14 September 2012

A Personal Family Story !

 

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Briargrove – Houston’s hot neighborhood for newlyweds.

 

It seems like every time I hear about a young couple buying a new house, it’s in the  Briargrove neighborhood.  I’m not sure why all the newlyweds that I seem to know are moving there, but, as always, once a few claim stakes, friends will follow.

The neighborhood is close in – right outside the loop - with neat, nicely landscaped lots and plenty of curb appeal.  Most houses are one story ranchburgers which were built in the early 60s.  But like every appealing neighborhood, the smaller houses are slowly being torn down, replaced by larger 1 1/2 story houses.  Still, the older houses are charming with front porches and large oak trees that shade the front lawns. 

The houses are typically 2,000 to 3,00o sq. ft. and many have been added on to by extending the back family room.  The younger set tends to turn the living rooms into the dining room and the former dining rooms become offices or playrooms.   The neighborhood is relatively small with only 1,400 houses.  Briargrove Elementary is a big draw – it’s one of Houston’s finest public schools.  But, going public becomes a problem at the high school level, so families with older children either move out or go to a private school.    Despite the high school issue, the neighborhood could not be hotter.  

One of my nephews moved into the neighborhood about four years ago and recently his newlywed brother, Jeffrey and his bride Brooke, bought a house right down the street.   Luckily it came with a swimming pool for both the brothers’ families to enjoy.  The house they bought was in good shape and had been the home of an older art-collecting, single man (something of an anomaly in this neighborhood where families with young children are pushing out all the empty nesters.)

Although the house was quite nice, my new niece had a lot of changes in mind when she signed on the dotted line.   Recently I stopped by to take pictures so you could see the before and afters and hopefully get some ideas if you are remodeling and updating a home.

 

I didn’t get a picture of the outside for some reason, so this is how it looked on the realtor’s web site.  It is a typical Briargrove house with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and just over 2,000 sq. ft.  Since there are no children yet, this house should be perfect for them for years and years unless they end up having more than 3 children – then things might get a little tight!  The neighborhood is known for its towering Live Oak trees.  They are lucky to have three in the front yard. 

 

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And here is how it looks on Google Maps.  So cute!!

 

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When you enter the front door, Brooke has placed an antique pine table and mirror along with a pair of candles on each side.  The dining room is to the left and the family room is straight ahead.

 

 

 

BEFORE:  This is how the dining room looked with the previous owners.  He had installed wall to wall seagrass and art lights for his collection, along with a crystal chandelier.  Brooke pulled up all the seagrass because it really was showing its age and needed to be replaced.   The former dining room – through the opening - was an office.

 

 

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AFTER:  And here is a glimpse into the dining room from the entry hall.   You can see the lantern they installed in the entrance. 

 

 

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The view from the dining room into the entry hall.  Once Brooke and Jeffrey pulled up the seagrass, they installed hardwoods in here to match the hardwoods throughout the house – and then they stained all of it a much darker brown. The walls were painted a light gray throughout, but in the dining room they painted it just a bit darker for effect. 

 

 

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And looking the other direction towards the former dining room.  That room will become a study, and then later a playroom – after they install French doors between the two rooms.   The fabulous Belgian styled table came from Restoration Hardware and the French chairs with a faded toile on the back came from Zentique.   Brooke ordered the chandelier from Ballard Designs.

 

 

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Though the back of the chairs have a faded toile print, the front is upholstered in linen. 

 

 

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And against the wall is this chest which has been newly painted and fauxed by the great Mr. James Farmer (jfarmer762@yahoo.com or at 713-398-7657.)  Inside, Brooke put Tara Shaw’s white books and some string tied books.  So cute!

 

 

 

BEFORE:  Here is how the former owner  had the family room.  This side is the original family room and the other side on the left is an addition. 

 

 

BEFORE:  And here is how the former owner had the addition decorated. 

 

 

 

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AFTER:  Brooke and Jeffrey painted the walls a soft gray (Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter) and the brick fireplace was painted the same color as the walls.   Then, they darkened the hardwoods to a much richer, deeper brown.   This side of the family room was furnished with the Ikea slipcovered sofa and chairs in white, while the other side has a linen covered sofa. 

 

 

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Brooke got the two trellis pillows in green from Z Gallerie to add some pops of color.  The mirror came from Ballard Designs.  When the newlyweds moved into the house, they didn’t have enough furniture for both sides of the room.   So, the Ikea slipcovered furniture was a perfect choice for right now.  It is inexpensive enough that it is easy on the pockets of newlyweds, plus it looks stylish.  The slips are perfect for babies and puppies - just take them off and wash.  One day they might replace the Ikea sofa with a new one, but for now and the near future, it’s the right choice.   I still stay this is the BEST bargain in furniture out there!

 

 

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And looking straight on – here you can see into the entry hall.  Brooke was lucky the former owner left them a pretty fireplace screen. 

 

 

 

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Brooke always tries to keep a few roses in her Juliska vase, which she puts on a silver tray layered over a wicker one. 

 

 

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And looking towards the book shelves in the family room.   Through the door is the bedroom hall – which also got new hardwoods laid.

 

 

 

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Here’s the addition of the family room – Brooke and Jeffrey added a large built in to house the flatscreen and books.  

 

 

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On this side of the room, they have a linen slipcovered sectional from Halo Styles with gray Les Indiennes pillows in two different sizes from Neal&Co.   An Irish antique dining table that has been cut down is used as a coffee table.  And that’s Tucker sitting on the sofa!  Remember I told you how their puppy Riley got sick and had to be put down?  Well, a few months later they adopted Riley’s litter mate and brother – Tucker.   And he is soooo sweet!  Look at that face!  Wait, let me get a close up for you.

 

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Tucker!  We can’t wait for this weekend when we get to babysit him for 3 whole days!!!

 

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And here you can see the built-in.  Notice how the back of the sectional has a cute arch. 

 

 

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Behind the sofa, Brook added the antique map of Paris that came divided and framed from One Kings Lane.  Underneath is their bar, set up on a wood table.

 

 

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Here’s a closeup of the map of Paris – love this!

 

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Cute tablescape with a mirrored tray and vintage white alabaster grapes!  I spy Bobby McAlpine’s book.

 

 

 

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And looking from the addition back into the family room.   The layout of the house is really nice – it’s all so open.   They can have a lot of people over with these two seating areas.  And you can see how pretty the dark hardwoods came out.  Before, they were more of a honey tone, and now with the gray walls, the dark woods look so much better.

 

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Raul, my painter and construction man, built the new shelves in the addition – he tried to match them to these shelves that were already in the house and he did a great job.  It’s hard to remember those new shelves weren’t always there!  Brooke has plans to get bamboo or textured shades for the windows.   When you move in, there are so many things to do and buy, you have to prioritize some things and the window treatments are one of those.  Not everything has to be done all at once – what’s the fun in that anyway???

 

BEFORE:  Here is the breakfast room when the bachelor lived here.  Thankfully he left this great iron light fixture.

 

 

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AFTER:   The breakfast room is past the family room – Brooke and Jeffrey bought the table and chairs at Ikea for their rented townhouse – and it fits perfectly here.  Brooke wants to eventually get a round table, but I think this looks great.  The chairs are slipped which makes for easy clean ups.

 

BEFORE:  The kitchen as it was when they bought it.  This room was probably  the most updated – but luckily they had white subway tile as a backsplash to work with.

 

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First, the tile floor was replaced with the dark hardwoods, which made a huge difference.  Next, Carrara marble replaced the Formica countertops.  The Carrara was chosen instead of the Calacutta Ora at a very, very substantial savings.  And it really looks great.  The honed marble came from Colors of the Rainbow.   Next Brooke added a farm sink and a bridge faucet she bought online, along with all new hardware, also at a great savings.    She really looked for ways to stretch her budget by buying online.   And finally – new appliances in stainless were added.

 

 

 

 

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Other changes were the overhead cabinets got glass doors – Raul just cut out the wood centers and inserted the glass.  Brooke added a lantern she bought online which replaced the large fluorescent fixture that used to be there – another huge change.   One splurge was the farm sink from Shaw, but then she saved on her fixtures by getting the polished chrome finish instead of polished nickel.  You really can’t even tell the difference.  The shade for the window is ordered, but hasn’t come in yet.  And through the door is the soon to be study and one day playroom – which was once the dining room. 

 

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The front room is used as a guest bedroom now.  There’s a cute tufted headboard and a crystal chandelier that Brooke ordered on line.   The bedrooms all had wall to wall seagrass that truly needed to be replaced – which they did with a flat pile neutral carpet.   This aunt begged them to put in hardwoods in the bedrooms too – but her nephew wanted it soft under his feet when he woke up!  MEN!!!!!

 

 

BEFORE:  The bathroom before had all green tile that was original to the house.  While I love this particular wall paper, it just didn’t go with the gray paint and hardwoods in the house.

 

 

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AFTER:  What a difference!  The tile was all removed – the dark hardwoods went down on the floor and the same honed Carrara marble was put on the vanity, along with a new sink and faucet.  The walls were painted a dark gray – the same as found in the dining room. 

 

 

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And here is the master bedroom.  They got the headboard from Zentique and the night stands from Z Gallerie.   The bench came from an online source and it matches the headboard perfectly.

 

 

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The bedding is white and linen and the two mirrors balance it all out!  I didn’t take a picture of their bathroom because it wasn’t changed – luckily it had a nice light gray tile that actually matched the new décor perfectly. 

 

And, I also forgot to take a picture of the back yard, so this is from the real estate ad.  They are so lucky that they have this great pool which is a huge plus for Houston’s summers! Next on the list is new outdoor furniture, but Jeffrey got sticker shock while shopping for it.  It’s crazy how outdoor furniture can be more expensive than indoor furniture!!  Hmm.  I wonder if Ikea sells outdoor furniture?  I need to look into that.

 

 

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I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my nephew and niece’s new house and learning a little bit about their neighborhood – Briargrove.

To search available houses in Briargrove – go to www.har.com – put in the search engine Briargrove AND zip code 77057.   Currently, there are just 24 houses for sale – ranging from $375,000 to $1,400,000 for a brand new 5,000 sq ft. spec house.

 

AND, to read Brooke’s darling fashion blog – Style Wise - go HERE.

 

 

 

We have a winner in the Vero Linen contest!  The contest was a great success, so as a thank you for all the entrants, Vero Linen is offering Cote de Texas readers 20% off any order over $300 that is placeddd before September 17th – midnight. 

Please use the promo code verocote20 as the code.

After you make your selections, when you are ready to check out – enter the code at the bottom of the shopping cart and then click the update button.  This will ensure you get the 20% off.

To visit the Vero Linen site – go HERE.

 

AND, coming up next, we will have another great giveaway – think coffee tables!!!