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A Pumpkin House Holiday


The Beardshall’s grand Painted Lady pumpkin house in The Heights is magnificent in Queen Anne Victorian detail.

Some things are just meant to be. Amydell and Bill Beardshall weren’t intending to move just months after having twins, Bryce and Brooke. They had recently remodeled their home, adding a nursery for the little “pumpkins,” a nickname they fondly attributed to their son and daughter during pregnancy.

But Amydell took a wrong turn one day while out to pick up dry cleaning. And that changed everything.

“I’m driving down the street and see this house with a huge Estate Sale sign and just had to stop,” she says of the three-story Queen Anne Victorian rendition that the family now proudly calls home. They opened up the house to the public in last year’s Houston Heights Holiday Home Tour.

“The owner had passed away and the cousin was executor. There were crystal items and beautiful things they were selling. But the more I’m looking at the house, I’m thinking ‘Hmm… is the house for sale?’”

So she walked up to the nice lady at the front table and inquired. “She said ‘Yeah, but you might want to get on that. We’ve had about five offers already.’”

The lady’s next comment gave Amydell goose bumps. “She said, ‘You know, this used to be called the Pumpkin House.’ I couldn’t believe it. We’d been playfully calling our kids that before we even gave them names. So I’m on the phone to my husband explaining that this house was meant to be, that we’re putting our house on the market immediately.”

The realtor informed them that the only way they’d succeed in getting the house would be to introduce the family to the caretakers and let them know how desperately they desired to raise their family there. So they gathered up their “pumpkins” and did just that.

The rest is history. The house that qualifies as a “painted lady” for its intricate trim and woodwork in seven distinct colors is the perfect dwelling for this family. And its storybook charm is heightened even more during the holidays. “It’s such a warm and cozy place to be for the holidays!” exclaims Amydell, who definitely has the decorating knack.

“I seem to know what I like and it helps to have a great designer who understands that,” she says of interior designer Colby Weems of Eclectic Homes in The Heights. “I love to create, but I don’t have the vision to pull everything together by myself all the time. My designer has helped me so much with that.”

The dwelling’s configuration re­mained the same, but certain aesthetics needed a major update.

Take for example the den. Apricot pink walls with white trim and ceiling weren’t the look the couple had in mind. The walls were transformed to a cheery yellow with Sherwin William’s Chocolate Bean trim.

The kitchen cabinetry and appliances were given an update along with other touches, such as a wrought iron chandelier replacing a ceiling fan over the island. The list goes on. The Beardshalls slowly but surely made the pumpkin house their own.

“It’s been wonderful living here,” says Amydell who has nothing but praise for its previous caretaker who kindly donated a few things to the family, including beautiful Minton china. The caretaker also left a few antiques. “We came away on the better end of that deal,” she says. “We wrote them a check and got some nice pieces that the owner had loved.”

Especially sentimental is the previous owner’s breakfast table. “I had it covered in oil cloth so the kids couldn’t destroy it!” Amydell says. “Eleven dollars a yard! A great design solution in my book!”

Visitors to the home are captivated by the home’s curbside charm. And in recent years, it’s become even more attractive with a uniquely detailed fence built by Bill.

A brick walkway leads to a front porch with wide, curvaceous spindles and detail work that adds eclecticism and charm to the frontal façade.

Once inside, more charm — from the cheery yellow paint and rich wood moldings to the warm mix of modern day furnishings and antiques. Especially striking is the living room fireplace that screams holiday cheer with a fresh spray of greenery intermixed with blue poinsettias and a panel of Christmas stockings, including one in the middle with the letter D for Darcy, the dog.

In the front entry, a tree adorned in blue poinsettias, pinecones and feather detailing is a conversation piece.

“I just think the blue poinsettias are beautiful!” says Amydell, who let her creative juices flow when it came to holiday tree décor. Her talent is also on display in the dining room where Minton china mixes with crystal, silk teal napkins and peacock feathers for a festive holiday look. A twig centerpiece entwined with all manner of holiday ornamentation, adds an organic, yet elegant touch.

Art is key in this home. Family friend Dixie McCarthy of San Diego painted several vibrant pieces. And the sun streams through beautiful stained glass windows by artisan Susan Rapaskey that double as art as well.

The twins’ (now 6-year-olds) rooms are particularly cute with themes that reflect their respective passions. Daughter Brooke loves pink and ponies. “She chose Party Girl Pink from Sherwin Williams from the pink color palette,” says Amydell, who made the window treatments, including a valance in toile. “And I have a thing for argyle,” she says of one wall in a large diamond pattern of pinks, browns and tans that match an oversized stuffed pony. This room even has a pink birds and pony tree.

Son Bryce has a theme too. “We come from a family of fliers,” explains Amydell of his room décor properly outfitted in all sorts of airplanes. And, of course, an airplane tree to fit the holidays.

In keeping with the pumpkin house name, Amydell decorated a tree in the master bedroom with a collection of pumpkins that once belonged to the home’s previous owner. “He had a thing for pumpkins and people would give them to him over the years,” she explains. “It’s special that they left them here for us.”

This house, nearly 4,000 square feet, doesn’t lack for space. There’s even a third story with gameroom and exercise area. And the family inserted their love of New Orleans in the mix, too, by adding a New Orleans-style brick privacy fence, flagstone patio, gas lamps and outdoor fireplace off the back of the house. “We love it out there,” says Amydell.

“It’s amazing that we’re here and it’s done and complete and we have this amazing house to raise our family in,” she marvels. “It’s a good feeling. And it’s just the best when it comes to spending the holidays here.”

Text by Cathy Gordon
Pictures by Bookwalter Photography
Builder: Steve Watters, Steven Carruba of SC Designs
Interior Design: Colby Weems, Eclectic Home
Stained Glass: Susan Rapaskey

Rich wood molding pops against cheery yellow walls in this grand home. The tree in the entry hall, decked out in blue poinsettias, pinecones and teal and green feather detail, was a charmer in the Houston Heights Holiday Home Tour. Painting by San Diego artist Dixie McCarthy, a friend of the family.

Live greenery and blue poinsettias are an eclectic mix on this fireplace of rich wood in the living room. Even the dog Darcy gets a stocking.

The holidays are certainly festive in the Beardshall house. Here, a festive concoction of sparkles and texture bejewel the dining room table.

Brooke and Bryce helped with this delicious looking gingerbread house. Especially charming in the kitchen/den area is the corner cupboard made by Amydell’s great-grandfather.

Silk teal napkins and peacock feathers mix with beautiful Minton china that the caretakers left for the Beardshalls. A twig centerpiece decked out in a variety of festive holiday ware is the perfect table centerpiece. Wonderfully eclectic Belgian wood-carved chairs were found at the Round Top Antique Fair.

One of the family’s cats, Navasota, lays fireside in the second-floor master bedroom. Live greenery and Lenox angels that once belonged to Amydell’s great-grandmother top the mantelpiece.

A barrel vault ceiling in distressed copper paint complements a warm, yet colorful stained glass window, a feature piece in the master bathroom. Stained glass by Susan Rapaskey. • The Beardshall’s Pumpkin House has, appropriately, a pumpkin tree. The executor of the estate left the previous owner’s pumpkin collection in the house for the Beardshalls to enjoy

An airplane theme is prevalent in the son’s bedroom and the holiday tree is no exception.

A passion for pink and ponies are reflected in her daughter’s room. Her daughter chose Party Girl Pink from Sherwin Williams as the theme wall color in her bedroom. Amydell mixed an argyle pattern on the wall with a toile valance, giving the room real pizzazz.

An airplane tree in the son’s room adds a bit of whimsy to the holiday décor.

A scene from the porch — beautiful holiday ornaments dangle from striking Victorian detailing. Bill’s engineering sense was in high gear when designing and building the home’s stylish fence.

Wonderful thick spindles add detail to the porch. The home has major curbside appeal due to its Victorian charm and mix of seven warm colors.


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