COTE DE TEXAS: Downsizing Part Three–The Albans House, Today!

Downsizing Part Three–The Albans House, Today!

This is the final of a series on Downsizing which started with the tale of Mr. Slippersocksman and me moving to an apartment for a myriad of reasons.

When we found ourselves in an early retirement that we hadn’t anticipated – we were faced with lowering our overhead.  But how?  We were faced with the truth that moving to an apartment for now would be the easiest way to go: no more huge water and electricity bills and no more property taxes!  Yeah! 

Still, I had spent 25 years making my house my home and I can’t say I don’t miss it, especially when I look at these old photographs.

We sold our house to a flipper whom we thought would update our house and either sell it or rent it out.  What we didn’t realize was after we signed our house away, our flipper sold it to another flipper.  It might have occurred on the exact same day for all we know.

The new flipper could not have been a nicer man.  He allowed us to stay in our house for a few months while we got used to the idea that we were actually moving.  YIKES!!!!

While we were staying there, the flipperman would show up and measure things.  He even brought a new front door by, but it was the wrong size.  I didn’t see the door – but I was instantly insulted!  A new front door?!?!?  What’s wrong with our gorgeous double French door?!?!?


But of course, everything is wrong with it when you are a flipper today.  Our door was definitely not a black steel framed glass door it is a must when flipping a house today.

Over the course of next few months we would drive by to monitor the situation on Albans Street.  There were BIG changes going on and some were ones that I had wanted to do myself but never did.   Still, when our former house showed up on HAR, it was a shock.  With everything I had put into the house now gone, I barely recognized it.  I wouldn’t have known it was mine if not for the address.  Seriously.

Let’s face facts here.  My house was not and never was AND never will be an architectural beauty.  It was a spec house that we updated while trying to add some decorative interest to it. 

Here’s the outside of our house, as it was:

I chose that pink brick with extra wide white grout which I loved for a few years.  After we moved in, I painted the window surrounds black, and I also painted the garage door black.   One day Sally Wheat told me to paint the house white like hers and I drove home, all excited – until I pulled up and saw my house.  It wasn’t like Sally’s gorgeous house which painted in white looked even better.  Who was I fooling?

Sally’s new landscape and paint.  Beautiful!!!

After that day with Sally, I would think that painting the house white would be left for the next owners to do.  I did hope that owner would be Elisabeth.  An only child, Ben and I planned she would own the house herself when we were gone.

When the house was sold, I knew that painting it white would be first on the list of things to do.  It was what any talented flipper would do.

And he did.

In these photos, there is one big difference between then and now.  The large water oak tree that had sold us on this particular lot had died some years ago and the dappled sunlight that was so pretty on the front lawn is now gone.  I wrote about that tree loss HERE.

While we waited to move out I would think about what the new owner would do to the house first.  Within a few days after our exit, I got my answer.

1.  New black steel front door.


2. White painted brick.


Here’s the Albans house today:

The new double front door framed in black steel.   He removed the old windows and put new ones in, with very thin dividers.  One surprise is he left the front porch floor unpainted.  I would have gone with black paint there.

The flipper painted the new garage door gray instead of black and there are new iron gates at the left and right of the house.   Not sure why there are dark screens in the upper bedroom on the right?  Also gone is the window box at that window where each season I fought to keep the flowers alive.  It was a losing battle and the last few years, I just gave up all together.

I just found an old photo of the window over the garage.  I must have just had it replanted which is why I took the photo.  It never looked this good after a few weeks!!!

And one good thing is the flipper added lights on both sides of the garage.   I don’t know why I never did that myself?  My gutters were painted a light cream to disappear, here they are black to accent all the white, plus I think they are new gutters altogether.  Good idea.

My house went through many decorative schemes during the years.  I wrote about the living room HERE and how awful it was for the first few years we lived there.

An early, blurry photo of the entry hall with sconces that I thought were GORGEOUS!  LOL. 

For years my house had a more English look with reds and khakis and checks and Bennison fabrics.  Later I went with an all white scheme and bought some white painted furniture instead of having only dark wood pieces.

The new entry with the Lone Ranger desk and slipcovered dining room chairs.  I’m looking at these sconces and don’t know where they are!  I wish I could hang them in my apartment, but forget that.  Where ARE these?!?!


The earlier design theme.   Walking into the front door, was a large open space where I added a French wine table.  During dinner parties, I would use this for extra place settings.   The bird cage is long gone, but I still use those same blue and white vases.  The purple transferware is in my guest room today.

Here's a larger nighttime view of the foyer with the Lone Ranger demi lunes.  To the left is the dining room and living room.  Behind the table is a built in with a marble top.

The built in.  I never showed the bottom cabinets in photographs because I hated this built in!   I used to think I would put a fabric skirt around the cabinets to hide it.  I wanted to remove it altogether but never did that.   I just learned to ignore what was always a thorn in my visual path!!!

The built in did have advantages.  It was a great place to display things like Ben’s crystal collection and the faux marble bust.  Flanking the mirror are antique sconces from Tara Shaw.  I do know where these are!  They are renting space at my sister in law’s house.

This is the final way the foyer looked with the blue and white vase and piles of new books that never made the trip up to the library.

A desk from Lone Ranger replaced a brown wood version at the bottom of the stairs.   At the right is a short hall where the powder room is. 

The view from the powder room hall to the dining room and the living room, along with a piece of luggage in the photo, just for good luck.  WHY is that there??!?

I used to love this view at night coming from the powder room and going into the family room.  I always kept my sconces lit – all day and night, never turning them off.   For years, it would drive Ben crazy until he finally just gave up.

An early view of the living room before I changed it all for white linen.   The day bed was covered in check and the three chairs were in various Bennison fabrics.  Another set of sconces hang on the wall.  During this time all the walls were a soft yellow and so were the curtains.

One Saturday, I toured a showhouse in West U that was decorated in all white linen.   The next Monday, I got rid of all the printed fabrics and painted the walls a soft taupe gray.

One other look.  Read about the various designs this poor room went through during its 25 years under my thumb!   HERE

The fourth version of the dining room with the yellow curtains and walls and a plaid silk skirt.  I also had a round table in here and then a rectangular one.  Before this yellow plaid I had a beautiful Bennison skirt which I changed for some reason.  The chandeliers and sconces also changed several times during the 25 years.


Finally, the fifth version in white with linen checks.  Not sure where this skirt is today or the table itself.  Or those sconces which I still think are so pretty!

Ready to see what the front part of the downstairs now looks like?

One note about the real estate photographs.  The camera used distorts the dimensions.  All the rooms look stretched out and distorted.   The rooms look bigger than they actually are in real life. 

The foyer.  The walls are a soft gray.  The floors were stained a very dark brown. 

Note:  The floors needed restaining - badly.   While the usual choice for the floor stain would be the lighter French oak look – my floor has the old fashioned small planks, not beautiful wide ones.  The dark stain is a better choice to make the dated planks look more modern.   I would have chosen the dark stain myself.  I think.

The living room.  It got new windows, which were badly needed.  There was a terrible leak in one of them.  The flipperman also changed the molding around the windows.  You can see the dark floor do look nice.  My stain had a subtle red cast to it which I always HATED.  I would have given anything to have these floors!!!! 

No chandelier.  No gorgeous crystal chandelier from Tara Shaw.  Instead there is a ceiling fan.    No comment from the peanut gallery, please.

I once wrote a story about taking out all the ceiling fans and how Ben had such a fit over that.  He approves of this fan, I’m sure!!!

The dining room.  New fixture.  No comment.  New door – without the panes.  Good choice if you want the house to look more modern.  I had a French door between the dining room and the kitchen and that was removed.  I loved that door and added it for an extra architectural element which was sorely lacking in this house.

Also, when we moved in there was a window here – after a few months I had it removed and put in the French door that opens to the side garden.

The view from the entry to the dining room and living room.  It looks so different without furniture!!!!!

And the view from the foyer to the dining room at the left and – look!!!!  The built in is gone!!!  Good choice.   This would have been the perfect place to put an antique console and then accessorize with smalls and a gilt mirror above, flanked by sconces.  Hmmm.  That was how it already was!!!  LOL. 

I’m sure the young couple will add a modern console here with a large painting above it.


Without the desk and chair along the staircase, the stairs look so exposed.  The flipper changed out the white painted wood balusters to black iron and he painted the newel posts black, along with the railings.

When we moved in this house, my father came by and said the stairs were terrible!   By code, West University insisted in all these handrails and newel posts.  After the final inspection, I removed the added handrails, but we were stuck with all the newel posts.    I called a designer friend for ideas because I had none and she said – paint the balusters and newel posts white – it will make it all disappear and not be so noticeable.  We did that  and it did look better.   Later I painted the handrails black which looked more rich than the brown ones.

And here is how the stairs looked, with the painted white newels and the black banisters.  I do think the white looks better than the black.    And my poor Georgie is running up the stairs away from me.   Georgie was terrified of cameras – it all started when I had my house photographed for Houston House & Home.  We wanted to photograph her on the chair with Sammie Jo and it was so traumatic, she would run away from cameras ever since.

And here are the stairs with the black newels and new iron balusters.

And here is a very old photo showing our earliest scheme in the family room.  A tailored pin striped sofa, skirted table, and chair.  This was right before I slipcovered this sofa in linen.  Ben was so angry when I switched this sofa out for a white linen version – he still says it was the most comfortable one we’ve ever had!!!

The last version of the family room.  I added the arched doors with the chicken wire a few years ago.  But otherwise the room remained the same despite all the decorative changes.  I started out with a gray ticking sofa, then a khaki sofa, then a white slipped sofa, and finally this sofa – a fabulous version from Hien Lam Upholstery.  The chairs all came from her while the slipcover on the sofa came from Shabby Slips.  I’ve had glass coffee tables and a wormy wood version and finally this one – that is now paying rent at my sister in law.  I really miss that piece!!

I went through a few versions of curtains and ended up with these, which I loved.  Aidan Gray lamps, of course!

My sweet friend and partner Monica provided the curtains and the shades.  She didn’t make them – she just measured, ordered it all, and had them installed by the fabulous Bennie.  Sigh.

An early messy view of the bar between the kitchen and the family room.  I never liked this bar and today I would lower it and make it counter height.  I used bar stools there years and years and years ago.  Ugh!!!! 

In this photo you can see how the built in connects with the bar and kitchen.  I don’t care for slanted walls but it came with the house and it was another element I grew to ignore.

An early view of the kitchen.  When I first moved in – everything was painted a soft luscious cafe au lait shade.  The backsplash tile matched the walls exactly.  When I painted the house yellow – it all clashed and was horrid.   Something had to go.   First the tiles and then the paint!!

New gray walls and new marble.    When I added the marble, I put in a new casement window that I loved, along with a farm sink and new faucet. 

Another view of the newly remodeled on a shoe string kitchen.

The opposite side of the slanted wall – with the small refrigerator that I thought looked built in!   You can see how the floor was starting to really look bad. It needed to be restained, but I just couldn’t move out for those two weeks.   Now THAT is really funny to think about now!!!

The view past the counter into the family room and stairs.

An older version of earlier curtains.   This table is another piece I miss!!!  I did take the bakers rack with me to the apartment. 

See how red my floors were!!!  Awful.  I always hated them.  And notice how worn they were getting.   It was things like this that paralyzed me after Ben got sick.  I hated to spend big money on the house knowing we wouldn’t be there for that much longer.

The loves of my life!  How I miss thee!!!!!  Let me count the ways:   the window, faucet, sink and marble.   OK – I would KILL for this in my shabby apartment kitchen!!!   LOL

Here’s how this all looks today:

The family room.  Can you spot the changes?  Don’t sweat it.   Details below.

Here, the chicken wire was removed and glass was put in instead which makes sense for a more contemporary look.  White marble replaced the brown marble on the fireplace that I had – something I would have loved to do myself!  Nice TV  - that comes with the house????

We had the TV placed on the wall under the stairs where those cabinets are.  Our old TV used to fit in that cabinet!!!  Too funny to think how small our TVs once were!  

The new owners will have to place the sofa in front of the fireplace to watch the TV which is something I just did not want to do.  I prefered my sofa against the windows. 

And there’s the original doggie door that we closed off when we first got curtains.  I put in another one in the kitchen so the dogs wouldn’t dirty the curtains.  This door was hidden by the fabric.

OK.  This is where I spent my life!  Right here where that plug was – over about a foot or two, next to the fireplace.   Twenty Five Years!!!!

Our TV hung where the top cabinet is – you couldn’t see it – and the bottom one held all the equipment.  There is surround sound in the ceilings which is great for movie watching.   Sigh.  It sure was!!


I never showed this angle.  Who wants to look at an ugly TV.  But look how much lower the TV is than if it was above the mantel?  It’s eye level – no neck strain. 

Lots of changes here – new doors!!!!  No more panes!  Again, a great look for the millenniums.    Next – notice the bar – the cabinets above it are now gone!!!!!!!  Love that!!!  He put new corbels and trim on the bar.   And notice – in the kitchen where my bakers rack was – a huge refrigerator is there now!!!  The huge built in refrigerator is another must in a flipped house.

It’s funny because the house originally had cabinets and a built in desk where the refrigerator now is – but I had it all removed so that I could use my antique bakers rack. 

The kitchen.   See the new corbels and trim on the bar?  New humongous built in refrigerator and cabinets.  Again, it looks nice and was very much needed.  No more pet door.  Sob.


This is hard, y’all!!!!!  I don’t ever think about the house – I try not to, but to write this story, it all comes flooding back.

I just thought you might want to see what the house looks like now that it has been renovated. 

New hardware.  No door where the dining room leads.

Gone is the black painted pantry door. It’s just plain white now.

He moved the double oven where the refrigerator was, added another oven drawer-something where the double ovens WERE.  And at the bar he added a wine refrigerator.    I think he either added new cabinet doors or new cabinets altogether.  Not sure.  But the drawers and doors are different today.

He likes this.  He really likes this!!! 

The flipper highlights my favorite things in the HAR photos.  And this was one thing he did not change. The man has good taste!


There is a large (to me, at least!) landing.  Right off the landing – to the right – is the guest room.

The guest room with its window seat.  A lot of people ask for the color on the walls – it was a Restoration Hardware paint that I doubt they carry today, unfortunately.  It was a really pretty blue-green with emphasis on the blue.  The Aidan Gray chandelier is now in our bedroom at the apartment. 

And the window seat where the window boxes were.  I’m wondering now where that standing lamp is? 

The front windows are now two – where before it gave the illusion of one large window.  

And off the landing is this space – a small library – which overlooks the foyer and made a perfect place for the dogs to perch.  Even with the new library – the stacks of books continued to grow.

The upstairs – nicely painted and empty.  Something it never was when Ben and I lived here!    Before we moved in, we had those double doors built, at great expense, so no one could see inside our house.  I don’t think we ever once closed them!!!

I am really surprised he didn’t get new covers for the air conditioning vent – like those wood ones that are actually good looking.

And looking back toward the master bedroom where the open door is.  The hall leads to the library.

And my bedroom with the wallpaper by Simon Scott.   At the window, I hung one large shade and four panels to make a dinky window look like a large, beautiful one!   I miss that small sofa!

The armoire from Joyce Horn.

Yes, I really miss the wallpaper.  Not going to lie!

OK.  I know I keep saying I miss things.  Well – it’s hard to look at things I will never see again, but I must say – I love my new life and new apartment.   Plus moving here made me use my pieces in a new way and appreciate them all over again.

And the view on this side.  Through that black door is the bathroom, something I never ONCE showed!!!!  Ever!!!  Never!!!!

And the bedroom today.  See how the dimensions look distorted?  The room is not anywhere near this large.  And see the window? 

And looking back to the landing.

The floor really came out beautiful, I have to say.   And the wall color is very nice – a cool gray.

The bathroom.  He put in new counters, probably quartzite.  New faucets, hardware, lights.   There is new tile floor – marble?  Not sure.

He did take out the opening between the sinks where I sat and put on makeup.  Wonder why he did that?

Completely new shower – with new tile.

New tub.  Surprised it’s not a stand alone.

I never once took a bath in 25 years.  I think Elisabeth took a few when she was young.  She must have, I just don’t remember!!!!

And we had a regular window which I loved to look out.  Now it’s frosted.

Elisabeth’s room.  I think this is its fourth version. We left the bed at the house.  I just didn’t have the room for it and it wasn’t an antique, so why pay to store it?  The movers took it home and I’m glad they put it to good use.

Her room.

All new doors.   These are a more modern profile compared to what was there before.

Her bath.  Not sure why he went with black faucets.

Through the door is the library.

I wonder if he left the glass paneled door to the library, along with this frosted door to the closet?

This is a room I do wish I had here.  Ben likes to read historical books about war – WWI and II, Vietnam, etc.  He buys them used from libraries and independent shops where he pays an average of $5 a book.    I wish the books I read cost $5!!!!

And another view showing the back of the library. 

And here it is today.  

The back yard was really a courtyard.  We used to have grass on both sides of the patio – but we replaced it with gravel after just a few years in the house. 

The left side.  That huge rose bush is from the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham.   It was about 20 years old and was HUGE.  A beast to trim!!

There is another old rose bush on this side, but it is a smaller specimen and doesn’t get nearly as big as the pink one.

That fountain was an anniversary gift one year and there were two pedestals with beautiful urns from the old Garden Gate in the Village that were another anniversary present! 

I picked out the fountain and the urns.  Ben loved Garden Gate and would go there for every birthday and Christmas.  I think I had over 20 stone animals that he bought there!!!  I finally had to gently tell him – Ben, I think we are tapped out on stone rabbits and gophers.

After – the flipper kept the lanterns I added and he put up some shiplap on the porch ceiling.  New fence – another thing we needed and kept putting off.

After:  They left the fountain and my old Wisteria table and chairs.   My friend said we should go get that table!  LOL.  It came with the house.  They own it, not me.


Finally, this is the last time I’ll probably ever show my old house or talk about it.  Its memory will slowly fade for me – though writing about the house makes it hard to believe we really moved out.  Was it all a dream???  Looking at all the different decor themes over the years makes me sad to think it’s all over now, for good.

I’ve never lived at one address for so long – we were on Albans Street for almost 25 years.   We had so many good times there with family and friends, along with quiet times with just the three of us.  We hosted sleepovers for Elisabeth’s friends and rocked out to music like The Dave Matthews and The National and the soundtrack to My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Elisabeth had more than a few birthday parties there.  At one, they watched the new movie Twilight but I was the one that became hopelessly hooked on it.  One sweltering summer, Elisabeth and I stayed cool inside and watched the movie Rent – every single day.   During school days, she spent endless hours around the kitchen table doing homework with Jenny, her tutor – now married with two kids of her own.   We made friends with our pooper scooper and mourned with him when his teenage son was shot. 

We felt safe there, mostly.  We were never once broken into, never once burglarized, but there was that time when a very young Elisabeth came home to an empty house and called 911.  When I drove home, late after being stuck in traffic, and saw three police cars in my driveway, my knees almost buckled when one burly cop asked if I was Elisabeth’s mother.  She ran out crying MOM!!!!

The police had to come out again when our friend Claudia’s son poked his big head out the balusters on the staircase.  After much hysterical laughing and gyrations, he realized his head was stuck.   He survived and grew up and last year Dillon volunteered for the Israeli army.

And then at the end of 1998, two murders, each a few blocks away from our house, pierced the safety of our small neighborhood.   The employees of the nearby Wig Shop were brutally attacked and one worker was murdered by a crazed teenager.  Two weeks later, the infamous serial train murderer killed a sleeping doctor – two blocks away!   I remember calling Ben - crying – begging him to move us away from there!  But West University was usually a safe haven where the police drive by each house several times a day. 

I spent years outside on the back patio writing this blog, often late into the night with just my dogs for company.  Once a week I recorded the Skirted Roundtable there.

Twelve years ago, I started blogging on a whim, for a few of my friends to read.   It became a large part of my life and something, to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoy.  The blog brought much to our life here – my house was even photographed for three different magazines.  On the flip side, a terrible case of shyness and introversion kept me from branching out and meeting more of you who have so kindly supported the blog and my family.

As the years passed, we watched the gentrification of our street as it changed from being all tiny cottages to now, mostly 2 story new houses.  For years we had a wonderful rose garden along the side of the house until the looming crepe myrtle blocked its needed sun and they died. That tree ended up a curse.  Its droppings almost ruined my car that I kept parked on our driveway.   Lesson learned:  never plant a crepe myrtle near a driveway or sidewalk.  

We learned we are safe from flooding when we survived Hurricane Harvey without a drop of water inside – but we spent one week in darkness after the less notorious Hurricane Ike.

Just like they say - time passes by in the blink of an eye.  When our house was built, we had a three year old who spent the night in our bed for years, while Ben slept in Elisabeth’s bed.  When we moved out she was 27, a grown woman.  

When we moved in I still had my two cats whom I had adopted years before I even knew Ben.  We added a beagle, an English Springer, and three Cavaliers into our home.

It was a good life spent on Albans.  I only hope the new owners will enjoy as good a life as we did inside these walls.


  1. I am 66 and contemplating moving. I have enjoyed this series...and so your new chapter begins ! Good luck (love your apartment by the way)

  2. I love reading your posts. I grab a cup of coffee and sit down for what I know is going to be a great read! Your down-sizing posts have been especially touching for me as my husband and I have discussed doing the same thing. Our home where we have spent the last 30 years is beginning to be just too much to care for. Two acres of yard to mow, fencing to trim under, and the list goes on and on. My hubby loves to fish, so we are contemplating a smaller cottage on the lake with a much smaller yard. Looking through my house it's going to be hard to decide what goes with me, as I have collected my 'treasures' over the years and can quote the history behind each piece and why it followed me home.

    I loved your old house, as we share a lot of the same taste in style, but also love your apartment and how welcoming and comfortable it looks.

    Wishing you all the best...Jan

    1. We are in the same boat. We lived in Europe and I collected so many things that will break my heart to part with, when we move. However, it is just stuff, as I keep telling myself, and it does not make a person or a life. So hard to do , however.

  3. While I like some of the changes, I think the exterior of your house was prettier....all of those white houses with glass and steel frame doors make me think of stores. I guess I am happy in my 1926 colonial with a wooden painted door. I like it's coziness and would feel so exposed with so much glass in the front of my home.
    I commend you on your positive attitude. I love my things, but I feel the need to subtract (and I have a fraction of what you do, so can't imagine how much harder it is in terms of time and mental energy, physical, too). Thank you for your honesty about the entire process and your family's challenges. I hope your husband is finding some relief and that you will both have more time to enjoy life and live with 'good enough.'

  4. "in my shabby apartment kitchen!!!" LOL...I hope that you were kidding? You must not see homelessness around your shabby apartment here in Houston the way that I do...count your blessings

    1. Well, so hope you help some of the homeless that you see all round you in Houston....

    2. I do....and you?

    3. OMG People. Not hiding behind anonymous comments here. This is so uncalled for. Someone should be able to comment about the joys of one kitchen over another without it becoming a shame session involving the impoverished and homeless.

    4. You found a way to attack her for writing this story? Idiot. Great, get busy and help the homeless, mind your own business and get off this blog! The last time I posted, it said anonymous and I hope it doesn't again when I click publish. I have it set to reply with my name. I'm not the bad guy writing critical, rude things. I love Joni and this post was heartwarming and full of love and this rich history was a huge part of her life. I only saw humility, not arrogance or insensitivity. My eyes were fighting tears as she talks and shares about the beginning, the move, and still, her love hangs on here in this home, it is not seen as just any house, this is part of her and her family. And raising a daughter in this home, how could this home not be part of the family. So precious. God bless you and your family Joni. Much love.

  5. I hope the new owners find your blog and recognize what a special home they have. Your personality really comes through in this post today. Sending you all good wishes for wonderful memories in your new home.

    1. If the new owners find Joni's blog they will quickly change those horrible things (fans?) hanging from the ceiling. LOL. The front glass doors make the house look so vulnerable, and like Sheila implied, they belong on a store front. But I understand they are all the rage in that part of Texas.

  6. Life so changes and there is a sadness that seems to follow. Not regret, but just sweet memories of the past.Ileft out house of fifteen years and I had to laugh when you said "where is that" because I have wondered what happened to some of my things. I just had to let it go! I also have to come to grips with the fact that my things don't mean anything to anyone else. even my own kids. They are of a different mindset and I get that.Just not always easy to let go. However, new beginnings are often sweet in ways we could have never imagined! I wish much happiness for you and yours and thank you for what you have meant to me over the years.

  7. Oh my gosh - what an amazing post on so many levels. Thank you for sharing and articulating what so many us have/or will , go through.
    Life in all its beauty, sadness, joy, memories, new roads to take....

  8. Joni, I love hearing about your old and your new house. I’m not a fan of the fan either (I didn’t plan that!) We lived in West U during the Stone Age. 6621 Rutgers. We built our house as well. In pictures I see that they have built new houses on either side. We loved it there! Yours was the only report that I read after Hurricane Harvey that really told me about the areas I was familiar with, so thank you! Your new place looks wonderful, but change is always a process. I don’t remember anything much on the Bayous (other than Bayou Bend) when we were there, but so glad they have been developed for people to enjoy. Wishing you much happiness and many memories in your new home!

  9. Joni, i have followed you since you began. I had issues being able to comment so just read in Joy relating to your every precious word.
    I love your taste, learned alot, and my taste, may I admit, is so like yours. Thank you for supplying sources of items to view and vendors too.
    You are my special girl out here. And I think often of Ben too. I once gave away so many things, why I miss my grandmothers iron shaped
    in corn, cornbread pan, what was I thinking? The best seasoned castiron around. I was moving to Austin then. Why she even got my
    butcher block table and antique white full set wicker. Then her children stole it all. So sad and trashed everything. Well, we keep moving
    don't we!!!! Much love to you, your story has touched my heart deeply Joni! XOXO Suzanna

  10. PS Joni, you might get a kick out of this: I have my "file" of Cote de Texas saved for years!!! ha ha reference libray!!!
    & my champayne tastes on a beer budget! Just new windows alone, WOW!!! I have an old 1930 bungalow, so teenie, and great
    dreams in the best location, 888 sq feet! But, the work needed, the yard alone would be $10,000.00. At now, I need no stairs
    anymore, just an old, painted white brick ofcoarse, 1950 or 1960 ranch and enough outside living to fill my soul! I live in Florida,
    though I moving back to Texas, but where? I was born in Fort Worth, cow town. Nothing there for me. Need a new! xoxox

  11. Thank you for your bittersweet post. You created a lovely home. And now you are creating a very lovely new home and life. All the best to you and monsieur Slippersocks.

  12. Oh I love reading about your house! I've been reading your blog for years. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

  13. I have to tell you I sit here with tears in my eyes... I have followed you so long, always looked forward to your posts, the eye candy, your sense of humor, and design ideas. This series has inspired me beyond words how you have navigated what life has thrown at you and with such grace. One of my favorite books, Doing What The Day Brings, is about strong women like you who just do what needs to be done! Many blessings to you and yours.

  14. This was the perfect send off for Albans, and I agree with you about moving and being forced to use things in a new and different way - it does give you a new appreciation for them. To be cliche, your story is still being written sweet friend - and I'm sure it will come with as much or more beauty as Albans. Thanks for sharing and inspiring us with the versions of this house for the last 12-years, I've learned so much from you - and continue too.

  15. Are you so happy you have the photos and the good memories?! Love the last photo!

  16. Thanks so much for sharing this look back. I've loved your blog and house for years and followed you from afar (well, north Houston). :-) This was fun to see all the transformations.

  17. Oh you made me so sad. Medical costs nearly caused us to do the same at one point. It is difficult and I hope your husband finds some relief.

    1. Medical costs are just awful! My family is living a horror story because of them. :(

  18. Loved this post and finally putting your old floor plan into context. Please keep writing and please update us on Ben’s headaches and treatments. As a headache sufferer you never know when you might help someone else with your story. I think about Ben all the time now.

  19. This was fun to see the history of your former (lovely) home. Still, your beautiful style is evident in your apartment and I know you'll eventually be content in the freedom that comes with renting (no maintenance, taxes, new roof, etc.) :-)
    I still drive my our house of 35 years, but now when I drive by I'm happy to see the sweet, young family enjoying the home we raised our sons in.

  20. As you were showing the courtyard, I was thinking of all the nights we spent recording The Skirted Roundtable with you sitting outside - and I'd be jealous because it was usually too cold here in New England to do that. Plus, I didn't have a lovely garden like that to enjoy. This was a beautiful post and ode to your home for so many years. But, as Niartist says above, your story is still being written. Your home on Albans will become the stuff of new memories for its new family. Hopefully, they won't muck it up with ugly furniture! And your new apartment, or any other place you may end up moving to, will be where your future grandchildren (God-willing) will grow up thinking is a magical place simply because you and Ben are there.

  21. Joni you will always be THE best blogger to me!! The end of this post uplifted me - you nailed it- it was never really about the house. It was always about the home you created.

    This Irish blessing comes to mind, "May your home always be too small to hold all your friends." xo Michele

  22. Such a beautiful home, then and now. We readers will miss it too, but know that new memories are waiting to be created in the flipped home, and your new place will hold a new chapter, too. Thank you for sharing.

  23. Awwww...Home-Blessed-Home...farewells are so emotional
    I will NEVER drive y, much less, R etirn to "mine" of 41 years...I miss those memories AND SPACE terribly. franki

  24. Joni do you know what color floor stain the flipper used? I agree with you that it is very nice.

  25. Such a poignant post! We have loved seeing your home through the years and this final recap. I can totally relate. We sold our home of 26 years and moved away to our vacation cabin two and a half hours distant. There are certainly things I miss about our old house and every now and then I think about a piece I sold for nearly nothing or gave away. But we're so happy to be where we are, even if it is much smaller. We've gone back to our home town only a couple of times and passed by the house. The new owner took out some beautiful old trees which was the hardest thing to see. I can only hope, like you, that the love and the many happy times we had in our home still resonate with an aura of happiness that will bless the new owner.

    What strikes me about your post and my own experience is how trends come and go - and we've lived long enough to see them return with a slightly different twist. Once everyone paints all their old case furniture with light chalk paint, antique brown stain comes back in. That kind of thing. Even bright brass is big now - I didn't think I'd ever see that again. (I was always fine with brass with an old patina, like all the knobs and hardware in my 1920's old house, and never was tempted by brushed nickel, lol.) So I think having the newest look is more important to the millennials while we have honed our own style over the years. I think some people gravitate to a modern look, while others to a more traditional style with pieces that reflect older time periods. I grew up in a mid-century modern home but love antiques and old houses. Go figure.

    I appreciate your positivity and wish you and Ben the best in your new home. Keep us posted.

  26. I love your honesty and your openness. I know this process is emotional because although its what's best for your family at this point, it's never easy to leave a home with all those memories. I have always loved your home and your apartment is no different. I also appreciate you walking us readers through the new house and pointing out the things you wish you would have done and updates you would have made had budget allowed. I feel like most homeowners feel the same. I'd love to change my floors but replacing 4000 sq feet of hardwoods would require us to move out completely and cost more than we're comfortable spending knowing that this is not our forever house. We're likely 2-3 years away from moving on. We'd never get the money out of the investment. So I ignore them, just like you did with your built-in. Its refreshing to hear the honesty from someone as seasoned in design as you and also to know that designers are real people with real budgets too.

  27. Dear Joni...I remember all the talks at night about a photoshoot at your house....and finally it happened! When you opened your front door I got to know you in pretty, with arms out for hugs. Like we had known each other for years. Your home was pretty. I can still see Ben up on the kitchen counters moving white ironstone around for me. He was my assistant. We had so much fun on that photoshoot. I will always know I am so lucky to have seen your beautiful home and met you and Ben...and the furbabies. Thank you both. Now so many people are downsizing, including me, and loving it. Your new home is you...only smaller. It is full of your "stuff" that we all love. So happy Ben is feeling better and you are enjoying living the good life.Love you both....maybe another photoshoot? Hugs...Bonnie

  28. Wow, I've really enjoyed seeing what the flipper did to your home, especially after having followed along with you and the enhancements you made over the years. I admire your courage in revisiting this in such detail. I wonder if it is a theraputic way to move on, put it in perspective? I, too, am looking at life changes and downsizing from a home we've been in for over 20 years. You've really helped me in my own journey by sharing yours - so thank you for that!!!!! I look forward to your further adventures and wish you both great health.

    PS By the way, isn't that Restoration Hardware paint color Silver Sage? I've had it in my bedroom for years and just repainted in the same color!

  29. Wow, what a post, what a journey. Thank you for sharing with us, Joni. truly fascinating to see what the flipper did. I could never have a house with a steel front door, but now that you mention it, I am seeing these in my neck of the woods too. Best wishes on the next phase of your journey!

  30. Good luck with your new endeavors and thanks for sharing your journey with us. Most of us have had family members who downscaled or plan to do something similar in the future. I suppose it's best to not be too attached to our "things" as much as we appreciate the beauty and joy they bring in our lives. Life is always changing and you are keeping a good attitude. BTW, just can't get behind those black glass doors LOL . too stark for my taste.

  31. A bittersweet post! I feel your pain! I dread the day we sell our house, that we planned for a year and then built, and have raised five kids these past 25 years. Like you and your house, my house and all its changes through the years, reflect me. It is very hard when a new owner "destroys" that. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, but the future is before you, and I'm sure you will have lovely things to share with us! Best to you and your husband!

  32. Thank you for sharing you downsizing. My heart was breaking for you as I read along. All I know is that home is where you are with your family and your new place will become home with many more memories to be made. I know you will never forget your other house, but, in time, you new place will take over with happiness. And you are right - another family will move in to you previous house and start making their memories. I'll have to remember my words when I sell my house in a year when I retire. I'm sure I will feel the same as you do right now, but at least I will have more time to do all the things I've wanted to do (like start my blog) and not have to worry about keeping up with the house. Please take a deep breath and hug your family.

  33. Joni:
    I frankly much prefer everything about the way you had your lovely home --- even those things you weren't that crazy about. I know the millennials want clean and unadorned, but I adore your collections, your elegant taste and the warmth of both your home and your new apartment. However, what I admire MOST about you and your blog is your authenticity and your unsparing honesty sharing the ups and downs of relocating away from a home you have treasured for almost a quarter of a century to new, albeit lovely, smaller digs. Hands down your blog is the best, most fun to read and definitely the most instructive. I have always admired a Herman Hesse quote and perhaps it applies to your engaging and bittersweet tale of relocating “Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” Thank you, Joni, for inviting us into your home and life.

  34. What a lovely family photo! Thank you for taking your "people" on this journey. Knowing this couldn't have been easy, in the end I believe things happen for reasons we may not always understand. We are in the process of downsizing in our present home and getting ready to move out of state to be near our grandchildren and it is a stressful time with many decisions to be made. One thing for certain: you did it and survived and hence, my inspiration! Enjoy your (sorta) new digs Joni. Please keep your wonderful and informative posts coming!

  35. Your post was good closure since I enjoyed each update about how you decorated your home. Now it's a beautiful house, but not a home yet. I hope a family will move in the enjoy it as much as you did. Your ability to honor the past but let go and start new is refreshing. Home IS where the heart is as the old saying goes.

  36. Well...another of your posts that I read every single word; and all the way through it I kept thinking this will be me in a few years. I've lived in the same suburb of Houston for 29 years, and this present home for 22 of those years. It will be hard to leave. It has been through many changes, just like yours. Some of the changes were major remodels, inside and outside; and some were simply re-decorating. This house doesn't resemble the house we originally bought all those years ago. My son started 4th grade in this house, went through middle, high school and college years with him coming home to this house. We've both turned 40 and 50 in this house! I've lost both parents while living in this house! I'm on my third Springer Spaniel in this house! And that little 4th grader who used to have mega-sleep-overs and big birthday parties here and would come in from sports smelling like an entire football team, is now a successful young man in Dallas, engaged to be married soon! Change is hard. BUT.... did you ever think sometimes while still in your old house, how tired you were of looking out of the same windows, at the same scenery, hearing the same noises, rearranging the same areas, and often wishing for a change? I'm there now. Joni, I hope for you that if you ever felt that way, that you will consider that memory of "sameness" to reinforce the notion that change is often good and healthy, and that you were right to move. You have wonderful photos and memories to keep and enjoy. And while I sit here and type how you should feel, like I'm a marble statue of strength, I will be a wreck when it's my time, and I'm emailing you for advice and support!

  37. Joni I think you are a lot like me - you get emotional about leaving houses and objects behind. I still think of the house where my kids were raised with great nostalgia. Sometimes I wish I was like other people I know who just move on and don't look back. But life goes on and you can't necessarily stay in the same house forever just so you won't get sad about leaving. It's all a journey...

  38. The new design is cool in its own way. But your house was an inspiration for us for years and provided hours of delight! We are grateful. Now we are all in new chapters and that is fun, too. When I sold my house of 20 years, I couldn't even drive by for years. Still not comfortable with it. But I am so happy in my new smaller place and can't wait to see your creativity flourish in this next chapter.

  39. The poet had it right.....parting is such sweet sorrow....

  40. I have read your blog from the very beginning. Every single post. I think you might even have been my first blog! Of course I feel I know you and Ben and Elisabeth. My husband even knows who Joni is and where 'West U' is (we live in California). I cried when reading about the house - all three installments! I cannot thank you enough for all the posts over all the years. We are roughly the same age and facing similar stresses and I think you brave to write this blueprint for all of us as we move into a new phase of life. You are doing it with such grace and composure. Please keep at it. It would be lonely without you. Wishing the best for all of you. (The wallpaper was hard. The first thing I thought of as I began reading...)

  41. Thank you for this third part but I liked your house better, it was warm and full of charm and style. Please keep blogging, your blog is my favorite!

  42. Joni - I left a house that I loved, though I lived in it a much shorter time than you lived in yours. I, too, checked real estate listings and flinched and nodded at the changes. Yes, some things I would have never done, but some made a lot of sense - and, like you, were changes I had considered myself. Our buyers were horrid, but they sold it shortly after they bought it. I ran into a friend who told me the new owners were delightful. They loved the house. I would like them. I dropped off drawings and historic pictures I had of the house and they were, indeed, lovely. I've run into them since and they love the house as much as I did.

    It is the nature of houses, I suppose, to adapt. I love the one I'm in now and though I know I'll leave it eventually, the thought of which already makes me melancholy.

    You served that house well. She'll carry that spirit forward.

  43. So you paid someone to scoop poop...? That's funny!
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  44. Oh Joni that was a beautiful post. As we get older looking back can make us feel sad and nostalgic. Best wishes for a bright future with still more adventures and decorating to be had.

  45. I too left our beloved old farm house after 25 years of making memories and raising children. It was a painful time.. but we have happly lived in our smaller home for 20 years. I have a better rose garden and less lawn to care for. Yay! But the best part is that this is the house where our grandchildren were brought to us. We are busy making new memories in this house with a new generation!

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  48. Dear Joni - thank you for this trio of posts and your amazing candor and insights. I downsized with The Husband last October from house to apartment and I have felt you through every word and photo. As with every one of your posts, I learn from you and am inspired.

  49. Hello Joni, Every glimpse of your work reveals another facet of your talent--I keep seeing fresh details. It must be hard to look at your old house with all of your hard work and personality stripped away. I'm surprised they kept all those bookshelves--you'd think they would turn off the modern buyer. I always lived in a house until I moved to Taiwan and had to find an apartment, so I know it does take some getting used to, but your talent is to create a home around you, and is not limited to one particular house.

  50. I'm partial, of course, I prefer your home, under your care. The flipper did a great job updating, it lacks personality to me. I'm sorry, It looks like every other flip with the same recipe. I like the new windows and the front door. Have to say I'm not nuts about the garage door; maybe color, style, maybe rough cedar would have been nice to warm up the facade? I'm not wild about the black gutters either. I like the white paint. I'm certain it will sell in a flash! All those ceiling fans...I know they made you moan. I'm impressed by you. I wouldn't have had the courage to walk back through, although it is very interesting to see the differences, for you it wasn't just a house, it was your home. Your right, life goes by in a blink. Wishing you all the best in your next chapter, much happiness and hopefully pain relief for your Mr. Slippersocks. Keep writing your blog, I don't know what we would all do without it!

  51. Thank you - Thank you - Thank you I just loved this post! Many of us are facing such a move in our retired lives. Enjoy your new future, with endless design flair...

  52. Thank you for sharing your story. I was shocked when I first read you had sold your house and moved in to an apartment. I became attached to your house, myself, through your photos, especially the kitchen, but you have, of course, made your new quarters beautiful. I, also, preferred the exterior of your house before the changes, but as my granddaughter said after I painted over my fruit vine wallpaper with Revere Pewter, " I liked the old better, but this looks more modern." I'll have to admit I have ceiling fans in almost every room of my home except the living and dining rooms and bathrooms. I would prefer chandeliers, but in this case and living in Texas, I am preferring practicality to beauty. I always look forward to your posts and loved your happy family photo.

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  54. Dear Joni, You made me cry. I recently and unexpectedly lost my husband and have been downsizing. Every piece sold, discarded or given had a story with it -- one of future hopes and dreams -- all dashed. That's the hard part. I love your style and have been inspired by you for many years. I always love to see Cote .... in my inbox. All best in your new life.

    1. Dear Allyson, so sorry to read your comment about the loss of your husband. Hold tight and persevere - a wonderful new chapter of your life is just beginning - all will be amazing! Many hugs.... :-)

  55. Well done.. love the black metal framed doors.. am having a studio built and hope to get them for it.. Looked up and there is a distributor in MD. We are In VA. I had a home I loved as you did yours; it was built by Eisenhower's chief of protocol, Victor Purse.. You can find it on the net; look up Alvictus. Lived there ten years. It has quite a history. And so we move on in life, clinging to our most precious treasures; I remember the movie Zorba the Greek where the people came in the old lady's house as she was dying and grabbed her things.. so sad.. I just hope someone appreciates the things I have collected and saved.

  56. Your story moves me very much. Thank you for sharing. It has made me realize that in my experiences of letting go of past houses, homes, or anything past, what served me the best was simply to feel my way through every emotion as it surfaced. I remember having to sell a beloved house in mid life and being so fearful that a suitable replacement would not come along, that I pulled into the driveway (after the sale) at 4 am each time my car approached the freeway off-ramp. Once I sobbed my eyes out. That did it. Fini. I never had to visit the house again. That seems to be a good way for me to let go. Everybody has a way that works the best for them. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. YOU might not think of it as courage, but I DO! Best of best to you and your family.

  57. I loved watching the evolution of your style and home and I know we will continue to travel along with you on your journey as we all relate to our nests and what makes home a sanctuary. Seems like a reader would have loved to buy your home and keep it and purchase some things...but that ship has sailed! I did not expect to find myself crying when I read the last caption and saw the last photo. An end to an era (like the end of 30 something and our favorite magazines) but know adventures, good ones await you....One we can all hope for is the days you will help Elizabeth with her home one day. Best and sweetest wishes.

  58. Wait. What? You have audio interviews here? ! All this time, I never knew. Girlfriend, get thee into podcasting! :)

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  62. I really like everything the flipper did to your former home except the enormous steel front door. That plus the white paint creates an almost sterile commercial look rather than a welcoming home look. I never realized that you had so much counter space in your kitchen. When looking at the number and size of the windows I can appreciate all of the money you must have spent dressing them. The back patio area is nicely done and looks more spacious as well. I hope you buy a lottery ticket, win and get to move back in. It would be fun seeing how you might change the placement of your furnishing.

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  78. Joni, A beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this very moving story about the love of a house! xxojoan

  79. Joni, thank you for sharing so much of your life with us, the good and the more difficult. I have been a huge fan of yours for years and recommend your blog all of the time to friends. There's no one else around who goes through such in-depth digging (Detective Joni!) as you do to show us how houses have evolved over time and to give us the historical aspects as well. I empathize with you about downsizing. Illness has required me to rent space from some friends and dispose of most everything from my old home. Luckily my child could use a lot of furniture and I've been selling the rest, but the one thing I can't part with is my collection of design books, so I've got those waiting for me in storage until I've got space again. I guess what I have realized in this process is that most things don't matter much to me as I enter my 60s as do experiences, so I'm grateful to be able to still be here for those and look forward to new ones as the years go by. And grandkids! Those are definitely something to look forward to and I'm sure you are in expectation of that as well. Best of luck to you and your family as you begin this new chapter in your journey. I'm sure you will have many wonderful moments and I will continue to anticipate fascinating new blog posts from you.

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  83. I've always loved your blog. These last 3 posts really speak to me. Lost my husband at 53 two years ago, after 30 years, and in a 4,000 sqft beautiful home with's a lot to manage. Long story but found new love and we will likely build a new ranch home maybe 2,100 sqft and I can not wait for no stairs. At 56, knees are starting to flair up, and nothing like a physical ailment to force a change, as you know. Thinking of your sweet husband and his health and hoping for bits of light and hope for the future. Such honest sharings from you, you're saying what we all will be thinking when parting with our past. I'm optimistic about the future and can see you are too. Thank you Joni.

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  92. This was a beautiful post. Your home was warm and cozy and loved. I could see that in all the 'before' photos. Thank you for sharing.
    We had to move four years ago....across the country...because of my health. We had to downsize and let go of so many beautiful pieces of furniture.
    If I think about it too much, I get sad. We had spent the chunk of our married life in the same spot....raising kids, and delighting in community friendships.
    To start over at 65 is not for the faint of heart, but it is possible. (Please read "Women Rowing North" by Mary will help, I promise). I hope that you keep on posting on your blog. It is truly special. Many hugs.

  93. Joni, A beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this very moving story about the love of a house.





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  99. Joni, I love that you ended this post with a photo of your beautiful family! I wish you all the and Ben are in my thoughts and prayers.--Jane (one of your many devoted fans)

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