Instant Attraction – A peek behind the trees revealed the perfect dwelling for this family of four
House hunting can be an exercise in patience as Shawn and Eric Nitcher discovered a few years ago. “We were losing hope that we were going to find a house, but I kept thinking, ‘No, it’s out there. We just haven’t found it yet,’” recalls Shawn of the long days spent searching for the right dwelling.
But hard work paid off in the form of a handsome white dwelling with large front porch. “It was unfinished, just back there behind a bunch of trees. My husband said ‘I think there’s a house back there!’ It had the siding up and everything, but no one had shown it to us. So we went back and looked at it and I just knew. It was it. We’d found our house.”
This 5,500-square-foot dwelling is, indeed, home for this family of four… five if you count their adorable Coton de Tulear dog, April. The Nitchers lived in Connecticut for 10 months before moving to Texas. They lived in England for many years before that. Signs of their extended overseas stay are evident in this house. Gents and Ladies stained glass pub signs hang in the front study windows. Time-honored antiques from some of Shawn’s favorite English haunts mix with comfortable upholstered pieces throughout.
“We loved the house we lived in over there,” she says. “But we really love this one too. To me, it’s just warm. And I think the pieces we collected over there fit in well here.” For instance, an antique trunk she acquired in the British Isles serves as a coffee table in the family room.
“We found an antique place called The Pack House in Surrey England. I practically lived at this place. Not only did they have the coolest things, but the building itself was built in the 1300s or 1400s. I’d have tea and go shopping — probably too often! A big chunk of our stuff is from our travels.”
Some of their treasured possessions, however, come from family. A beautiful upright piano in the dining room once belonged to Shawn’s great-grandmother.
And hardly a room is without a contour drawing or two by the late, noted artist Elizabeth Layton, Eric’s grandmother.
“My husband was her best fan,” says Shawn. “She started drawing when she was 68 years old and her work was just amazing. Her work was displayed at the Smithsonian.”
Shawn’s children have an artistic knack too. All manner of colorful renderings, compliments of daughter, Erin, and son, Davis, are displayed here. “I don’t think there is anything better than children’s’ art!” exclaims Shawn, who is also a creative talent. She loves creative writing and has penned children’s’ books. “It’s just a passion of mine.”
Another passion? Clocks. “Just call it my crazy obsession. I have this thing for clocks,” Shawn explains. “I love everything about them. You’ll find them all around this place. I don’t know why I love them so much but I do!” she says, giving a tour of the timepieces. “I just think they’re so beautiful.”
A collection of clocks takes up residence on the family room mantle. A marvelous grandfather clock from The Pack House (the Surrey, England shop) looks over the breakfast room. Another strikingly beautiful grandfather clock in the dining room was purchased on EBay.
“We found it on EBay. It came from California,” Shawn says. “They said it was in working order but we couldn’t figure out how to get it working. People in England worked on it and cleaned up the face and touched it up. It ended up being a signed piece from Birmingham right there in England. It cleaned up beautifully!”
Another clock sits in the study. “It has just the most beautiful tick,” she says of this clock, her favorite. “It’s a recorder clock, the kind you check in and out of work with. I used to tease Eric that he needs to check in and out on that clock so that he doesn’t work too much!”
This house offers plenty of space and specialty rooms for a family of four. A large study sits opposite the dining room in the front of the house with an open foyer offering wide-open views of the family room in the back. A large open kitchen and breakfast room also take in vistas of a lush backyard with pool, porch with summer kitchen and a veranda.
The kitchen is especially striking with white cabinetry and Yellow River granite in grays, tans and other warm colors. Fun collections draw the eye upward. Roosters hold court in a cubby; handcrafted figurines made by an artist in England convene in another.
The family room with wood-beamed ceiling is open, but cozy with a deer head made of twigs adding a bit of whimsy above the fireplace. “His name is Buck and he’s here to stay,” says Shawn, who decorates him for every holiday. “We put him up for Christmas a while back and he just became permanent. He gets decorated for all the holidays, Valentine’s Day, Easter… you name it.”
A private master suite is off to the side of the family room with all other bedrooms upstairs. “And the bedrooms were all a good size!” says Shawn. “Something you don’t see too often.”
Unlike a lot of homes with staircases that announce themselves, this one sits off to the side, just in reach of the kitchen and dining room. It leads directly to a gallery style hallway upstairs as well as the family’s gameroom and media room.
The gameroom is great for a game of pool or just hanging out with family and friends. The adjacent media room is especially charming with favorite movie posters hanging about. “We call it their cave!” says Shawn of her children’s favorite hangout. “They can disappear in there for hours!”
The family gets just as much use from their outdoor space. This home has it all with a lush backyard (Oasis Landscaping) that backs up to a lake. An enticing pool and veranda built by Custom Pool Concepts adds to this serene scene. “It’s very peaceful. Every once in a while, we’ll see a fisherman back there, but that’s okay. We don’t mind that. And every Sunday night we’ll eat outside, weather permitting,” Shawn says.
“This house works well for us, inside and out. We’ve really enjoyed it.”