COTE DE TEXAS: Mickey, Babs, Annette and others on North Boulevard

Mickey, Babs, Annette and others on North Boulevard

If you are from Houston, you have most likely seen a few splashy articles about an historic house recently put up for sale.  The house is a Houston classic in a town where there are very few such classics.

It was built in 1926 for Bryan Brewster Gilmer, a drug company executive.  Located on North Boulevard, the house sits on what is arguably the prettiest street in Houston and certainly one of its most photographed.

Hundreds of live oak trees drape over a true boulevard with a center brick walkway that acts as a magnet for brides, posing in their pristine white dresses. 

The houses that line North Boulevard, and its sister street South Boulevard, are the type of houses you dream of:   two storied mansions with classic lines that follow strict architectural rules.  There are very few contemporary houses here. 

The neighborhood, Broadacres, was developed in the early 1920s by Captain James A. Baker and his son James A. Baker, Jr.  That name would later become nationally prominent when James A. Baker III acted as the White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Treasury for President Ronald Reagan and later as the Secretary of State for President George H. W. Bush.

William Ward Watkin

Baker Sr. owned the 34 acre parcel that made up Broadacres, and he later subdivided it into 26 lots that were sold mostly to his personal and professional friends.  The original architects who worked in Broadacres are a Who’s Who of legendary designers who helped shape Houston’s most beautiful neighborhoods:  William Ward Watkin, Birdsall P. Briscoe and John Staub.  Watkin actually designed the master plan for Broadacres. 

Although Baker Jr. was a developer of the neighborhood, he never moved in – he claimed he couldn’t afford the then $20,000 down payment for a lot.  With great forethought, the original 17 homeowners pooled their money to develop the roads in Broadacres and they had the utility wires installed underground which greatly adds to the beauty of the neighborhood.

Strict deed restrictions help keep a consistent look to Broadacres.  All houses must be set back 60 ft. from the street and originally they had to cost over $20,000!  Watkin was responsible for the most important factor – the double rows of live oak trees that lined the boulevards and created the canopy that makes the neighborhood so beautiful today. 

Broadacres is now a designated historic district.  While Watkin, founder of the architecture school at Rice University and known for designing Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts,  platted Broadacres, he only designed one house there – the one located at 1318 North Boulevard, and the house that recently was put up for sale.   

Watkins is known for designing the Houston Museum of Fine Arts – here is how it originally looked, a strictly classically designed building!

Watkin received the commission for the house at 1318 North Boulevard, his only one in Broadacres,  from Bryan Bristow Gilmer.    Before construction began, Watkin wrote a letter to his client, Mr. Gilmer,  asking him to wait on beginning construction on the house until Watkin had returned from his four month European trip.  Watkin was going to Spain to study the way plaster was treated there and he wanted to learn more about Spanish design.   Since the Gilmer house was a Spanish design and would have a plaster exterior,  the delay made sense. 

1925,  Granada Spain, Watkin at Alahambra, seated in back.  That summer, Watkin did go to Europe with his wife, who unfortunately took ill.   He left her in the hospital in Paris (!) to recuperate while he went on to Spain.   Watkin’s wife later recovered and met up with him there.

Bryan Bristow Gilmer

Gilmer owned a drug company and obviously was very successful.  He and his wife were benefactors of a traveling scholarship awarded to students at the then Rice Institute’s Dept. of Architecture, due to their involvement with Watkin.  Before building the house on North,    Gilmer and his wife lived on Chenevert.  From there, they custom built a stately house on Westmoreland, which still stands today:

The original Gilmer house on Westmoreland as it looks today.

After the Gilmers moved to the house on North in 1926, they remained there for some time, but by the 1940s, they had moved over to South Boulevard, to this house, located at 1611:

1611 South Blvd. 

The Gilmers moved to this house on South from their Watkin-designed classic on North. 

I had to smile when I learned this. 

Understand the ironies. 

The Gilmers lived on 1318 North where years later antiquarian Annette Schatte also lived.  The Gilmers then moved to 1611 South where years later Margaret Naeve’s father would live.   Margaret’s first shop “M. Naeve” occupied the former antique shop that Annette Schatte owned.  And of course, designer Pamela Pierce completely redid the house on South for Margaret’s father and then decorated Annette’s new house on Montrose.  Six Degrees of Separation!!  Houston may be a large city, but sometimes it seems like it’s still a small town.

It’s only because these specific houses are so architecturally important that we know of all their previous residents. And now, with much fanfare,  this house at 1318 North Boulevard is for sale.   Despite the rarity of such a classic house available on the market, it’s also notable for its celebrated owner –  the Tootsie clothier Mickey Rosmarin.  Rosmarin passed away suddenly last year and the status of his house has remained a mystery, until now.

Rosmarin was a life long bachelor who lived in the North Blvd. house with his goddaughter, now in her 20s.  He had landed there in 2005 when his goddaughter moved in with him.  At the time Mikey had lived in the Regency House highrise for over 10 years, cramped in a one bedroom apartment which was not exactly the right atmosphere to raise a young child.  Rosmarin had long admired the house on North Boulevard (who didn’t?) and after learning it was for rent, he moved in without so much as a glance back at his former home and jet-set life.   He said:  "I've always loved this house and when I saw that it was for rent, I just grabbed it."

Living in the Spanish styled house was surprisingly life changing for Rosmarin.  He enjoyed it so much, he often conducted business there instead of heading off to Tootsies.  He found he was reluctant to go out, saying  "I hate to leave it, actually. I'm very happy here. Instead of going out, I just have people come here to see me." 

Describing the house, he said "It's almost like being in the country.   It's quiet, peaceful and relaxing."   When his rental was put up for sale, Rosmarin quickly bought it.    Still, he had to adjust to the quirks of living in a decades old house.   One such quirk was discovered in the kitchen.   It was only months after moving in that he realized the switch to turn on the gas range was located in the pantry.    Rosmarin noted "Old houses are funny.  Every week it seems like a new trick has shown up."   When antiquarian Annette Schatte heard that story, she laughed.  She knew all too well about that hidden gas switch.   After all, she had lived with that quirk for years herself when she lived in the North Boulevard house. 

When Rosmarin, just 63,  passed away last year,  it was a shock to the very community that had watched him grow from a teenager selling t-shirts to an internationally known retailer.  He was a philanthropist admired for the numerous charity events that he held in his beautiful store on Westheimer, and later off Kirby.   Mickey was an icon in the city and his wide, friendly smile is sorely missed.  The announcement this week that his beloved house is for sale seems like the end of a era.

To me, there was another reason I was acutely interested in the sale.  Back in 1995, it was featured on the cover of Veranda and I think it was this house that marked the true beginning of the Houston Look  - the white slipcover, seagrass, antique filled aesthetic whose origins I attribute to designer Babs Cooper Watkins.

In 1995, the Watkin house on North Boulevard, decorated by Babs, was featured in Veranda and it launched Watkins into prominence.  Her work was later seen on other Veranda covers but this was the one that introduced a new look.  Babs’ clients were Andrew and Annette Schatte who became close friends.  The Veranda photoshoot not only created a new aesthetic, it also created a new partnership and the Watkins Schatte antique shop on Bissonnet was born.  Later Bill Gardner joined the group.  The shop was an instant hit and during those days, lines would form when a new shipment was unveiled.  Everyone wanted to see what Babs and Bill and Annette had bought in Europe.  It was such an exciting time in Houston.

Old Venetian walls at Watkins Schatte Culver Gardner, et al. painted by Jay Iarussi

I have always felt that this North Boulevard house was the one that changed the way Houston looked at decor and antiques.  Babs used antiques in a casual way, her interiors were never about a hands-off approach.  She mixed in religious relics and priceless antiques with vintage chairs slipcovered in inexpensive plain linen.  She repurposed outside garden elements to be used inside the house.  And Babs was one of the first ones who favored dramatic paint treatments that turned ordinary sheetrock into centuries old grottos.


Now that the Watkin/Gilmer House on North Blvd is for sale, we have the photographs of it to examine and compare how it looks today with how it looked in 1995 in Veranda.


TODAY:  the house as seen from North Boulevard, through the double rows of old Live Oaks.

A very rare early view of the house BEFORE the shutters were added.  AND notice that originally there were normal sized windows on the second floor.  I think the new French doors on the second floor are such a fabulous addition – and I’m surprised they were not in the original Watkin design.  These windows are in the original master bedroom, which is today, an upstairs study.

1995:    The house, as it looked in Veranda in 1995. 

The story notes the design is by Babs Cooper Watkins.  The architectural restoration by Patton Brooks, AIA, photography by Mick Hales, the author was Carol Sama Sheehan (!) and the story was produced by the late Chris King. 

What a list of names!!  You know it’s going to be great when Sheehan writes the story and King produces it.  Ahhh.  Those were the days….

Then and now – not much has changed on the exterior except the bushes are more overgrown.  In fact, the landscape is a bit out of control today.

Today:  An aerial view of the house, with the swimming pool seen off to the side.  Thank goodness it wasn’t built in the U of the courtyard!

The house was added on to by the Schattes with the architect Patton Brooks.  An entire wing was added on to the back left side of the house, elongating that side.  

From this view you can really see the addition.  You can see the actual addition by the difference in the roof tiles and color.   The master bedroom/bedroom is located in the new wing.   I assume the addition was needed to make the house more functional but it seems a shame such an important house was added on to.  No? Yes?

Today:    while the louvered shutters seem so perfect, it’s hard to believe they aren’t original.  Neither are the arched windows above them.  All newly added.

TODAY:  The gravel drive leads back to the side of the house.

The house is 8,500 square feet with four bedrooms and five bathrooms.

Today:  The back door entrance to the house.  Straight ahead is the newly built garage with the new master bedroom/bathroom above it that the Schattes added.

TODAY:  A view of the side entrance.  Notice the windows at the side of the small room and the carved wood corbels.  Darling door, too!    The powder room is located where that tiny window is.  The arched window is where the library is.

TODAY:   The front door with the carvings that surround it.  The “G” stsands for Brian Brewster Gilmer the first owner who commissioned the house from William Ward Watkin.


The entrance hall decorated by Babs.  This room set the tone for the entire house – with the French settee and Italian candelabra and religious styled art work.  Seagrass runner up the stairs.  Notice the paintings on the door.

TODAY:  There is a French bench.  Original sconces.   The seagrass runner is long gone.  The living room is to the left.   It looks like Mickey had painted all the walls a fresh coat of white paint, which is really nice.

TODAY:  From the living room looking into the foyer with the original ceiling and beams.

TODAY:  A view of the beamed, painted ceiling.  Beautiful!  Through the door to the left, is the coat closet.  I wonder if that was originally a telephone room?

The Living Room:

1995:  The fabulous living room!!!  Babs used matching slipcovered sofas in front of the fireplace.   A center table was flanked by twin antique chinoiserie chairs. Two antique French chairs, slipped in linen with long skirts.  A concrete garden angel!   Seagrass – deliciously large custom cut.  The best. 

I recently talked to Annette Schatte about this house and she told me that the way Babs designed was – everything was hand picked, hand chosen.  There was no ordering out of a catalogue and six months later it all magically was delivered and installed.  No.

Instead it was all searched for and found in European antique booths and shows.  And that takes time.  It could take forever!!   So, when Veranda appeared for the photoshoot – Babs and Annette were throwing textiles over tables to make the house look finished – Babs was no where near finishing decorating the house! 

Could have fooled me.  To me, this house looks perfect from the front door to the back. 

THEN:  A cropped view shows two chinoiserie lamps on pedestals that flank the fireplace.  Love those chairs.   A plant stand doubles as a candelabra.  I loved all the black and white, with the yellow seagrass.

THEN:  The cropped front cover shows the center table with another concrete angel and antique books.  And notice the slipcovered bench.

THEN:  The twin white slipcovered Knole sofas.  A view of the corner table with the large statute on it.  Here you can see the view to the front yard and North Boulevard.

THEN:  So pretty.  I just love this living room, still – over 20 years later!!  And I would be quite happy moving in with just my toothbrush, as I say.

2005:  Right after Mickey moved in in 2005, he gave a tour of the house.  Here in the living room, he shows off his rug and wonderful zebra benches.  The twin blackamoors at the doors had been owned by Mickey for over 20 years.  The carpet came from the old Tootsies store.  It looks so different with Mickey living here, than Annette.  Sweet Mickey. 

TODAY:  The view from the foyer into the living room.  Mickey’s black velvet sofas were still here for this photograph.  The zebra stools are gone, though. 

TODAY:  And even less furniture remains now.  I think they should have staged the house for the sale, but apparently, it’s an as-is sale. 

The new buyer will redo the floors (dark or light?) and paint the walls and fill it with wonderful decor – I hope!  I would love to see this house redone for today but not contemporary!!  To the left is the dining room and on the right is what Mickey called the Safari Room.

TODAY:   The view from the front into the living room and out to the courtyard.  What a beautiful room – one room deep with doors on both sides.  A see-through room.

TODAY:   The view towards the courtyard.  The stone desperately needs cleaning and resealing which will make it look new. 

1995:  Veranda – the courtyard.    Look how tiny the trees planted against the house were back then.  Those shutters were just perfect!

And strangely – at this time there were rows of cypress trees on each side of the courtyard,  but they are no longer here?

TODAY:  The courtyard.   Today, those tiny trees have outgrown the space.   I think I would take up the grass and put in a gravel courtyard.   The estate needs new landscaping by a first rate designer which I’m sure the new owners will do.    And sadly – the back shutters are gone!!!!  All that remains are the hinges.

TODAY:  The newly added wing is seen here,  on the right.  The  master bedroom and bathroom are on the second floor above the new wing.   The gate leads to the driveway and garages.

TODAY:  The view from the living room to the sculpture and pond.   The swimming pool is off to the right.  One of the kitchen’s windows is at the right where the green shutters are. 

TODAY:  The sculpture and the small pond is charming.

2005:  When the Schattes moved out, the house was rented to Mickey.  From the 2005 rental real estate views:  To the left through the gate is the swimming pool and box garden and pergola.  Notice the cypress trees were already gone by then.  I wonder what happened to them? 

2005:  The swimming pool area was very manicured back then.  Notice the neatly clipped box.

2005:  Between the courtyard and the swimming pool was this pergola and clipped box garden.   The kitchen’s sink window overlooks this pretty view.

TODAY:  The right side of the house if you are facing the front of the house.  The Safari Room is on the left and the Dining Room is where the arched doors are.  Through the stone wall is the swimming pool.

TODAY:  The hidden swimming pool.  The breakfast room and family room overlook this area.  To the right is the pergola where the kitchen window is.

TODAY:  Another view of the pergola and pool.

TODAY:  Looking towards the back of the estate.   The once tightly clipped box hedges are now a bit untamed since Mickey has passed away.

TODAY:  The area between the pool and the courtyard.  The pergola needs updating and the box garden is no longer tended to anymore and has overgrown.

Let’s go back inside!

The Dining Room:


1995:  The Dining Room, in Veranda.  OMG.  I LOVED this room!!!!  The Louisiana French table!  The black bread rack!!!  The urn.  The candles.  The Hitchcock chairs – unmatched.  The tray!!  OMG.  This was so gorgeous.

By the way – remember this bread rack – you will see it again, soon!   And notice the white bread box – that makes another appearance later too!!    

TODAY:  With Mickey’s beloved Art Deco furniture and light fixture.  The bar/breakfast room is through the door at the left.  At some point, Mickey painted the house – you can see how much more white the walls are now as compared to when the Schattes lived here.  On the other side of this room is the “Safari Room” as Mickey called it or the “Morning Room” as Babs called it. 

1995:  Veranda.  The Morning Room with its brick floors.  I adored the hotel coffee service.  This was a new thing at the time – repurposing hotel wares.  This was just gorgeous.   Irish sideboard.  And 17th century very rare wallpaper panels.  Again, Babs threw this cloth over the table probably to hide that a perfect table had not yet been found.  Who knew?   I thought the skirts were fabulous!

Remember the coffee urn – you will see it again!

Today:  The morning room is now the Safari Room named for the elephants that Mickey found in the house’s basement.  Basement?  Houston!!  These chairs really are quite fabulous!   The views are out to the front of North Blvd. and the side of the house.


1995:  The kitchen was newly built by Patton Brooks.  Again, I thought this was so beautiful.  The corner cabinet – a 16th century chinoiserie antique hangs there instead of new cabinetry!  I LOVED that and still do today.   Look how Babs balanced it (there was only one cabinet) – with a round antique painting and wood carving.  The area above the window was arched.  A bas relief above the sink.  Just so pretty!!!

For some reason, I have always loved this kitchen and it has stuck with me forever.  Every time I would see a corner chinoiserie cabinet, I would think of this room.  I love how simple it is.  Today – kitchens have gotten so overdone, so fancy and such enormous rooms.  This room just really made an impression on me and I love revisiting it today. 

Babs deliberately left many of the oil paintings unframed.

Religious art. 

Babs didn’t use much modern art.

2005:  Here is the new kitchen as left by the Schattes.  Here, you can see the limestone floor that was installed.  The gas switch was hidden in that pantry and for months Mickey thought the range didn’t work.


TODAY:  The kitchen with white walls. 

1995:  In Veranda, between the dining room and the kitchen is the breakfast room that overlooks the side gardens through an original gated window.  19th century French table with 1930s wicker chairs upholstered in Bennison fabric.  So pretty!  I remember loving this vignette at the time – the Bennison fabric was a big selling point, as was the romantic gate.

Today:  The breakfast room was used as a bar by Mickey, with an art deco counter and leather sofa and chairs.  Past this room is the family room and kitchen. 

Today:  Between the kitchen and the breakfast room is the family room that overlooks the swimming pool.  I think this room and the kitchen must have been added on to the back of the wing on the right side of the house.  There is limestone flooring through these two rooms instead of wood and the doors look different.

Today:  The butler’s pantry is obviously newer with marble counters and updated cabinetry.

2005:  After the Schattes left,  the library that overlooks the courtyard.  It had silk curtains and seagrass, of course.  Even empty, it looks attractive.   This room was not shown in the Veranda pictorial.

Today:   And here is that same room, today.   The library is located on the left side of the house past the foyer.  There is a hidden storage room behind the shelving on the right of the fireplace! Most interesting, it looks like Mickey chose to keep Babs’ silk curtains!  This is so sad.  It’s obvious that this is where Mickey spent a lot of time.  He was so young, just 63 when he passed.

The side entrance to the house.  Inside the door is the powder room.  This door leads to the library.

TODAY:   The powder room with the serpentine hanging countertop – an early version of the hanging counters seen in powder rooms today.  The small charming window is original to the house.

TODAY:  The stairs lead up to the large landing.

Today:  The landing on the second floor. 

TODAY:  The large landing which Mickey decorated with a set of antique Spanish looking furniture. 

1995:  VERANDA.  The same view of the landing as above!  What a difference!!!  The new master bedroom suite was built over the library and is in the wing that was added on.    The master opens off the large landing.  Babs decorated the landing with a series of seagrass rugs.  A French settee faced the windows.    The door to the master bedroom is planked and looks like the original ones found throughout the house.    The opened French door at the end of the landing overlooks the front yard.

This is another photograph that I always loved.  I used to try to figure out where the bedroom was located in the house but never could.  Until now.

I wish I had original photos and not just the scans.  But this is all I have and I’m thrilled that the scanned photos of this house will finally be on Pinterest and the internet for everyone to now enjoy.

1995:  Veranda.   In the newly built section of the wing – the master bedroom has French doors with Juliet balconies on both sides of the room – overlooking the side driveway and the inner courtyard. 

Notice the headboard – you will see this again, later!!

1995:  Veranda.  Babs chose an unfinished painting for over the fireplace in the master.  Oh, I LOVED this at the time!!!!  Such a beautiful mantel. 

2005:  When the Schattes left the house – it was seen that silk curtains had been added to the master bedroom at some point after the Veranda photoshoot.

1995:  Veranda.  The new master bathroom – with beautiful cut seagrass.  I remember loving the way Babs cut the seagrass around the room’s curves instead of just making it smaller.  The French doors overlook the gardens.

Today:  The former master bedroom was over the central living room.  Here is the hall behind that bedroom that overlooks the courtyard.  I assume that during the Schattes stay, there was seagrass down this beautiful hall.

1995:  Veranda.  The former master bedroom, over the central living room, was used as a study by the Schattes.  Here, as seen in Veranda, you can see how Babs decorated it with slipcovered furniture.   An antique table was used in front as a coffee table.  Behind is a desk and antique French chair. 

Again, here the new windows with the custom designed shutters add much architectural interest to the facade and to the interior, too.  The arched shutters are such a beautiful detail. 

The final Veranda photograph is typical of the styling of the 1990s.  A cup of tea waits to be sipped.  The roses are as gorgeous as the house and the story was.

The North Blvd. house is a classic and when it is bought, the new owners will be the lucky ones.   It’s nice to know that the house will be restored and one day, they too will sell it to another young couple, and so on!

Over the years, I’ve written about Babs Cooper Watkins, most notably HERE and HERE.  Sadly, Babs was ill and passed away last year.   Seeing this house for sale made me think of Babs and of how talented she was and of course, that led me to think about how this house brought her and Annette Schatte together which led to them forming a partnership - and the rest is history.

After the Schattes moved out the house on North, they eventually ended up in a fabulous house on Montrose that faces the Museum of Fine Arts – you know, the building that William Ward Watkin designed.  How is that for a small town? 

Imagine living in a house that was designed by the man who designed the neighborhood and then moving to another house which faces that architect’s most famous building?!?! 

The Schattes had their new house designed by the team Reagan Andre Architecture and Pamela Pierce did the interiors.  Pierce is now the founding editor of the decor magazine Milieu.  The choice of Pam makes sense – Babs was now unable to work and Pam once said that while she admires international star designers such as John Saladino and Axel Vervoordt, she was most influenced by Babs Watkins.  Plus, who is more talented that Pamela Pierce?

The Schattes house has never been published but photographs of it are on the internet via various web sites.  It’s such a shame there hasn’t been an official photoshoot!  It’s an incredible house and I have never driven down Main Street/Montrose without slowing down the car and looking at it.  

On one side of the white stucco house is a rose garden. 

At the other side is a porte cochere. 

From the side of the porte cochere looking out towards Montrose and the William Wart Watkin designed Museum of Fine Arts.

At the back, where the swimming pool is reached through a steel pergola.

The pool is in front of the guest house that is more Provencal than Moderne. 

The front side of the guest house.  Um.  Can I move here?

The front door.  Recognize those shutters?!?!  The second floor opens onto the balcony that overlooks the front of the house.

The house opens up to the large family room which is meant to be a once open-air atrium that was closed off with a large skylight.   You can see the family room from the front door.  When you enter the house,  the living room is at the left and the dining room is at the right.

An early version of the decor before it was completed.   That Duchesse brisée is to die for!  And notice how gorgeous the boiserie and the wood floors are. 

And,  the final Pamela Pierce decor. 

The dining room with a beautiful chinoiserie armoire and a French mantel.

Stone stairs lead to the second level.

The house was used for a photoshoot featuring an incredible hyacinth covered dress.

The most gorgeous sconce ever.  Maybe the most gorgeous vignette ever?

The powder room.  Love.

Here, the family room is off the stairhall.

Two story with a mix of antique Swedish chairs and armoires.  This room is at the center of the mostly square house.    At the rear is a bump-out with a door that leads to the hidden swimming pool.  Upstairs, rooms overlook the family room through windows. Pam’s signature rectangular lamp shades are used on the four floor lamps.

Wish this was a better photograph!

The bump out in the family room – with a French table and two gorgeous pots and an antique lantern.

Maybe one day, please!  Milieu will do this house and we will have photos without tags and writing all over them!!!  Please!!!!!!!!

The morning room.  Recognize the bread cart?!?!?  That’s the same one that Annette had in the 1318 North house!!  Notice how Pam styled it – beautiful!  And those slipcovers in lilac are gorgeous.  I always say that no one really does slips like Pamela Pierce.  She defined them.  These doors open to the rose garden on the left side.

The photoshoot with the flower dress – with the model posing in the morning room.

The kitchen with the stove and second, stone sink at its left.  Antique doors.

The kitchen windows overlook the porte cochere.   Notice the white bread box seen in the Veranda photoshoot?  And also, do you see the silver hotel coffee urn?  Love that so much.  In the years since 1995 – colorful, ethnic styled dishware went out of favor while all white dishware took its place.  I can’t say I miss the more colorful ware.  I have always loved all white plates. 

1995 – from the Veranda North Blvd. House – here is the hotel coffee urn, one item that remains today.  It does look like the white coffee cups are still around  too. 

1995. Veranda – and here, the dining room for the photoshoot – with the white bread box.  As you can see, the colorful ethnic styled dishes are no longer as desired as they were back then.  Now just watch them come back in style this year!!!

In the hall, Pierce used one of the two French sofas that were once in the living room. It sits under a collection of what are probably the prettiest botanicals!  I love how this artist created them!!


Upstairs.  The wood floor is so pretty upstairs – hand scraped, with differing widths.  Just beautiful.

In the guest room, Pierce used tufted beds in pink toile and blush silk curtains. 

In the master bedroom, Pam used the same wonderful blush silk curtains (why mess with perfection?)  And I love the simple white bedding and white & gilt French chairs.   But, it’s the gorgeous headboard that caught my eye.  Look familiar?

The headboard that Babs Watkins found for her client is still being used today. Created from an old garden gate, it is romantic and timeless.   While Babs’ bedding was plain white too, it was a bit dressier than what Pierce sourced – lacy antique textiles.  The too rooms are so similar, with large windows overlooking green gardens.   I’m sure there are many more decorative pieces still being used all these years later.

The most obvious lesson here is that classic design never goes out of style.  Beautiful French and English and Italian antiques will always look wonderful in any interior, no matter what decade.   Babs Watkins designed the house on North Blvd. over 20 years ago and honestly, I would gladly move in today (I’d just change the colorful dishes for white!)

It will be interesting to see if a younger couple buys the North Blvd. house and if they will furnish it with modern decor. The strong Spanish design of the house calls for a classic approach, but I will be anxious to see who gets the job and which direction they take this Houston gem in.

Be sure to view the 1318 North Blvd. house – HERE.







  1. As you say, antiques never go out of style. And they're unique--no going online to buy the exact same thing. Each piece is a treasure. Those elephant chairs aren't easily duplicated.
    So much to absorb here--I can't possibly choose favorites among all the goodies. One thing is sure: I'm going to reread this post several more times.

  2. Both houses are exquisite! Thanks again for another 'behind-the-scenes' history lesson!

  3. Loved the 90s Bab Watkins design, the house is so dreamy, hope the new owners restore it respecting the architecture and design it like it was with Bab Watkins.

    1. I remember following Babs.......and loving her work. I still admire everything I see that she did!

  4. This made me want to move to Houston...and that's saying quite a lot for this Pennsylvania girl.

  5. I believe the Schatte's home was published recently in Mileau magazine as part of a feature on her daughter's wedding. Thank you for a wonderful post!

  6. Oh Joni! What a great article about such a beautiful and special house! That neighborhood!!! I had no idea such a gorgeous neighborhood existed! How brilliant was planting those double rows of oaks! With that pathway between them! Brilliant! A wonderful example of special things carried through a lifetime! Working in different houses!
    Thank you for another wonderful and educational post!

  7. I enjoyed this post! The Watkins home reminds me so much of Villa Marianna built 1928 on Jekyll Island Ga. It was used by the island's appointed director in the 80's and I had the pleasure of staying/visiting in the residence. At that point that state of Ga. had done very little to the historic homes in the village. There are so many similar interior structural details, this brought back great memories! I always appreciate the detail and effort that goes into your blog posts :)

    1. thank you for this! I did not know about Jekyll Island.....and what a gorgeous house! A new place I want to see!

  8. i learn so much from your posts! my takeaway from this one is why on earth do we build homes the way we do now? i know it's to make them affordable but the green space around homes are never even considered nowadays. and such terrible floor plans. new homes with classic design are so few and far between. why do you think that is? x

    1. Here is my answer....Joni will answer hers. Taste. People think they need a "giant family room"; who needs a living room? Floor plans leave nothing for gracious living. People do not include the outside as part of their floor plan. It is really sad to me. Lack of taste and lack of gracious living. Slobs living in Slobbovia. It is quite sad to me.

    2. well I think the problem is that architects don't design a lot of the houses now - builders and developers do. all the windows that make no sense. There is a tumblr that is called Mcmansion Hell that is fabulous. She points out all the mistakes made in designing houses. Zillow just sued her because she uses their photos, but they dropped the cases after the EEF took it up. It's a great lesson in architecture. That's MY answer!

    3. thanks joni. i'll look up that tumblr now. x

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  12. I didn't go back and pull up the older post, but the front exterior, living room, foyer and stairwell of the first home seem similar to Robert Pattison's home to me; I adored his house!

  13. I am going to find the McMansion Hell! Great title.....and I think you are absolutely correct.....developers and builders with no training and no aesthetic knowledge throw together houses that the floor plans make no sense; the outdoor living makes no sense with the floor plan.....disasters everywhere!

    It is actually very sad to me. One sees a lovely, well-proportioned house as this one is; and it looks and feels "right". Because it is! It is becoming very rare. And it is tragic in my view! Those McMansions cannot be nice to live in!

  14. Penelope, I hope you found the McMansion Hell blog. It is funny to boot and more. This blog is not just witty but it is very educational for the lay person in regards to architectural design. I loved it. It helped me appreciate even more the house featured in this last post by Joni. See McMansion 101 and Mansion vs. McMansion for the serious but fun stuff. Click on the three thin bars on the upper left corner for the menu that helps you navigate the site.

    1. OMILORDY!!! Thank you! It is amazing! And thank you for the tips! I will delve! It is seriously great education for people! I hope people will study it (dream on?) and avoid the pitfalls! LOVE IT!!!!

  15. Oh, Joni, how evocative this post is. I'm almost in tears over Mickey's death, I was a Tootsie's shopper and we had such a good friendship. And, those 2 streets are so precious to Houston. Beautiful area, beautiful post. And, filled with so much history. LOVE it !!!! Love our beautiful city.

  16. You are very lucky to live close to this beautiful area. I agree with you Joni - the kitchen Babs Watkins designed for the Schattes in 1995 on North Boulevard is so special. I would love to have that kitchen today and wouldn't change a thing. It has that creative magic that happens every so often when beautiful (yet simple) items are in balance and placed just right. Also love the kitchen in their new home designed by the very talented Pam Pierce. It also has magic. Far more beautiful that modern traditional kitchens that seem to lack character and individuality. Thank you for this great post.

  17. fabulous. always so thorough with your research.