14 May 2011

A Tale of Two Houses (by the same designer and architect)

 

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Bingo.   Looking at HAR this week I got a lucky hit.  A lucky hit is where everything just comes together – wonderful architecture, beautiful interior design, lots of French antiques, and just a bit of a mystery to drive me INSANE!!!   A lucky hit like this is very rare and hardly ever happens which makes it all the more special.  So…here’s the story.  Get your coffee, pull up a chair, and sit back.  It’s a little wonderful and a little bit crazy.  Here goes:

Wow.  This gorgeous house caught me eye.  I had been surfing HAR for a few days looking for anything interesting, and of course, nothing for sale right now is interesting, at all – just a bunch of oversized, poorly designed houses filled with poufy leather sofas and, well….shivers.   What a waste of time.  Just as I was about to give up, this beauty pops up.  Whoa.  Is this Houston???   Of course it is, the towering pine trees give it away, but take those pine trees out and insert plane trees, and it could be Provence or Majorca.   I’m loving the exterior with the authentic green shutters, tile roof, limestone walls.  Just gorgeous.  There is just no way the inside is going to be great, right?  I couldn’t be that lucky, could I?

 

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Wrong.  Inside, things are starting to look very good.  Great lamps and prints are in the entrance hall, with its beautiful ceiling and arched doorways.

 

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The living room is filled with French antiques, a large muted rug, and an unusual trumeau – dating from the 1700s.   The chandelier is divine.  Something about this room seems familiar and I just can’t place it.  I know I’ve never seen this house before…but still, it seems like I have.  I notice the Kenneth Turner candle on the side table – the one in the terra cotta bowl with its wicker sleeve that’s been discontinued.   It makes me smile and think of Carol Glasser for a brief moment.   And then…those prints on the back wall remind me of her too, for some reason. 

 

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Another view of the fireplace with the antique trumeau.  

 

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The dining room is beautiful – the walls and ceiling are a work of art.  The chairs and table are so pretty and unique.   And no seagrass – instead another faded antique Oushak rug sits underfoot.  My eye goes to the large collection of creamware and the utterly gorgeous chandelier.  Someone has exquisite taste, very, very exquisite taste. 

 

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The family room is comfortably furnished, with Bennison printed fabric.  I love that pattern and even once used it for my dining room skirted table.   The TV is hidden behind 18th century Armoire doors that are mounted on the walls.   The mirror on the stone wall is incredible.   I’m loving all the small, Spanish style side tables and that chair!  Notice on the left, down the hall, the gates with the staircase behind it.  To the right through the arch is the kitchen/breakfast room.  And at the right of this picture is the study/office.

 

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And looking the other direction, towards the fireplace with its limestone mantle.  Another stunning mirror.   In this room, seagrass makes an appearance.  This is Houston, after all.   The master bedroom is off to the left of the fireplace and the playroom is to the right.

 

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From the entry hall and the staircase, these iron gates lead to the family room and through to the playroom.  The arch on the left is the breakfast room and the kitchen. 

 

 

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The kitchen has wire fronted cabinets.  Notice the curved travertine backsplash behind the sink on the left side.   A farm sink is on the right side.    The island top is cypress wood.    Through the arch is a kitchen desk area which leads to both the foyer and stair hall and to the mud room and garage. 

 

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Another view of the kitchen with its charming range hood that resembles a fireplace mantel.  The chandelier is perfect for the space. 

 

 

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At the end of the kitchen is the breakfast area with its Austin limestone wall.    The pantry is hidden behind 18th century Armoire doors that are fitted into the wall.  I love the check fabric with more of the Bennison fabric that is found in the adjoining family room.  Beautiful antique chairs, sofa, and French wine tasting table.  

 

 

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Between the foyer and the kitchen office is the wet bar.  Just look at the antique cabinet with its inset polished nickel sink and curved travertine backsplash.  Beyond gorgeous!  The arched hallway leads to the front dining room and living room.

 

 

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The playroom, off the family room has a large sectional.   The antique styled ottoman and French chair, along with the gate leg table add warmth to the room, as do the curtains and the collection of botanicals.  

 

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Up this stairs, on the landing, this vignette sends off signals to me.  Where have I seen this before?  I KNOW I have, but where?    The house is starting to get under my skin. 

 

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It’s this picture that starts the bells really ringing loudly.   Call me crazy, but I KNOW that mirror!   I could swear on my child’s life that this mirror was on the cover of a Veranda years and  years ago.  It was over a bed in a house that was once my favorite house ever.   I know this isn’t the same house, but it seems so similar.  It’s all coming together.  That chaise with its distinctive arms – it’s familiar too.   At this point, I have to go do research, which means digging through piles of old Veranda’s to find the magazine with that mirror on its cover.  It doesn’t take me long before I have it in my hands.   And yes, it’s the same mirror – exactly.   So is the chaise.   So are a lot of things that have seemed familiar.   Does anyone remember that cover, that story?

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                 

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That sink!  This is the man’s side of the master bathroom.

 

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The woman’s side.  Love the tub and the mirror – gorgeous!! And notice the triple vanity mirror – sooo great.

 

 

 

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Charming powder room – just charming.

 

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The guest room – I could move right in.  Those beds are wonderful.  And notice the hanging console between them.  All the windows and the hardware are incredible =  mahogany wood throughout. 

 

 

 

 

 

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The back of the house – to the left is is the living room, then the dining room, then the kitchen and family room, which is behind the covered terrace, then the playroom, with the master bedroom in front of it.  I like how they sited the pool off to the right of the house, away from it.   It’s more European that way.

 

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A view from behind the pool.

 

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And here, you can see how isolated the pool is and just how utterly beautiful the property is.  It’s located on one of the most isolated streets in a very small but terribly exclusive neighborhood more country living than city living.

 

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The porch off the family room.   There is a floor plan and an itemized account of each room with the HAR listing. 

 

 

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After I saw the HAR listing and thoroughly confused myself, I looked up this story in the old Veranda, from February 2001.   Now, the HAR house was built in 2004, so it can’t be the same house.  After looking again at the captions of the HAR listing pictures, I noticed something I had missed before:  Architect Kirby Mears of Murphy Mears and Interior Designer Carol Glasser.  This is the same exact team who were responsible for the Veranda house.  What gives?   Two similar houses with the same team and mostly the same furniture?

Above, in the 2001 story, is the same  mirror found above the bed in the HAR house.  The HAR house has matching Swedish styled nightstands, while the Veranda house has smaller, French styled ones, as seen above.  

 

 

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Here is the Veranda house, also located in the same general area as the HAR house, but not the same neighborhood.  If you notice, the layout is very similar, with the living room to the right of the front door, looking like it was added on to the house – with its lower roofline.  The HAR house has a similar elevation – see below.

 

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Notice the HAR house again – the living room is off to the right of the front door, looking like an addition, with a lower roof line.  But, while this house looks Provencal with its stone walls and tiled roof, the Veranda house of 2001 looks more Mediterranean or Spanish with its white stucco façade. 

 

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The back of the Veranda house has a similar back covered dining terrace.  The swimming pool is sited up against the house as opposed to the HAR house.

 

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The living room in the Veranda house.  Now, here I must confess.  For years and years I absolutely loved this house.  It was one of my favorites – ever.  Now, ten years later, I still feel very attracted to it.  It amazes me how current this house looks today – it really could have been designed this year.  What a testament to the classic style of Mears and Glasser.    Do you notice any similarities in this room to the HAR house?  This room is seems smaller and cozier, more romantic I think with its arched windows and creamy fabrics.  Notice the framed prints – they are one thing that immediately seemed familiar to me.   The window seat is another. 

 

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Here’s a close up of the window seat.  For years, this seat served as a personal inspiration to me.  I loved the thickness of the cushion – something that you usually don’t see that often.  Whenever I make a cushion for a client, I always have this exact one in my mind to emulate.  I’ve always admired the Niermann Weeks sconces found here and next to the fireplace.  And I’ve always loved the pillows Glasser had made out of old Dutch tapestries.  I still love to use those today. 

 

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And from the landing in the newer HAR house – this has to be the same exact cushion.   When I saw this, I was like, huh????  Where have I seen this cushion before? 

 

 

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A close up of the Veranda house – I love Carol’s taste – the way she accessorizes, the furniture she picks out for her clients.   Notice those lamps – they seem to be same ones as found in the entry hall of the HAR house.  And that mirror – it’s the same one over the family room fireplace in the HAR house. 

 

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(Forgive the terrible scan!)    And to compare the living room – here the Veranda house with the…

 

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The newer HAR house.   It might be the same rug, hard to tell.  The sofa has different fabric, as do the two French chairs.  The chairs next to the fireplace are a new addition.  The coffee table is different, but the side table is the same.  The same framed prints are here, as are the same four sconces.  The chandelier is an beautiful addition.  The piano returns, but the French buffet and the mirror are newer and grander.   The room seems larger and dressier.  Which one do you prefer?  The newer HAR or the older Veranda house?

 

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I used to think this was the prettiest dining room I had ever seen!  I still love it to this day.   At that time, 10 years ago, the painted table was so fresh looking - not many people were using painted pieces like this.   Nor were they using biots in the house like this.   I adored these chairs.  I just loved everything about this room when this Veranda came out.  

 

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Compare it with the HAR dining room, which is really hard to beat – the architecture is stunning with the arching walls and ceiling.  Notice though the table is the same, although a glass top was added.  The chairs were changed, but I do see two of the old cane backed chairs in the back of the room.  The rug is an addition.  Notice that both houses have Saltillo tile.  The stunning chandelier is a new addition.  Which dining room do you prefer?   I have to go with this one!

 

 

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The Veranda family room.   This reminds me of the HAR room, just smaller and less expansive.  When I saw the HAR house, I noticed the similarity here too.     The French chair looks like it ended up in the HAR house playroom. 

 

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The furnishings in HAR family room are almost exactly the same with the exception of the two chairs.  The pillows were changed out, as were the fabrics, but the beautiful lamps remains.  The mirror above the fireplace is the one from the Veranda living room (not seen in this photo.)  The gateleg lamp table is different – in the Veranda house it’s a wine tasting table.  These colors look cooler here, and warmer in the Veranda house.  Again, the HAR house seems larger and more expansive, but I  believe the Veranda house is actually a little bit bigger square footage wise.

 

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The kitchen in the Veranda house.  I will say this – styling has changed in the past ten years.  This seems overkill – if styled today, the island would remain clean.  The fixture over the island is gone from the HAR house – and good riddance!  I just don’t care for it as much as the one in the HAR house.

 

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The breakfast room in the Veranda house.  Same chairs, different table.  This sweet light fixture seems to have ended up in the HAR guest room, along with a few of the caned dining room chairs.

 

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The HAR house:   this is so much better with the sofa and the Bennison pillows added.  I love this table too.  So beautiful

 

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The HAR house with the light fixture from the Veranda breakfast room and a few of the Veranda house dining room chairs.

 

 

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The upstairs landing in the Veranda house.  I used to think this was so gorgeous.  Gorgeous!  I still love this picture with the trio of round portraits, the ancient bench, the candlesticks.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Carol Glasser has THE most fabulous taste.

 

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The master bedroom in the Veranda house wasn’t really shown, except for this chaise and the mirror, both found in the HAR house.

 

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The HAR house:  the chaise was pretty in white, but Glasser used all Chelsea Edition fabrics for the HAR house.  She added the Swedish styled end tables with wood lamps.  And the headboard mirror – the one on the Veranda cover - remains the same.  The mirror first caught my attention that something about the HAR house was very familiar.

 

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And finally, the Veranda house – terrace.  It looks like the same chairs were used.

 

Now, I have NO idea who owns the HAR or the Veranda house.  I have a feeling it’s the same couple. And I have a hunch why they might have moved and built a somewhat similar house, using the same team.   The property in the HAR is stunning – it’s huge and secluded and quiet.  The Veranda house is also very secluded and wooden, but hiding nearby behind all the trees on the Veranda property – is a very nearby freeway.   It’s just a total guess that the couple was seeking quiet and more seclusion when they moved.  I don’t know this for sure, but I’ll wager many in Houston do know and someone will probably email me or leave a comment explaining it all.  I really don’t care to know the specifics.  What does interest me is I think it’s fascinating to see how two houses designed by the same architect and interior designer resemble each other – and how different they are, at the same time!  I love seeing how the furnishings were changed with new fabrics and accessories – like new chandeliers and rugs – to make it all look different, yet retain its original beauty.   I loved comparing each house and each room – to see what was kept, what was changed, what was added.   Kirby Mears, the architect, is becoming a real favorite of mine.  It seems that every time there’s a great house – it has his stamp on it.  And I don’t have to say how much I admire Carol Glasser.  She’s a master – each piece is hand picked for the client, slowly and over time.  There isn’t a rush to buy everything at once – she waits for the perfect piece for the perfect spot, and it shows. 

I hope you enjoyed this look at these two houses, as much as I did!!! 

To see the HAR house listing, go HERE.

To visit Murphy Mears web site, go HERE.

 

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Remember Houstonians, the Urban Market is today and tomorrow – Saturday and Sunday!    Courtney Barton, will be there at Sally Wheat’s booth with goodies and a line of fabrics she bought in India that are sold exclusively in France!!!   It sounds fabulous.