A 1920s bungalow in The Heights undergoes a charming remodel
Leann Mueller loved loft living, but it was time for something different — a time for this former expat to get her cherished possessions out of storage and set up anchor in a neighborhood. The Heights seemed perfect.
So she went about searching for her next home with specific ideas about what would make her happy. “I looked at several houses with my realtor,” she says. “But this one I just had to come back to. It was the first one I’d looked at and I was intrigued, but needed to see if there was some way to have the master bedroom downstairs. That was important to me.”
It turns out there was a way. And what a difference it made to this home. With the help of Heights architect Bruce Roadcap, they figured out a way to invent new space. These days the master bedroom and bathroom, as well as a utility /laundry room and screened-in porch take up residence where a long driveway used to be. Garage access was flipped to the back paved alley.
All of this architectural maneuvering garnered positive results. It maximized the yard and provided north light for the addition as well as shade for a courtyard that has a raised garden and firepit. The master bedroom and bathroom open directly to a screened-in porch in cedar and galvanized metal that runs the full length of the addition as a transition to the courtyard.
A large new kitchen was created as well, with instant connection to the outdoors with a bank of high casement windows.
“All in all, a huge change!” says Leann, who couldn’t be happier with the result. She praises both Roadcap and the contractor, Lucas Craftsmanship Inc. for turning the vision into her dream home.
The back porch has revolutionized the way she lives. “I can’t imagine life without that space,” she says of her favorite spot for morning coffee. Her canine companion, Sean Fluff-Daddy, loves it too. “Oh, if I’m out there, he’s out there!” she says. “And it’s so nice to just wake up in the morning and be able to throw those doors from the bedroom and bathroom open to the screen porch. A wonderful connection!”➝
Honesty of materials and cohesiveness were important to Leann, who used the same limestone on her porch floor for the kitchen countertops. Marble from the kitchen island was also duplicated on the master bedroom countertops. The soft sky-blue bead board porch ceiling was sloped into the master bedroom/bath suite.
“I didn’t want a lot of mish-mash,” she says. “There had to be continuity.”
And Leann yearned for a slight industrial edge, apparent in the galvanized metal sheathing on the screened-in porch. A handrail on the home’s interior staircase, roof and front fence, all done in metal, add to this look.
“Maybe it was a throw-over from living in a loft, but I like that contemporary, industrial element and I think it works well with this house,” she says. “Bruce knew how to bring that in.”
Her furniture is a mix of antiques and contemporary pieces that suits this 1920s cottage with original hardwood floors.
Leann knows a bit about antiques, particularly 18th Century European decorative arts. She acts as a volunteer docent at the 1950s River Oaks mansion, Rienzi, part of the Museum of Fine Arts. Her own collection of antiques, to some extent, reflects her years as an expat living overseas.
Indeed, the living room is a wonderful reflection of places Leann has lived. Contemporary paintings by South Dakota artist Lynn Thorpe adorn the walls, paying homage to Leann’s birth state. A lady’s writing desk and antique longcase clock were purchased while living in England. A colorful rug and glass coffee table were acquired while residing in Moscow.
A linen sofa with vintage appeal from Crate & Barrel acts as living room anchor for two chairs that reveal Leann’s fun side — one in pink and another Mitchell Gold chair in a vinyl-like fabric.
She purchased a piece from the Bayou City Arts Festival to adorn the fireplace mantel. “I bought it knowing it was going to go there before renovation here ever started,” she says. “This room really evolved around that piece.”
The dining room also benefits from European finds, including a beautiful corner cupboard with the original interior yellow paint that harbors Royal Doulton china commemorating the 1981 Princess Diane and Prince Charles wedding.
A monk’s bench that converts into a table is another interesting find here. A stately buffet from England complements the dining table, also from England. Chairs from Z Gallerie add intrigue to this scene, as does a blown-glass Fortuny chandelier with tassels.➝
The home’s floorplan is pleasing with views that sweep through the living and dining rooms and into the kitchen. “I love my kitchen!” says Leann, who collaborated with Roadcap to achieve this dream space.
Limestone countertops and a marble island surface combine with white cabinets for a fresh, streamlined feel. A bank of high casement windows allow for pristine views of the garden and courtyard out back. (Landscaping by Strong Landscaping) Bottle pendants are the perfect detail here to enhance this clean look. This space has all the high-end appliance bells and whistles that make it not only beautiful, but also supremely functional.
The downstairs also includes a guest room and bath to the front of the home, as well as a den off of the dining room. But perhaps the most alluring part of the house is the master bedroom and bathroom that opens up into the long screened-in porch.
Leann loves the master bedroom for its coziness. “I sleep so well in here…it’s so quiet and cozy! I wanted to get away from the idea that you have to have a large master bedroom.”
This one isn’t large, but it packs a big punch with wardrobe closets built in as walls. “I didn’t want a walk-in closet,” Leann explains. A sloped bead board ceiling in a pale sky-blue carries through from the porch, giving the space a warm connection to the outdoors. Casement windows above the doors to the porch can be opened for a nice breeze.
Especially eye-catching is the master bathroom that was designed to accommodate Leann’s Japanese soaking tub. “That was a number-one priority,” she says of the tub, sheathed in a marble with a bubble pattern. A circular skylight overhead casts moonlight on the floor. Marble vanity tops contrast with wood cabinets for a rich, warm look.
The house has a roomy upstairs too with a gameroom and guest room with bathroom. To the front end, a sunroom provides nice respite and a view of the street. Again, Leann’s travels provided inspiration here with colorful saris from a trip to India draping the windows. Another full bath remodeled with vintage-looking tiles is just off of this space.
Future projects? She looks forward to turning an already-existing storage cottage out back into a charming potting shed.
“There are so many features and wonderful aspects to this house!” she says. “You know how that designer expert Nate Berkus says your house should rise to greet you? This one does. I’m surrounded by my life.”