Joni! I am so disappointed in you! Not only are you perpetuating the myth that the only "great" city in Texas is Austin, and that Houston (or Dallas or Fort Worth or any small town in between) is somehow "lesser" and "most" of us would "prefer" to live in Austin.

    I can't be the only one that gets tired of traveling out of state, and when asked my origin and declare "Texas", the immediate follow up is "Austin?" HELL NO!

    I am a proud Houstonion, and I while Austin is lovely to visit for weekends, I would never prefer it over Houston.

    I started reading your blog because it fosters such love and a determined point of view that Houston (and it's residents) have incredible style and access to antiques, culture and a beautiful quality of life.

    You have such a large following across the globe, please don't fall into the trap of perpetuating the "Austin is where it's at" myth- and if you truly want to live there- then state it as your own preference- not for Texans at large!

    Your loyal reader,
    Designer in Houston

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  30. You are one lucky lady....can't wait to see the new one!!

    Xo,
    Ingela

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  31. I'm confused. You lambasted the Buckingham place but think this is exemplary design? The shot of the giant clock, mini wardrobe, clown curtains and victorian table with that lamp.....yikes!

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  32. Joni: Does Lauren make her own slips or will she share her slip person's name and contact information? Melinda

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  33. I still remember the first time I saw her rooms... I was like a mad person trying to get some info on who this person was, but could not find anything. So I just kept the photos in my files, used one or two for a decorating lesson, then later I did a" meet lauren ross " post...I did not know a thing to say, so I just said at the end of the photos, "Don't forget to breathe". I think that said it all. I was so excited when she came by for a visit and thanked me so sweetly. I love her style so much I could go on and on and on

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  34. Joni- Thanks for sharing this lovely home with us. The kitchen and the sunroom are by far my favorite. I can't wait to see what her home in Austin looks like.

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  35. Wow! How interesting. It is a small world. You never know who will cross your path. Beautiful home. Connie

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  36. Hi Joni,

    Wonderful home and post. I liked your observation about Lauren repeating slipcovers, seagrass and chandeliers in each room for continuity. It's a good lesson to follow. It seems once the continuity is set then you can add different elements to each room. I can learn from this. Thanks.

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  37. Thanks so much for stopping by and as always leaving such gracious comments. I do so hope that you will join us on Sept. 11th for the next "Cloche Party". We had such fun with the last one and over 120 people participated. All of their designs were so interesting. It will include cloches and apothecary jars. I really look forward to seeing you there. Hugs, Marty

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  38. I love her style and I'm one of those bloggers that's posted the photos from Country Livng! Her home is perfection to me!

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  39. Even before I scrolled down to the first picture my heart was beating fast because I thought you might be talking about a house I have stalked for years. And you were! My morning walk takes me by this home and I have often pictured myself in the yard. This house was on the West U home tour several years ago and it was everyone's favorite. This house and the one on Albans are my favorite West U homes. Albans was for sale a couple years ago and I hurriedly called a realtor friend and said I found the house I wanted to buy; GET ME IN IT! However, it was priced at twice the HCAD appraisal so I had to pass it up. Thanks for the inside pictures. I really enjoyed this warm, gracious, graceful home and can't wait to see her Austin home.

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  40. Forgot to say.....please start stalking the Albans house; I want to see what it looks like inside with the new owners. Go ahead...you can do it!

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  41. bless your little pea-pickin' heart ... this story scratched the design itch for me.
    Sadly, only about 6 of the pictures will load, but I can certainly imagine the beauty of the rest of these dream-y rooms.

    I adore your style, I tink you know that!!!


    hugs.

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  42. p.s. thanks for the sweeeeeeet comment about my daughter and grand daughter

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  43. What a wonderful house inside and out. It's funny how a person can bring so much atmosphere to a place just being there.

    I love the exterior and the architecture, but I have to agree with a previous comment, it's a little too white and fluffy for me. I enjoy the look and appreciate, it but personally I need more color.

    You have sold me on slips though, Joni. I'm craving a new sofa in a natural linen slipcover that I can put some colorful pillows on!

    Thanks again for a lovely post. I'm looking forward to the Austin house.

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  44. A real beauty. Thanks!

    Dee

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  45. You stalker you...so glad you gave us a peek! I am loving all the slipcovers!

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  46. What a wonderful post. I love your writing style. Have to agree with the above comment. Please don't perpetuate the Austin is so cool, Houston sucks myth. I know you do so much to complement the city, but one comment like the one in your post just negates all the positive ones.

    Again, enjoy your blog so much!!!!!!

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  47. Gorgeous. I am taking ideas from several of the photos! Thank you, Joni, for always being such a great researcher and posting more photos than a magazine!

    I'm sorta new to your blog, but I went through a few weekends ago, and read back to the very beginning! I love everything about your blog!!! I landed here by doing a search on baby's nurseries, and got sucked in with your girls' rooms post. Just thought I'd come out of the woodwork and say hello :)

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  48. This is beautiful, Joni. I'm looking forward to seeing Lauren's new home, too!

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  49. One of the prettiest homes you've posted. The kitchen & breakfast room are my favorite!

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  50. CHERYL - the home on Albans (my other favorite) - that's the woman who bought Lauren's House!!!!!!!! email me I'll tell you! I can't believe we love the same houseS!
    Joni

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  51. Anon - I said "MOST" not all Texans love or want to live in Austin!!!!! and it's not statistically correct, but many many Texans love Austin - and prefer it to Dallas or houston - just judging by its growth!!!!!
    Sorry to offend you, but in truth, i am a native Houstonian and am sure i will die and be buried here too. Do not worry.

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  52. Many of Lauren's slips were made by Shabby Slips in Houston. I'm not sure who she uses in Austin. I'll ask her!!!!
    Joni

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  53. well..all I can say is.. I would be stalking that house too!! J'Adore!!! Thanks Joni!!!

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  54. What a Grand Dame of homes! I can see why you were so taken with it Joni. It has such a homey look to it even from the exterior. The interior is soft, welcoming and nurturing to one on an emotional as well as sensual level. Can't wait to see her Austin home and what she has been able to achieve there.

    One thing is for sure ... you never disappoint in your blogs. Keep up the great work.

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  55. Box-pleated white linen slips {swoon}

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  56. Oh it is about the wonderful window coverings! The fabrics and styles are to envy.

    Just L-O-V-I-L-E-E! -Brenda-

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  57. Not living too far away...I clearly remember falling in love with this house many years ago when it was on the West U home tour. Every detail was to die for & I could only dream of having such great talent! I can't wait to see what her Austin house looks like.

    Thanks for your wonderful blogs...I always look forward to reading them!

    Mandy

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  59. Love the princess room. My daughter has the inverse in her new bedroom (blue walls, pink accents) and I love it. I could look at that pink toile wallpaper all day.

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  60. Love the exterior and gardens...but what is hanging in the corner of the sunroom?

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  61. so beautiful!!! I'm crazy over her wallpaper choices!!! I can't get over how awesome her daughter's bathroom looks with the original tiles!! You barely even notice the black!!! Those school tiles usually drive me crazy but I love them here!!
    xoxo

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  62. I simply adore that fireplace mantle with the ivy and the round mirror with the wreath overtop! How beautiful! And all the slipcovers, totally your style!

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  63. Hi Joni,
    This is actually my house that you have written about. We love living here and it is even nicer now that what the pictures show. I feel lucky to have bought it as the other people interested at the time all had plans to demolish it.
    I have enjoyed your blog.
    J. Patterson.

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  64. OMG Joni, you are too funny! Also, I have to admit this California girl is falling in love with slipcovers. You will have to see my latest post - your post on slipcovers was one of my favs last year.

    Thanks for supporting my blogging efforts! I really appreciate it.

    xo,
    cristin

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  65. can someone here pls tell me how to go about purchasing lauren ross slipcovers? my email is: chrissyb1717@aol.com

    thx

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  66. I have the same question as Chrissy in Dec. 2010....how does one acquire slipcovers like these? did she make all her own? thank you. Lady

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