At Home With Two Houston Antiquarians



stringer 073

A few years ago,  I wrote about one of Houston’s oldest and finest antique shops that was closing its doors - HERE.   For years, Brian Stringer Antiques, owned by Stringer and his wife Kathi, was the go-to place for wonderful antiques, and the closing of their doors was a sad day for Houstonians.  If you were looking for something special – you knew that they would have it in their vast inventory.  Searching for tables and chairs in the back warehouse was the most fun, and visiting the darling French house “next door” was just the icing on the cake.  Ah, the good old days!



The closing was a big shock to all, but the Stringers were ready to retire.  They had watched the antique business change so much, due to the economy and the internet, and they felt it was just the right time for a change.  Besides owning a house in Houston, there was their 14th century chateau in France, charmingly called Commanderie de  Sainte Antoine.



And who can blame them?  If this was waiting for me on the other side of the globe, I’d be there too!


Recently, Kathi got in touch with me to let me know they were selling their Houston house.   They plan to move on to a high-rise where they are gutting the space to create a dream Versailles in the sky.  To say I have found memories of their house would be an understatement.  It has been published in Southern Accents and locally and for years I have drooled over the pictures showing all their gorgeous antiques.  It really never seemed like a house in Houston, instead it conjured up images of a manor found in the English countryside, filled with antiques collected from years spent there and visiting in France.  



Their light peach stucco house, shown at dusk.  The house is 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bath, and just over 2,500 sq. ft. and it is located in the historical Montrose neighborhood.



Ready to enter?



The front door with its fan lights opens up to the large living room.  Wow!!  Notice the painting on the right atop a gorgeous long console table.  Brian Stringer loves to collect chairs – so expect to see a range of stunning antique ones, like this leather and wood wing chair in the entry area – just under his hat collection.



A view to the left of the front door, showing the wood and leather wing chair with another similar one across from it.   The  family room is seen at the right.



Another close up of the entry.  And on the very right, you can just see into the dining room.



The view of the formal living room – to the right of the entry.  A gate leg table acts as a coffee table in front of the sofa.  Notice the two tortoise shell boxes sitting on the table.   A tall chair covered in tapestry sits next to a wing chair.  And notice the charming fireplace with its blue and white tiles.  You can see the stair hall through the opening on the left.



Another view of the living room shows two architectural engravings over a chest topped with even more tortoise shell boxes.  On the mantel is a collection of horn cups.



The red family room, just past the entry, has floral curtains, a wonderful Kilim rug,+ and a leather chesterfield sofa.  A large pine cabinet is on the right.   Towards the back is the kitchen.



A closer view of the pine bookcase. Just beautiful.  Such a warm and cozy room!!!



The kitchen is one of the original “unfitted” ones that inspired so many others in Houston.  Instead of cabinets on one side, an antique chest was placed under a large working plate rack.   The ironstone is all antique.  Through the door is the stair hall which leads back to the living room. 




A closer view of the collection of ironstone.  Love the “Finest Yorkshire Bacon & Hams.”  And I love the Staffordshire figure made into a lamp, resting on the ironstone.



The freestanding range sits under a tile encased hearth.  On one side is an antique butcher’s block with pots hanging above it.  The breakfast room to the left is filled with an assortment of chairs and a sofa in toile.



Another view of the breakfast room which looks out to the back yard.  That sofa with its open back is to die for!



The dining room is off on the left side of the entry, originally a sunporch.  It is dominated by an incredible collection of pewter plates, all the more dramatic while barely contained on the antique shelves.  This collection was on the cover of Southern Accents!   To the left is a collection of Santos.  Through the doors is an outdoor dining area.



And looking at the other direction – towards the front yard.



Off the living room is the stair hall, with its seagrass covered stairs.



The master suite with its adjoining sitting room.  Fabulous antique sofa!!  And the red toile chaise – to die for!!  Love how the flatscreen sits on a wonderful antique gateleg table. 



Notice the crown above the sofa.   It’s so fabulous!!!



Looking the other direction – a tall French armoire and trumeau sit in the corner.   I love this room!  Seriously – is this Houston, Texas????  Hard to believe this isn’t England.



The bedroom is located over the dining room/sun porch – so it has all these wonderful windows!



The bathroom vanity is skirted.  Love the pine cabinet instead of a standard built-in.



The pink bedroom is my favorite with its toile bedding and armoire.  And notice the darling tiny trumeau at the right of the window.  I want that!!!!!   OMG – this is just too darling!



This bedroom has a floating French bed and silk curtains.  Such a pretty bed and that chandelier!!  Love.



The bathroom has a peeled stucco wall effect with a marbleized baseboard.  Granite vanity on steel legs.  Notice the cute lamp made out of an apothecary jar.



Outside is a pool, of course.  And behind the pool is a two story trellis dining pavilion, covered in vines. 



Outdoors eating area.  The drive and yard are graveled, French style. 



And the back yard at dusk with all its French pots and old shutters.  So romantic!

The Stringer’s house is so warm and cozy – and  inviting with all its antiques and collections.  Rather than a quickly obtained decorated look, it’s a look that can only be achieved by a lifetime of collecting and antiquing, which the Stringers certainly have had!  I can’t wait to see what they do in their new highrise.   Will it look like their house – with vibrant colored walls, or will they go for a more neutral color scheme?  It will be interesting to see how they use all their beautiful antiques in the new space.   Maybe when they are all settled, we’ll be able to get a sneak peek at their new place!

Finallly, a huge thank you to the Stringers for inviting us in!


If you are interested in this classic house, located in a historic neighborhood, please contact the realtor, Mike Bloom, HERE or HERE 


Don’t forget to enter the two contests – Vero Linens and Aidan Gray house search!  Time is running out!!!  But, I will say this – if you need more time to get pictures of your house in for the Aidan Gray contest, just let me know. 




You may recall a giveaway I ran a few months ago for a set of fine Italian cotton sheets.  Well, today is your lucky day!   If you didn’t win that contest – here is your chance to win again!


Vero Linens

Cote de Texas sponsor Vero Linens has once again offered to gift a reader one set of their beautiful luxury linens.   The prize includes both a flat and fitted sheet along with a  pair of shams in the size and color of your choice. 

Whether you win or not, Vero Linens is a great choice for bedding since the product is only sold online and is not sold through retailers, meaning there is no retail markup which accounts for a 225% savings.  Wow!!   Shopping at Vero is easy – the collection is small, so there aren’t dozens of dizzying choices to be made.  It’s simple – white or ivory or sable.  Stripe or diamante.  That’s it!   Before starting his business, the owner studied his competition and found that most sheets made of this quality are sold in either white or ivory, so why not offer only what people really want? 


Beautiful hemstitching

Vero sheets – made of the finest textiles available in the world – are simply the best.    The 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, designed with beautiful hemstitched detailing, are crafted by “4th generation artisans in Northern Italy” and are designed to hug the mattress, as well as your body.   Of course, the fitted sheets also feature the extra deep pockets to accommodate modern mattresses.   Besides sheets – Vero sells down comforters and pillows. 

And this is something that I never knew:   many bed linen manufacturers sell grades of Egyptian cotton containing as little as 10% of actual Egyptian cotton. These products often use high thread counts to appear as luxury linens while using these inferior cotton grades. The resulting bedding is rough to the touch and shows wear prematurely, including pilling - small balls of cotton forming due to wear - and, in some cases, holes or tears. 



Instead, Vero uses only 100% Egyptian cotton to provide the highest quality luxury linens available anywhere in the world. Sheets and pillowcases are machine washable and become softer with each cleaning: the quality of these cotton threads means these sheets will last for years and years.


Shams – shown in the Righetta stripe pattern.


Ready to Enter???

First, please visit the Vero Linen web site at and pick out which size and which style you would like – either the Righetta – stripe, or the Diamante! 

Once you have made your choice, please come back here and leave a comment telling me your choice.  BE SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IF YOU WANT TO WIN!!!

You have until next Tuesday at 11:59 pm to enter.

Also, check out the Vero Linens blog which has a lot of useful information including how to properly take care of fine linens – HERE.

Good luck!!

And a huge thank you to Vero Linens for this most generous giveaway!!!


NOTE:  We have a lot of giveaways planned in the next few weeks!  So, be sure to check in to enter them all.  AND, don’t forget to enter your house in the Aidan Gray contest!




Aidan Gray – from their 2012 catalogue showing various products.
As you might already know, the popular décor and furniture company - Aidan Gray - is a sponsor on Cote de Texas.  Because I am such a huge fan of their company, I was thrilled when I got a message from the owner, Randal Weeks, asking about running an ad on the blog.  I’ve been using their products in clients’ houses for years and have truly always been impressed by the quality of their designs,  and their excellent customer service.
My favorite item is their Italian chandelier – HERE  - which I have placed in my own guest room and in clients houses.  The price is reasonable and the look is fabulous.

Italian Chandelier
The Italian Chandelier

Here, I used the Italian Chandelier in this client’s family room.  The lamps are from Aidan Gray too.

Aidan Gray has been successful over the years because their merchandise stays above the trend - they have just the exact product you want to buy, now.  The catalogue is updated and edited regularly so that merchandise is always fresh.  Randal has an uncommon ability to know exactly what the market desires and this ability has made the once small start up company into the large business it is today. 
There is a real person touch to the company.   This year, I was so surprised when he informed me he had designed sconces based on those he had admired in my dining room – and named them, the “Joni.”   These new sconces are now is stock and I’m curious if they will sell well.    The important message is he sees inspiration everywhere and he then acts on it.  

Joni Three Light Sconce
The Joni lighted sconce.  It also comes in a two arm version HERE.

In another instance, I casually mentioned to Randal that they needed to reproduce an antique French lantern which would be reasonably priced.  “You’d sell a million of those,” I easily promised him knowing my business acumen would never be tested.  Randal just informed me that the lantern has now been designed and will be available for sale shortly!  Oh My God!   What if it flops miserably???? 
But, this is the kind of businessman and designer Randal is.  He is willing to talk with those out in the field to get their opinions and ideas and listen to what they want, what they are looking to buy, and what they say.   Have an idea for a product?  Submit it to Randal and he will consider it.  I can’t think of another company that would be so open.     So, everyone, please order that lantern!!

A page from the new catalogue showing some of their furniture.
And so, one day recently when Randal came to me with a wild idea, I was flattered and all ears.  After all, he is the brilliant businessman, of course I would listen.  Each year, he told me, a new catalogue is produced.  And each year, Randal’s own home has been used for the photoshoot.   The Weeks house was built for the Aidan Gray line, so naturally, all the furniture looks great in it.    But, now, Randal is looking for another stage.  He asked me -  “how about we hold a contest to find two perfect Cote de Texas readers houses where the 2013 catalogue would be shot?”   Needless to say, I was ecstatic at his proposal and thought you would be too!

Randal Week’s house with its stunning steel doors and brick walls provides the perfect backdrop for the Aidan Gray line.

Randal proposed that we run a contest to find two houses for the new catalogue photoshoot.  Readers would enter their house – and Randal and I would pick the two winners.  
This is the scenario for the photoshoot:  In a few months, Randal and his crew would come to these two houses, with an assortment of chairs and tables and lamps and together with the homeowner’s own backdrop, the new catalogue would be photographed.
Randal would be at the photoshoot  continuously for the day or two that it would take.  All the homeowners possessions and the house itself would be carefully protected and cared for under Randal’s watchful eye.  The Aidan Gray photoshoot would be no different than having your house photographed for a décor magazine.  Except for one important detail – the homeowners would receive a generous compensation.
First place winner would receive a $5,000. gift certificate to Aidan Gray.
Second place winner would receive a $2,500 gift certificate. 



Randal Weeks house, as it normally is furnished, filled with products from Aidan Gray, some still in the current catalogue, other pieces discontinued through the years. 


Here, the same room, shot for the catalogue. 

The same room, pretending to be a dining room for the catalogue.

And, yet again, a totally different look for the same space created by using different products.   It’s hard to believe this is the same living room in all four photographs.   

Some photographs will be of just a chair or lamp – this picture was taken in the same living room at the Weeks house.

If you have a romantic kitchen, like the Weeks, – that would be a plus!  Be sure to include a picture of it with your entry!

Or, do you have a beautiful bedroom?   Take a picture of that too!

A small corner is turned into a stage, filled with all Aidan Gray product.

With a different curtain, the setting looks completely new.

Just an interesting table top might be enough to create several beautiful pictures.

A pool, a pool house?  Both could be assets for the photoshoot.  Be sure to include pictures of your backyard, front yard and side yard if they are beautiful or interesting.

Just a small spot in the backyard becomes a gorgeous photo in the new catalogue!

Ideally, the two houses picked for the photoshoot will be either architecturally interesting, romantic, or atmospheric.    But, if you have a cleaned-lined modern house, don’t hesitate to send in an entry!    If you have a smaller, second home on a ranch or a lake, send in those pictures.   Even if your house is small, it still could be the perfect stage.    Size shouldn’t be the deciding factor if you enter.   All houses entered will be considered.  
We are looking for an attractive backdrop that the Aidan Gray line will look fabulous in!   Perhaps you have brick or stone walls, a French fireplace, painted wood paneling, vaulted ceilings, luscious silk taffeta curtains, antique furniture or collections, stone or dark wood floors – or bleached or painted hardwoods – any of these would be an asset.   Think texture, think contrast, think interesting, eclectic, romantic, charming, exotic and picturesque.   If any of these adjectives describe your house, enter the contest.  And architects and designers, think about your clients houses.  If you know of a good one, enter it!
Remember - t’s not the size, NOR what the house is worth – it’s strictly what the house would look like with the Aidan Gray merchandise in it. 
Don’t be shy!   You never know what will catch Randal’s eye. 
Ideally, Randal would rather the two houses be in Texas, BUT he is willing to come to you if your house wins!  So, don’t let the fact that you live in New Hampshire scare you away!  Enter!!!   Perhaps you feel your house isn’t right for the photoshoot, but you know the perfect house that would be – try to get those owners to enter!!  We realize this might be word of mouth contest.
1. Take photographs, during the day only, with the lights on, of your living room, dining room, family room, kitchen, master or 2nd bedroom, and the back and front yard.   Or, just take pictures of the spaces you feel would be best for the photoshop.  If you have a cute greenhouse or laundry room – let’s see it!
2.  Upload the pictures via email to Cote de Texas at – you can use if the files are big. 
3. ONLY send in the largest images!  No small or medium images can be used!!! 
4.  The contest ends  September 12th.  You have one week to enter your house.  BUT, if you need more time to get your photographs together, just let me know!
That’s it. 
  Randal and I are both hoping this will be a fun contest for everyone who enters.  We are both so excited and can’t wait to see your houses!!!    Remember, a rustic cabin might be as perfect as a French chateau.