COTE DE TEXAS: Birthday Luncheon in West University with the Wills Girls

Birthday Luncheon in West University with the Wills Girls

A few months ago I showed you pictures of my sister-in-law and brother-in-law's ranch in Chappell Hill, Texas. By the comments that entry received, everyone seemed to love their home. On Friday, Shannon, my sister-in-law, and her sister Anthea threw themselves a joint birthday party at Anthea's beautiful Houston home. That's Shannon passing out a bowl of home made crisps and her mother, Dottie, is on the far right. It was a small, intimate affair and it really is a great way to entertain - lunch at home instead of at a noisy restaurant filled with rushed businessmen. The three "Wills" girls made all the food: soup with a salad topped with delicious cold beef tender. I had a great time, but you know me - I was preoccupied with thoughts of taking pictures of Anthea's home to share with you!

Mealtime in the dining room. The walls are a gorgeous shade of dusty pink, more of a flesh tone, but definitely not coral. It reminds me so much of the Farrow and Ball shade, Ointment Pink, but it's not. One great thing about the paint is that it's flat, not egg shell. You don't see that too often anymore, but it really has a wonderful, dense look to it.

In the middle is the beautiful Anthea serving a dessert made by her absent husband. No men were allowed at lunch. The girl on the left is an old family friend and she is equally beautiful!

I had trouble concentrating on the conversation, which happens when I am surrounded by beauty. At the end of the dining room, on both sides of the window, is a pair of half-moon shaped, tall chests. Handpainted pink cabbage roses dance atop a pale celadon base. At the top of each chest, is one of a pair of large, antique Satsuma urns. The "Wills" girls know that these chests are my absolute favorite pieces in their family. I totally lust after them and if I could get away with it, these two chests would somehow find their way to my house. Oh well......

Along the side wall of the dining room between two windows is an antique gilded and painted buffet which sits under an oil painting. This piece comes in at a close second as my favorite.

And, on a short wall across from the buffet, this antique commode sits beneath an antique mirror. The dining room is without a doubt the prettiest room in a house filled with pretty rooms. Upon entering the home, it's directly to the right of the front door and is one of the first things you notice when you walk in. In storage are drapes from a previous home that would look wonderful in here. Both Shannon and her mother Dottie (and me) think the drapes should be hung in the dining room, but homeowner Anthea with veto power wants to keep the room light and airy. I have offered to take the drapes off Anthea's hands for her, but she pretends she can't hear me whenever I broach the subject.

The staircase hall. Seagrass covers the stair steps. The bench is filled with birthday presents for Shannon and Anthea, both.

An oversized crystal chandelier hangs in the staircase hall. This fixture is always lit and can be seen from the street through the glass paned, double front doors. I should know - Anthea's house is on my Starbuck's route and I pass it more times a day and night than I care to admit.

Directly across the hall from the stairs is the paneled library. Notice the animal faces on the chairs' arms.

The Wills girls are daughters of the famous artist, J. Anthony Wills, whose work hangs in the White House. Here is an oil of Anthea that her father painted as a surprise for Dottie. Shannon has her portrait from the same sitting in her house.

Note the large, tole light fixture hanging in the library.

At the entry hall, this tablescape with it's bird's nest and chalky urn, is front and center.

The breakfast room is probably my favorite space in the house. The light, painted credenza, toile window shade, creamy accessories and flirty slip covers on the chairs all add to the room's fresh atmosphere.

The kitchen has a wonderful wood counter top on the island and the range sits in its own alcove.

The back courtyard with a fountain and furniture from Smith Hawken. It was a rainy day, so the cushions were taken off the furniture.

The family room with its large antique rug. Most of the other rooms, including the stairs have seagrass rugs. I love the antique frame on the mantel - with no art work inside!

Old candlesticks rest on a marble topped credenza in the stair hall.

The living room is to the immediate left of the front door, across from the dining room. The antique day bed is covered in a blue silk velvet that is wonderfully worn. Most people would probably choose to recover the velvet, but I love the way it's aged to perfection.

This portrait, painted again by Shannon and Anthea's father, is of their mother Dottie - looking very glamorous in her 60s style mink stole! Isn't she gorgeous? Turquoise colored vases sit atop yet another marble topped chest.

In one corner of the living room, behind a needle point french chair, Anthea has propped two antique doors. You can just see the dining room on the very right.

Upstairs, Anthea and her husband sleep in this deep brown bedroom. The ceiling is painted the palest shade of blue. The headboard is slipcovered in white. On either side of the bed are Aidan Gray nightstands.

Across from the bed, an English linen press.

In the master bathroom, the vanity chair carries on with the bedroom's brown and blue color scheme.

A guest room upstairs, furnished in french antiques. This is Shannon's room when she comes to town. Another guest room, not shown, is reserved for Shannon's daughter when she stays over.

Anthea's son's red, white, and blue bedroom, furnished with seagrass headboards and blue and white ticking.

The upstairs playroom for Anthea's son. The slipcovered furniture came from Quatrine.

Dottie, now widowed, divides her time between Houston and Chappell Hill. Here is the sitting room in her bedroom suite at Anthea's. It is furnished entirely with French antiques that Dottie has collected over a lifetime.

The bedroom in Dottie's suite, again furnished with antiques.

And lastly, in Dottie's sitting room hang two portraits of the birthday girls, again, painted by their father. On the left, Shannon, the more talkative sister, is, naturally, on the phone, while Anthea - always prim and proper - sweetly smiles. The most amazing thing of these paintings is that here, both mothers look exactly like their young sons do now. Both boys are about the same age as their mothers' were when these paintings were done.

Be sure to revisit my entry about Shannon's home, the KW Ranch. It's interesting to compare and contrast the two sister's decorating styles. Both girls were their own interior designer, along with their mother's input and advice. All three Wills girls have great style and taste, which is obvious to anyone visiting their homes.


  1. oooh love the chocolate bedroom an the turquiose vases.

    Thank you so much for dropping into my blog.

    I have tagged you, I really hope you don't mind (I'm only new)....please see my 'I've been tagged' on my blog.


  2. How incredible! SOunds like a fun afternoon... and the trifle looks delish!

  3. Good Heavens -- what an incredible charming and beautiful home -- certainly reflects the tastes of the ladies who live there! Of course -- I adore the portraits -- especially the one of Dottie in the 1960s -- scrumptious! And the kitchen is stunning! Thanks so much for sharing your afternoon there with us -- its like a birthday treat -- for us!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  4. Fantastic house! Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a beautiful and comfortable home. I'm sure you all had a great time! She has so very many wonderful things, thanks for giving us the tour.

  6. Joni, you could be a journalist! Your reportage is excellent. First off, I love West University area and had a friend who lived there for years, finally moving back to Dallas. LOVED the houses there.

    I really liked: the tray of crystal decanters, the beautiful antique gold mirror, EVERYTHING about the library, the painting of Dottie, (SO Joan Robinson era) and the beautiful vases under. The Billy Balwinesque brown bedrrom with pale blue ceiling and the blue & white porcelain on the linen press, and the Tole pieces used throughout the home. Library lamps and ceiling fixture.
    This is such a great and comfortable home. Dottie is still beautiful.

  7. This house is just divine, Jodi. What a beautiful many lovely details. I also love the breakfast room and the beautiful portrait of Dottie.

  8. I had to drop in and leave a comment to let you know how much I enjoy(and drool over) your blog. What an inspiration it is to this up North Wisconsin girl! This home is so elegant and tastefully done. I too really admire the portrait of Dottie-what a beauty!

  9. Joni,

    So many beautiful things, it's hard to know where to begin. That portrait of Dottie with the turquoise vases is so striking. And I love the brown bedroom.

    Thanks for the tour.

  10. Suggest that Anthea turn the dining room drapes into roman shades. I love the toile roman shade in the breakfast area AND Dottie's lovely portrait, her dress is fabulous!

    Thank you for this visual tour!

  11. Apparently there is a lot of beauty and talent in the family! Thanks for sharing, Joni.

  12. Beautiful! So many lovely things and rooms. The portrait of Dottie is outstanding. Thanks for the wonderful tour!

  13. Joni,You are better than any magazine! Thanks for the most generous entry.

  14. Oh Joni.........I thought I was blown away by the Chapell Hill post - what beautiful girls, mother and home - once again I must say to you, "let me process".......I am speechless at the moment. xo

  15. Oh Joni - Magnificent post - marvellous post!!

    My favorites are the twin green and cabbage roses that you love too :-), the picture of dottie AND the marvellous inlayed credenza/cabinet underneath her picture and of course the strawberry and cream dessert!!!

    Now I have to laugh here - did you say - "excuse me everyone - I have to take photos fr my blog here" - and make a parking space on the table for a giant camera?

  16. Sorry Joni - I ment the inlaid credenza under the truly magnificent silver service and mirror!!

  17. Really great post, Joni. I think you should do a book on Houston 0r Texas homes. You give much more background on the owners than most interiors books offer, which is a very interesting added dimension. I think people would love it and you have enough gorgeous homes in your own extended family for a great start!

  18. Anne! That's a splendid idea. Joni should write a book about the fantastic River Oaks mansions. Several of them have already made their way into books.

    Joni, Did you ever read Blood & Money?

  19. Of course I read Blood and Money! I'm from Houston, haha. And no, I didn't really excuse myself, just sort of drifted away and started snapping. I did get busted at one point by a guest I don't really know!!! haha - she was probalby thinking - what the hell? when she caught me taking pix in Anthea's bathroom. omg, hysterical.

    Thanks everyone for your kind kind words! I' m runing out of relatives though. I do want to do my mom's, the grand tastemaster of them all. Her highrise is really special too.

  20. Hi Joni
    What a very beautiful home. For all its grandness it has a very comfortable feel to it...well loved and well lived in. You all look like you had a good time, which was the main purpose of your visit. But you managed to fit in a full photo shoot. I feel like I know the home from your coverage. I too love the portrait of Dottie and I have a weakness for the antique gilded and painted buffet and of course the urns and antique that sit on the antique marquetry commode are stunning.

  21. All I can say is BEAUTIFUL...
    I love the time worn sofa and the fact that they haven't recovered it. It makes the home feel warm and lived in. That's a breath of fresh air.

  22. What a beautiful post....I also loved the gilded marble top buffet and Dottie's suite...your photography and size of the pictures captured the feel of the home and the occasion... it was like reading a chapter in a design book with the backdrop of a celebration ...Wonderful!! Fay

  23. Joni - Your blog is addictive! Reading about the people you know or meet is as entertaining as looking at the beautiful interiors. Thanks for giving us your time and talent. (BYW, it's hard for me to concentrate on coversation, too, when I'm gazing at surroundings . . .)

  24. Joni - thank you for the full tour - it's a beautiful home and your narration brings it to life. I keep going back to look at the cabinets in the dining room. Amazing. Thank your friends for us.

  25. The portrait of Dottie, is too beautiful for words. I was chuckling at the idea of you anxiously waiting to take photos, during the dinner. I find I am always thinking of what I can take photos of too. Maybe we are turning into design paparazzi.

  26. So beautiful! I love the velvet daybed and the chocolate enveloped bedroom! Thank you for sharing.

  27. Joni, thank you so much for taking me along.

    This home is beautiful and so incredibly inviting. I'm going back for another look. Words escape me!


  28. MMmmm! Delicious! What a tasty treat for my eyes thank you so much. Oh, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that the waterford & china were out for the lunch -in my opinion not enough people use the good stuff. Please I beg of you keep snapping away! Can't wait to see your mom's place!

  29. What a lovely post Joni :) I feel like I got to walk through the house myself! Thanks for putting so much time and effort into letting us all glimpse into this beautiful home. Looks like you had a wonderful time. I would totally be trying to photograph everything too. I'm guilty of doing that... I like to capture things to remember.

  30. What a wonderful way to spend the day! Thanks for sharing..beautiful as always!

  31. I LOVE your blog and read it religiously. I've never posted a comment but had to today because I'm Anthea's neighbor! I'm so glad you shared pictures of her home on your blog, it's as lovely as she is. Next time you visit Anthea (or make a Starbuck's run) I'd love to meet you!

  32. Anonymous: you must be the neighbor across the street in the fabulous new white house!!! Surely you've noticed the idiot in the white Jeep who stops in front of your house trying to look at your screen and light fixture in the dining room and the living room chairs, and the bird cage, and the floor mirror, etc. That stalker is me!!! I'm dying to get a tour of your home. Anthea told me you read my blog and I'm so glad you left a comment. email me!!!

  33. Oh Joni! I have been lurking lately and never have time to be able to say all of the things I'd like. But I wanted you to know this post was so fun and the house simply stunning, stunning, stunning! It is nice to see your family and get to know more about your life. It looks like a beautiful one!

    P.S. Thanks bunches for your visit!

  34. Joni,
    Oh my gosh. I loved your sister-in-law's ranch. But, Anthea's house is divine!!!!! The painting of Dottie is so fabulous. Her dress, is beyond words!!!! I always think I missed my era in the 40's & 50's, early 60's b/c of the clothes. Your blog is amazing, rock on. Hello world, Houstonians have great taste + the best restaurants.

  35. Joni, I have read and sighed over this post over and over again. I can't get enough of it. Antheas home is just too beautiful. The hand painted green chests had me almost weeping lol. The breakfast room, the bedrooms and Dotties portrait are absolutely awe inspiring. Thank you ever so much for this grand tour.

    Anna :)

    p.s Add me to the list of orders for your future beautiful Houston homes book ;)

  36. Your sister in laws home is absolutely sumptuous. It must be pure eye candy every time you visit. No doubt great taste runs in your family. The portrait of Dottie is priceless. Thank you so much for sharing a Texas beauty.

  37. It's been a long time since I was in one of these genteel Southern homes, bursting with antiques, heirlooms and beauty. Thanks for posting these gorgeous photos.

  38. great post. beautiful photos. i must say, that quatrine is terrible to work with. sadly. their product is good but....well. enough said. i love
    the post, jo.

  39. What a beautiful southern home !!! Unbelievable , it seems a museum with life ...

  40. How Wonderful! I haven't had a chance to look at your blog in a few weeks. This morning I posted about a portrait that was done of my daughters and I was thinking that this art form is lost... I clicked on your blog and I notice that you have featured several fabulous portraits in your post. Thank you, it brightened my day