COTE DE TEXAS: The End of the Houston Look?

The End of the Houston Look?


When I started writing the blog – and for many years afterwards – a number of designer utilized a decorative look which I termed “The Houston Look” (very original, I know!)  But that term stuck.  It referenced the linen slipcover/seagrass look that so many young couples used when decorating their houses.


   Cote de Texas Design

As time has marched on – and I have now been writing Cote de Texas for ten years (!) – the Houston Look is evolving, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since decorative trends typically have a ten year shelf life and the Houston Look fits this 10 year time period perfectly.

This beautiful house above is typical of the Houston Look.  It has all its elements:  custom cut seagrass, textured blinds, linen curtains, French chairs, French candle chandelier, washed wood finishes, slipcovers, gathered pleats, mirrors, shutters, gilt accents, white walls or blue/gray walls. 

Is this the end of an era?  I hate to think that!  I love the Houston Look.  Slipcovers are so practical for families with children and dogs and seagrass is a miracle floor covering – it’s almost impossible to permanently stain it.  The linen/taupe coloring is so soothing and calming – these rooms say “Welcome, relax” and at the same time they look luxe and decorated.  It’s a wonderful look and I hate to think it’s over with.

Pamela Pierce, one of the inventors of the Houston Look.  No one did slips like she did.  NO ONE!  She started a bigger slip trend than Rachel Ashwell.

While those who were here when the Houston Look was born still love it, the younger set, those 20 and 30 year olds with young children don’t.    The millenniums are now decorating their first houses and they don’t want what they grew up with.  They want either color and pattern or they want contemporary, all three things the Houston Look isn’t.    But, relax.  There are ways to incorporate the Houston Look for the millenniums.   There are definitely ways to update that style for the younger set – and here is a PERFECT example:

Margaret Naeve of M. Naeve designed this Houston house in a contemporary manner that is reminiscent of the Houston Look but is totally updated.  She used a contemporary rug mixed with classic linen curtains – yet her rods are contemporary.  The color scheme is contemporary with bright white walls but she added touches of softly romantic and calming lilac.  Naeve mixed modern shapes with antique pieces.  Her sofa is slipcovered in white linen yet its lines are tailored and new.  Antique Swedish chairs mix with contemporary slipper chairs.  A gorgeous antique trumeau is the focal point, as are the antique vase/lamps – yet these pieces look zen, not old.  It’s a beautifully sophisticated look and is a perfect example of how to update the Houston Look for today.   I think if you saw this, you would think Houston,  to me it still has that look.   Go HERE to see more of this house, which is for sale.

I’ve thought about this topic for a while now and found two examples to show you how the Houston Look was adapted to a contemporary look.

House #1

Before and After are included.  Enjoy!

2008.  Built in 1935, the house is an increasingly rare original to the neighborhood.  It has another rarity for Houston – it has a back loading garage on an alley!  I wish all houses had alleys!!  It makes the street so much prettier to not see garages everywhere.    This house was added on to – it appears to have remodeled twice.  At the back, where the garage is – there is an entire new wing with a master bedroom above.   I screencapped an aerial photo so you could see the layout since it’s a little tricky.  The house is large at 5,400+ sq. ft.  with 4 bedrooms and 4.5 baths.

The house was recently sold twice – in 2008 & 2013.

Here is the aerial, showing the original house with the three dormers on the street side.  The house is now in a U shape, built around a courtyard.   There is the addition of a new wing at the side of the house with 3 more dormers and there is the second and latest addition of the new wing across the back alley with the 2 dormers, where the garage/master bedroom suite is.  The two additions form a courtyard for the house since there is no back yard now.  A builder once lived here and it was he who enlarged the house.


2013:  The new owners updated the house and its exterior with new landscaping.  The large palms are now gone. 

2013:  This shows the courtyard and the back wing with the balcony that overlooks the courtyard.

2017.  The new owners took the “contemporization” of the house up a notch.  It was painted a stark white – which is the “new” must look for Houston houses.   The front door and side lights were removed and were replaced with a large steel framed glass door, along with new lanterns.  The boxwood was tightly clipped as was the grass cover and the side gate was painted black.  It is very obvious the house has now been extensively updated, just judging by the facade. 

2008.   The courtyard showing the side addition and the newer back wing.  The arched patio includes an outdoor kitchen.

2013:  A better view showing the back wing and side wing.  Along the side wing with the French doors is the large family room.

2013:  The back wing with the outdoor kitchen.

2013:  Looking from the back wing to the front of the house.

2017:  The courtyard has been totally redone.  A new gravel terrace was added, along with new landscaping.  And, along the side wing – the French doors were removed and replaced with trendy steel framed doors, which look FABULOUS!!!!   And, all the orange brick was updated with a coat of white paint.

A larger view shows the new steel framed doors, painted black, along with the stark white painted brick.  In  the middle of the courtyard is the gravel terrace, accented with black boxes filled with plants.  The difference is amazing – the white and black with purple accents is a hint of what is inside.

2008:  The front door opens to the foyer with the living room on the left and the dining room on the right.  Straight ahead is the family room.

2008:  The living room at the left of the foyer.  This is the original part of the 1935 house.  I wonder if that mantel original – and the stained glass windows are from the 1935 house.

2008:  To the right of the foyer is the dining room.  This decor is typical of the 1990s in West University where this home is located.  Back then, everyone decorated  in a classic, traditional style.

2013.  The new owners started the contemporization of the house which was finished with the new 2017 owners.  Here, the walls were stripped of wallpaper and painted stark white.  The floors were stained darker.  Past the foyer is the large family room.

2013:  Contemporary furniture was mixed with antique chairs.  The fireplace mantel was painted white and the white marble was removed and replaced with black honed granite.  They did leave the original leaded glass windows, which is so nice.

2013:  The dining room is furnished in antiques with a Regency styled day bed acting as a banquette. 

2017:  The new facade and black steel framed doors announce the newly updated house.  In the foyer, a large contemporary green rug, with urns sets the tone.

2017:  The view leads back to the large family room.  The floors were ebonized by the new owners.  Hmm.  I think the rug is a bit too large?  But, don’t want it too small!!

2017:  The living room.

2017:  A larger view of the living room.   The owners also kept the leaded windows.  Instead of a sofa they added two matching contemporary chaises which is an inventive touch.  Let’s face it – you wouldn’t use this room much except for entertaining and it would be nice during a party for a few people to sit on the chaise.  White with black stripes silk curtains – which remain.

2017:  I love the dining room.  Painted green with white curtains – there’s an over long banquette in lilac velvet.  Love this!

2008:  Past the foyer (through the arch) is the large family room.  This is part of the side addition.  The stairs lead up to the second floor where the two original bedrooms/baths are.  The kitchen is on the left.  The French doors overlook the courtyard.    Later this room is opened up to the kitchen to make this one large room.   Red walls were very popular in the 80s and 90s in West University.

2008:  Looking towards the back of the family room – to the addition along the back alley were the garage is.   The brown paneled wall leads to the back stairs and the new back wing.

2008:  Next to the family room is the kitchen.  You can see the dining room through the double doors.

2013:    A total change.  With white walls and dark wood floors, the room is more up-to-date.   The next owner will remove the French doors and put in the new steel framed doors. 

2013:  At the back of the large family room is the paneled room that leads to the back addition/wing/garage/master suite/guest room/laundry. 

2013:   The view towards the foyer and the stairs that lead to the second floor where the original two bedrooms/bathrooms are.

2013:  The biggest change in 2013 was the wall between the kitchen and family room was removed, making it one large room.

2013:  The new kitchen was enlarged – the breakfast room was now taken up by the kitchen.

2013:  The view towards the family room.  The new kitchen has first-grade appliances.  The backsplash behind the range is mirror – which will be replaced by the new owners.

2017.   The new owners!  Done in black and white with purple accents.  The sofas have modern lines, but are slipcovered, which is great for families and pets.  The biggest change is the steel framed doors with the oversized panes.  Gorgeous!!    They chose a different layout – adding a breakfast table in the center of the room.

2017:  Another view of the back sitting area.  Another big change is there is now recessed lights instead of the ceiling fans and spots that were there before. 

2017.  They divided the large room with a breakfast table and a fixture over it.  If this was me – I would have added a beautiful wood antique table or antique French chairs to create a bit of tension between the new and old.  But don’t ask me, I’m not a decorator!  LOL.

2017:  The front part of the family room with the white and purple sofas.   The curtains stay. 

2017:  The new owners added a bench instead of barstools, which I like.  They changed the light fixture.  AND – they added a contemporary white tiled backsplash by Walker Zanger.

2017:   The view towards the family room with the new windows.  They MAKE the house!

2017:  Here you can see the new tile backsplash.   Wonder why they didn’t go up to the ceiling with it?  Oh well.  I really need to stop criticizing because I love the house!

2008:  Past the large, red painted family room and kitchen is the newer back addition that runs alongside the alley.  There is a second stairway that leads up to the rooms above the wings.

2013:  And the view in 2013.

2017:  The new owners painted the tile floor black,  along with the paneling and stairs.   The bright yellow settee pops against the painted black.  I think this is a great idea – and the black paint looks better from the family room than the stained brown wood.

2008:  Above the back wing, up the back stairs is this paneled library.

2008:  You can see the back stairs in the corner.   The room is decorated in the Ralph Lauren style with leather wing chairs and oriental rugs – that was so  popular in the 1990s.  Through the door you can see the long “attic room” that is above the family room wing.

2008:   The long attic room above the family room in the side addition.  The windows are the dormers that overlook the courtyard.  Striped dhurri rug and notice that rattan chair and ottoman from Pottery Barn!!!!  I think EVERYONE in the U.S. bought that chair!!  Pottery Barn must have sold a million of those!!   EBay has a few of  those “Malabar” rattan chairs at a starting bid of $300. 

  At the very end of the attic wing are the front stairs.  Past those are the two bedrooms from the original part of the house.

2013:  Here is the view from the previous owners.  The back stairs lead up to the paneled library with the attic room to the left.

2013:  The previous owners stained the floors and bought new fans.  And look!!!!  THAT CHAIR!!!!!!!!!!!  I swear to you – I didn’t know the previous family also had that chair when I wrote about the Pottery Barn Malabar chair!!!!  Do you think the first family left it at the house – or did the previous  family just happen to have one too?  I TOLD you everyone in the US and their brother had a Malabar chair!!!  This is too funny. 

I like the way they decorated this room – with the pool table.  Very English.

2013:  Another photo.  The view towards the stairs and the attic room.  Well – a white sofa without a slipcover is a recipe for disaster.  No wonder they have a blanket covering the cushions.  They need to have a slipcover made – it would be so nice, especially with the curves on the frame.

2013:  And the Restoration Hardware TV easel.

2013:  They turned this into a media room/playroom and a dance room for their daughter.  There’s another TV area at the end of the room.  This is such a great space!!  You can tell this wing was added on first – then the back wing, with the library and master bedroom were added on later.  If they had added this on first, I doubt they would have made the ceiling this low. 


2017:  The new owners!!!   Wow!  The paneling is painted black, just as it was downstairs.  There is a desk now behind the sofa.  No more ceiling fans.  The new owners really hate ceiling fans too!!   Not crazy about the black fixture.  I think a shorter glass/brass Sputnik might have been less of a focal point.  White curtains with green bands – the white breaks up all the black.

Very nice.  The upholstery is slipcovered!  Which is extra nice.  You can barely even tell.  Love the maps in the orange frames.

2017:  Wow – love this!!!  The attic room looks great!!!  The striped rug makes the room look wider.  Brilliant choice.  Love the lime green and grey and the arc lamps.  Would love to know who designed this house!

2008:   Over the garage and back wing is the master bedroom with its own fireplace.  The windows look out at the courtyard.

2008:  The bathroom.

2013:  The fireplace was updated with white marble and white paint. 

2013:  The bathroom wood was painted black.  Notice there is a fireplace in the bathroom!!!  Wow!!!   The walls were painted white.   It was a simple makeover.

2017:  Located off the black library, with new steel framed doors that over look the courtyard, the master bedroom is done in cream and lilac.  I like that they removed the shelves, it looks much prettier like this.

A view of the new doors overlooking the courtyard.  Must be very pretty from up here.

2017:  The bathroom was completely redone with new floor, slab marble walls, tub and vanity.   AND the fireplace is gone!  Wonder why?   One day another remodeler will discover the old fireplace behind the sheetrock.

2017:  A view of the shower.  Not crazy about the black mirrors – they seem a bit harsh, but it’s personal.  Nice marble floor and walls behind the tub.

2013:   On the third floor above the master bedroom – the attic space is a little girl’s room.  The new owners turned this into the master closet!

2013:  The closet for the little girl’s room on the third floor.

2017:  And here is the third floor bedroom – turned into a master closet.  The dormers overlook the courtyard. 

2008: On the first floor behind the family room by the back stairs is the 4th bedroom.

2017:    And here is the new owners’s 4th bedroom off the black stairhall.  Love the fixture.

2013:   The utility room off the back stairhall.

2013:  In the original part of the house – there are two upstairs bedrooms that are identical with a bathroom each.

2017:  One of the new owners’ original bedrooms.

2017:  And the second bedroom.

2017:  One of the two bathrooms upstairs with a Toto toilet.  Toto!!

This 1935 house was shown from its 1990s décor to the renovation in the 2010s to a total change in today. 

The new owners used  the “Houston Look” white slipcovers but in an updated way on modern shapes.   Curtains also play an important part in the decorative scheme.

BUT, the main point is – this house while totally updated for today and it is what millenniums it really doesn’t have much of the old HOUSTON LOOK. 


And then there was this house.  This house incorporates more of the Houston Look – but in an updated, contemporary way.

Designed by the fabulous Renea Abbott of Shabby Slips HERE – the house is a perfect mix of contemporary and classic, modern and antique.  I said “perfect” and I mean perfect.   Renea was at the forefront of the Houston Look – her shop still continues to make absolutely gorgeous slipcovers.  Today, her slipcovers are updated – they are tightly tailored and many of the shapes are modern with contemporary lines.  Her tailors make the best slipcovers – nobody makes a better one.

These photographs come from both HAR and Shabby Slips’ website.   The house is for sale.

Of course it’s white stucco.  With black accents.   And of course it has no flowers – just tightly clipped box.  Of course.  This is such a Houston  Look – white facade with boxwoods.  No flowers.  Gas lanterns.   Of course.   This house has a *horrors* front loading garage, but you don’t even notice it.  In fact, the garage adds to the geometric feel of the facade and is actually a plus.  The two windows on the left are square and the window on the right and the garage door are rectangles.    OK.  I’m justifying a front loading garage, but honestly, I like this one!

The house was built in 2013 and has 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths and is 4,627 sq. ft.   There are no before photos since this is such a new house.  Not only did Renea Abbott design the interiors, she also helped with the design of the house from the ground up.

The back yard has a swimming pool, spa, fountain, fireplace AND an outdoor shower!  The landscaping was designed by Thompson Hanson.

It looks like the backyard has the newest trend – artificial turf.   The deep green color of the turf is wonderful, but I think I would prefer natural gravel. 

Another view of the pool and the outdoor fireplace.  Yep.  This is turf.  This is gaining such popularity here.  Not sure why but so many people are installing it instead of real grass. 

Notice that ceiling fan!!  Wow!!   There is also an outdoor television by the table.

Let’s go inside.

The front door pivots open.   This photo is from an earlier photoshoot by Shabby Ships, and it seems that the rug has now been removed.

The foyer has this ornate gilt console.  Renea paired it with a contemporary piece of art which tones down the luxe.   And there’s an antique Italian gilt lantern.

The living room is so nice.  This is one of my favorite rooms!  I love the mix of the antique furniture with modern club chairs and coffee table.  The antique bench upholstered in zebra is just gorgeous!!  The trim on the plain curtains frames the antique settee.  Purple velvet pillows pop a bit of color.

From Shabby Slips – another, older view.   You can see the gilt chandelier in this photo.  And you can see the lines of the antique settee here – with the gilt wood frame.

From HAR.  The photographer for the real estate company really took it up a notch.  These are beautiful real estate photos!


The view back towards the foyer with the antique console.   Notice the floors.  They are custom stained brown/black with three layers of sealer for a high gloss effect.  Beautiful!!!

The fireplace, simple with no mantel, divides the living room from the dining room.  At the right is the wine room/cellar.

The wine room/cellar – is behind a glass door which allows the wine to become a work of art.  It is behind the foyer and across from the dining room.

The dining room has a large round table and antique chairs upholstered in tiger velvet.  Notice the mirror over the chest.

In this photograph, you can finally see the chandelier in the living room.

An earlier view from Shabby Slips.   This was taken before the art work was acquired and notice, there is a different, smaller mirror here.   It’s so interesting to see the changes that were made  through the years.

Off the dining room is the kitchen and family room.  Top of the linen appliances.

Against the back wall is a large marble slab.  Right?   Well, no.  It’s not exactly marble!   It’s porcelain!!!   Calacatta Porcelain Tile Slabs by Casalinea HERE    It is an amazing product that looks exactly like marble. 

To the left of the kitchen you can see into the butler’s pantry.  And the glass and iron staircase designed by Renea Abbott leads to the second floor with its four bedrooms.   A large white slipcovered sofa and chairs overlook the back yard.  Love the graphic pillows.

Love the area rug by Creative Flooring – all rugs in the house are from CF in Houston on Bissonnet  (713) 522-1181.   Against the back wall is an acrylic and gold console along with a gold bar cart.  The curtains are linen lined with a graphic black tape.  Just beautiful.

This room has actually undergone a rather big design change.    See below:

From Shabby Slips.  Originally there was a brown/deep gray velvet sofa that faced the TV.    Not sure why this was changed.  I do love the all white now, but this looks great too!    Today there are new lamps on the console and there is a new, larger piece of art work over the bar cart.  To the right of the room, is the view into the study.  

Another earlier view with the brown velvet sofa.  Or is it dark gray?!?

The butler’s panty – with the porcelain tile countertop and the wire cabinets.

This rooms doubles as a bar and buffet area while entertaining.

The office/library has Phillip Jeffries Rivets wallpaper and curtains with Greek Fret Key trim that frame the desk.  Pretty area rug.   The large window overlooks the back yard with the pool and fountains and fireplace.

An earlier view from Shabby Slips shows the chair in the corner.  I wish we could see more of this room!!!

From Shabby Slips.  The powder room.  Not sure if this real marble or porcelain?!?!   It has to be marble.   Gorgeous mirror.   Love the dark walls against the white/gray marble.  Just gorgeous!

Upstairs are the four bedrooms.

The landing has a sitting area right off the master suite.  Two slipcovered chairs with a dark gray wall.

The master bedroom with white curtains and wide graphic trim.  Dark brown tufted velvet bed.   The art work over the chaise is relatively new.

From Shabby Slips – an earlier view of the bedroom shows there are windows on both sides of the room, which is so pretty.  Beidermeier chests  - love the color of the wood here – it actually works as a pop of color.  The former art work over the chaise.  Wonderful sunburst mirror.

Renea’s aesthetic is seen throughout the house – white walls mixed with dark gray ones, glossy dark floors, white linen and dark velvet upholstery, sunburst mirrors, curtains with thick tape trim, tiger velvet, chandeliers and patterned area rugs – by using this decor through all the rooms, the house makes such a statement and it shows the strength of the designer.

The master bathroom.

Another view.

Here you can see the large slab of porcelain tile in the shower – amazing!

This guest room has dark walls, curtains with wide tape trim and a gold sunburst!

F. Schumacher wallpaper in this guest bathroom.

The second bedroom has dark curtains and white walls.

This is the workout room.  To see the house go HERE.

The Houston Look?  Not really, but Renea Abbott has such a strong design aesthetic that it is connected with Houston.  She was one of the first do the Houston Look with her slipcovers so she is tied to the slipcover/seagrass look.  Today her slips are barely noticeable, they are so tightly tailored to the frame.  

Is the Houston Look dead?  I don’t think so.  It’s just changing – it’s becoming more modern, with less textures like baskets and wicker.    There are still a lot of people who want the linen/slipcover look with seagrass.

I saw this one house for sale and I just went – ahh.  That is so pretty.  Really pretty.  I don’t know the designer but it looks like one of my favorites if I had to guess.   I would know this was Houston, no doubt.  Here is a room from that house: 

The large custom seagrass always makes such a beautiful design statement.  The antiques.  The white walls.  This is so calming and quiet.  It was on the market for just a couple of days  before it went contract pending.  No wonder.   If all houses looked like this – everyone’s house would sell within just a few days.  Long Live The Houston  Look.

Next Story:  Winners from the Aidan Gray #AGwithanedge Contest will be announced!!   This will be online next week.


Here are some items, mostly new items that are good for an updated Houston Look.














  1. I feel bad saying this but I would love the 2008 version the most (minus the wallpapers). There is a sense of lived in, while the 2013 and 2017 looks too staged. The 2008 version probably is the only one I'd buy if I am on the market. I feel like there is a way to update the Houston look that is still maintaining its essence (I think it is relaxed traditional luxe - though I can be wrong) without going too modern in a too different way. The last one can be called luxe industrial, there is almost no trace of Houston look.

    1. So true - living room has NO WARMTH to it - looks like a hotel. Who can stand the black/grey/white monotone look any longer? Look at Architectural Digest - they manage to find decorated properties that bypass this look. How is it it's so popular on blogs??!!

  2. Unfortunately,the first house is now completely lacking in charm. So much more could have been done to update this lovely home...the 2017 version already looks dated and overdone. The second house, at least, is a little more livable.

  3. For the most part, these 2017 interiors look so cold and impersonal! Home is where the heart is! Where is the "heart?" Trendy decorating is just that...a trend. Here today, gone tomorrow. I appreciate the "layering" of furnishings, showing a connection between past and present, not a showroom full of NEW.

  4. First house, you kept commenting about the lack of ceiling fans. All the rooms look COLD, no fans needed. What do you think summer temps are set at? 62f?

    Would love to stay in the 1st house, as a boutique hotel.

    Second house, fake lawns in small spaces more common here too. Looks like a great choice for that backyard.

    The Houston 'look' makes me smile, it always seems cool inside, no heat, no humidity, no mosquitoes.

    Mom still has her original Houston 'look' ca. 1967, built on Galveston Bay. Popcorn ceiling in the family room, and ceiling fan installed ca. 1973 during the oil embargo. Still twirling. The dark brown rustic ceiling beams, in a concession to modernization in the 80's were painted brite white. Dark wall paneling, same, was dark brown, now brite white, and the hand-made saltillo Mexican tile looks as good as when it was laid when the house was built.

    Will stop there, it gets worse !! No worries, mom loves it, and it's her home. Which is refreshing.

    Garden & Be Well, XOT

  5. The designers and owners of these houses have spent too much time in boutique hotels! The very first room photo and the very last room photo look as though real people live here. Real people with aches and pains and kids and grandchildren and pets and home cooked dinners. I think the fake turf says it all.

  6. Joni! PLEASE explain the process for painting tile!!!!!!!!!!

    THANK YOU!!!!!!

    Ps- another brilliant post.

  7. Once again, a lovely and well written post!! As a forty-something with youngish children, I love the Houston look!! Easy slips for quick washing. I am a traditionalist at heart and will typically rely on Ralph Lauren to set the tone of my home. Lots of white, but mixed with warmth. There are definitely pieces from every era that I love in these homes. I would love to rip out my front door and do an all steel door!!! I've already been scheming up a front door makeover. Will tackle that when the painters are here remodeling our master bath. Oh to have a money tree in the backyard. Wouldn't that be lovely?! xx, Emily of ElevenGables

  8. Renea Abbott's is my favorite new mix---especially that gorgeous front entry and living room. I love the steel frame windows and doors mixed with the Houston look. One thing I've noticed that I love is a pop of color in the new spaces vs the completely neutral palette in the traditional Houston look. What a great way to update the room!!

  9. Interesting house. It brought back reflections of my parents home in the mid seventies. All rooms painted white with very dark wood floors and a leaning toward more modern furnishings. It seems that everything that has been comes around again with a few new twists. I too love the Houston look and hope it remains in some form or fashion. Back in the late 80's and early 90's I had sea grass rugs and loved them. Of course that was on the east coast and I now live in the Midwest.

  10. I think the Houston look will always be updated and current. Natural materials, slip overs, a sprinkling of antiques to show the owner's personality, how can that ever go out of style? Here at FrenchGardenHouse our home is mostly light neutrals, with pops of color as my mood changes. But I have to say that that bedroom with that divine brown velvet bed is spectacular, and makes me want to rethink the light colors only here! Thank you Joni, your amazing blog posts are legend.

  11. Love the post, as usual. Totally agree about the 2017 version; staged, cold and uninviting to me. Love the comment about boutique hotels. That was my first

  12. The newer remodels lack warmth character and longevity. Will stick to my old fashioned decor of antiques, Persian rugs, wallpaper, toile and chintz. Warmth and comfort is my design mantra
    Kris in Seattle

  13. I love Renea's masterpiece! Such a lovely mix of textures that keeps the strong elements from being too cold.

  14. The ART in Renea's house is masterful! I have decided after many years of designing that it is ALL about the art. And scale.

  15. I wonder if the newer remodels are going to look dated soon? Some of them already look a little too trendy and already on their way out. The more traditional styles always look good. I love the third house! Do you have any more photos of it?!

  16. I love the " Houston Look" forever, I just refuse to believe it will ever be out. Lovely post!

  17. The 2017 house looks like it was flipped for sale - does anyone actually live there? There is nothing personal - everything looks brand new.
    I also cannot fathom why anyone would have bought that house to make further changes. The previous incarnation might not have been exactly to the new owner's taste, but the scale of changes they wrought in a short period of time were completely unnecessary. Would they make money off this?
    I have to disagree with you about the steel doors on that house too. I love steel doors, and have them in my own house extension. But - these are so badly proportioned. I'm an Architect and proportion is key, and these bugged me. Just taking out the existing timber doors and replacing them with squat steel doors does not work. The panel break up needed to be different to work in with the existing proportions of the house. It's also a shame that they painted over that original wood panelling in the house. I suppose I'm saying - I don't get why they took a well renovated house, even if not totally the current look, and changed it so dramatically. Understandable if the house had still looked like the first version you showed, but it hadn't been renovated in an terrible way, and I'm just puzzled why anyone would bother! Thank you for another interesting post.

    1. Agreeing with Heidi in some ways a bit.
      The second incarnation of the house was good and still kept the soul.
      There was no need for the third incarnation. Just bring in your own furniture, paint colors and art.
      The third incarnation loses the heart and soul for me to some extent. The steel doors are not right on this house, and a bit of a sin. I hope the originals are out in the garage, but I kind of doubt it in this case.

  18. Thank you Joni for another fantastic post and thought provoking commentary with splendid photos. You are the best. Now getting to the subject...I hope the Huston look is not going anywhere. It is calm, peaceful, cozy and classic. Sure, adding modern bits here and there, along with antiques do not detract at all. Which is why I hope this look is here to stay. But I agree that the 2017 incarnation just looks like a flip. I also predict those black metal doors will go out of style in a few years....while good quality wood French doors are a true classic. My question many times can an already expensive house be flipped or remodeled in just a handful of years? Each remodel, I'm assuming is adding AT LEAST 250k to 500k to the list price. And for what????do we really need that many more multimillion dollar remodeled houses constantly going up in price every few years? Who needs it? Only the flipper gets his buck back,,,if they're lucky. Meanwhile driving all comps up. Yes, high house prices seem nice if you want to sell, but only if you can afford even more house in same good or... move to a cheap area. I guess I'm trying to say that sometimes enough is enough...the 2013 remod was fine. Good post with food for thought!

  19. I prefer the old Houston look with the neutrals and slipcovers and antiques! The new look is too trendy IMO. But then again, I love more traditional decor. Those steel windows and doors just don't fit the house and I know they were incredibly expensive - they should have spent their money elsewhere, like replacing the tile floors instead of painting them black! Another great post! Thank you for the nice read!

  20. Hi Joni,
    Thanks for this amazing overview. I love your posts and had a long, leisurely breakfast while reading this one. Love your commentary so much. I don't know who did the new design of the first house but it seems like (Atlanta designer) Kay Douglass's look to me. She is brilliant with her neutrals, oversized pieces and pops of one color in a room against the neutrals. Also, her stores, South of Market specialize in gorgeous graphic oversized linen pillows. What do you think? Again, loved this post!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!

  21. Great post Joni--thanks! Agree with all your comments, like about how the tile in the 2017 reno didn't go to ceiling in kitchen?! Also agree with all the readers comments so far. While I love steel door/windows, something looks very off with them in this reno. Not sure if they don't fit the house or as one reader indicated, the proportions just aren't right. Liked the 2013 reno best overall and think the 2017 reno is very cold, looks too staged and monotonous. But, it is a perfect example to emphasize the points in Joni's post about updating the Houston Look. Although Renea's house isn't my taste, it has much more soul and character. Although I find all the gilt a bit over the top, she really has a gift for mastering the mix of modern and antique. My fave photo is Renea's master bedroom and the library/den. The brown seems to soften the high contrast black/white.
    Thanks Joni for a wonderful post with before and after pix--always a treat!

    1. The tile looked funny where it stopped, especially because of the design on it. It looks like they ran out of tile.
      The steel doors do not fit this house's style. Sad and waste of money.

    2. Looks like they ran out of tile or money. LOL

  22. Joni, your posts are truly amazing. I always learn something new about design just reading your point of view on interiors you post! My favourite posts you've written are the one about antiques, what it takes to have a timeless interior and 'help me find the perfect house'. They are a must read for all my students and totally change the way they see a house FOREVER. Very powerful, thank you so much for writing such a great and informative blog! xo Maria

  23. The 2017 reno looks so 'goth' I can imagine vampires living Thank you for your extremely interesting posts!

    1. Ha! Either vampires or the Ks! Looks so similar to some of their houses. Yes, houses, not homes.

  24. I so respect your design sense, Joni, so I hope my perspective doesn't come across as dismissive. I have a different take on this. To me, the "Houston look" is really what's been holding true in France for a lot longer than we realize--light wood, neutral fabrics, chalky wall and furniture colors. Whenever I doubt myself about whether to jump on a new style bandwagon, all I have to do is ask, "Which classics are still working for me in Europe, where tried and true remains just as lovely in the old castles and manor houses today as when they were first built? I think Americans are far too quick to switch horses at a moment's notice, following trend setters who suddenly decide that "marble will be going out soon" even though ancient Rome and Greece obviously decided to bank on it for the long term. Or that "the toile thing is over," regardless of the fact that it's been a fabric of choice in France for centuries. I say, find what you love among the classics that have stood the test of time, be confident by adding your personal spin to them and your home will always reflect good taste.
    With great respect for you and your wonderful blog,
    Linda Fyke

    1. You aren't dismissive. I think Europe doesn't do as much trendy decor as the US. London and Paris can be very modern, but is it trendy? Looking at the houses that are for sale and available here, it's obvious this Houston Look is not as prevalent as it once was. And there is more and more trend directed decor. It will be interesting to judge it in 10 years. I think that is why I prefer classic, like the last house. that will look good in 30 years.

    2. Unknown 11:18 AM Linda Fyke
      Perfectly worded truism. One of the best comments I've ever seen here.

  25. My favorite is the last house that's sold with the pretty toile upholstery and seagrass carpet with antiques.

    1. Mine too...Can't get over how start the 2017 version is. New everything, but if it works for them power to them.

  26. The 2017 version looks like Restoration Hardware stopped by and threw up! I am really tired of this antiseptic "tailored" look!

  27. I think these illustrate that the new generation just has no taste. It's atrocious what has happened to some of these rooms

    1. Truly. Although in this case most of it could be fixed if one were so inclined.

  28. Don't really understand why white slip covers are supposed to be so good for families. Yes, they can be taken off and washed - but they must soil so quickly, particularly if the family has dogs and cats as well as children. Good slip covers custom made are expensive anyway and will become very shabby very quickly. Think of wine, coca cola stains, fruit juice, muddy paws, grease. Any vestiges that have not come off will look very poor. Here in France there are wonderful products that really can get stains out (eg red fruit and juice) - I bought some special soap bars a week ago in a market in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, but not many are available or really work where I come from (Oz). Vicki Archer has bought vintage French sheets and recovered her chairs in these. Beautiful and with character and interesting texture - but her children are adults.

    The Houston Look doesn't really appeal to me as it has a very samey look without much personality, perhaps because many rooms have been styled for sale. Very little in the way of art - mostly where there are paintings they are without soul - just nondescript modern graphics. I do like some graphics and colour bands eg Rothko and Gerhard Richter - unaffordable I know nowadays, but at least something that is real - not just decorator store "art". Also, most of the rooms appear to have no books. My preferences are for more colour and real objects that mean something to the family, eg family photos, books, paintings - particularly gallery style. They don't even have to be expensive art works. My DiL has framed some of our grand-daughters' works (admittedly they are both very talented - their mother is an artist) and hung these gallery style. They look wonderful and really brighten a white wall.
    Having visited quite a number of French homes in different regions of France, my observation is that French decorating styles vary enormously and I haven't yet been to a house/apartment here with the Houston look. In Provence they often use local fabrics that are quire colourful, Les Indiennes style, friends have Persian carpets and colour, though mostly with white walls. The furniture is often an eclectic mix - grandmother's old dark wood dining table with modern chairs, local pieces brought back from antique markets etc. In Paris, also a mix of modern and vintage - and often colour is a big feature. Usually some bright pictures, books and magazines and ceramics. The brother of one of my friends is a dealer in vintage French textiles - his clients include people like Catherine Deneuve who does not buy beige, or white on white all the time, and is passionate about textiles and a real expert. Have seen some of the things she's bought and they're gorgeous! Not cheap, but affordable too. Best wishes, Pamela

    1. When you have slip covers. pretty much most of the time, all you need to wash are the cushion covers, not the whole thing. Not really a big deal. Have two sets made for cushions. Also, just turn it over and use the other side first! Lasts twice as long. Bleach is my friend.

  29. The 2017 version of the house reminds my of my grandmother's saying, "more money than taste." Have these people no family furniture?

  30. Well dang it Joni ! Now that I've been drooling over all your "Houston Look' posts and I finally got that look in my family room - I'm outta date :-)

  31. Joni! What a stunning post!! How wonderful to see the Houston look evolved!! Just gorgeous, I learned a lot today! Loved the way the owners painted the panelling to give the rooms a very contemporary look. Incredible! Thank you again for taking the time to make such an interesting post! Hugs, Greet

  32. Initially I thought "What's with the metal door!" Then I saw that the look complements the interior decor. I am not a designer but I think the original doors would work just as well. Some of the rooms were nice, like the bedroom with the white and black abstract painting and the living room. Some of the other rooms, well... the polite thing I can think of saying is "de gustibus non est disputandum." As usual, I got some ideas from looking at the photos and comments. Most of the house was cold. No personal touch that indicates the owners traveled past their back yard. But then, the house is for sale if I recalled correctly. Letty

  33. Joni, your descriptive narrative is always enjoyable and educational, whether or not I like the design. And, I just do not like the design: hotels (mentioned above in a comment, as well) are all renovating and refurnishing in this style, which I call Millennial Modern. And so much purple...too much's not the Houston Look at all. It's way too Manhattan for me! But the room with the sisal, white walls, books, a bit of French country, a bit of English, selected and collected that is the Houston look we all love. Thank you for this informative post! Linda Klinger

  34. Wow! Another post that will linger in my inbox to go back and study. That 2017 version looks like it could have been designed by Kay Douglass. Had a ton of her elements in there I felt like. Lovvvved the black painted tile. I'll be coming back for more ������

  35. These are interesting, and I like the tweak of lavender/mauve as a subtle addition of color, vs. all white. It also seems appropriately muted in comparison to the earlier uses of red, which now feel too heavy-handed.
    OTOH, I agree with the others that the new versions lack soul and have the coziness of a hotel. They don't feel lived-in at all. I also agree with Linda Fyke that tastes in Europe evolve much more slowly, are more personal and are less subject to trends. There are details in the new versions that I like, but overall, I like the befores more.

  36. SO GLAD to read most of these comments - newer decorated houses look too devoid of actual people living in these rooms!!! NOTHING on wall except a few abstract pieces. Just too "too" for me. Same thing I thought when I went to the West U Homes tour. NOTHING out on countertop but 1 "perfectly" placed empty bowl. Too too staged and too too impersonal for me. I LOVE the Houston look!!! Classic as far as I'm concerned. But I HAVE to have some color & layering & personality & warmth & SOUL in rooms. And I get so so tired of some mags I like having all photos in the same "tone". Boring !!!! Gay Riggs, Baytown TX

    PS: ALWAYS ALWAYS love Joni's insight. So very enjoyable to read her posts. Would NEVER miss one! Joni is the reason I go to blogs every morning when drinking my coffee !!! Can't start the day without Joni !!

  37. Always interesting, thank you for the post. The problems with this house begin with the awful architecture. A beautiful old house was destroyed with hideous and poorly integrated additions. The 2017 decor changes just sealed the steel-lined coffin. What a ghastly mess.


  38. Great post, Joni! Love the Houston Look!!

  39. Can you do a piece about The Williamsburg Look?

  40. I just love your posts! I've updated my Houston home with modern artwork right next to my French chairs. I had slipcovers for years, but with indoor Sunbrella and other stain resistant fabrics they aren't the only option any longer. I have three boys and my furniture has held up wonderfully with these new fabrics. I wonder if that's one reason we are seeing less slipcovers. I have to admit I am so happy to never have to wash another one again!

  41. Great article about the evolution of the Houston look. In the current context, though, I can't help thinking how terrible artificial turf is for drainage. In a flood-prone city, it really should be against code...

  42. Another wonderful and well researched article...I have a question...Just saw the film, Same Kind of Different as Me and LOVED the Dallas house. Such a light touch with yummy textiles and wood surfaces. I believe Marthe Pineau did the decor for the film...wondering where the house was located...beautiful...

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