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An Arts and Crafts Dream Come True

Partially reclaimed brick was used in the front elevation of the home. The trim and column shape, along with the front door, are typical Arts and Crafts. The front door, South American mahogany, features a glass embellishment designed by a local Heights artisan. Landscaping by Bob Atwood Designs.

Classic design inspired this habitat

Text by Cheryl Alexander  |  Photography by Felix Sanchez

When Jim and Cynthia Winton decided to build their dream home, they were enjoying life in the city from a garden home in Memorial Heights. It was large enough and convenient to everything they desired, so their impetus for change was not because they needed more space for kids or because they wanted a change of scenery. Quite the opposite, in fact.

This couple, both lawyers who work downtown, were attracted to living in the Heights due to the fact that it provides what Jim calls “a one-song commute.” Cindy agrees, “After five years of commuting from Clear Lake prior to moving to the Heights in 2004, I love being so close to work.” And they have already raised their kids. “Kid space, aside from visits from our grandchildren, wasn’t our challenge,” says Jim. Now the couple needed to incorporate stand-alone space for Jim’s 90-year-old mom who was coming to live with them.

So they began the search for their dream home — a place for empty nesters who still work hard (both downtown and from home) and enjoy lots of entertaining, with ample space for Jim’s mom, their dog, Nan, and occasional visits from Cindy’s kids, grandkids and aging parents. No short order.

One thing was sure — this couple knew that starting from scratch would be the best bet for inclusion of everything on their checklist, so they began searching lots and found the one they wanted pretty quickly. However, this particular piece of real estate, owned by Allegro Builders, already had two contracts on it. They then selected another lot in the Heights, but with less desirable features, also owned by Allegro. Settling into their second choice, the couple hired architect Greg Swedberg, and were about five months into the initial stages of project development—“We were ready to close,” says Cindy — when they began to encounter obstacles… big obstacles. Namely, Hurricane Ike.

Jim says, “When Ike hit, everything just shut down. Then once the fray began to clear, we had all kinds of trouble; because we couldn’t get an appraiser out, we couldn’t close on the lot.” The couple just accepted it as part of the process, but now they see it as destiny. “In 2008, I went to vote at Hogg Middle School, which required me to drive by the first lot we had selected—our first choice,” shares Jim. “I noticed that not one thing had happened on that lot in all these months; not one thing had changed, and there seemed to be no current activity, even though the lot previously had two contracts pending.”

Jim called the builder and asked them to immediately cease all action on the current project and redirect attention to the couple’s first choice. When they found out the lot was now available, the Wintons were ecstatic. They now were able to get the location they really wanted and began plans for the home of their dreams.

And dreamy it is. The architecture and design of the home were inspired by the couple’s visit to The Gamble House (constructed 1908-1909), an outstanding example of American Arts and Crafts style architecture and originally home to David B. Gamble of the Procter & Gamble company. The Winton home is dead-on in its American Craftsmanship vision and true to the nature of its Woodland Heights locale. It’s a new construction in an old neighborhood, but created so as to blend in with the surroundings and capture the arts and crafts feel of the 1920’s-era bungalow. The pier and beam foundation of the home is classic in its aesthetic and practical appeal, as is the lot size. The copper detail of the chimney top and the gooseneck replica lighting, along with the reclaimed brick used in the patio space, columns and chimney lend authenticity to the home’s exterior design.

Radi Rost, of Ethan Allen, was hired to make the home’s interiors authentic. Details like the quartersawn oak cabinets in the home and the same oak arts and crafts columns flanking the fireplace; the prairie-style custom Frank Lloyd Wright-esque stained glass in the foyer, along with selected use of amber and frosted glass (which is a theme throughout the home); the window seating and the smaller shutter size provide legitimacy to the interior design.

Though there is much to love and admire design-wise, function is not lost in the beauty. The kitchen, for example, is ideal for entertaining and includes several of the Wintons’ “non-negotiables.” Cindy explains, “We wanted the aura to exude warmth and ease of operation.” The couple employed kitchen designer Baroque Fineberg, who incorporated a “Dirty Kitchen,” to keep things out of sight when friends meet for one of what Jim calls “Cindy’s spur-of-the-moment happy hours” and a “butler’s pantry” wet bar area to service such.   Cindy also raves about the phenomenal storage space available in the kitchen. To demonstrate, she pulls out deep drawers and opens wide cabinets, exceptionally finished with pull-out shelving, so as to allow easy access to the couple’s collection of china, stoneware and service pieces.

Though the kitchen is a cook’s delight, Cindy says that what she loves most is the coziness their home exudes. “While it’s a big home, I love the intimate sitting places which make anywhere we gather a conversation-friendly area.” There are gathering spots throughout the common areas of the home. The kitchen offers an ample breakfast area and an extra-long, counter height island with comfortable stools, and it is open to the family room, which is also equipped with comfortable, plush seating. A flat-screen TV is hidden in a traditional arts and crafts cabinet, and acting as dividers between the two spaces are “pony” walls — half walls which provide even more storage — true, too, to the era of the home’s architecture.

The more formal areas also are arranged for entertaining. The formal living and dining rooms are adjoined, open spaces, where both the unrestricted design and the organization of the furniture invite guests to settle in and visit.

The upstairs living areas reflect even more of the home’s cozy functionality. In addition to the abundant size of the master bedroom, the master bath provides generous room for two to move about, as well as plenty of natural light. The cabinets and the exquisite tile flooring replicate the kitchen, providing a unity of design and attention to detail which are standard in a home of this caliber.

Included within the master suite are two executive workspaces, extending the couple’s private area. “We work from home a lot,” says Jim, “so this accessibility makes it much easier and more enjoyable.” Not only is the work ethic of these two professionals evident here, but memorabilia from their time away from work is on display, making it equally evident how their hard work has paid off.

The guest rooms are finished out with visiting family in mind: One for the grandkids with twin beds, and one for the grown-ups — fully equipped en suite with aging parents in mind.

Jim’s mother’s rooms, too, are well-appointed for aging in place. She is able to enjoy her own bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room in safety and privacy with the convenience of an elevator at her disposal. Even Nan, the dog, revels in a degree of liberation with an electric doggie-door activated by a magnet in her collar which allows her to come and go as she pleases.

The spaciousness of the Wintons’ indoor and outdoor living areas, complete with artistic and architectural touches, give this couple the opportunity to live, work and entertain in one of the city’s most historic and desirable locations. They’ve successfully incorporated classic design around their lifestyle in their dream home.

The wraparound porch is perfect for people–watching on this corner street lot. Notice the bricked columns? The same brick, some of it reclaimed, can be found in the patio space and wrapping the chimney. Such detail unifies the home aesthetically.

Vertically cut wood floors keep the house from having a “bowling alley” look and fit with the Arts and Crafts style masonry.

What Jim calls his “man den,” this library also features an original navy seal above the fireplace. The embossed seal is significant because Jim, who has more than 20 years of service, wore that very Judge Advocate General’s Corp of the United States Navy corps device on his left collar for many years.

Kitchen architect Baroque Fineberg designed this space with a pleasant balance of the original Arts and Crafts and modern technology.

he kitchen isle is equipped with a Kohler apron front sink and hidden dishwasher with sawn oak panel.

The Wolf Range with red knobs is flanked by the hand-crafted quarter sawn oak cabinets and custom stained glass windows. Structural benefits to quarter sawn oak include reduced twisting, warping and cupping; holds finishes better and does not allow liquids to readily pass through it.

he Wintons’ wine room is the perfect size for smart under-the-stairwell space utilization.

Perfect for serving drinks counter style, this bar manages to hide any clutter in custom built cabinets with plenty of room for two servers.

The custom glass sconces in this powder bath can be found in various other places in the house, tying the lighting and coloring of the rooms together, allowing you to float seamlessly from one room to the next

One ode to the Arts and Crafts style is the plate display trim built into the home that features plates commemorating Cynthia’s family and the couple’s travels.

The side elevation, featuring the outdoor living space, is so expansive it is often mistaken for the front of the home. Jim and Cindy love coming out here to watch their dog, Nan, enjoy her big yard while they enjoy the breeze that keeps this side of the house nice and cool.

This Arts and Crafts style bathroom features a stained glass panel of a sail boat brought by the owners from a previous home.

The beautifully trimmed columns highlight the amazing architecture of the home, and the patina stained outdoor lights and gutters will eventually turn to a dark rusted copper color that will age gracefully without physical deterioration.

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