Back in 2007, two décor magazines featured the homes of a Houston real estate agent. One, in Elle Décor, was her Texas Hill Country weekend house in historic Fredericksburg. The other spread in Veranda was her house in Houston, a classic Georgian River Oaks beauty. Both were designed by Joe Shaffer.
Back then I featured a story about these articles called “Two for Texas” because really, how many are lucky enough to be published in two different décor magazines – in just one year? The articles were the talk of Houston’s design crowd and it sparked a lively conversation: which would you prefer, a stately Houston classic or a Hill Country spread? The answer was not easy! The two houses could not be more different, yet there was definitely a connection – found mostly in the furniture and accessories. Both houses were filled with beautiful 18th and 19th century jewels. The owner obviously had a love of beautiful things and later became a dealer herself, selling her European findings at Round Top and in Fredericksburg.
The River Oaks Georgian is really beautiful – it’s done all in celadon and cream. Shaffer mixed the antiques and classic elements with modern and contemporary art.
Here’s a second look at the River Oaks house as seen in Veranda:
The entry hall is gorgeous – done in a pale celadon stripe - it’s the antique settee that is the scene stealer. It’s such a lovely settee with a scalloped edge. I love how the fabric is placed below the frame. That’s an unusual detail – and quite beautiful!
Sorry – these scans are so old, I wish I had new ones! On one side of the living room – an antique couch sits under a contemporary series of art. Celadon and creams.
A living room vignette – gilt accessories sit under contemporary art.
The other side of the living room – with two club chairs covered in ticking. Love the barometer. The only pattern is on the curtains.
The dining room – I love this!! I love the striped blue dhurri used in a dressy room, it’s a nice juxtaposition. Love the half tablecloth, ruffled – this allows the pretty dining room legs to show.
Another view – there is a fireplace here, which is the most romantic touch in a dining room.
The bedroom is my favorite room in the house. Another blue striped dhurri. Great painted Swedish tea table – with the surprise of a blue and white garden seat below. This sitting area is to the side of the bed.
And a view of the bedroom. If you can find a copy of this Veranda from September 2007 – grab it! The house is so beautiful.
So, why am I revisiting these houses that were shown in 2007? Well….the other day, a very nice man from Fredericksburg called to let me know that he was listing the vacation house in Fredericksburg.
Are you in the market for a piece of heaven? If so, I know just the perfect place!
The property, in Gillespie Country, is located on 13.68 acres. It is a 19th century limestone house – totally renovated by San Antonio architect Don McDonald. Originally built by German settlers, McDonald combined the new and old in a very sensitive restoration.
Besides the main 4 bedroom house, there is also a guest cottage in the restored smoke house. The photographs shown here are from the original Elle Décor photospread, along with new photos of the house today! Enjoy!!!!
The view of the rolling hills from the property.
Limestone and gravel – very Texas hill country.
The house over looks the garden, shown here behind its charming deer proof fence.
Next to the house is the old smoke house – now a guest cottage.
The house had remained in the hands of only one family – the original German settlers - when it was bought. Don MacDonald first removed the mid 20th century additions, then replaced the old hardwoods downstairs with rustic cypress planks. Gypsum was then removed from the walls. The original red tin roof was only patched – its patina was too valuable to scrap. Finally, the two story tower was built to house the guest room, screened in porch and full bath.
Here – you can see the beautiful new tower which connects to the house via the new screen in porch.
The front of the house – with the gravel border. The smoke house/guest house is off to the side.
When you enter, there is a long stair hall with a parlor on each side of the hall. Straight ahead, past the antique doors is the dining room/kitchen/scullery.
This is how the entry hall looks today. You will see that everything looks much the same as it did when Elle Décor published the ranch almost nine years ago, just a bit more lived in!
Now this I don’t know – but I wonder if the dining room was the original house and the grander parlour and stairs were added to that tiny house? Or, was the dining room added onto the more grander house? Not sure!
And Elle Décor. All that is changed is the lamp, there are now two there instead of one. And a rug. And lots of accessories. And a vase.
And looking back toward the front door – you can see the wood stairs and the wood beamed ceiling.
Another view of the front door and antique tole chandelier. Notice the front door matches the back door that leads to the dining room.
There are two parlors – one on each side of the center hall. This parlor has the fabulous antique trumeau above the door. Rugs were custom woven for the house.
Today – the door on the left opens to the tower/screened porch while the door on the right opens to the entry hall. The wood beamed ceiling is incredible.
The second parlor has an antique frame sofa, along with French chairs and a lovely Swedish table used as a coffee table.
Along the side of the house – another Swedish table sits between the two windows.
And today, just a bit more antique accessories that the owner collects, while chairs have moved about.
The entry hall between the two parlors leads to the dining room/kitchen/scullery.
The most sensational room is the dining room/kitchen. Originally this room had a dirt floor, which the owner covered with limestone found on the property. The stone walls are the perfect juxtaposition to the crystal chandelier. The large cupboard holds all the dishes and crystal. There is a range in the room and a sink. The other appliances are in the next room – the scullery.
The large stone sink is next to the back door. Notice the charming faucets.
Painted twin cabinets flank the doorway back into the entry hall. The door to the scullery is at the left.
The scullery houses the appliances for the kitchen and the laundry. The back door leads to the screened in porch in the new tower.
The row of beautiful wood windows in the scullery overlooks the property.
The back door in the scullery leads to the screened in porch.
The screened in porch as seen in Elle Decor.
From the outside – the tower with the screened in porch and the guest room on the first floor and the bathroom on the top floor.
From Elle Décor – the guest room overlooks the gravel terrace.
And today, the same view. Notice the French lantern hanging from a tree stump. The row of windows to the right is the scullery.
From Elle Décor – the guest room in the new tower.
Upstairs there are two more bedrooms, plus a bunk room. Here, the bunk room as seen in Elle Décor. The rooms upstairs are all open to the wood rafters.
And today, the bunk room. In the middle is a beautiful Swedish table and chairs which replace the painted round table that was there during the Elle Décor photoshoot.
And, looking towards the door – it appears the room is open to the landing but it is closed off with a series of fabulous French antique doors.
In the bunk room alcove, another darling iron bed was shown in Elle Décor.
While waiting to find the perfect weekend house, the owner had been collecting European furniture and accessories for years. Once this house was found, she was lucky to have all the linens and bedding in storage, ready to be used here.
The master bedroom, as seen in Elle Décor.
And today – a view towards the door and landing.
The guest room is smaller – with beautiful antiques – the trumeau and the armoire - along with the beds and chairs! OK, everything in here is antique!
And the view towards the other direction.
One of the bathrooms as seen in Elle Décor. Gilt mirror and old tub.
The new bathroom in the tower with old vanity and vintage sconces. I love how the old stone wall of the house was left exposed in the new bathroom.
Another view of the tower bath – with the tiny window.
The stairs in the tower that lead to the bathroom.
Ready for that slice of heaven in the Texas Hill Country? Get more property details HERE.
So, in curiosity – which life would you prefer?
A beautiful classic Georgian in the nicest neighborhood in town OR
A stone 19th century house on 13 acres in the rolling hills of Texas?
When I first wrote this story back in 2007 I think I would have answered - the Houston house. But now, I prefer the ranch. No doubt! (along with a small apartment in Houston, and a condo in Galveston!) Hey – dream BIG!!!!!!
Here’s a short interview with moi if you would like to read it HERE.