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Traditional With a Twist


This roomy kitchen is a vision with white oak floors, an oversized Calcutta Gold marble island, limestone countertops and an elegant chandelier for a splash of sparkle. French doors lead to the courtyard for open-air living.

This roomy kitchen is a vision with white oak floors, an oversized Calcutta Gold marble island, limestone countertops and an elegant chandelier for a splash of sparkle. French doors lead to the courtyard for open-air living.

A sun-filled home on a corner lot puts a fresh face on tradition

It’s a lovely feeling, entering a home and experiencing that sense of déjà vu. Maybe it’s the porch and the way it frames the sunset just like at your grandmother’s house. Or it’s the dining room that reminds you of family dinners growing up. Whatever the case, the house has that sense of familiarity — in a good way.

That’s the creative sense that custom home builder Mary Ross draws upon every time she designs a home. And the house she built for herself is no exception.

“If people walk in and they feel at home right away, either because they like the home or because it reminds them of Aunt Suzy’s dining room or grandma’s porch, that’s the kind of feeling I want them to have when they walk in a house,” explains Mary.

A long-time resident of The Woodlands, Mary has now settled in East Shore. “It’s a smaller lot, I’m here with other empty nesters and I can walk to Market Street… I mean, everything about the location is convenient. I love it, I just love it!”

Relocating to East Shore also means being close to work, for she builds homes in this neighborhood. She describes her style as New Traditional.

“I don’t want people to drive down the street 10 years from now and say, ‘Oh, that was built in 2012.’ I want a classic look that stands the test of time. I would say it leans toward southern classic. I love the big porches and columns and balconies and that classic southern traditional feeling that comes with it. People feel instantly at home, but the house has a little bit of a contemporary or more current edge to it.”

One needs look no further than Mary’s house to understand this design aesthetic.

It’s traditional without being stuffy. Design elements unite for a fresh, current look with mass appeal. The 4,300-square-foot dwelling is elegant without being fussy, the kind of place where you know feet are welcome on the coffee table. “It’s got to be comfortable. I mean homes are meant to be lived in, right?”

If homes can have a disposition, Mary’s house is definitely sunny.

A cheerful vestibule with herringbone brick floor, washed brick wall and charming orchid-on-yellow vintage-inspired wallpaper greets visitors. That space alone is enough to put one in a good mood. “This space just makes me happy,” says Mary.

A step up and you’re in the main foyer that allows views of the house from front to back. Beautiful white oak floors sweep through the dwelling, contrasting with creamy large block paneling for a clean, streamlined look. (floors by Southern Star).

A roomy study to the left offers one of the best views of the sunset from a window box seat. “This room was designed mainly so my accountant can work in here, but the view from that window is very nice,” says Mary, who has accessorized here with treasured family mementoes — framed piano music she played as a child and pictures of her grandparents and a store they owned back in the 1930s.

“I think your accessories always mean more when there are those connections to them,” she says.

The den is a comfortable mix of neutrals with a sisal rug underfoot. A washed brick fireplace wall is a nice accent here. Mary, a self-described devout Marshall’s shopper, found quite the piece for her family room there — an elegant coffee table that blends wonderfully into her casual, yet elegant décor. “I couldn’t believe it… a great find. And that sucker is heavy!”

Some homeowners don’t use dining rooms much, perhaps only for special occasions during the holidays. Not Mary. This beautiful room, outfitted in velvet chairs and a special inset bench that fits perfectly at the table’s edge when its extensions are in, is the primary eating area in the house when company comes. And family comes often, as her sons and grandchildren live in the area.

A wall of plates, cleverly staggered over one another in artful fashion, spans a wall in this space. Mary inherited them from a dear friend. “I just couldn’t bear to eat on them. I wanted to display them where we can see them,” she says. A real showstopper in this room is the crystal chandelier, dripping in stars. (Fine Art chandelier, Carol’s Lighting). “I fell in love with it. I’m really into the chandelier thing. I just think it finishes off a house. Just a little bit of whimsy when you turn a corner is never a bad thing.”

Limestone countertops, an oversized Calcutta Gold marble island and handmade ceramic backsplash tiles (Emser Tile) make this kitchen shine. Adding to that sparkle is a delightful chandelier hovering overhead and adorable checkered curtains that Mary made above the farmhouse sink.

Indeed, this homeowner has the creative knack. She is also a painter and uses a space past the kitchen as an art studio. When weather allows, French doors surrounding the studio and kitchen can be opened to the courtyard, a great design element when entertaining.

Organization is key to a streamlined home and this dwelling’s mudroom behind the kitchen has every feature for keeping things in check. A butler’s pantry area as well as storage for work-related items is cleverly tucked away in this part of the house as well.

The stair railing leading to the upstairs was left in its natural color with just a bit of sandblasting for a unique look. “I wanted it to look old and natural,” Mary explains. The second floor leads to a large master bedroom with grasscloth walls and striking crewelwork draperies. The master bathroom is a picture of relaxation in smooth porcelain floors, marble countertops and sparkling crushed glass tiles that frame the bathtub.

The other end of the bathroom leads to a large closet and utility room.

The home also has a media room tucked away on the second floor and two bedrooms that are especially appreciated in this house — one for her two granddaughters and the other for her two grandsons, each with their own bathroom.

“I just love when they come over and it’s nice that they can have their own bedrooms here,” says Mary. “Family is what it’s about. Great house for that.

“When it comes down to it, you just want to be comfortable where you live and you want the same for your friends and family. I think this house accomplishes that.”

TEXT BY CATHY GORDON    |  PICTURES BY BOOKWALTER PHOTOGRAPHY
A sun-filled vestibule with a herringbone floor and washed brick wall greets visitors to this abode. A friend of Mary’s gave her the chest years ago.

A sun-filled vestibule with a herringbone floor and washed brick wall greets visitors to this abode. A friend of Mary’s gave her the chest years ago.

Mary found a clever way to display cherished plates that she inherited from a friend. Here, they make a lovely statem

Mary found a clever way to display cherished plates that she inherited from a friend. Here, they make a lovely statement on the dining room wall.

This East Shore home is a stunner with a bevy of balconies and outdoor spaces that usher the outside in.

This East Shore home is a stunner with a bevy of balconies and outdoor spaces that usher the outside in.

A handsome study in soft neutrals is the perfect space for pow-wows about work. Mary’s accountant uses this space. On the far wall are framed mementoes that mean a lot to this homeowner — pictures of her grandparents and a store they owned in the 1930s and piano pieces that Mary played as a child. The window seat is perfect for catching the sunset

A handsome study in soft neutrals is the perfect space for pow-wows about work. Mary’s accountant uses this space. On the far wall are framed mementoes that mean a lot to this homeowner — pictures of her grandparents and a store they owned in the 1930s and piano pieces that Mary played as a child. The window seat is perfect for catching the sunset

A sisal rug, washed brick fireplace wall and comfortable neutral furnishings make up the den. Mary is a self-described “Marshall’s fanatic” and has from time to time, come away with super finds. This elegant coffee table is one of them. Sofa is from Laurie’s Antiques. The painting was a gift.

A sisal rug, washed brick fireplace wall and comfortable neutral furnishings make up the den. Mary is a self-described “Marshall’s fanatic” and has from time to time, come away with super finds. This elegant coffee table is one of them. Sofa is from Laurie’s Antiques. The painting was a gift.

Here, a view from the den and dining room into the kitchen and mudroom beyond. The home’s rooms are connected in a sweep of beautiful white oak floors. Dining room chandelier (Carol’s Lighting) add a touch of whimsy and casual, yet elegant furnishings offer comfort.

Here, a view from the den and dining room into the kitchen and mudroom beyond. The home’s rooms are connected in a sweep of beautiful white oak floors. Dining room chandelier (Carol’s Lighting) add a touch of whimsy and casual, yet elegant furnishings offer comfort.

An elegant, vintage-inspired place-setting adds drama at the dining room table.

An elegant, vintage-inspired place-setting adds drama at the dining room table.

Pretty in Purple: Lovely flowers frame the farmhouse kitchen sink.  |  This lovely courtyard gets lot of use and French doors can be opened for easy access and instant open-air living. RIGHT: A bouquet of brushes makes an artful statement in this cast-iron urn in Mary’s studio

Pretty in Purple: Lovely flowers frame the farmhouse kitchen sink. | This lovely courtyard gets lot of use and French doors can be opened for easy access and instant open-air living. RIGHT: A bouquet of brushes makes an artful statement in this cast-iron urn in Mary’s studio

Who wouldn’t be inspired in this lovely studio off the home’s courtyard? Some of Mary’s work is displayed on the easels. “Very therapeutic,” she says of her time spent painting.

Who wouldn’t be inspired in this lovely studio off the home’s courtyard? Some of Mary’s work is displayed on the easels. “Very therapeutic,” she says of her time spent painting.

The downstairs powder bath is calming and elegant with marble countertops and soft, vintage-inspired wallpaper. The antique mirror and artwork by Mary are the perfect accessories here.

The downstairs powder bath is calming and elegant with marble countertops and soft, vintage-inspired wallpaper. The antique mirror and artwork by Mary are the perfect accessories here.

Sleepovers are always fun for Mary’s grandkids. Her two granddaughters get the royal treatment in their feminine-inspired bedroom. She also has a bedroom for her two grandsons. “It’s so much fun to have the grandkids over. I love the stayovers!”  |  Functional spaces can be elegant too. Here, the mudroom behind the kitchen is enormously useful and visually stunning with its vintage-inspired orchid-on-yellow wallpaper.

Sleepovers are always fun for Mary’s grandkids. Her two granddaughters get the royal treatment in their feminine-inspired bedroom. She also has a bedroom for her two grandsons. “It’s so much fun to have the grandkids over. I love the stayovers!” | Functional spaces can be elegant too. Here, the mudroom behind the kitchen is enormously useful and visually stunning with its vintage-inspired orchid-on-yellow wallpaper.

Walls of grasscloth and crewelwork draperies give the master bedroom a warm, soft vibe.

Walls of grasscloth and crewelwork draperies give the master bedroom a warm, soft vibe.

A beautiful master bath with shimmering chandelier invites relaxation. Countertops in Carrara marble add an elegant touch. Crushed glass tiles add sparkle around the bathtub.

A beautiful master bath with shimmering chandelier invites relaxation. Countertops in Carrara marble add an elegant touch. Crushed glass tiles add sparkle around the bathtub.

 


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