COTE DE TEXAS: Sep 20, 2007

Paris in Houston, Part Deux


My favorite landscaping company in Houston, pictured above, is Thompson + Hanson. Yes, you read that correctly, I said landscaping! The best part about shopping for plants at T+H is their antiques. OK, that sounds strange, I know, but believe me, their antiques are more gorgeous than their plants. Culled from trips overseas to France, their assortment of goods includes: armoires, chandeliers, settees, chairs, mirrors, bath goods, candles, and books, among other things. New or old, there is something here for every part of your home and body. The building, an old, restored stone-clad structure - is a delight in itself. If I were to start over and build a house today, I would base it on this design. It is a gorgeous space, the ceiling is raised to the rafters, the windows are all steel french doors that open onto an outdoor pergola-covered patio. The floor is stripped to its bare concrete foundation - cool on a typical hot Houston day. I want to live here, I say every time I come.

Outside, the walkways are paved in small crushed stone, just as is done in France - the basis of their design sensibility. Because the landscaping is French in feel, you won't find a lot of bright, blooming plants here. The focus is more on grasses and succulents than on azaleas and crepe myrtles, the typical mainstays of Houston landscaping. Large pots made of stone or tin are filled with grasses that quietly sway in the breeze. A large fountain is pouring water into what appears to be a huge animal bath, made of iron, not the usual stone. Nothing is typical here, nothing is expected. And no one does this better than Thompson + Hanson. Located on Saint Street in the hot, new upcoming design area of town. Neighbors include Indulge, Design District, Pile, Chateau Domingue, Krispin, and the soon to relocate, M. Naeve, featured yesterday.

The gorgeous interiors - hard to believe their main business is landscaping!

French antiques are everywhere - I love this daybed.

My reason for coming back time and time again: the up to date collection of Betaplus books, the only place in town you can buy them.

This gorgeous screen would look so good over a sofa.

Swedish antiques peek out amongst the French ones.

Typical elements of Thompson + Hanson design: stones, succulents, and perennials.

Their plants take on a contemporary feel, as do their landscapes.

No bright colors or new gauche pots, the simple - the better.

Modern pedestals contrast with antique urns.

Massed for effect.

The wildly inventive fountain.

Entry to the nursery is through a pergola holding up a water tower.

Evergreen wisteria climbs up the patio's pergola.

The best part: picnic table and wicker chairs set under a gorgeous antique chandelier. Takers, anyone?

Paris in Houston, Part I

I've been shopping in Houston this week, just making the rounds of some of my favorite places. First stop is the romantic antique store M. Naeve, eponym for Margaret Naeve, a darling, twenty-something who actually looks more like a teenager. What's most astounding about Margaret being the owner is how does someone so young acquire such excellent taste? M. Naeve isn't the place for those who go for KWID fabrics or trendy colors. Her shop is cool khaki all the way, though Margaret giddily confesses her own apartment is bathed in shades of lilac. Margaret purchased the storefront and it's contents from the older, previous owner, but the store under Margaret's watch never looked this good before. Her impeccable eye helps when she's in France on buying trips. The carefully edited inventory is limited to peeling, painted finishes and pale wood pieces, huge, ancient fireplace mantels, crystal and wood chandeliers, and oversized accessories. What she's bought for M. Naeve is exactly what Houstonians of means, taste, and desire are buying these days. If you lucky enough to hire one of Houston's top designer's - you'll probably be the owner of something from this store.

Margaret's a doll with a bright future ahead of her. It's a pleasure shopping here among such beautiful and exquisite things and not be treated snobbishly or rudely, a rarity in the upper echelons of antique stores these days. She delights in the beauty of her hand picked pieces and her attitude is infectious.

Chandeliers, wood and crystal, pots, and lamps from M. Naeve.

Pale woods are the norm here. Large accessories like this clock face are favored.

Gray painted corner piece, unusual garden chaise, oversized mirror all add to the romance of M. Naeve.

I'll take two of each: sconces and botanicals.

There's a match to this chaise, with the arm on the right side, perfect with a table between them.

Pale woods and lilies, chairs with interesting backs

The mood at the store is so serene, calm, almost hushed, until Margaret's giggles pierce the quiet.

Interesting displays of furniture piled to the ceiling, gorgeous mirror.

Margaret has all her lampshades custom made in Paris, of course!

Besides French furniture, Swedish pieces abound - like this day bed piled high with linens.

Stunning candelabra, table surrounded with chairs with a 'lone star' motif.

The only color - gorgeous green!

Even her flower arrangements are to die for, creamy roses surrounded by lavender colored roses.