Home » Featured Homes, More Features

A French Country Christmas


EDITED1156_MR9A3281-a
K
appa Kappa Gamma Charitable Foundation Holiday Pilgrimage kicked off the 2012 holiday season with a festive home tour to support local charities. The biennial Pilgrimage Home Tour was held last Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 and included a tour of four homes in the River Oaks and Tanglewood area decorated for the season by Houston’s professional floral designers.

Guests may have experienced a touch of déjà vu when they arrived at the Watson home as 2012 marked the second appearance of this resplendent River Oaks home on the on the Holiday Pilgrimage Home Tour. Previously it was featured on the 1992 tour.

Noted Houston architect Eugene Werlin designed this magnificent home in 1935, and its architecture reflects the tradition of the 17th and 18th century French country manor estates. The Watsons acquired the home in May 1994 and commissioned Rick Tatum Tatco Contracting to remodel certain parts of the home, adding a wine cellar and outdoor kitchen designed by Russell Windham with Curtis & Windham Architects. The house was remodeled again and a card room for games and gatherings was added. It is an elegantly traditional River Oaks house designed for a family and entertaining.

The Watson home sits on a spacious lot, privately surrounded by a gorgeous landscape which consists of layered and tailored gardens, secret flower gardens, and ambient water features designed by Dennis Wright. The interiors represent the collective thinking of the owners and their designers, Ginger Barber and Jenne Williams. The furnishings are simple lined custom upholstery, made per design by Bespoke LLC, and mixed with the owners’ collection of antiques and fine art.

The owners love to use their home for entertaining and hosting charity events, dinner parties and family gatherings, and the common areas are designed with this in mind. The gracious entry greets guests with tandem flocked trees and offers views of sprawling back lawn and gardens. The luxurious marble floors were honed to tone down strong natural color, and a lovely staircase with its original iron railing covered for the season with garland and gold bows gently spirals into the entry. A 19th Century Louis XVI console with beautiful water-gilding and stone top define the elegant open space. The stunning entry is made ready for the holiday season with miniature junipers along with a blend of hydrangea, evergreens, orchids, dried straw flowers, moss, pinecones and painted velvet Christmas balls.

To the right of the entry is the library/game room where trees dressed with cinnamon-scented pinecones lend festive flavor to the twin trees placed symmetrically in the corners of this large and elegant room. Here, the Watsons and their friends freely peruse the plethora of books, visit around the fireplace, make drinks at the bar and play cards. The Louis XVI style sofa, covered in an array of designer fabric and custom pillows, and plush club chairs afford plenty of comfortable seating. A custom cocktail table, along with a card table, clearly identify the room’s purpose.

In the Watsons’ living room, gorgeous muted soft golds, creams, and beiges set the color palette. Glazed walls, elegant fabrics and the seagrass rug add elegant texture, and flameless candles flicker for the Christmas season and set a festive tone. This room has beautiful natural light from arched French doors on either side, as well as the warm glow of lamps and antique sconces. Architecturally-inspired bookshelves on both sides of a niche are filled with antique books, family pictures and other treasures. The season is celebrated with the silver service on display decorated with kale, bells of Ireland and white roses.

The wonderful dining room features a well-used, wood-burning fireplace with its original surround faux marble painted by Decorative Arts. The large reproduction Italian dining table with painted trestle legs and waxed walnut top provides ample space for family dinners or other entertaining, and the stunning display shelves with classic pediments on top are professionally lit from within to showcase the couple’s collection of Cream Ware Pottery serving pieces and vessels. The inside of the piece is painted an accent color to not only complement the room, but also to allow the pottery to stand out.

A charming and intimate den is used for cozy family gatherings by the fire. A striking 19th century Tabriz wool rug in browns, creams, corals, and small accents of Cadmium yellow lay a gorgeous foundation for the custom sofas and club chairs. The drapery features the same Toile fabric as the furniture, but in a different color. Tufted ottomans do double duty as cocktail tables or a place to rest tired feet. Poinsettias, nutcrackers, holly and burlap tree skirts adorn a trio of ponderosa pines set in two corners of the room.

In the kitchen, pine boughs bring the holiday spirit, along with touches of pyracantha, miniature rosemary and juniper. The breakfast area overlooks the outdoor dining area and back lawn, and beautifully shaped windows open out to a charming flower garden. An antique French walnut trestle table was cut down to fit the space, while provincial Louis XV side chairs and ample armchairs with clean lines upholstered in brown and cream waxed linen make relaxing with morning coffee and holiday cookies easy and inviting.

The man of the house is the serious chef in this kitchen and the goal of the remodel here was to improve it aesthetically without interfering with its necessary function. He stresses with a smile, “This is a hard-working chef’s kitchen.”

The Watson home’s elements are refreshingly real, from the noble slate roof to the antiqued painted finishes on functional shutters to the interesting masonry details, the multiple wood-burning fireplaces, copper gutters, lanterns, and awnings. This classic home with an understated yet sophisticated style and scale was made more modern with the recent updates. All elements of the home’s architecture come together in a harmonious and classic combination, speaking of quality materials and thoughtful, subtle details.

A local tradition since 1941, the Kappa Kappa Gamma Charitable Foundation of Houston donated $265,000 of the Pilgrimage 2012 event proceeds to several local nonprofit organizations and distributed these gifts at the Kappa Gives a Gift reception this past April. Recipients included Casa de Esperanza de los Ninos, Heroes for Children, Houston Area Panhellenic Foundation, Nehemiah Middle School, Santa Maria Hostel, Inc., The Brookwood Com­munity, Amazing Place, Be a Resource for CPS Kids (BEAR), Be an Angel Fund, The Rose, The Women’s Home, Trees of Hope and Wellsprings Village.

The event was co-chaired by Katie Thompson and Cynthia Urquhart, working together to “Give a Gift to Houston.” The women shared, “Houstonians have always been extremely supportive of our Home Tour, and this year is no exception. The people of Houston are always ready to help others.”

(top image)  This festive dining table is holiday ready with gift boxes at every place setting, miniature junipers and mossy green Christmas balls. The white lights and gold bows on the lovely tree reflect the room’s neutral tones and china pattern.

text by CHERYL ALEXANDER photography by GARY ZVONKOVIC floral design by JEFF H. BRADLEY CUSTOM FLOWERS (JEFF BRADLEY) interior design by GINGER BARBER AND JANNE WILLIAMS landscape design by RUCKEL, DILLON, WRIGHT, INC. (DENNIS WRIGHT)

PREVIOUS PAGES: This magnificent River Oaks home, built in 1935, reflects the tradition of the 17th and 18th century French country manor estates. Abundant greenery, fruit and berries welcome guests for the holiday season.

PREVIOUS PAGES: This magnificent River Oaks home, built in 1935, reflects the tradition of the 17th and 18th century French country manor estates. Abundant greenery, fruit and berries welcome guests for the holiday season.

The walls in the spacious chef’s kitchen are perfected in three different hand-glazed wood finishes and plaster coated by Palomares Paint Co. The practical countertops are a contrast in honed dark granite and light beige Silestone. Miniature rosemarys and junipers on the island serve as a backdrop for the Christmas cookies and smell as inviting.

The walls in the spacious chef’s kitchen are perfected in three different hand-glazed wood finishes and plaster coated by Palomares Paint Co. The practical countertops are a contrast in honed dark granite and light beige Silestone. Miniature rosemarys and junipers on the island serve as a backdrop for the Christmas cookies and smell as inviting.

An assortment of Chinese earthenware and plates are illuminated and displayed in a beautifully glazed interior of the upper cabinet. The lower cabinet displays an antique English tea caddy filled with poinsettias and greenery and a needlepoint collection of Santas made by individuals from Supporters of Episcopal High School.

An assortment of Chinese earthenware and plates are illuminated and displayed in a beautifully glazed interior of the upper cabinet. The lower cabinet displays an antique English tea caddy filled with poinsettias and greenery and a needlepoint collection of Santas made by individuals from Supporters of Episcopal High School.

 In this charming and intimate den, a stunning 19th century Tabriz wool rug in browns, creams, corals, and small accents of Cadmium yellow (the lady of the home’s favorite pop-color) set the stage for custom sofas by Rose Tarlow. Club chairs and drapery fabric by Marvic Textiles. A pair of English Tole canisters are now table lamps. Rich gold walls glazed by Decorative Arts.

In this charming and intimate den, a stunning 19th century Tabriz wool rug in browns, creams, corals, and small accents of Cadmium yellow (the lady of the home’s favorite pop-color) set the stage for custom sofas by Rose Tarlow. Club chairs and drapery fabric by Marvic Textiles. A pair of English Tole canisters are now table lamps. Rich gold walls glazed by Decorative Arts.

The gracious entry features striking marble floors and a staircase with original iron railing and a handsome custom wool Wilton runner by Stark that gently spirals into the foyer. The console table is 19th century Louis XVI. Walls are a faux limestone block pattern by Decorative Arts.

Living room features an elegant muted color. The Strie’ glazed walls, sophisticated fabrics, and seagrass rug add texture and interest. The simple garland and a wreath with gold bows bring the holidays indoors while specialty art lighting by Illuminations expertly highlights the owners’ fabulous collection of Peter Max artwork.

Living room features an elegant muted color. The Strie’ glazed walls, sophisticated fabrics, and seagrass rug add texture and interest. The simple garland and a wreath with gold bows bring the holidays indoors while specialty art lighting by Illuminations expertly highlights the owners’ fabulous collection of Peter Max artwork.

A tiered serving shelf holds the homeowner’s collection of antique silver used to display fresh flower arrangements.

A tiered serving shelf holds the homeowner’s collection of antique silver used to display fresh flower arrangements.

 A delightful breakfast area overlooks the covered outdoor dining area and back lawn. The antique French walnut trestle table was custom-fitted to the space. Provincial Louis XV side chairs with loose tie cushions and ample armchairs with clean lines are upholstered in brown and cream waxed linen by Rogers & Goffigon. Elegant draperies in tobacco and cream print were hand-screened by Spanish designer Rosa Bernal. A simple iron and linen shade light fixture adds a finishing touch.

A delightful breakfast area overlooks the covered outdoor dining area and back lawn. The antique French walnut trestle table was custom-fitted to the space. Provincial Louis XV side chairs with loose tie cushions and ample armchairs with clean lines are upholstered in brown and cream waxed linen by Rogers & Goffigon. Elegant draperies in tobacco and cream print were hand-screened by Spanish designer Rosa Bernal. A simple iron and linen shade light fixture adds a finishing touch.

The fireplace and ample seating in this library invites you to sit a spell. The flocked tree, heavy garland and fresh flowers bring the warmth of the holidays. Louis XVI style sofa by Minton-Spidell. Plush club chairs by Classic Cloth. Custom designed kidney-shaped stools are hand-forged iron and upholstered by Peck and Co.

The fireplace and ample seating in this library invites you to sit a spell. The flocked tree, heavy garland and fresh flowers bring the warmth of the holidays. Louis XVI style sofa by Minton-Spidell. Plush club chairs by Classic Cloth. Custom designed kidney-shaped stools are hand-forged iron and upholstered by Peck and Co.

This cozy seating area invites conversation or simply taking time to enjoy a good book. The holiday wreath and garland lend simple, elegant seasonal touches.

This cozy seating area invites conversation or simply taking time to enjoy a good book. The holiday wreath and garland lend simple, elegant seasonal touches.

 


Comments are closed.