Transitional Design Takes Old Braes Home from Drab to Sophisticated
Couple sees potential in older home
When a couple has been married for 40 years, life- and homestyle preferences are pretty well-defined and mutually understood. Additionally, when they’re longtime Houstonians, they know which part of town and which neighborhoods they are inclined to call home.
This couple fell in love with Old Braes, with its beautiful trees, quiet streets and family atmosphere. However, when they began to look at real estate, very few homes that fit their needs were listed in the area.
“We have three children and two grandchildren, so we knew we needed a large home and a large yard,” the wife said.
They eventually found an existing home with a backyard where the grandkids could run and play and an interior floor plan that was a nice fit for their lifestyle, but design-wise it was not suited to their taste at all. The dark, stained wood in every room was overpowering; the granite surfaces in all areas of the house were absolute black with no variation; the three fireplaces were boring and nondescript; faux-painted columns inside the entry and in a theater room were confining; black iron decorative finishes both inside and out were heavy; and every room had contractor-grade niches and built-ins of some sort. In this case, more was definitely too much.
Looking past those things, however, the couple was able to see the home’s potential. The kitchen has a great view from large windows to the backyard. The breakfast room and living room are open to the space. They knew the grandkids could play in the backyard, and the grownups could easily keep an eye on them; they knew they could comfortably entertain family and friends; and they knew that with some changes it could be a place where they could feel content.
Commencing on a renovation requires lots of planning and in most cases a team of creative professionals. The couple decided to enlist the assistance of someone with whom they’d previously worked on two other homes: Laura Manchee of Laura Manchee Designs.
“Laura is like the best friend who has exquisite taste in clothes,” said the wife. “She knows her clients and what makes their lifestyle ‘wearable.’ She’s honest if she thinks something’s not going to work and can get you to stretch a bit outside your comfort zone, which in the end, feels great.”
And because they had worked with Laura before, the couple were familiar with her team.“Laura and everyone associated with her are easy to work with. We trust her implicitly.”
The goals of the renovation were to lighten up the house, divest it of the nonessentials and put the new homeowners’ fingerprint on the home. Along with input from the designer, the couple drew their inspiration from nature to create a warm, cozy beautiful and livable place where friends and family would feel relaxed enough to put their feet up.
They decided to use color and new lighting to brighten and personalize. They began the work in the kitchen, which was the biggest part of the project.
The dark wood cabinets were painted with Sherwin Williams “Interesting Aqua” (SW 6220) and to add color, then Kevin Davis Wall Artisans glazed the cabinets for depth; the island was painted with Sherwin Williams “Moody Blue” (SW 6221); the massive, stained vent hood was replaced with a new custom stainless hood; new granite countertops and new backsplashes were installed; and the breakfast room and living areas were extended so that the space became one cohesive area. In the breakfast room, a floral valance was added and a colorful Dorian Webb chandelier from their former home was installed as the centerpiece. The multi-colored Murano glass in the chandelier provides a fun, festive aesthetic.
The renovation continued by addressing all of the initial concerns. The fireplaces were replaced with beautiful marble surrounds. The mantels in two locations were replaced with rustic wood beams. The lackluster lighting was upgraded to suit the couple’s tastes. All of the home’s primary fixtures and sconces were updated to define the areas they illuminate. Color was added everywhere. Silk panels were added to the bookcases in the dining room for a pop of red. One grandson’s room became a playful blue; the guest room, a light pink; and the master, a spa blue. Color was also integrated in each space through the rugs, upholsteries, art and accessories.
Some of the awkward niches and built-ins, as well as architectural details that didn’t make sense were completely eliminated. For example, the large faux marble columns were removed from the entry to make it more expansive and welcoming.
The homeowners also embraced a new style in this home – transitional – different from their previous home, which was more traditional. Laura said, “I appreciate that this client was willing to explore new ideas, Their new style mixes contemporary elements with treasured antiques. We integrated some of their antique pieces into a cleaner envelope to create a fresher, more inviting aesthetic.”
Antique chairs were reupholstered in new contemporary fabrics in the dining and breakfast room. Antique tables and consoles were placed on contemporary rugs in more open/less cluttered environments, so those pieces become part of the decoration in the space.
True to her nurturing instincts, the wife’s favorite part of the project was designing her grandchildren’s room — a place just for the kids to enjoy when they stay over. “Believe me when I say that my vision was more than realized,” she said. “Everyone wants to stay in that room. When I go in there, I feel like we actually accomplished what the whole purpose of buying this house was about. It was so much fun watching my boys’ room come together.”
She also favors the powder bath due to its jewel box elegance. The metallic flocked wallpaper with custom lighting, mirror and a custom vanity all come together stylistically. “The paper, the lighting, the sink, the art! It gleams! When you turn on the light you feel like you are standing inside a work of art,” she said.
The kitchen is the husband’s favorite. He said, “It’s a gathering area where I get show off my cooking skills.”
However, no renovation project is without challenges. The couple’s former home sold much faster than they had anticipated, so they were in limbo for a month before they could move into the new home. Once they did, they lived out of the master bedroom/ bath, front living area and the husband’s office until the renovation was complete.
With a primary goal of creating a vibrant fun space for the couple and their extended family to enjoy, the spaces in the home had to be flexible and comfortable to accommodate all ages. The fabric and furniture selections now fit the couple’s lifestyle; the open spaces facilitate family get-togethers; and there are plenty of “kid friendly” play areas for the grandchildren.
Though they were initially afraid the house might always feel stuffy, now the open floor plan downstairs flows easily and continues right up the stairs. “The finished project is even more wonderful than our initial vision. We love being in every room. It feels like we are home.”
Text by Cheryl Alexander • Photography by Miro Dvorscak Interiors by Laura Manche • Designs Renovations by Perfecto’s Contracting
TOP IMAGE: A Dorian Webb chandelier from their former residence finds a new home in the breakfast room and is enhanced with the addition of Murano glass.