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.
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.
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.
THIS BED IS REMARKABLY LIKE THE ONE IN THE MASTER BEDROOM IN THE FIRST HOUSE. IT COMES IN A VARIETY OF COLORS. HERE
DEAL OF THE YEAR – 29” INCH LAMPS TWO FOR $198.99 ASST. COLORS. I LIKE THE GRAY ONES!
THE NAVY ONES HERE
RATTAN DAY BEDS ARE HOT. I LIKE THIS SHAPE WITH THE CLEAN LINES. IT WOULD BE GREAT IN A DEN, IN FRONT OF THE SOFA AND COFFEE TABLE. HERE.
THIS IS LIGHT IS CASUAL BUT SLIGHTLY CONTEMPORARY. RATTAN PENDANT HERE
THESE BASKET SETS COME IN ALL COLORS. LOVE! HERE
I LOVE THIS AIDAN GRAY CHANDY. IT’S ONE OF MY FAVORITES. NOTHING BEATS A DRESSY CHANDY! HERE
LOVE THIS SERENA AND LILY CHAIR!!! PERFECT FOR A FAMILY ROOM! HERE
THIS PENDANT IS A NEW LOOK FOR A KITCHEN, BUT ISN’T MODERN. NICE AND WARM LOOKING. HERE
I LOVE THIS LINE OF FURNITURE IN CHAIRS, STOOLS, BENCHES, HEADBOARDS, AND WHITE, NATURAL AND BLACK FINISHES. HERE