A Holiday Weekend Giveaway!





The Cotton Eye Joe at the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses

You may remember about two years ago, Cote de Texas had a giveaway for a weekend at the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses in Abilene, Texas. The owners, The Browders, had just completed their newest addition to their guest houses, the “Cotton Eye Joe” and wanted to celebrate it with the giveaway.  Terry Browder did much of the renovation himself – and judging by the comments, everyone loved it.  Since that time, Terry has been hard at work on two new guest houses – The Dance Hall and the Cottage Clare.   He has generously donated another free weekend to the winner of this latest giveaway.

Located in Abilene, Texas, the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses offers a luxurious alternative to travelers.  Instead of staying at a local hotel or motel, visitors stay at one of their private houses – each restored by Terry.  All of their properties are located about five minutes from downtown in the National Register of Historic Places neighborhood called Sayles Boulevard.  The guest houses come in all different sizes, and each is uniquely decorated, no two are alike.   

The idea for the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses was born 8 years ago when the Browders realized there were only a few chain hotels such as Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn in Abilene – a moderately sized city of 120,000.   Terry felt there was a need for something “more” for travelers to his city.  He and his wife began by buying their neighbor’s house – which they remodeled and furnished and rented out on a nightly basis.  They now have 10 furnished guest rentals (with one new one currently being restored) – all within a 2 to 3 block area!  Amazing!! 



 Abilene, a gateway to the west, is located in the middle of Texas, between Ft. Worth and Midland.    Last year, one of my besties stayed at the Sayles Ranch Guesthouse when she drove home from Aspen to Houston.   It was the perfect place to break up the long drive from Colorado.   Abilene has many guest attractions, including a zoo and the world famous Frontier Texas museum.   And there are lots of antiques stores for those who like to shop!

Here is a look at the two newest guest houses.  The winner will have her pick of either one for the weekend stay.

I.  Cottage Clare


The newest edition to the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses is the charming Cottage Clare.  The turquoise and aqua colors hint at what is inside.




The front porch has vintage furniture which overlooks the quiet, historic neighborhood.



BEFORE:   Of course, like all the properties, the cottage started out like this!  The roof in the living room was raised to the rafters.



Today, the cottage is a homage to turquoise!  At 1800 sq. ft., the 1938 cottage was named after the Browder’s daughter Clare.   It has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a living room, family room, dining room and a kitchen.  The ceilings were raised in this room to make the area appear larger.  Terry found the chandelier and added the turquoise beads to it.  The wood floors were painted on a diagonal to visually expand the space.  The teal leather chairs came from Z Gallerie.



The bench came from a railway station.  So cute!  Love the tiled art work above it.





Past the living room is the dining area with its Victorian settee.  The toile print was used throughout the ouse for continuity.   The 19th century dresser was limed gray.




In the kitchen, Terry chose to keep the original cabinets because they still look good and fit right in with the décor. 




Through the kitchen is the family room, a newer addition, where the painted floor is continued. The large piece is a vintage post office cubby!! Wow. What a statement!




Love the high coffee table too. Terry told me this piece is 17th century. No wonder my eye went right to it. It’s an old Jacobean pub table, pegged and mortised – there are no nails. It’s beautiful and really adds character to this room. I also love the sign above the sofa. The wicker chair is an old Ethan Allen piece that Terry painted gray. I swear – I bought this same exact chair for a client (maybe we should paint hers too! hmmm.)



In the master bedroom, the new reproduction bed was painted gray. 




The second guestroom has a comfy bed, again it was painted with a gray wash to soften its color.  There are 3 bedrooms in the Cottage Clare.



The guest bath got a darling new, painted console for the sink.  Cute chandelier too!



#2  “Dance Hall”

The second guesthouse, The Dance Hall, is quite different than the other guesthouses – it began life as a 1950s two story ballet studio.  The Dance Hall takes up the lower level of the building and is just 750 sq. ft.  This guest house is perfect for a smaller group – although it does have two bedrooms and a kitchen.  The upstairs space is The Hay Loft, which is also a part of Sayles Ranch Guesthouses.  A large group that wants privacy could rent out the downstairs and upstairs unit.




The dropped acoustical tiled roof was removed and the ceiling now reaches 10” – a great luxury.



Today, the space has a “loft” like appearance.  The tiled floor was removed, exposing the concrete foundation which was painted with stripes.   Doesn’t it resemble a rug?   The cubbie entertainment center came from a turn of the century hardware store.  Love the globe collection – it gives a great vibe to the guesthouse.  Notice the walls – they are book covers!  Terry used this same idea in the Cotton Eye Joe guesthouse, but here he color coordinated the covers. 



Here you can see the book covers on the wall.  What happened to the pages of the books?   I’ll show that later!



And looking the other way – towards the dining area and the kitchen.  On the right – before the kitchen, you can make out a jib door that leads into the utility room.  It is hidden in the book covers!!



The table and benches are in the middle of the living/kitchen area.   The table is shaped like a guitar pick.  Notice the chandelier has Edison bulbs to give it a high tech look.  You can see one of the bedrooms and the bathroom in this picture.



The stainless steel appliances and metal countertops are also high tech looking.  Notice the backsplash – it’s pennies!!!  Terry used 2,700 pennies for the job – costing only $27.00.  Stained glass windows are used for privacy from the nearby street.



photo (2)

Here’s a closeup of the pennies backsplash.





Where in the world would Terry use these doors from a 1957 Chevy pick up truck? 


Headboards in the master bedroom!!!



Since the truck is the same age as the ballet studio – and they were turquoise – Terry said he had to use them somewhere.  Too cute!!!



This 8 x 10 area serves as the guest bedroom – perfect for kids.




In case you were wondering what happened to the pages from all the book covers used on the wall – well, here they are!  Terry put all the pages in this bookcase found in the upstairs unit – The Hayloft.

So, now that you have had time to look at the two newest properties, be sure to check out the Sayles Ranch Guesthouses website – to look at ALL the properties.  Be sure to check out the The City Slickers.  That one is huge and really pretty!   There is one more new guesthouse coming soon – the original Sayles home built for the original Sayles family.  Built in 1889, it’s a Queen Anne Victorian and has six bedrooms.  I can’t wait to see that one!

The Browders much have so much fun – running a “hotel” in their neighborhood.  It’s an interior designer’s dream come true to own so many houses that you can decorate in all different styles.  I would love to do this!   This would be a great idea for someone who lives in the Heights in Houston, or in Galveston – in one of their historic neighborhoods.


To enter the giveaway – One Free Weekend at either location – The Cottage Clare or The Dance Hall - please visit the Sayles web site and let me know which one of their 10 guest houses is your favorite.  Then, come back here and leave me a comment telling me your favorite guest house.  That’s it!

The winner will get to pick the weekend stay at either the Cottage Clare or the Dance Hall.

The Sayles Ranch Guesthouses web site is at:  http://www.saylesranch.com/our-homes/

Be sure to look at both page 1 AND page 2 of all the different guest houses.

The contest ends Friday night at 11:59 p.m.


A huge thank you Terry for your generous giveaway!!!

A Material Girl Before & After in Dallas




Before and After:  Exterior of the duplex located in Dallas.

Through the blog, I get a few emails requesting design work.  Unfortunately, many requests are for houses not located in Houston.  Since the blog takes up so much of my time, I no longer am able to travel far from Houston for design work.   When a reader doesn’t live here, I try to recommend a local designer, if I know of one.  If not, I’ll recommend a designer who does online decorating.   Such was the case with this one reader who wrote that she was moving from Houston into an 80 year old duplex in Dallas. 



The homeowner sent me these pictures before she moved in to show me what she had to work with.  The duplex had a lot of character - there were hardwood floors and a painted white brick fireplace.



Additionally, there were lots of windows and arched doorways, along with a health addicted former tenant.   Despite the exciting challenge, I didn’t think it would be in her best interest to work with me – she needed someone in Dallas that could take her out shopping and then return to the duplex to bring it all together.

I referred her to fellow designer Emily Johnston Larkin of the very popular Material Girls blog HERE.  Emily and her friend Lauren started Material Girls around the same time as Cote de Texas.  Emily wrote about Dallas, while Lauren wrote about Houston.  Today the blog has grown - there are now six Material Girls who write for it from all over the country.   Emily and I had a special bond – both our spouses are named Ben and both are rabid University of Texas fans.   We would email each other with tales of our respective Ben screaming into the TV over some football loss or win.   So, when thinking of a designer to recommend in Dallas,  I knew the homeowner would be a perfect fit with the beautiful Emily.   A positive was that Sarah, the homeowner, and Emily are closer in age and probably closer in design aesthetics.  After I made the referral, I didn’t think of it very often.  I didn’t even know if they ever connected until a few weeks ago when Emily emailed me with photographs of the finished living areas!  I was very pleasantly stunned – to say the least.   Emily said she wanted to keep it all on the q-t until the job was over so that she could surprise me - and surprise me, she did. 



Here are the before shots of what the duplex looked like after Sarah had moved in and before Emily was hired.  She owned a cute settee, along with a persimmon painted chest.



There was a green sofa in the living area.



After moving in, the one change Sarah made was to paint the walls a soft khaki color.  Notice the pretty cove ceiling.





And here is what it looks likes today – thanks to Emily!  What a transformation!!!!   Wow. 



Another view of the living area and into the dining room.  I love the color scheme – the white upholstery mixed in with pops of chartreuse and bright orange.  The color choices makes the room look youthful and hip.


Here’s what Emily had to say about the design scheme.  The homeowner, Sarah, didn’t have a huge budget, so Emily mixed high and low elements to get as big of a bang as possible.  The cowhide rug was Sarah’s, so that was a plus.  It was layered over a new sisal rug.  Emily says that Sarah said she liked a “Cote de Texas” look – so she knew Sarah would love the sisal and cowhide mixed with a new white slipcovered sofa from….IKEA!   Yes!!!  The famous IKEA sofa.  Look how good it looks here – at first glance, I didn’t even realize it was from IKEA, I thought they had slipcovered her existing sofa.  But as Emily knows, slipcovering an existing sofa is twice the price of a new $389 IKEA sofa.  Great choice.   She added two new French inspired chairs from Palacek, along with off white curtains from Restoration Hardware.   The French bench also came from Restoration Hardware which was recovered in a chartreuse velvet from Pindler and Pindler.  




The artwork above the sofa are old handwritten notes from Sarah’s grandmother, mother, and teachers that she has kept all these years.   First, she enlarged the notes on a copier, then she placed them in frames bought from IKEA.  The notes are a wonderful idea – they add a personal touch to the space, plus they look like a big piece of art when framed and hung like this.  Great idea!!!



Sarah really wanted a bricklayer’s table but didn’t want to pay a fortune for what is essentially a rustic piece. Her father came to the rescue and made it himself with the help of a welder.



The modern gold bowl came from Stephanie Anne – a favorite store of Sarah’s in Dallas.  This was one high priced accessory – most all other accessories came from Anthropologie and Home Goods. 



Emily added glass knobs to the orange chest to dress it up a bit.  Notice how all the greens tie in together.  The orange of the chest is repeated in the pillow fabrics.



Restoration Hardware curtains soften the window side of the room. 




The gold and glass console adds a contemporary touch, as does the white lamp.  I love the touch of lilac found in the shade.



More contemporary touches is the gold mirror from Horchow.  The vase brings in another touch of bright chartreuse. 




The bright pillow fabric ties in with the other pops of color.  Behind the chair is a commissioned work of art.



One special touch is the commissioned canvas by Dallas artist Lindsey Meyer HERE.   The art work brings in all the colors used in the duplex.



Sarah collects antiques at Round Top and had inherited some from her beloved grandmother – these were used to give the room patina and character.




More personal touches are the antlers resting in an old silver tray.  I love this juxtaposition between fine and rustic.



I really love monograms – a bowl of matches like this is handy for lighting candles and is a great guest gift.  Other items to monogram are paper napkins, soaps and guest towels.  Pottery Barn has a great selection of gift items that can be personalized with your monogram.




A glimpse into the dining area shows a skirted table with a painted white case, sconces and an unseen chandelier.



The burlap skirt is dressed up with X stitchery and white painted Chinoiserie style chairs.  Cute black and white tiled floors lead into the kitchen.



Emily added this following story about the homeowner:  

Sarah was very close to her 101 year old landlord, Katie, who passed away this past summer while we were working on her living room (Katie had lived in the unit above Sarah since the 1960’s!) At the urging of Katie’s friends, Sarah took ownership of both duplexes. The décor in Katie’s unit hadn’t changed since the 60’s so Sarah and her dad (through blood, sweat and tears J) renovated it. Once they were done, Sarah buried a letter that she wrote, under the floorboards of Katie’s former duplex that told Katie’s story. Her hope was that fifty years from now, another landlord would find it and know how special the duplex was to both Katie and Sarah.


To contact Emily Johnston Larkin, please visit her web site for all the details HERE.   A huge thank you to Emily and Sarah for sharing the story of their before & after!


Dogs and Birds and Carol Sheehan: Oh My!




My all time favorite coffee table book is “Living With Dogs.”  While I do love its contents, it’s the cover that really does it for me.  I have two copies of the books, because with time, the original cover got damaged, and so I replaced it.  Of course!



The reason why I love the cover so much is this girl, Georgina (Georgie), my English Springer Spaniel.   This picture is from the story of my house in Houston House and Home magazine.   Ever since this photoshoot,  Georgie has been terrorized by cameras and won’t pose for them anymore.  Even if I just pretend to take her picture she goes scampering away.   We couldn’t get these two to pose together, so the photographer took a picture of Sammie Jo then, photoshopped Georgie onto to it.   Look how good they match my décor and the book!




The Webbs have long loved springers and Ben’s parents’ last dog was a very overweight gentleman named Duke.  When Ben’s father died, his brother Kirk went out and bought this beauty, Quila.  Later that week Ben’s older brother Pat got Zorro from the same litter.  Of course, a week later, Ben brought home the last of the litter, our Georgie.   All three springers are healthy and are still with us.   Later, Kirk and Shannon got 3 more springers from the same mother.  So – you can understand why I love that book cover so much.  It looks like it was designed for my house – it perfectly matches my dog and my décor!   Inside the book is just as good – it has everything about the sport of dogs including dogs in design.   Written by the husband and wife team, Laurence and Carol Sheehan, this is just one in a series of sporting books these two have written, along with Kathryn Precourt and photographer William Stites.

If the name Carol Sheehan sounds familiar – she has had a long career writing design books and editing design magazines.  She was the editor-in-chief for County Homes when it was at its best.  She and Mary Emmerling are friends and together they made that magazine great.   Carol and Mary also wrote many books together – wonderful titles such as this:


One of the many books that Emmerling and Sheehan collaborated on.



Once the Sheehans married, they began writing the series of sporting/design books.  There is one on fishing, sports, and gardening.   What I love so much about these books is that they combine the subject with design – thanks to Carol’s first love.




The Sheehan’s newest book, The Birding Life,  was recently released.   It’s actually quite topical since birds have been showing up everywhere in design – on fabrics, wallpapers, and framed prints.  Sheehan got her start in Houston as editor of a very early design magazine, Houston Home and Garden.   In this book, she returns to her roots – photographing several Houstonians who collect birds or nests.  One beautiful feature is Kay O’ Toole’s house, a French enfilade located behind her antique store.  These pictures are worth the price of book!  Gorgeous!



A vignette from Kay O’Toole’s house – with a bird on the stone epaulet. 




Another pretty spread is the home of bird lovers in Florida.   A big surprise was to see famous bloggers Hollister and Porter Hovey’s incredible New York apartment, filled with trendy taxidermy. 



Birds in design are quite popular today – you can see this here in wallpaper and fabrics.




This week, we were honored to welcome author Carol Sheehan to the Skirted Roundtable.  Carol talks about her books and magazines and her long and varied career.   To listen, please go HERE to the Skirted Roundtable blog.



To order Living With Dogs, go HERE.



And to order the new The Birding Life, go HERE.



So……what title is up next for the Sheehans?  Listen to the Skirted Roundtable to find out HERE.