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New England Meets European Elegance


A sunny kitchen provides an expansive view into the courtyard, where Nick and Dominique watch their children play. A handpainted scene above the stove depicts their engagement at the Piazza del Popolo.

Couple blends culture, style and family

She’s a familiar face and a local treasure who appears on the television in our living rooms for the evening news. Now the tables are turned on KPRC news anchor and native Houstonian Dominique Sachse and her husband, Nick Florescu, who invite Lifestyles & Homes readers into their personal abode. The couple married in May 2012 and blended their culture and personal style to create a nurturing home for their children. Enjoy this tour of their tranquil sanctuary located in the heart of Houston.

 

BLENDING FAMILY

Dominique and Nick’s home was designed to raise children and create memories. To address the needs of this modern family, the original 1935 dwelling was torn down, followed by new construction by Lovett Homes.

Nick bought the house five years earlier and furnished it sparsely with just a few basic pieces (fondly referred to as his “Man House”). But all that changed as the couple merged families under one roof. Nick has three daughters and two sons: Ava, 7; Nicky, 10; Bella, 12; Alex, 20; and Elle, 21. Dominique has a son, 7-year-old Styles. Now this family of eight nests in an abode ascending three stories with more than 5,000 square feet that balances luxury with coziness.

 

DESIGN

While the quaint exterior and side porch evokes New England charm, the interior tells another story. The house, previously in cool colors and peachy tones, was re-imagined and today is a testament to Europe and “Country French.”

Sophisticated while comfortable, the European elements emanate from the moment you step across the threshold onto wood floors repurposed from the original house. A  large antique mirror and buffet from Chateau Domingue stands beautifully in the foyer, while to the right a great room opens up and welcomes guests. To the left, at the far end, is a floor-to-ceiling collection of cherished family photographs. “When guests enter,” says Sachse, “I want them to feel they’ve been handed a warm blanket and a cup of coffee.”

It was important that the home’s decor reflect a happy blend of the couple’s style. It was purposefully designed to accommodate a large family and entertain guests. Fortunately, their individual styles were complimentary and converged to create a home reflective of the couple.

Throughout the first two floors, the work of Leslie Sinclair of Segreto Finishes abounds. A plaster treatment gives the walls a warm tone.

 

EUROPEAN INFLUENCE

Nick and Dominique wanted something authentic to define the eaves and architecture of the great room, so they used imported ceiling beams inspired by Nick’s parent’s farm house in the Parisian Antibes. Ties to Europe and the countryside are the foundation of the home’s aesthetic. His heritage is Romanian, and among his father’s best selling books is the 1972 In Search of Dracula. “The revolution in Romania was about the United States opening up to Eastern Europe,” says Nick. Cultural influences are important to the couple as they blend Old World charm into this modern family dwelling.

In fact, a shared connection permeates the new interior, as both Nick and Dominique are of European descent. Her father was born in Hamburg, Germany. “You might say my mom imported my dad,” quips Dominique. Although Nick hails from one of the oldest families in Romania, he is also a native Austinite because his father was working on a graduate degree at University of Texas when Nick came along.

The couple frequently entertains dignitaries, hosting over 90 consulate corps. For the past seven years, The Honorable Nicholas Alexander Florescu, Honorary Consul General of Romania, has welcomed delegations (such as energy or commerce) as he heads the second largest consulate apart from Washington, D. C., and New York. He also endeavors to connect Eastern Europe to the rest of the world through Kubis Media, drawing business experience from the U.S., web design talents from South America, and programming expertise from Romania.

 

WARM TONES

“I love to lift color out of rugs,” says Dominique, who designed much of the living area, along with Cynthia Neal of Neal and Company whose upholstery choices reflect warmth and whimsy, inspired, literally, from underfoot. In the great room, the orange accents on the pillows complement the gray shade of the couches and the rust tone in the rug. The fireplace, too, adds warmth, framed by 15th century-inspired sconces by Chateau Domingue.

A floor-to-ceiling hand-painted mural on the far end of the great room makes its own unique statement as a backdrop for distressed faux double doors that enclose a television and entertainment unit. “We looked through books and fell in love with one particular scene, which the artist used as inspiration,” says Dominique of the art that transformed the wall into a tranquil landscape. Colors throughout the house were included in the masterpiece, making the mural completely original.

In the den a Venetian wine chest was cleverly repurposed into a large, impressive one-of-a-kind wet bar. Its perfectly proportioned doors accent the den and open to a sink, storage and shelves. Grapes carved into the wood lend an Old World charm to the space.

 

KITCHEN AND DINING

The kitchen is the heart of the Florescu home for various reasons, the most notable being size, seating and view. The family gathers to dine at the comfortable bench breakfast table nestled against an expansive window. The view spreads across the front of the house, which is a communal “courtyard” that draws all the neighborhood kids together, knitting a sense of community with every soccer ball and game of tag. “As a parent, you can’t beat the courtyard,” says Dominique. “It’s a safe and protected cove. I can see right from the kitchen, and it’s perfect for kids.” Their children snack and work on school projects at the kitchen bar. A hand painted scene above the stove reveals the Piazza del Popolo near the Villa Borhese gardens. It was Nick’s idea to reenact the scene of their engagement, complete with two small figures depicting the couple standing near a fountain .

The cozy atmosphere of the kitchen juxtaposes an exquisitely elegant dining room. A stunning chandelier by Circa and a cherished Leslie Park piece from Gremillion compliment the beautiful table setting. The wall becomes a focal point with artwork by Franco Ruiz, bringing a touch of whimsy and sentimental significance to the formal space.

Dominique’s mother worked for Tootsie’s when the store was treated to a visit by Franco Ruiz, in from San Antonio. “Carolyn Farb had already hauled half his artwork away in her car, but one perfect piece remained,” says Dominique. Nick spotted a framed image of a woman in a black dress next to the Eiffel Tower, precisely like the one Dominique wore in Paris for a Louvre event. It became a favorite wedding gift.

 

KID-FRIENDLY

With two children in college, the third floor is the logical “dorm” and “mosh pit,” as Dominique likes to say of the living, sleeping and study area for the oldest Florescu students. Alex and Elle come home on weekends, semester breaks and holidays.

Styles and Nick, Jr., both in elementary school, share a room done in denims and a nautical vibe. “The room is slightly partitioned, giving each boy some privacy,” says Dominique. Ava’s room is pretty in pink, while Bella’s stuns in blues and aquas. Down the hall, a guest bedroom stands ready for relatives and visitors.

A communal lounge serves as grand central station, connecting every second floor room with a study area, and an oversized and comfortable couch. Dominique’s photography of each child and a dearly departed Wheaton Terrier on the wall makes a stunning focal point.

 

GOOD, CLEAN FUN

Dominique is well known for her clutter-free environment. “We teach all the kids to have respect for themselves and others,” she says. Cleaning and organizing is a constant, and the only way to avoid chaos is to constantly stay ahead of the clutter. “We encourage the kids to take pride in their environment and do their part.”

The backyard pool is shaded and provides a tranquil oasis, while the side yard cove with its round seating and fire pit area makes a fun gathering space in nice weather, as well as an opportunity for the kids to make ‘smores.

“We are so blessed to live here,” says Dominique. “We are very grateful to have our family, our health, and a home we were able to design to fit our family’s needs perfectly.” Nick nods in agreement. It’s a special place to call home.

TEXT BY MELANIE SAXTON | PHOTOGRAPHED BY J PAMELA PHOTOGRAPHY AND BY AL TORRES PHOTOGRAPHY INC.

The Florescu home evokes thoughts of hardy New England with beautiful landscaping. The large kitchen window faces a community courtyard that neighborhood children enjoy year-round.

An antique mirror and buffet complement the original hardwood floors in the
home’s entry.

A large, ornate Venetian wine chest was repurposed to make a one-of-a-kind wet bar in the family den.

 

A handpainted mural depicting a serene countryside provides a backdrop to distressed double doors, evoking Country French.

Dominique Sachse enjoys a cup of coffee under a trellis in her patio.

The sideyard features rich foliage and a fire pit encircled by seating provides a welcomed respite to family and guests.

Colors from the rug accent the formal dining room, complete with a chandelier by Circa and Leslie Park artwork. Foliage surrounds a shaded pool and small pool house.

Large beautiful roses from Nino’s adorn an outdoor table.

Stunning black-white portraits of each child on the wall on the second floor den were done by Dominique. Stairs lead to the third floor mosh pit and dorm.

The Florescu family portrait taken in May 2012 on Dominique and Nick’s wedding day. From left: Alex, Elle, Styles, Dominique, Nick, Ava, Nick Jr. and Bella. (Al Torres Photography Inc)

Al Torres Photography Inc

 


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