An Abilene Remodel



Abi-who????    You probably are only familiar with the small Texas town of Abilene through songs – Sheryl Crow wrote one about Abilene.  Buck Owens, Brooks and Dunne, and Trisha Yearwood all sang songs about the town.   Johnny Cash, George Strait and even Bob Dylan also sang about Abilene – in fact a total of 33 songs mention this small town for some reason.  I can’t honestly say if I’ve ever been to Abilene – it’s smack in the middle of nowhere, somewhere between Ft. Worth and Ft. Stockton with a population of 115,000.  Think of the movie Giant with James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor to imagine the terrain.    I think I probably once passed through Abilene when I drove from Austin to Lubbock to visit a college boyfriend.  That was one very long drive.    If you ever do find yourself in Abilene looking for a charming place to stay – consider the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses – which is an enclave of B&Bs located in the Sayles Historic District.  

Recently the owner of the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses, Terry Browder,  contacted me about the newest addition to their accommodations – The Cotton Eye Joe.    Terry completely remodeled this guest house and thought that Cote de Texas readers would enjoy seeing it.  I agree!  I hope you like it as much as I do and find lots of inspiration to use for your own projects.



Abilene, Texas – smack in the middle of Texas ( look for the red “A”)   Texas is so big that it takes a day or two of long driving hours  just to leave the state.  The Sayles Ranch Guesthouses make a great stopping place if you are driving out to California or Colorado or New Mexico.




BEFORE:   I think the owner Terry Browder did a great job remodeling this typical small, older house from the 1930s.   The house is only about 1600 sq ft. but with the changes in the raised ceilings and removed walls, the house seems larger now.   Above is how Terry found the living room - carpeted, with a low ceiling and faux fireplace.    The first thing he did was expose all the hardwoods hiding underneath yards of moldy carpet.   Next Terry painted the floors in different patterns.   All the sheetrock also came down.   This room had its ceiling raised to the rafters – and the effect this change made is phenomenal.   The living room looks entirely different now, larger and more architecturally interesting.  




AFTER:   The exact same view!   Here is the main living area today with its painted wood floors and raised ceiling covered in beadboard.  Hard to believe it’s the same space!   The dining room is off to the right – the wall between the two rooms was removed.   I love that root table with the oversized urn on top of it.  Large accessories look so much more “today” than collections of smalls.    And I love the map over the fireplace.   Notice the great lantern – Terry says it is an antique from Belgium that he found in a West Texas store!!!





The sheet rock was removed from the walls exposing the original shiplap wood walls which were they sanded and painted.  I think they look beautiful!  The map of Texas is hanging on a garage door rail which hides the flat screen TV.   I love the cowhide rug and the tufted leather couches.  The house has a western atmosphere for sure – but it’s a very sophisticated western theme.    Notice how Terry put old books in the faux fireplace for added texture and interest.   The windows are covered in wide wood shutters. 



BEFORE:   The living room from the other side of the room. 




AFTER:   The same view as above.   Notice how the diagonal pattern painted on the wood floor visually enlarges the space.  I really like that old Prison Rodeo sign.  It is hard to believe, but the Texas Prison System really used to put on rodeos and as little kids, we would go to the Prison Rodeos at the old Houston Coliseum.  I doubt that today the prisons still let the inmates participate in rodeos outside the prison walls.   


 image The front bedroom – all three bedrooms have walls papered in old Texas deed documents dated from 1890.   Terry was lucky to find a cache of these documents  which have a wonderful patina.   The deeds were written with india ink in archaic script.  Amazing!  Terry updated an old log bed by painting it glossy white. 




BEFORE:  The dining room – exposing the hardwoods underneath the carpet.   This was taken before the sheetrock was removed.   It looks so much better with the shiplap wood walls than with the sheetrock. 





AFTER:   In the dining room, the Victorian furniture is upholstered in an old 1870s quilt bought at a nearby garage sale.  Inside the chairs are upholstered in burlap and monogrammed with the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses initials.  The quilt upholstery is a great idea to copy.



image Another view of the dining room – again, the heavy dark wood furniture was painted white to lighten up the decor.  Notice the table made of a painted white pedestal and oval glass top. 




BEFORE:  Past the dining room is the very plain kitchen, then the breakfast room. 





AFTER:  the kitchen was totally remodeled.  Notice the floor was painted in the traditional quilt pattern called Tumbling Blocks.   What a great idea! 




The cupboard on the left is an old English piece found at a garage sale and the backsplash is a 150 year old prayer rail from an English church.   By the stove, notice the wall is made out of broken white china.  The hood is made of old tin ceiling tiles.





image AFTER:  In the small breakfast room, Terry lined the walls with the backs of old books.  The insides of the books went on the shelves and in the fireplace in the living room.  Ingenious.




 image In this bedroom, Terry painted the floors in the traditional quilt pattern Pinwheel. 



 image In the master bedroom, an old hooked rug was used to slipcover the iron rails on the canopy bed.  Again, wood furniture was painted white, and the floor was painted in another diagonal pattern. 




BEFORE:  The bathroom was black and white and pink.




AFTER:  On the walls, Terry used old tin ceiling tiles that came from an 100 year old grocery store in the little town in Oklahoma where he grew up.   I love how the glass sink tends to disappear. 


If you ever find yourself in Abilene, Texas and in need of a charming place to stay, be sure to call Terry Browder of the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses at 325-669-6856.  Ask to stay in the Cotton Eye Joe, although all the guesthouses are just as cute as this one.  To visit their web site, go HERE.

AND, if you have any questions about how Terry did any of the remodeling – email him at


A special thank you to Terry for sharing the Cotton Eye Joe with us!!

Another Kitchen ala Sally Wheat



Sally Wheat’s Famous Gray Kitchen

Today, we have another kitchen to show that was inspired by Sally Wheat’s  gray kitchen.  When I first posted about Sally’s house a few years ago HERE, I had NO idea how popular she and her house would become with readers.  I also had no clue how many people would actually be inspired into action by Sally!    I will say that most questions and comments about Sally are regarding her kitchen with it’s gray painted cabinets, Shaw’s sink, and marble countertops.  She certainly inspired my own kitchen redo.  After seeing Sally’s kitchen, I was spurned on to finally remodel my own outdated one HERE.   And, remember this:   a few months I showed a kitchen/house remodel HERE whose owner told me she was directly inspired by Sally Wheat’s kitchen. 

The latest Sally Wheat inspired kitchen comes from Sara of the August Fields blog.    Sara’s blog is all about building her new house and when she recently featured her kitchen, she gave credit to Sally Wheat.  To read Sara’s kitchen story go HERE.   I must say that nothing gives me greater pleasure as a blogger than to read about these inspiring kitchen designs.  That these design inspirations would ever even occur certainly never crossed my mind when I started this endeavor over three years ago.  But, it has been a very rewarding aspect of this solitary sport.   So, a huge thank you to all of the readers who have sent in pictures of your kitchens and homes.  Keep them coming!



Sally Wheat’s gray kitchen.  The color, Benjamin Moore Fieldstone seems to be a favorite with so many readers.  I get asked over and over again – what color did Sally use on her cabinets?  Also – many people love her open upper cabinets with their carved brackets.   In both kitchens directly inspired by Sally, they each copied these cabinets.  Also, many people love her pendant lighting which she purchased at BROWN. 



When it came to remodeling my own kitchen, I used gray on the cabinets – but a much lighter gray which was custom mixed so I don’t know the name of it!!!   Also, I used Calacutta Ora marble instead of Carrara.   I copied Sally’s Shaw’s sink and I used a polished nickel bridge faucet.   I was also inspired by Sally’s window and so I replaced mine with this beautiful casement window, which much made a huge difference.


The First Sally Wheat Inspired Kitchen:


BEFORE:  This is a before picture of a kitchen in Houston that was inspired by Sally Wheat’s. 




AFTER:  This homeowner chose black granite instead of white marble, but she modeled her upper cabinets after Sally’s.  Also, she used a farm sink and the same type of bin hardware as Sally.  Notice the brackets on the bar mimic Sally’s own overhead cabinets.   The subway tile backsplash is also like Sally’s as is the style of cabinetry.     The pendant lighting was another Wheat inspiration.   I’ve heard through the grapevine that this house is going to be featured in a magazine!!!!  To read all about this redo, go HERE.



The Second Sally Wheat Inspired Kitchen:


The August Fields Kitchen, inspired by Sally Wheat

Here is Sara’s new kitchen.  As you can see, she chose white marble – not Carrara, which Sara explains is now really a gray marble.  I agree!  That’s why I used Calacutta Ora.   Sara used  White Italian marble with walnut on her island.  In this picture – one of the pendant lights is missing as you can tell.  These pictures were taken right after they moved in.   On her blog, Sara says that originally she wanted black soapstone countertops with white cabinets.  That was until she read the blog about Sally Wheat’s kitchen – that’s when she totally changed her design plans for her kitchen.  




Sara used a beveled white subway tile for her backsplash, which I just love.   And she used the exact same gray on her countertops that Sally Wheat did:  Benjamin Moore Fieldstone.   The gray on the walls is Benjamin Moore Vapor Trails.    Be sure to notice the ceiling!!  I love the beams.  NOTE:  Under the microwave is a little pass-through door to Sara’s schoolroom.   As the mother of 5 young children – she home schools them.  The schoolroom is adorable – with black and white vinyl tile floor.  



image  Here is a picture of her upper cabinets – with the extra thick shelves.  These really look exactly like Sally’s cabinets because Sara took a picture of them to her carpenter so he could copy them.





Another view of her upper cabinets.  I love her cabinets and I love the pendant lighting.



image I really like her island with the columns on the corners.   And, there is another sink here too. 




A close up of Sara’s farm sink – it has such a pretty apron.  I love her bridge faucet too.  I think the bridge faucets are my favorites.



image Sara added a cute wood hood for her cooktop.  The hardware is from Restoration Hardware.  I wish I had used this hardware myself. 



image Sara used the Kenmore pro refrigerator and freezer pair and then pushed them next to each other.  By using a stock trim kit, it looks like it is all one unit!   



image Looking from the family room and breakfast room into the kitchen.   There is a brick veneer on this side of the countertop.  This large table was custom made and it seats 12 – new chairs are coming. 




Looking past the breakfast room into the family room. 



imageSara has five little ones and she  home schools them all (except the baby!)    Look what she put into her house – a drinking fountain!!! Isn’t this the best idea?  She said she has already saved a bundle on paper cups.    The schoolroom is right behind the kitchen – across from where the fountain is. 


Thank you Sara so much for sharing your beautiful new house with us.  To read all about her kitchen, go HERE.   Remember, Cote de Texas welcomes pictures of all redos, renos, remodels, and even new houses!!

A Confession



Beatlemania, NYC, 1964.   Some things never change.

In 1964, I was crazy over one boy – well, he was a young man then.  I lived and breathed for Paul McCartney.   That year, on Aprils Fools Day, my mother woke me up for school, screaming excitedly - “The Beatles are coming to school today!  Get up,  get up!!!”  Sad to say, I truly believed her and jumped up, got dressed immediately, plotting out ways I could impress Paul enough to get him to marry my 10 year old self.   I still, to this day,  almost 45 years later, remember EXACTLY how I felt when she told me it was an Aprils Fools joke. 



Twihards, 2010


Fast forward years later, through all kinds of obsessions with singers, books, and movies and here I find myself a Twihard.   It’s truly embarrassing to admit this, but yes, I am a Twihard, a serious devotee of Stephenie Meyer’s books, the Twilight Saga.    I don’t know how I fell into this (well, I really do know) but when I fell, I fell hard.    It’s not like I don’t appreciate fine literature – my cats names were Quilty and Humbert, for God’s sakes!!  But, I am, at the age of 55, in the grips of a series of books written for teenaged girls. 


 z002  Rob Pattinson, aka Edward Cullen, smexy vampire and Kristen Stewart aka Bella Swan, his fragile little human girlfriend.  Will he turn her into a vampire so they can live happily ever after as teenagers for all of eternity?  Stay tuned for Breaking Dawn to find out, the 4th book in the Twilight Saga – and the 4th and 5th movie.


So, people, I confess here, publically, to you that tonight at midnight – my daughter and I, along with every other teenaged girl in Houston, will be at the movie theatre attending the Twilight-Eclipse premier.  Something tells me we’ll probably return tomorrow for a second viewing.  Well, I will – not sure if Elisabeth will want to go again so soon.



I’m not THIS bad off that I would tattoo a famous line from the book/movie on my arms.  Not yet at least.   The actual quote from the book is:  


"And so the lion fell in love with the lamb..." he murmured.
I looked away, hiding my eyes as I thrilled to the word.
What a stupid lamb," I sighed.
“What a sick, masochistic lion."

I guess this poor girl didn’t have enough room on her arms for the entire quote. 




Edward and Bella at their junior prom where she begs Edward to change her into a vampire.  He refuses, of course.  He’s too much of an old fashioned gentleman from the early 1900s to ever do anything inappropriate to Bella, like have sex with her for instance!  The Twilight Saga is definitely smut free.  Stephenie Meyer is a devout Mormon and her values on premarital sex are woven into the plot. 


Even more embarrassing about my obsession is that I almost escaped the phenomenon altogether.  Oh, if I only had.   I had heard about the Twilight Saga but never really paid any attention to it.   I wished I had continued to ignore it – it would save me all this humiliation.   Until last year, I didn’t even know who Robert Pattinson was, nor did I care – but boy, has THAT changed!   I laughed at all the endless TV promotions for Twilight and it’s sequel New Moon.  Laughed.   I’m not laughing now, I live for those commercials!   My fall into the abyss occurred  when the first movie, Twilight, came out on DVD.   Elisabeth of course was already involved.   She had a slumber party where she and her friends watched the Twilight DVD all night long.   I snickered at them.   It looked so boring!   The acting was so stilted!  Everyone looked so pasty!



Pasty???   Robert Pattinson aka Edward Cullen, the gentlemanly vampire.   His career is huge now thanks to Twilight – he has two major motion pictures coming out next year.  He is the the Marlon Brando, the James Dean of youngest generation.  He made the Forbes List.  And he is just 24 years old. 




Ok, I can’t resist another picture of this gorgeous man.   That hair!  It has a mind of its own.



Maybe just one more peek.  hehe.  Brooding Rob.   I’m Team Edward all the way.  Elisabeth is Team Taylor.  She even has a life size cutout of Taylor Lautner.  We argue about who is cuter – Edward or Taylor.   It’s all so ridiculous – I KNOW THIS!!!! 


THE END OF LIFE AS I KNEW IT:   I don’t know why I actually chose to sit down one night to watch the Twilight DVD, but that’s where this all started.   I’ve probably seen the movie about 30 or 40 times since.  Elisabeth has watched it probably over a 100 times.  Plus factor in New Moon, the second Twilight movie on DVD – we watch that one too, but it’s not as good as the first one.   Since we’ve seen Twilight so many times, we know the dialogue and can recite it, word for word.    It’s not a great movie to be sure, the acting is bad (except for Pattinson who steals every scene he is in), the script is worse, but it sucks you in all the same.   It’s no To Kill A Mockingbird or Gone With The Wind, but it’s a sweet story of first love, if your first love is a vampire, that is.   When you are hooked you actually wish there were vampires that you could fall in love with.  How sick is that?  But, what is so wrong with never dying, never getting older, never sleeping, having brute strength, incredible vision and hearing, and gorgeous good looks (all vampires are gorgeous to lure their victims in)?  Plus, the Cullens are GOOD vampires.  They only drink animal blood, not human blood.   I know, I know, this is all so STUPID!!!!!  But, what confession is easy? 




The famous school cafeteria scene in Twilight.  Here Edward sits with his “family” – the Cullens. He is the only one without a partner, so he is lonely and brooding.  The “fragile human” Bella has a special scent that attracts him like his own “personal brand of heroin.”  He can’t be with her or without it.  It’s all so tortured!!!!   In real life – Bella (Kristen) and Edward (Rob) are also romantically linked.


After watching the movie, I read the first book in about a day, then promised myself  - I was through with all this nonsense.    Except there’s that pesky thing called Kindle.   Kindle makes it too easy to buy a new book at 3:00 a.m.   In shame I tell you, that within just a few days, I had read all four books.   Twice.    But it doesn’t end there.  It’s just the beginning.    After  you have read all the books, there is this weird thing called FanFiction.    What is FanFic exactly?  Well, it’s where people write long stories (as long as books sometimes)  online.  These stories are their interpretation on the plot -  they may rewrite an original book with different endings, or  different beginnings or even different plots altogether.  Sometimes the FanFic story will just takes the characters names and it will have nothing to do with the original book.  FanFic is not just about Twilight – any book or movie can be rewritten.    For instance, fans of the book To Kill A Mockingbird have written over 350 FanFics, retelling that book in their own way.   There are 607 FanFics for Gone With The Wind.   For Twilight, there are over 150,000 FanFic stories.  Harry Potter has over 450,00o FanFic stories.    So far, I have probably read more than 100 Twilight FanFics in my spare time.   Some are actually fabulous books – change the characters names and they would have nothing to do with Twilight.   Many of the more popular FanFic stories are even better than Stephenie Meyer’s original books.  It must kill her to read the better FanFic.    Still, FanFic is a mysterious and strange world, but a highly addicting one.




While I am bad off, I’m not this bad off that I would camp out for days for a glimpse of the Twilight cast.  At least I don’t think I would, but it sure looks like fun!


So, this is my confession to you.  I’m not just about decorating and French antiques.    I’m a Twi-Mom.   And yes, there are a LOT of us out here.    I won’t admit this to you in person, nor will I talk about this addiction with anyone that knows me except my poor long suffering husband and daughter.   It’s my secret.   Until now.   I might need an intervention.    I’m sure there must be a 12 step program out there for people like me who are hopelessly lost in the world of Bella and Edward.   Knowing Twihards though, it would be a 3 step program that would sound something like this (taken from an important excerpt in the book):


About three things I am absolutely positive.

First, Twilight is just a book.

Second, there is a part of me that will always be addicted to this book.

And third, I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with it!


hehe.  You need to read the book for this to make sense!


 image Cote de Texas on her cell phone at the premier of Eclipse.


If you are going to see Eclipse tonight or tomorrow or the next night – be sure to wave if you can recognize me.   I’ll be the one in disguise wearing all black.  


If you want to see what all the fuss is about – I suggest you read the Twilight Saga books first.  Then rent the movies Twilight and New Moon.  And then, and only then go see the movie Eclipse.     OR you could do what I did and see the Twilight movie first, then read the books, then see New Moon and Eclipse!  Either way.    If you are already a Twihard and have never heard of FanFic, email me – I’ll give you some great stories to start out with.

Amazon:  HERE

Twilight FanFiction:   HERE

Decorating Your House: Skirted Roundtable


This week on The Skirted Roundtable HERE,  the three of us discuss decorating for the seasons and how to update your house for the 2010s.   I am currently writing a magazine article for Antique Shops and Designers HERE on this very topic, and the conversation flows from that story.  One segment is devoted to Megan talking about painting her brown hardwood floors white.  In case you have never seen Megan’s adorable beach bungalow- below are a few photographs to help you follow along with the conversation. 



In fact, if you have never been formally introduced to The Skirted Roundtable’s Megan Arquette of Beach Bungalow 8, here she is – Mrs. Smexy!   Is it fair for ANYONE to be this beautiful????  I LOVE this girl!!!




image Megan lives in this adorable rose covered, picket fenced bungalow in Manhattan Beach, California.  Her street is a walk street only – no cars allowed and her house is but a few doors down from the Pacific Ocean.




This is Megan’s “front yard” – the life guard stand is at the end of her street.  Aw….must be tough living!   



Megan’s bungalow is tiny – she readily admits - but, it’s a small price to pay for such beautiful and valuable real estate.    Megan is contemplating painting the walls in her living room a lighter color and painting the dark hardwoods either white, cream, or light aqua.    She is also getting new window treatments.   Her furniture is all slipped – the two arm chairs are in a light blue and white batik and the sofa is white.  




On The Skirted Roundtable, I mentioned that I love this turquoise chair!   In fact, I adore everything about Megan’s house and am green with envy she lives so close to the beach in such a charming house. What a dream life she has.



image BEFORE:  Years ago when Megan and her daughters first moved into the bungalow, she had a leather sofa courtesy of her former husband.   She quickly replaced it  (along with her husband!) with the white slip covered sofa and recovered her two chairs.  The dhurri rug was replaced with sisal. 


Megan actually hung the Kelly Wearstler Imperial Trellis wallpaper herself!  During the show, she says she is thinking about taking it down.  Should she?  I happen to love the wallpaper myself!   Notice the white light fixture. 




In this picture – she has a red light fixture.  I’m not sure which is her current fixture, but this red one is too cute!  I love her iconic Saarinen table with the classic West Elm chairs.    



image Megan’s “famous” bedroom.  This photograph is all over the blogosphere and is universally admired.   When Megan moved in, the walls were plain sheetrock and she had them covered in plank boards to create a beachy feel, a process she explains on the Skirted Roundtable. 



image Of course we have to talk about the carpenter who redid her bedroom – none other than this famous Calvin Klein model!!!!   Yep!   Only Megan would have a carpenter like him.  She dismisses him by saying he was a lot “older” when he worked on her bedroom.  




image OK, back to business.  So, should Megan repaint her hardwoods white – like in this picture?   I say YES, absolutely!!!!  What say you?


Be sure to listen to this week’s The Skirted Roundtable HERE – it’s a fun one!!  Don’t forget you can get The Skirted Roundtable on I-Tunes.

p.s.  Again, let me apologize for my voice!  I know I have the worst voice and it is really magnified by Linda and Megan’s melodious ones.  I don’t know what to do about this, but believe me, it annoys me more than you.