COTE DE TEXAS: Evolution of a Style

Evolution of a Style


This magazine cover from Veranda remains one of my favorites from 2007.  Showcasing the work of Renea Abbott, this picture reflects her aesthetic precisely:  eclectic mix of the antique and contemporary, monochromatic scheme, glamour, and authenticity.    Abbott is one of Houston's finest interior designers and her star is rising higher each year.  She attended the New York School of Design AND the Fashion Institute of Technology - at the same time.  Following a stint working in New York for Keith Irving's design firm, she came home to Houston.  Today, along with her hectic design business, she owns Shabby Slips (featured on this blog here), a furniture store that is filled with pricey European antiques along with the most comfortable down filled upholstered pieces, many of which are slipcovered in Abbott's favorite material - white linen.  A stranger might be dismissive of the store - mistaking it for a Rachel Ashwell -Shabby Chic clone.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  When Shabby Slips first opened, Abbott made slipcovers for anyone who walked in the door.  But today, the price list to slipcover a chair or sofa - which was charmingly displayed inside a gilt picture frame - is no longer visible.   Instead, the focus of the store is European antiques and contemporary accessories.  Shabby Slips'  look  has evolved through the years, just as Abbott's has.  To witness firsthand Abbott's design evolution, take a look at how she once lived and how she lives today.  Images are courtesy of Shabby Slips' beautiful and comprehensive web site - finally released!

HOME #I:  An early Abbott owned apartment was photographed while she was still living in a highrise that is home to many of Houston's interior designers, retail store owners, and the glittering social set.   This apartment was published in Southern Accents - 2002:


In this early Abbott apartment, the floors are a wonderful ebony color which pops all the white slipcovers.  Here, Abbott brings three different sized chairs around the antique Spanish refectory table.  Each slipcover is monogrammed in her oversized initials.


The living area of the apartment featured Shabby Slips' mohair sofa and chairs.  Abbott used a skirted table, Odegard rug, and artwork by Olivier Debre.


French antique mirror and sconces combined with an oriental demilune reside in the entry hall.

HOME #II:  This move to a new space in the highrise was published in the book Spectacular Homes of Texas:


The living room of the new space features white linen slipcovers.  The coffee table, a Shabby Slips original, moved from the former apartment.  New to the mix is an antique french day bed.  Barbara  Berry ottoman is in mohair.


In the dining room, there is a huge change from the previous space.  Totally contemporary now - the table is from Thomas O'Brien and the chairs are Barbara Barry.  Two Fortuny lights, from Creative Flooring (owned by Abbott's husband) are overhead and the triptych by Ford Beckman grabs all the attention.


The family room shows the start of the evolution to a more glamorous space.  The velvet sofa is from Holly Hunt, the chair and end table are Barbara Barry, and the slipcovered chairs are from Donghia.  Mirrored table is from Shabby Slips.  Only the candlesticks are familiar from before.


The bedroom features a Baker four poster bed and Barbara Barry end tables.  The leopard carpeting is from Creative Flooring.


HOME #III:  And finally, a move from the highrise to a townhome gave Renea a chance to really showcase her evolving style.  A nod to the Hollywood glamour of another era, Houston's Paper City published the Manteris' home in 2005:


The shell encrusted commode comes from Watkins Culver, Shabby Slips' neighboring antique store.  The antique urn is from Shabby Slips.


The extra high ceilings allow the silk drapes and chandelier to take center stage in the living room.  The antique Venetian fixture was bought from the estate of one of the founders of the Pebble Beach Golf Club.  The vintage 1940s style French sofas and chairs were purchased from Watkins Culver and are covered in white muslin.  Mirrored chests flank both sides of the limestone fireplace and the art work above is by Cy Twombly.  The rug, from Creative Floorings, of course, is Tibetan.


Close up of one of matching mirrored chests with the Cy Twombly above.  Antique santos and milk glass lamp from AREA round out the tablescape.


The dining room with the same extra tall windows, this time covered in silk taffeta draperies, is another stunning space.  The back wall is a mosaic of antiqued and distressed mirrored panels.  The table is from Panache and the beaded crystal fixture is from Dennis and Leen.  Chairs are Louis XVI style, again, covered in white muslin.


I adore this kitchen!  White carrara marble replaced pink granite countertops.  French iron top table from Joyce Horn Antiques with Clarence House zebra printed silk velvet covered french chairs. 


Abbott painted the iron staircase to resemble pewter.  A mummy folly holds a tray of cordials.  The runner is zebra patterned wool carpeting from  Creative Flooring.


The sitting area of the bedroom features an armless tufted sofa.  The velvet trimmed silk taffeta draperies are from The Silk Trading Company. 


Just about the only pieces that traveled from the highrise were this Baker four poster bed and the Barbara Barry night stands. 

In the article that accompanied these photographs,  Renea Abbott acknowledges that they probably won't stay here at this townhouse for too long.  I don't know if they still live there or not.  But something tells me to expect a newly designed space to be emerging sometime soon!  Do you prefer one home shown here over the next?   I think my favorite is a combination of spaces from all three!




  1. I think this Veranda cover was perfection, but to learn that Renea Abbott is also responsible for these wonderful monogrammed belgian linen slip covers? I am doubly impressed. I ripped this page out 5 years ago in envy. I absolutely love the narrow table with the mismatched slipper chairs. It's inventive, fun traditional and luxurious all at the same time. Cool kitchen too.

  2. Your blog is gorgeous and so full of inspiration!! So glad I stumbled upon it...


  3. Shabby Slips was one of the first Houston shops I ever ventured into and I felt as if I had just stepped into my design Heaven! I adore her aesthetic, thanks for the great post! Her living room in her most current town home is my favorite.
    (Material Girls Blog)

  4. Great style and love of neutrals. The kitchen is my favorite. Thanks once again for the great post.

  5. I love these "evolution of style" posts, Joni. They are fascinating and of course, reinforce the validity of our own ongoing fiddling with our interiors. I like her first house best, the more stark Hollywood glamour having less resonance with my taste. I'm seriously thinking I may have to invest in ebonizing my hardwoods. $$$$!!!!

  6. I have a terrible internet connection this week, but was finally able to download this post! I love the new space for its architecture. The way the interior design works with the tall spaces is wonderful.

    My dream would be to redecorate and move every few years! One of the reasons I want to move from my current home is because I am very tired of some of my rugs and fabric choices, but too practical to change much while I am still in this home.

  7. Thanks all for the comments!

    Sarah: Too funny = you would rather spend the money and work and stress to move than change some fabrics and rugs!!! Too funny!!

  8. That kitchen is a standout! And were it my home I would never want to leave the charm of the bedroom sitting area.

  9. I would pick the first one because it is closer to what I like, but the kitchen in house 3 is darling :)


  10. Joni,
    I adore the zebra chairs in the kitchen too! Thanks for another comprehensive post. Millie is right, the cover is perfection.

  11. Joni, I agree, that kitchen is so amazing. I also love the chairs in the top dining room!

  12. This is a fabulous post! I want a glass front fridge so badly, but our little kitchen is too small for one right now. I love the industrial quality they bring to a kitchen.

  13. This is great... so interesting to see how the overall look changes, but some things are the same.

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  15. That Zebra runner has me just flabbergasted not to mention speechless!!!

    However, my favorite is the wall of antiqued mirrors. I've collected old mirrors forever. It's probably the only true romantic part in me because I love to envision those who used to see their image in the mirrors.

  16. My favorite element is probably the most subtle ... the pattern of the brickwork in the fireplace in the first photograph ... I could look at that all day.

  17. What a beautiful array of rooms! The pic of the white LR with blue drapes: inspiring. My parents have a white LR that's lovely but needs to be reenergized. I'm seeing rich emerald green drapes replacing the tired flat gold ones...

  18. The kitchen with the glass fridge door and the zebra chairs really appeals to me. Ditto the white living room! Very cool read, I didn't know about Renea Abbott.

  19. the color are very relaxing the pale colors are always a good choice

  20. the color are very relaxing the pale colors are always a good choice

  21. Grretings from Oslo, Norway! I simply adore your blog and the beautiful French furniture:-).
    I'm just in love with all things french! :)

  22. What beautiful work and I adore that kitchen too Joni!!