17 September 2009

A Brother and Sister Act

 

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The Family Room in Lauren Ross’ Austin, Texas House 

 

This summer I was thrilled to show you blogger favorite Lauren Ross’ Austin house, pictured above and below.  It seems that after Country Living magazine did a photo shoot of Lauren’s slipcovered filled house – a lot of you couldn’t get enough of her style, so I was happy to oblige with even more pictures featuring Lauren’s romantic design vision.    Most exciting of all was that Lauren shared photos of her former house in Houston which showcased an earlier version of her unique aesthetic.   Although she gets inspiration from Rachel Ashwell – whose color palette ranges from whites to pinks to blues to greens – Lauren has made the style all her own:   she is a pure-white-linen kind of girl.    The only color and pattern in her house is found in pillows – everything else is a wonderful snowy white.   Judging from the comments you so kindly left – I think everyone enjoyed Lauren’s houses as much as I did!

 

 

rosspics001MA23523445-0005 Lauren Ross’  TV Room in Austin

 

A few weeks ago,  Lauren sent me pictures of a project her brother had just finished in Houston.   David Gunn, Lauren’s brother, is a successful home builder here who heads up his own firm, Gunn Construction and Building Co.  The pictures Lauren sent were actually a lesson in how to build a country French styled house in the middle of Texas and David seemed to get all the details absolutely correct.   Do Lauren and David share the same style?    There definitely are things about David’s French styled house that Lauren and I both love.  And while David isn’t an architect, as a builder he does choose all the finishing touches that make a house wonderful and authentic looking.     Regardless of whether David is a true Francophile or not, he certainly knows how to build a French house!

 

David came to building well prepared – he graduated from Texas A&M, Magna Cum Laude, (wow!) with a major in Construction Science.  He cut his teeth at Renaissance Builders, starting out as an estimator and ending up as Vice President of Operations.   Ready to strike out on his own, he founded Gunn CB in 2003 and he hasn’t slowed down since – his portfolio is full of projects – completed and ongoing.    Today on Cote de Texas, David shows us pictures of his latest house – and he provides details of all the things he added to the house to make it look like a centuries old mas that you might find on a lavender-scented plot of land in Provence.   So, if you are planning on a building your own vision of the South of France, get your pen and paper ready to jot down his tips.  

 

 

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A French Styled House in Texas, built by Gunn Construction and Building Co.

 

David’s latest project is located in Houston’s most exclusive neighborhood – River Oaks.   He explains that while an architect drew up the plans, the owners had no interior designer or architect on hand to help with all the myriad building decisions which landed on David’s able shoulders.   The first set of decisions involved setting the stage accurately: the facade must say  Provencal France – without a doubt.   The most important aspect to get right  was the stucco.   David gave the outside walls  their aged appearance by applying a final finish coat along with a second accent color added to the mix.   The resulting color is very subtle but effective.   After much discussion – the typical stucco expansion joints on the front of the house were eliminated to again provide a more authentic, old world look.  

 

 

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To further add to its authentic appearance – fully operable wood shutters were built and then painted a traditional shade of French blue.    Small iron s-hooks hold the shutters open, flush to the stucco.    Romantic scrolled iron work was used at the Juliet balcony along with full-length shutters that match those at the windows.    The traditional clay tiles used on the roof are a must to get the look right.  Even the bump-out has it own clay tiled roof.  

 

 

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A close up of the French blue wood shutters.     Next to the arched entry way is an antique style French lantern.   All these elements help to make the house look truly French rather than a poor imitation of such.   

 

 

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Since the garage is reached from the back of the property, this allowed for a front courtyard – where a wooden gate, that matches the shutters,  was added.  Instead of concrete, the paths were laid with crushed granite.    Obviously this picture was taken before all the landscaping was installed.  

 

 

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The Main Living Area

The entry leads into the main living room – which faces the front.    Here and throughout all the downstairs rooms,  antique pine beams were used to give the house additional atmosphere.    The stone French fireplace was purchased from Margaret at M. Naeve.  An antique, it was found in pieces which then had to be put back together along with adding new stones  that were needed to fill in missing areas.   The final result makes the fireplace the show stopper of the main living area.    David took all these pictures shown today – they were both right before and right after the family had moved in.  

 
Other details that add to the old world feel:  the house was very simple wooden base boards.   The window sills are also wood and the sheetrock has rounded corners leading into all the windows and doors.   Notice there is no crown molding – the simpler the better.   There is a thin picture rail that runs around the perimeter of the living room several inches down from the ceiling.    Painted the same white color as the walls, this rail resembles plaster molding. 

 

 

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The view of the park – there is not a street in front of this house.

 

What is especially nice about this particular area – all the houses face a community park, not a street.    These houses are built in a horseshoe shape around the park  (one of the earliest version of the present-day popular suburban greenbelts.)   In order to reach the individual houses – one must park at the end of the street and walk up the park until you reach your desired house.  The garages are at the back of the houses in this area of River Oaks.  

 

 

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Here is the actual satellite image of the park with the houses built around the horseshoe green area.  All the houses face this park – and the only way for guests to come to your front door is to walk down the sidewalk.   On this side of the street – there are about five of these parks. 

 

 

image The Wood Floors

The wood floors in this house were cut from old oak beams – the boards were left in their natural state for their beautiful patina and texture and only a flat polyurethane was applied for protection – no stain was used at all.    Other flooring used downstairs is traditional French hexagonal Saltillo tiles with only a clear sealer  – again no stain was applied.   Upstairs in the bedrooms, there is wall to wall seagrass.

 

 

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The Dining Room

The dining room again has the antique pine beams and the Saltillo tile floor with an exaggerated grout line.   As in the living room, there is no crown molding, with only a simple picture rail used in its stead.     Doesn’t this room truly look like a country house in the South of France?

 

 

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The Kitchen and Sitting Area Overlooking the Courtyard

Off the living room, through the doorway is the large kitchen with an adjoining sitting area.     The kitchen is so romantic and unique with its arches and open shelving.  The island has a simple maple butcher block counter, while its cabinetry had drywall mud roughly applied to it so that it would look like old plaster – another great tip.     The lantern is a reproduction of a French street fixture.   Notice the charming tall, painted cabinet next to the refrigerator.   One the other side of the refrigerator is the pantry which is entered through an open arch.

 

 

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 The kitchen counters and backsplash are Creme de Marfil with an antique brushed finish plus an applied sealer for protection.   David had all the cabinets built on site.

 

 

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The back wall in the kitchen is Austin limestone, cut thin and applied as a veneer.  An arched niche was cut out of the stone for an added charming detail.   The hood vent with its large corbels was finished with a layer of plaster to make it appear aged.    Of course there is a farm sink!

 

 

 

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To make the kitchen appear as if it had evolved over time as an old country house would have,  a tall cabinet was built in the shape of an armoire with chicken wire added to its cutouts.  All these different surfaces - the maple, the marble, the plaster, the painted wood, the limestone - help to give the kitchen its unique appearance.    The kitchen and its sitting area to the left of the island looks out over the courtyard.   The dining room is located through the arch on the left and it also overlooks the courtyard.  The arch on the right leads to the back stairs and the garage.

 

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The powder room has an old stone sink that was purchased at Chateau Domingue in Houston.   Hanging the sink was a major challenge for David – the 200 pound piece of stone had to be appear as if it was just floating, yet it needed to be braced for safety – especially if the owners three little ones decided to hang off the sink!

 

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Upstairs, in the master bath, Calacutta Ora marble was used for the surrounds and countertops.   I wish I had pictures of the bedrooms, but for today, I don’t!  

 

 

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Architectural Design Resources and Dal Tile provided the unique tiles in all the secondary baths. 

 

 

 

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David reports that although there are many antique and hand selected finishes here, he was able to provide the clients with a house that stayed within a reasonable budget.   Instead of a cookie-cutter house, he gave them a truly unique place to live in Houston – not in France – although it’s really hard to tell!    By using the ideas and tips that David provides today -  it would be possible to duplicate the French feel of this house. 

 

 

Backyard

David was clear in saying that Gunn Constructing and Building Co. doesn’t just build French houses – he recently completed this contemporary masterpiece and it will be on this years highly esteemed AIA Tour of Homes!   Look at that gorgeous negative edged pool!   It’s stacked stone wall is repeated inside the living area.

 

 

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This staircase highlights David abilities as a first class builder – notice the slightly curving stacked stone wall, the open wood treads, and the glass railing and balcony!   Unreal!

 

 

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David also builds traditional Georgian – this house was designed by famed Houston architect Leslie Davidson and was on the AIA Home Tour last year.  Amazing that two of his houses have been on the tour!

 

 

image Inside the traditional house, David built this gorgeous wood paneled library. 

 

 

image And of course David  Gunn builds large mansions on even larger lots.

 

 

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The stunning kitchen inside Gunn’s large French styled mansion.   I love that stained cabinet!

 

If you have enjoyed David Gunn’s work – be sure to check out his portfolio here.    And, if you are planning to build a house in the greater Houston area, give David a call and let him bid on the job.    I think you can tell from these houses, he is certainly talented and capable – and  any brother of Lauren Ross’ HAS to be a great guy!    To revisit Lauren’s two houses, go here and here.

51 comments:

  1. Joni,
    David Gunn's work is fabulous! I've never known a builder OR an architect with such a wide range of architectural styles in his portfolio. He has done his research! The traditional French style home with the Texas limestone is just wonderful, however the paneling AND the layout of the library just blew me away!
    Thank you Joni for introducing us to the very talented David Gunn.
    Always,
    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  2. Joni- I'm totally in love with his work. I'm still gasping over bathroom sinks and kitchen.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful homes! Love those pretty blue shutters. And all the details inside the French house... I don't even know where to begin! Thanks Joni!

    ReplyDelete
  4. i adore all the french elements built into this home.
    the walnut floors, terracotta tiles, stone & stucco walls.
    it is all pretty darn great!!!

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  5. wow! what a treat! what talented siblings!

    and you kill me with your satelite images! too funny


    Holly Mathis
    www.hollymathisinteriors.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love seeing the range of styles that he is involved in - David is very versatile. Great kitchens!

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  7. Love the floating staircase by the stacked stones....can he built me a new house....just stone, glass and steel.

    ReplyDelete
  8. That library that David designed!
    To me it is really gorgeous!!

    Greet

    ReplyDelete
  9. The perfect stucco, the French blue shutters, those wood floors, the floating kitchen shelves, the landscaping and the community park...wow, Joni. I swear you have one of the most exciting blogs! And to top it off, David is an Aggie! My city can be proud of this guy!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Joni, this is another "feast for the eyes" post! I love the French inspired house-inside and out. All of those special touches (especially the antique fireplace, sink, etc.) just blew me away. That last photo of a kitchen with the stained wood cabinet on top of the counter has me wanting to do that some place, but I have no extra countertops! Thanks for always sharing something beautiful with your readers. laurie

    ReplyDelete
  11. I really enjoyed the post of the french styled house in Houston. The house sets the scene and the decorating is left to the designer and home owner, and the owner is not hemmed in by some trim or flooring that will restrict the furnishing that are chosen. I like to think I can redecorate without calling a contractor. Plus the kitchen is perfect. I love how there are no contrivances(i.e. stuck-on columns and stuff). I have a pantry like the one under their stairs and don't worry about the lack of a door on that pantry. I never bother to shut mine. It's a pocket door. Also, I'm happy to see that actual humans live in that house, and cook and eat there(panini press and blender).

    ReplyDelete
  12. Beautiful designs with great attention to authentic detail! Though, I wish the windows on the French house had muntins on the outside of the glass, instead of between the sheets, to create better shadow lines and a less contemporary feeling.

    +Spencer
    The Architectural Antique Review

    ReplyDelete
  13. That's the right way to do French Country. Love those floors.

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  14. Beautiful details, very authentic throughout. But what happened in the kitchen? He has it right with the walls, the floors, the cabinets, but what happened to the island top? The butcher block looks too new, and too generic making it look like they ran out of money to do it correctly. It needed a thicker edge, and perhaps an aged appearance if it was to be done in wood. Also, the open shelves are out of proportion, too many and too high. Other than that, the rest is spot on.

    ReplyDelete
  15. WOW!! What a BEAUTIFUL HOME!!!! I LOVE that armoire in the kitchen..Such a beautiful home...I just LOVE the french style -can never get enough lol.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi there ;)
    I came here through brooke's blog and will def come back again to read some more and see your beautiful collection of pictures. Please fee free to come and visit my blog and let me know what you think ;)

    All the best from Holland,
    desiree

    ReplyDelete
  17. Such a lovely serene set of spaces. It's too bad Domino folded because I would have featured his stuff if I still worked there! My favorite image, oddly, is the one of the floors. There's something so wonderfully rustic about them, same with the sink. It would be so great to have your own little slice of Provence... le sigh...

    xo Katherine aka. Urban Flea :)
    http://www.urbanfleadesign.net

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you so much for the sweet comment, it really made my day! I'd love to visit you at the Skirted Roundtable one of these days...

    xo Katherine aka. Urban Flea :)
    http://www.urbanfleadesign.net

    ReplyDelete
  19. I LOOOOOVE THAT FRENCH KITCHEN. Wow, that is just beautiful. I usually think that more rustic look is so impractical in kitchens, which you want to look and feel especially clean, but this one manages to look warm, unique and practical at the same time. Love it! Thanks so much for sharing. I'll be sure to keep his name available for when I win the lottery.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I so look forward to your blog postings! That house, and the way it all came together is really fantastic. And I'd never have seen it without you!

    ReplyDelete
  21. French house, and its landscape.

    Use the power of ROUND DOWNSPOUTS. Huge impact. Fabulous.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh! I NEED one of his homes. Given that most Gunn's can generally trace their geneology to 5 brothers who immigrated from Scotland, he and my husband are probably related. Do you think I should ask for a family discount? :)

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