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Dazzling Design with room to Grow


This livable family room includes custom pieces, such as the Moroccan ottomans from Kuhl-Linscomb, the coffee table and upholstery, as well as custom fabrics and a beautiful Moroccan rug from Carol Piper

This livable family room includes custom pieces, such as the Moroccan ottomans from Kuhl-Linscomb, the coffee table and upholstery, as well as custom fabrics and a beautiful Moroccan rug from Carol Piper

West University home offers this family the best of all worlds

When Steve and Laura Jones met in the late ’90s, she was fresh out of law school at the University of Texas, he was a client of hers through the energy business, and they were decisively Montrose people. They each had a residence in Houston’s super-hip, most eclectic neighborhood, and because they loved the lifestyle offered there, they felt they would stay in Montrose. So when the two married in 2004, Steve sold his recently renovated home, made a little profit on his investment and moved in to Laura’s self- proclaimed “very cool, pied-à-terre townhome.”

In their Montrose love nest, they adored the French courtyard, the ’70s style architecture, the interior remodel and the fact that they could walk anywhere for anything. However, not long after they merged, the couple became pregnant with Lilly (now 7 years old), and they began to look at their abode with new eyes. What they saw was no place for children and lots of hazards, like an open staircase and three stories where family living could be a challenge.

Their criteria for a more family-friendly home led them to explore neighborhoods outside the realm of their original possibilities — namely West University — where life seemed more geared towards couples with children and families in general. They found a small home about four blocks from their current residence and began to settle into family living. The couple welcomed another daughter, May (now 5 years old), and life in West U seemed sweeter than ever.

After a few years’ status quo, the Jones’ decided to hire Janet Gust to redecorate. They had admired Janet’s work in a few of their friends’ homes and were highly attracted to Janet’s skill with bold color and print, which is her trademark. Janet set to work creating an entirely new feel for their place, but only a few weeks into the project, Laura called Janet and said, “Stop work! We’re MOVING!”

Though the couple had thought they would stay for another 10 years in that  dwelling (hence the decision to redecorate), on their way home from church one Sunday afternoon, Steve stopped in front of a home in West U which was open for viewing. They loved the size of that larger home, but it was already under contract. However, the bigger feel of that house kind of opened up a can of worms, especially for Steve.

 

Great Luck as Buyers and Sellers

The couple kept looking, and once again, stumbled upon their current home when it was open for viewing. They liked this one even more, especially because it had an adjoining lot which offered room to expand with the family’s   needs. Their realtor advised them to put an offer in immediately, even though it was only the first day the home had been listed. Several other offers came in, but eventually the Jones’ bid was accepted, so they listed their home. As fate would have it, they sold that home the first day it was on the market as well. “We knew then,” said Laura, “that we had made the right decision and were meant to have this home.”

The only big changes the couple made to the space were to change the floor finish downstairs to a shade more appealing to their tastes, update the paint choices and modernize the stair railing. “And the kitchen was dark even though there are lots of windows,” Laura adds, “so we lightened the cabinets and updated the hardware and lighting.” Following those projects, the couple, along with their designer, began the work of transferring the ideas they had originally planned for the other home over to the new residence. “We didn’t lose any of our ideas or any of the time we had invested previously,” shared Janet. “Since a client’s taste in color or design is not necessarily tied to a certain home, we were able to use everything we had already decided on and just adjust it to the new space.”

Janet’s success is evidenced by her popularity as a designer and her constant referrals from happy clients. “It’s simple really,” she shared. “I really follow the ‘old school’ of interior design. I start with the floor plan of the space and add the big pieces (think sofas, heirloom pieces, rugs, etc.) to the floor plan where they belong. These may be new pieces or pieces the family wants to continue to use. Next, we select a palette of colors, including a neutral which serves as a kind of backdrop. Then, we get inspired and start assigning fabrics!”

Janet believes in buying great child-proof fabrics which will stand the test of time and allow clients to live and grow with the pieces they cover. She also encourages her clients, when the budget allows, to select drapery fabrics with designs on them. “Designs on drapes,” she explained, “equates to jewelry for fashion. It ups the ante in exactly the right way.” The rugs in each room, too, are dramatic — from bold black and white rectangles, to zebra stripes, to a colorful Aztec print and a vintage ’60s Oushak. The drapes and rugs in this home are truly magnificent in their design and add a flair any homeowner would enjoy.

The same is true for all of the fabrics. Laura said, “Janet has an extremely bold perspective with color and fabric that many designers and homeowners are afraid of. For us, however, it’s a perfect fit.” Janet agreed. “Like most homeowners,” she explains, “the Jones’ have a budget for their remodel, which means we must use many of their existing pieces of furniture, art and rugs in their new space, and complete the redecorating project in phases. When we collect things over time, they don’t always match perfectly, but Laura and Steve were not afraid to allow me to mix materials and patterns.”

 

Design That Allows Transformation

The girls’ rooms are great examples of how this family used existing and heirloom furniture items in their new home. Lilly’s room consists of a bed and desk which belonged to Laura’s grandmother as the base pieces around which built-in shelving and a bench were added. All of the furniture was painted white and accessorized to reflect Lilly’s age now, but with some simple altering of accessories and paint, the room can transform as she grows older. The same is true of May’s room. May’s bed belonged to Laura when she was younger. By painting, accessorizing and adding built-ins, these furniture pieces will easily translate into her teen years.

The next phase of design includes accessorizing. Along with pillows and lampshades, which can be changed out seasonally if desired, Janet encourages using family heirloom pieces and collections to accessorize, and says that “collections don’t have to mean clutter when they are grouped and presented aesthetically.” She points to Laura’s collection of Aztec fossils which are a gift from her father. These are beautifully displayed in the study on custom acrylic bases and the result is show-stopping. Other collections used to accessorize the family room are the family’s found shells displayed on heirloom trays. These examples demonstrate how Laura was able to feature the collections while retaining the minimalist feel she loves.

The dining room, while also minimalist in its aesthetic, is equally stunning. A long, narrow dining table is surrounded by amazing seating. The side chairs have gorgeous, curvy, embellished metal backs and the end chairs are a striking contrast in plush fabric with straight edges and low backs. Even more appealing is the sofa at the dining table, which is another signature Janet Gust design element. “I love putting a couch at the dining table,” she declared. “I do it as often as I can because there is no more comfortable seating for guests after dinner, sipping on coffee or wine, and just lounging a while to enjoy conversation with family and friends.”

Overall the home reflects a blended style where you’ll see some traditional and Mid-Century pops amid soft, elegant, contemporary furnishings mixed with family antiques, modernized with new fabrics or paint. And the couple is not finished yet. The redecorating will continue in its scheduled phases and will also include a remodel. The Jones’ are working with Dillon Kyle Architecture, recipient of the 2013 Gold Brick Award on a remodel which will expand the downstairs living space and reassign the garage to make room for a swimming pool in the backyard.

Though Steve and Laura never expected to wind up in their West University neighborhood, they couldn’t be happier or feel more at home. Their  family has the best of all worlds.

Text by Cheryl Alexander |  Photography by Patrick Bertolino |  Interior Design by Janet Gust |  Architecture by Dillon Kyle Architecture
Nesting tables with abstract art: Colorful contemporary artwork by Daniel McFarlane is paired with marker tables by Donghia and a custom upholstered chair.

Nesting tables with abstract art: Colorful contemporary artwork by Daniel McFarlane is paired with marker tables by Donghia and a custom upholstered chair.

Every home needs a special touch like these collectible found shells and trays, which were handed down through generations.

Every home needs a special touch like these collectible found shells and trays, which were handed down through generations.

THESE PAGES: ­Cool tones with pops of color make this kitchen and breakfast room with its contemporary Saarinen table an inviting space for a cup of morning coffee or afternoon tea. Great lighting and embellished shades complete the aesthetic.

Cool tones with pops of color make this kitchen and breakfast room with its contemporary Saarinen table an inviting space for a cup of morning coffee or afternoon tea. Great lighting and embellished shades complete the aesthetic.

This handcrafted staircase in the home’s entry greets family and friends as they arrive.  Floral art adds interest to stairwell wall.

This handcrafted staircase in the home’s entry greets family and friends as they arrive. Floral art adds interest to stairwell wall.

 In the foyer,  colorful artwork from Rio de Janeiro was a souvenir from Steve’s travels. The contemporary art juxtaposes nicely with the simple elegance of the Swedish buffet topped with acrylic lamps, circa 1960.

In the foyer, colorful artwork from Rio de Janeiro was a souvenir from Steve’s travels. The contemporary art juxtaposes nicely with the simple elegance of the Swedish buffet topped with acrylic lamps, circa 1960.

 A Swedish bench from W. Gardner, Ltd. pops with floral patterned custom pillows.

A Swedish bench from W. Gardner, Ltd. pops with floral patterned custom pillows.

A modern occasional table mixed with an old Spanish bench provides a nice gathering space between this home’s family room and kitchen.

A modern occasional table mixed with an old Spanish bench provides a nice gathering space between this home’s family room and kitchen.

The Swedish Gustavian buffet from W. Gardner, Ltd. offers a unique focal point in the dining room. Matching lamps and art by Houston artist Alan Rodewald.

The Swedish Gustavian buffet from W. Gardner, Ltd. offers a unique focal point in the dining room. Matching lamps and art by Houston artist Alan Rodewald.

Adding color into this bookcase reflects designer Janet Gust’s special touch in the family room.

Adding color into this bookcase reflects designer Janet Gust’s special touch in the family room.

Heirloom pieces were used in both of their daughters‘ rooms

Heirloom pieces were used in both of their daughters‘ rooms

Adding color into this bookcase reflects designer Janet Gust’s special touch in the family room.

The home office is playful and cheery. The lounge is a perfect spot to read. Paint color is Bermuda Turquoise.

Heirloom pieces were used in both of their daughters‘ rooms.

Corner nook in office has comfy chair and ottoman to relax.


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