Are you just starting out in life, looking for that house when you first marry and have that first baby, or are you looking for the house to raise a growing family in, to live in through the empty nester years? When I was younger, I used to think of houses as something you lived in forever. But now, at 57, I’m realizing that houses are designed for certain stages in our lives. How lonely it must be for mom and dad in a big house when all the kids have moved on. How much space do 2 people really need? My house, at just under 3,000 sq ft., was really too small when Elisabeth started having friends over. Ben and I had nowhere to go except for our bedroom to hide out. But now that she is in college, we don’t find ourselves lost in a too big house. Still, one day, I suppose we’ll move to a townhouse or even later, a high rise.
What stage of house life are you in? Would a cozy bungalow be perfect for you, as a newly wed or an empty nester, or would you need a larger house, for all your children and guests who visit?
I found two houses for sale in Houston - one large, beautiful and custom designed for a big, growing family. The other is an older bungalow, perfect for a single person, or a family just starting out – or for an empty nester family. Both houses were decorated by designers, so the interiors are what initially caught my eye. But the more I thought about it – how better to show the difference for living at a certain stage in life? Enjoy!!
House #1 is a beautiful custom home in the wooded Memorial area of Houston. It was designed by Todd Rice and its interiors were decorated by Don Connelly, a well known Houston interior designer. Connelly also owns AREA, the fabulous décor shop on Kirby. AREA is one of the largest shops for furnishing the home – from the candles to the dining room table including the chandelier over it. They have everything and then some. It’s a wonderful mix of antiques and contemporary and it’s all beautifully laid out in Don’s vision. Connelly has been published numerous times in national magazines so it’s a thrill to see a house he designed that hasn’t been published (that I know of!)
The house is over 7,000 ft with five bedrooms, 5 baths and 3 half baths. The finishes are incredible, reclaimed floors, stone countertops, European mantel, and on and on. There are antique beams and the most incredible paneled dining room in Pecky Cypress.
The award winning house built in 2007, is Country French design. The exterior is a mixture of stucco and stone, with a slate roof. The shutters are French blue, a color that Connelly uses throughout the house. This is probably my favorite style of house, so naturally I was drawn to it. The windows and doors are all mahogany, another luxe element used in building this custom house.
Here you can see the charming garage doors – with the French styled brick on the second floor. This section was designed to look like it was added on at a later time. So beautiful!!
Inside, the foyer runs from the front door to the back door. Notice how Don mixed contemporary slipper chairs in a light blue silk with an antique French buffet. He also chose a large, contemporary vase to sit in between two urn lamps – along with a large contemporary canvas above it all. I love the front door. The arched top of the door is a design element seen throughout the house. And notice the beautiful reclaimed, wide planked floors – they run throughout the first floor.
And looking the other direction towards the back door – divided off from the foyer with a beautiful mahogany transom and light blue portieres that cover the back door. Across from the French buffet vignette is a second vignette. I love the simple railing on the stairs – curvy, busy railings seem so fussy compared to this design. The walls are finished in a Venetian plaster – notice there is no molding, no crown or base, just beautiful plaster. At the end of the hall – past the transom - to the right is the family room and kitchen. To the left is the curtained window hall that leads to the master bedroom suite. Connelly is known for the mix of antique and contemporary – and this foyer shows off his expertise beautifully!
The second vignette off the stair lobby, with a beautiful French blue lamp. I love all the subtle touches of blue that Don added throughout. Notice the door that was made out of Pecky Cypress. Pecky what? Cypress grows in wet, swampy areas on the east coast and the Gulf of Mexico. When a fungus attacks the cypress, it creates this certain look that is seen when the wood is cut – known as Pecky Cypress. It is most popularly used as paneling in houses in Florida and Louisiana.
Off the foyer and to the right of the front door is the fabulous dining room – covered in Pecky Cypress. Even the ceiling is paneled. Notice the table – the base appears to be Pecky Cypress too. The top looks like zinc, but I’m not sure what material it is, it might be stone. Across the hall is the study and through the door on the right is the stone wet bar, and family room.
I love the chairs and the fabric used in the light blue and cream colorways. The chairs are a mixture of French with gray painted wood and a pair of host wing chairs. The nailheads on both are an important accent. Across the back is a tall painted buffet with a contemporary piece of art. Love the large wooden chandelier.
One last look – notice the light colored contemporary rug and the antique Swedish clock. For the curtains, Don chose another contemporary fabric.
Across from the dining room is the study. A large, tufted ottoman anchors four comfortable chairs next to the painted white brick fireplace. Notice the Pecky Cypress mantel and beams. Love the desk! While the house is country French, I have no doubt that the owner is a Texan, who loves to hunt down by the Rio Grande river.
Through the transom off the entry hall (you can see the Pecky Cypress door in the foyer through the transom) is the wet bar, family room and kitchen. The reclaimed European mantel is stone with a painted trumeau above it. Notice the large stone coffee table and patterned rug. Here you can see the large, stone wet bar. Back stairs lead to the bedrooms.
Close up of the wet bar. Notice the reclaimed stone countertops and how the cabinets are built into the stone frame. Great wood shelves wrap around the room. The sink is too cute!! On the right you can see the hall that leads to the master bedroom.
Another view of the family room – and the kitchen beyond it. Look how wonderful the floors are, reclaimed wide planked French oak! The curtains are the same soft blue which Don used throughout the house. Notice the Pecky Cypress beams and stove hood.
Another view of the family room and kitchen. I like how the refrigerator and freezer are broken up by bookshelves. It warms up what is usually a large bank of cold stainless.
The cabinets are painted a soft bluish gray – the tiles are hand painted, they make such a large design statement. Another arched transom leads to bricked lined hall at the back of the house and garage.
The breakfast room has a contemporary print in greens and blues. Zinc topped table with blue slipped chairs. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that shelf!!! So unusual. How perfect is it for that space??? Notice the tufted stools on the left – remember the last reader’s house had those too! I’ll wager they are both from Marburger Farms at Round Top. Outside this window you can see the back porch, with its lanterns and flatscreen, no other pictures though.
At the end of the foyer – to the left - is this hallway that overlooks a terrace lined in boxwoods that leads to the back yard. At the end here, through the arched transom is the master bedroom. These doors with the transoms are so beautiful and make such a huge statement. I love how Todd Rice paid attention to every single detail – and it shows. Notice the light blue curtains with their Greek Key trim. Across is a vignette with an antique French balcony made into a console and two antique chairs, along with a contemporary art work – a trademark vignette of Don Connelly’s.
The bedroom has the light blue gray walls, along with a textured rug over the hardwoods. Notice the touch of exotic – the zebra striped lampshades really add a punch to the room. Antique beams.
Painted armoire hides the TV. Creamy curtains are so pretty against the wall color. The only pattern comes from pillows in the chairs and the lampshades. Beautiful chandelier – AREA has a great collection of unusual and original chandeliers.
The master bathroom room is all Carrera marble and polished nickel. Gorgeous tub.
And finally, the back façade. You can see the covered porch to the left off the breakfast room. The family room doors are next and then the three French doors that line the master bedroom hall can be seen. A boxwood garden surrounds that terrace which will be great when the pool is built. At the end is the bay window in the master bedroom. I loved having a chance to see this design by Todd Rice and the interiors by Don Connelly. I hope you did too! It’s the perfect home for a young couple starting out with a growing family – they could live here 20 to 25 years and be very happy. But, is the house too big for empty nesters?
This house is option pending. To see more go HERE.
House #2 is also owned by a designer. It doesn’t list her name on the account, so I can’t say it here, but the homeowner comes from a family of designers. This house is located near downtown and is the opposite of the house above. It is an old cottage built in 1938 and is just under 2,000 sq ft. There are 3 bedrooms as well as another in the converted garage/guest house. The entire house was redone – new a/c, roof, wiring plumbing, insulation, and sheetrock. It’s absolutely adorable and I thought it was a perfect mix to show with House #1. Not all great houses have to be huge or custom designed. Sometimes, it’s the smallest of cozy homes that fill our souls with longing. This one did it for me. These two houses show two families at different stages and how each house fits their stage perfectly. This bungalow is perfect for the single person, the newly married – or the empty nester.
As with the other house, this one is also “Sale Pending” – more information HERE.
Located near downtown Houston, the 1938 bungalow has great curb appeal with its new gray paint and boxwood landscaping. No garage, but plenty of parking out front.
On the front porch, the ceiling has beadboard and there is a nice front door with windows that lets in the light. Some people that own bungalows like this will convert their front porch into interior living space. Just an idea.
Right away inside, it’s apparent someone with a great sense of style lives here. There’s a fireplace with a great mantel – an antique Louis Philippe mirror and sconces atop it. A tall slipped sofa divides the room in two. The zebra rug pops with pattern. Two contemporary chairs wear green patterned fabric pillows, as does a bench in front of the fireplace. The walls throughout the house are a stark white – with tall black baseboards and doors that add to the color scheme. I love the blinds – these open from the bottom, letting in light, but keeping out stalkers trying to look inside. (You know who you are - cruising around at dusk trying to look inside all the cute houses.)
The ceilings are 9 1/2 feet tall downstairs – a rarity in a bungalow of this age. Here you can see the dining room behind the living room – and the kitchen further along. I love how the ceiling has a glossy finish which adds a nice texture to the space and makes the ceilings appear even taller.
Here, a large built in coverts the dining room into a study. French cane chairs around a dark table sit underneath a beautiful wood and crystal chandelier.
At the back is another sitting area, this time with a linen slipcovered sectional perfect for a young family with babies. The blinds are just so pretty in this space. They add so much texture and create atmosphere at the same time. A contemporary light fixture tops it off. Notice the baseboards – a wide strip of black paint – which adds just a touch a drama to the white walls. This is another great idea – the strip of paint creates a wide baseboard where there really isn’t one, there is only a quarter round!
A checked tufted ottoman becomes the coffee table. There are three arched mirrors instead of just one mirror – flanked by two wood sconces. A painted buffet holds the flatscreen, while a large pine piece holds books and accessories.
The kitchen is just darling. Granite in gray and white, gray cabinets, and new stainless appliances. The cabinet above the refrigerator is pushed forward so that it looks like a built-in refrigerator, another great tip. Love all the cabinets without their doors – so pretty! Notice the feet on the bottom cabinets- a nice detail. The backsplash behind the cooktop is brick.
The bar area – opens onto the back yard. Great glass shelves with black iron brackets. Another pretty French door, painted black, is a nice touch with the tall, black baseboards – the black doors tie it all together.
Upstairs in the converted attic is the master bedroom. Here, the walls are again white, with the wide black strip of baseboards. The floor is wall to wall seagrass. The bedding is all in linens. Down a step is a sitting area. Attic rooms are so romantic because of all the eaves. It’s like sleeping in a tree house!
Great new master bath – with shower and tiny mosaic tiled floor. The same countertops found in the kitchen are found here. An antique table holds the towels. I love how the dark brown pops in the all white space.
The nursery has the same color scheme – white with black accents and pops of blue. SOOOO CUTE!!!! I love that crib!!!!! And here, romantic curtains hang from black rods over the shades. Beautiful crystal chandelier. The rug adds texture and pattern. Pretty white linens on the bed. A painted chest is converted into the changing table which is a great idea because changing tables aren’t used but for a few years and afterwards you have a pretty chest. Sooo dreamy!!! Just the perfect nursery. Hmmm….
The garage was converted into a guest house, where they added a wine refrigerator. Great suzani ottoman and nice buffet which holds the flatscreen.
And included in the guest house is another bathroom. Such a cute linen monogrammed shower curtain and I love the shelf that was faux painted for over the toilet.
The back yard with the converted guest house and pool, which was completely resurfaced by the owners.
What a great house for a single person – or a young family just starting out. I assume the owners are probably moving to a somewhat bigger house, but I love the size of this house, it’s so cozy and warm. The guest house adds that needed flex space which could be a great hideaway to watch footballs games away from sleeping babies. I’ll make a guess that this couple may also be moving because of the pool. Once babies start crawling, you need to think about pool protection like gates. Is this house too small for more than a baby? Would 2 or three children be too crowded in this space?
Still, I wanted to show both these houses because they are so very different in square footage and style. One is 7000 sq ft and custom and the other is 2000 sq ft and a renovated bungalow. One is for those just starting out – or maybe empty nesters, the other is for a large, growing family. Are you at that stage in life that one of these houses would be what you are looking for? Or are you headed for a townhouse or highrise? Is your house right now somewhere you will be able to live when you move to that next stage of your life? Or will you be forced to move on when you outgrow your house or your house outgrows you??
Talking about that pool and the gates that have to put around a pool when you have a toddler reminded me of this darling gate that I saw used in a backyard. Instead of something really ugly that most people have, these homeowners transformed their backyard with their pool gate.
Take this house for example with a beautiful back yard – the baby gate around the pool is so unattractive and really takes away from the pretty swimming pool.
This beautiful pool needs a baby gate around it – but what the owners did to baby proof it is really so cute – look:
Instead of an ugly black gate, these owners put a white picket fence around their pool and suddenly the back yard looks like something out of South Hampton in New York, instead of Houston, Texas. So, so attractive and safe. They can even grow rose vines over the fence to soften it more.
(In fact, their entire house is definitely worth seeing – to look at it, go HERE.