Family Home Made New
Couple Transforms An Empty Nest Into A Sophisticated Sanctuary
In 1995, a couple with strong Houston roots bought a lot in a beautiful area and built a two-story brick home. This was a neighborhood they knew and admired; a neighborhood that reflected their goals and fit their dreams; and a neighborhood where they knew they could grow and nurture their family.
In 2015, with many of their ambitions accomplished, and with their child now off at college, the homeowners — an energy executive and a healthcare executive — suddenly found themselves in a house that wasn’t reflective of their lives. They were living in a 5,300-square-foot empty nest that no longer accurately fit their current lifestyle or design style.
“Our space was not being used efficiently,” said the wife, “and our tastes had dramatically changed.”
Where they once had to consider the needs and lifestyle of a teenage boy and his friends, now they could focus solely on themselves and occasional visits from their son and from other family and friends.
The couple’s first inclination was to move. They consulted a realtor, who advised that before selling, they’d need to make some updates in order to make their home more attractive to buyers.
And update is what they did. “After looking at countless properties,” explained the husband, “we decided instead to revamp our existing house, which had good bones, but an outdated floor plan and finishes.”
Rather than cater to potential buyers, they decided to make updates they liked themselves and to simply stay in their familiar family home. To do so, they would need the assistance of an architect and designer.
“We found a team at Studio Mackay where they not only shared our vision for our home, but offered a group of professionals who has worked together for years,” the husband explained.
Associate designer Larissa Pineda selected the fabrics and spearheaded the space planning. President Selena Mackay handled the interior architecture and finishes and edited the furniture and fabric choices. The couple turned to Lea Weingarten of Weingarten Art Group to help them select and purchase artwork for their renovated home.
The owners knew going in that they wanted to bring the home up-to-date by giving it a clean, classic look with understated elegance and by opening up common areas. Must-haves were an over-sized kitchen island and lots of open space.
On a recent trip to Turkey, the homeowners had purchased a beautiful antique textile piece. They presented it to the design team, who worked from the colors and used it as a jumping-off point for design concepts. With those details firmly in place, color stories were created for each room. The couple’s love for lavender and the Turkish textile inspired the new color palette, which relies on a sophisticated gray-lavender and forest green. This palette was carried into the dining room and punctuated by black silk velvet with an amethyst cast. The colors are repeated throughout the home with a few variations for interest.
The couple agrees that the open concept den/kitchen is their favorite spot in their newly renovated home. “We are foodies,” said the wife, “and love spending time with friends and family cooking together.”
Top-of-the-line appliances were selected in addition to heavily customized cabinets. From the lid drawer to the knife drawer to the spice and cooking oil racks, every single item in the kitchen was measured and appropriately stored. Though people think that this kind of customized design comes at a hefty price and may be out of the reach of their budget, these homeowners were able to include these great details for under $2,000. With just a minor financial adjustment and some important input from their designer, they were able to devise a place for everything.
Stone and surface materials and finishes of the highest quality were selected for the couple’s kitchen, including Calacatta Gold marble countertops, Rocky Mountain Hardware knobs and pulls, and a custom copper hood. Custom bookshelves were included, along with a white European oak bar lined in antique mirror and lit with LED continuous lighting. With the larger-than-life island and the other custom design details, the kitchen is now a comfortable open space where the couple’s favorite people gather around their favorite foods.
In the den, the couple appreciates the new peaceful palette and comfortable furniture, which allow a nice place to settle in and visit a little longer after a great meal and fine wine.
“Under Selena’s editing guidance,” said the wife, “we removed everything from our home that did not work with the final design for a less-is-more aesthetic.”
“The most important part of decorating,” emphasized the designer, “is not how much you add, but rather what you take away. There is a huge value in the negative space, just like in art. And decoration is art.”
The couple loves their new master suite and outdoor garden area. The shower was enlarged and unnecessary angles in the ceiling were removed. Brighter colors were incorporated to add some pop. Outdoors, a lush new garden provides privacy and creates a little haven even in a small space.
The couple couldn’t be happier about staying put. They still enjoy their neighborhood as much as they did back when they first moved in. They love that people gather outside in each other’s yards and in the pocket parks just to connect for a moment or two or to enjoy entire block parties. “Here people live side-by-side, not just to reside, but to truly connect with each other as life-long friends and neighbors,” said the husband.
The couple describes their new home as a sanctuary. It contains the history of where they’ve raised their family and memories of special moments in their lives, including celebrations and holidays with their late parents. Inside these walls their family has enjoyed and experienced life, and the renovation gives them just the right space for the way they live right now.
Text by Cheryl Alexander
Photography by Michael Hunter
Architecture by Robert Dame, Robert Dame Designs
Interior Architecture by Studio Mackay Interiors by Studio Mackay
TOP IMAGE: The existing 8-foot bookshelves and the old wood mantel were removed, and replaced by a custom fireplace from Material’s Marketing and custom European white oak cerused cabinets that were designed by Selena Mackay. The art work is from local artist Roberta Harris. The coffee table is Dennis and Leen and the sofas are Restoration Hardware. The arm chairs are antique finds from Round Top. The rug is by Creative Flooring. Custom pillows in Donghia and Schumacher fabrics.