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Splendor in Shadyside


Villa de Luxe, a 1920s-era Venetian Revival historic Houston estate, was transformed into a stunning design show house earlier this year. The house was originally constructed for hardware magnate F.A. Heitmann, owner of Houston’s oldest hardware store, founded by his father in the 1860s. Heitmann was also a prominent civic leader and proponent for Houston’s ship channel and new (1924) art museum.

Shadyside is a private place neighborhood adjacent to Rice University and was developed by Joseph S. Cullinan, the founder of The Texas Company (Texaco). The home was designed by renowned architect William Ward Watkin, who was Rice University’s first professor of Architecture and head of the department for 40 years. In addition to the F.A. Heitmann estate, Watkin is associated with the design of such historical landmarks as Trinity Church, the Houston Public Library and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Watkin designed the Heitmann residence in the Mediterranean Revival style, drawing on the same influences he used in his buildings at Rice and previously built homes in the neighborhood. He oriented the house’s triple–arched entry toward Main Street, detailing the front façade with a delicate arabesque freeze at the roofline. The main entrance led to a grand stair hall paneled in imported wood, which in turn opened to the living and dining rooms. Original hardwood floors, hand-carved mantels and beautiful millwork are still visible throughout the ground floor; the sunroom, in the southwest corner of the house, retains its arched windows, carved stonework and vaulted ceiling. Upstairs, generously proportioned bedrooms and sitting rooms overlook the two-acre grounds.

The house and grounds of this historic mansion were re-imagined by 20 of the city’s leading interior designers and architects. All participating designers’ work was required to complement the home’s historic features; particularly the finely detailed woodwork and paneling that are hallmarks of Watkins’ buildings. A different designer was responsible for each of the mansion’s 20 rooms. The hand-picked designers dressed the house in various interpretations ranging from classic to modern to a mix of old and new. Jane-Page Crump and Bill Stubbs coordinated the interior design effort and contributed their own talents in the living room and in the sun parlor, respectively.

Crump says, “The selection of designers is critical to the success of any show house, and with so many designers participating, we had a mix of as many personalities. We all had to meet certain criteria: each designer had to be licensed, dependable and practicing full-time as a designer. Additionally, we required that each be experienced in show house design, as to be sure they understood the timetables involved in installation and removal.” She explained, “Many of the rooms in a show house are completely dismantled immediately following a tour. Though the homeowner has the option to buy the furniture and accessories used in each room, some are sold to other homeowners and moved post-show to their new abodes.”

She continues, “Even with the work of so many creative minds and the freedom we gave them to design their spaces, the space really flowed due to the home’s proportions, the original wood paneling and the exquisite stained trim work.” In Crump’s living room design, she softened the original elements there — a heavy fireplace mantel flanked by wood-trimmed windows — by invoking a new aura entirely with a fresh palette. The sheer, citron striped drapery is light enough to offset the room’s heavier features. A pair of curved, herringbone, fabric sofas frame the fireplace while a transparent, acrylic coffee table allows an unobstructed view of the fireplace’s beautiful architectural detail. Crump loved the room’s final effect. “This gathering spot just makes you feel good with its happy fabrics and colors.”

In Stubbs’ sun parlor, Palladian-style windows and a groin-vaulted ceiling are the showstoppers. Like the living room, this space is a spot for gathering, Stubbs says, “to catch up with friends, to watch movies or even in solitude, to just curl up and read a good book.” To make the extraordinary ceiling really pop, Stubbs painted the walls a chocolate brown to blend it with the wood paneling; then to accentuate the incredibly beautiful curves, he added a chocolate pinstripe to the groins. With the rich textured fabrics on the comfy furniture and the light which floods the room, this parlor is pretty inviting.

The other designers’ works run the gamut. Donna Vining’s master bedroom presents pure traditional laced with antiques. Inspired by a hazy, lavender sunset, Vining put those hues on the wall application and the draperies, where tiny silver threads infused elegance and luxury into the intimate space. “I selected items for the room which would echo the timeless architecture of the room,” she explained. The four-poster bed with its uncomplicated linens and lace throws is  flawlessly paired with a Louis XV settee and delicate antique tray table. Sheer simplicity with sophisticated style.

Marlys Tokerud drew on a different vibe for the more contemporary second floor bedroom suite. Rather than solely focusing on a sleeping space, Tokerud’s team transformed this suite into a pied-a-terre and studio. She shared, “We visualized a small apartment where a very cosmopolitan visitor may enjoy a retreat from work.” The rich gray walls and felt floor covering provide a great backdrop for the white and bright yellow furnishings. Two unusual chandeliers and patterned, textured window scrims complete the modern aesthetic of this lovely suite.

In the dazzling dining room dressed by Sandra Lucas and Sarah Eilers, the historic and architectural relevance is juxtaposed against modern art. Initially drawn to the room because of its plaster barrel vaulted ceiling, the two brought new life to the space with fresh paint (Farrow & Ball’s Churlish Green) and carried that hue into the fabric of the dining chairs. The art was selected for its playfulness and whimsy.

The work of Connie LeFevre adorns the pool pavilion and grand terrace at the south façade of this spectacular abode. Designed to be a natural extension of the interior, the aesthetic marries the citron greens used indoors with the natural green of the outdoors. Plenty of sturdy comfortable seating and a perfectly splendid custom pergola draped in 80 yards of fabric anchor the pool deck. Large copper lanterns suspended by thick ropes hang gracefully from the limbs of the massive trees like a rustic chandelier.

Another clever use of thick ropes was found in the guest cottage, one of this home’s most unique features. The bed here is suspended by organic ropes and is backed by a richly upholstered bookcase to provide anchoring, while fabrics and accessories from world markets give an eclectic, exotic vibe. The effect is dramatic. This sensible indulgence offers a private getaway good for creative inspiration or visiting guests.

Award-winning interior designers and Preservation Houston board members Crump and Stubbs co-chaired the entire event with Martha Turner Properties and Christie’s International Real Estate on board as anchor sponsors. The show home tour event benefited Preservation Houston (preservationhouston.org), a Houston-based nonprofit organization dedicated to protect the city’s architectural and cultural historic resources.

Today, the Heitmann house reminds us of a gracious era, a time when Houston’s leaders and best architects were classically and timelessly transforming a relatively featureless lowland into a magnificent urban space. Visitors might only imagine what Watkin and Heitmann would think today if they toured the 1920 Italian Renaissance mansion in Shadyside. Most agree that for the most part, they’d definitely approve.

(top photo) DINING ROOM
Sandra Lucas and Sarah Eilers
The dining room by Sandra Lucas and Sarah Eilers blends the architectural relevance of the room with modern art and their distinct design. Accessories: Carl Moore Antiques. Art: Gremillion & Company. Ceiling: Segreto Finishes. Chandelier: Brown. Dining chairs: Designer’s Furniture Mfg. Dining table: R.N. Wakefield & Company. Drapery: D&V Drapery Company. Fabrics: Kravet and Lee Jofa. Flowers: Mark Anthony Florist. Rug: Matt Camron Rugs & Tapestries and Arena Design. Stone console: George Cameron Nash.



Jane-Page Crump
The living room designed by Jane-Page Crump exudes elegance, warmth and conviviality. Natural wood features are enhanced by sheer fabrics and delicate contemporary notes. Art: Joyce Combs, Skyline Art Services and Meek Studio & Gallery. Drapery and pillows: G&S Custom Draperies and Accents in Iron. Fabrics: Schumacher, Jab Anstoetz, Kravet and Lee Jofa. Flowers: Aubrey Sellers Flowers. Furniture: Charlotte Nail Antiques, Designer’s Furniture Mfg., James Craig Furnishings, Jane Page Design Group, McLaughlin Collection, Pilie and Postmodern Traditions.



William W. Stubbs
Palladian-style windows and a statement-making groin vaulted ceiling attracted designer Bill Stubbs to this space. Accessories and furniture: Authentic Models, Carl Moore Antiques, Ladco Washington Park Design Center, Century Design, The Hickory Chair Furniture Co. and Theodore Alexander. Fabrics and trims: Schumacher. Lighting: Circa Lighting and Facilities Electric. Finishes: Segreto Finishes. Pillows: Perfect Quilt. Rug: Stark Carpet.



Audrey Drought
Designed with the “pause” effect in mind, Audrey Drought used the outdoors and organic references in this Conservatory where the most dramatic halt may come in response to what is overhead. Sheer linen textiles of varying lengths hang from the ceiling and create subtle movement in the breezeway. Accessories and art: Kravet and Carl Moore Antiques. Fabrics: Robert Allen and Kravet. Furniture: Carl Moore Antiques. Lighting: Cyan Design and Objet Insolite. Rug: Kyle Bunting. Wallcovering: Thibaut and Tri-Kes.



John Robinson
A curved wall of windows graces the morning room, designed by John Robinson, making it a beautiful place to begin the day. Banquette: Designer’s Furniture Mfg. Fabric: Arc-Com Dining chair fabric: Donghia. Pillow fabric: Kravet.  Chandelier: Lighting, Inc. Dining chairs and accessories: Robinson & Associates. Dining table: John Brooks Incorporated.



Steve Addiego, Janie Ellis & Julie Koch
“The largest workable area in the room was the ceiling,” says Janie Ellis of Anything But Plain Decorative Painting and Plasters, who created a custom hand-painted design. Steve Addiego of G&S Custom Draperies created a cream linen shade that allows light to flood in. For hardware, Julie Koch of Elegant Additions selected polished nickel to mimic the pattern in the tile.


Diana S. Walker
The back entry, once the most-used “mud room” entry of the house, was transformed into a place to relax, have coffee and enjoy the view. Accessories, lamp and pillow: Vieux Interiors. Art: Elizabeth Chandler and Steven Alexander, Gremillion & Company, Fine Art. Art hardware: Peck & Company. Ceiling medallion: J.M. Coulson Enterprises. Chairs and ottoman: Design House. Chandelier: Lighting, Inc. Console table: Reeves Antiques. Mineral Pieces: Carol Anne Smith. Rug: Pride of Persia Rug Co.



Montgomery Roth
Montgomery Roth’s modern eye and choice of color — a palette of warm grays and creams with accents of bright orange — lend a playful and unexpected element to an otherwise formal space. Accessories: Area. Art: Gremillion & Company. Ceiling painting: Imago Dei. Drapery: County Draperies. Fabric: Robert Allen and Kravet. Furniture: Antique Pavilion, ID Collection and Mecox Gardens. Lighting: Lighting, Inc. Pillows: Embellishments by Angela. Rug: Stark Carpet.



The original parlor at the landing of the staircase was transformed into an artful space. Art and accessories: Area, Bering Art Collective, Cecil Touchon, Corbin Bronze, David Sutherland, Erik Gonzales, Krispen, Laura Rathe Fine Art, Mecox Gardens, Mel Dewees, Patrick Washburn, Pilie, Tony Saladino, True Vines and Vieux Interiors. Drapery: G&S Custom Draperies. Fabrics and furniture: Alyson Jon Interiors, Designer’s Furniture Mfg. Donghia, Edelman Leather, Norbar Fabrics and Olympus Marble Inc.  Flooring: Bull Leather, Chilewich, G H Leather and M&M Carpet Showroom. Lighting: Lighting, Inc. Specialty finishes: Anything But Plain Decorative Painting & Plasters.


Donna Vining
The timeless architecture in the master bedroom inspired designer Donna Vining to select furniture that would reflect the same ageless quality. The masterfully crafted, Fortuny pattern- inspired, stenciled walls accentuate the effect. Accessories, bed, bedding and drapery: Vining Design Associates, Inc. Antique furnishings: Carl Moore Antiques. Art: Meredith Long & Company. Rug: LGI Oriental Rugs.


Lynne T. Jones
Designer Lynne T. Jones created a colorful space with comfy seating and a table on which to do sketches. Art and art supplies: Stacy Hosrich Abstract Art & Design Associates. Ceiling and wall finishes: Spear Paint Contracting, Inc. Ceiling and wall paint: Sherwin-Williams. Chandelier: Lighting Unlimited. Drop cloth: G&S Custom Draperies. Floor lamp: Andrew Martin International. Furniture: Carl Moore Antiques. Rug: Postmodern Traditions.



Marlys Tokerud
This studio apartment designed by Marlys Tokerud is outfitted with modern elements such as the “poetry” chairs flanking a sculptural glass table in the workspace and highlighted by the outdoor backdrop. Display unit: Hellman-Chang. Chandelier: Lighting Unlimited. Kokeshi dolls: Pam Glosserman.


Donna Jarnigan
Art Deco is Donna Jarnigan’s theme in this guest room, designed as a throwback salute to the glamour of old Hollywood and the birth of modernism. The glamour of gold and silver underscore the
luxury of silk and velvet while the straighter lines keep it up-to-date. Accessories and furniture: Charlotte Nail Antiques and John Brooks Incorporated. Drapery: Creative Touch Interiors. Florals: For All Occasions. Rugs: Emmet Perry & Company. Window treatment hardware and accessories: Lacy-Boone Interiors.


Darla Bankston May
This Lower Lounge, formerly a basement, is transformed into a sophisticated retro space by designer Darla Bankston May. Cold industrial concrete is softened with fabric on the walls and the era’s glamour is accentuated via velvet fabrics, Tibetan lambswool and starburst chandelier. Accessories: Mecox Gardens and Vieux Interiors. Art: Arena Design, Bonnie Fuchs and Vieux Interiors. Bench, light fixtures and round side tables: Vieux Interiors. Bronze console, coffee table, mirror, sofa and yellow chairs: Mecox Gardens. Ceiling and wall fabrication: Kravet. Pillows: Arena Design and Vieux Interiors. Rug: Madison Lily Rugs.


Connie Lefevre
An iron-based, zinc-topped table echoes the natural space it occupies. The moss runner and colorful centerpiece, both site specific, lend whimsy. Dining table and chairs and bowl with glass balls: Design House. Table runner: Mother Nature.


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