Soon after we had our son, Harry, we realized our former home was not going to work for our family as long as we had planned. We designed/renovated the house when our daughter, Grace, was still a baby and our visions of a chic family home were ill-informed.
For instance- having a lacquered den with a gorgeous tortoiseshell wallpapered bar a few steps from the kitchen on the first floor, and the playroom in a converted attic space on the third floor, was fine with one baby. It even worked when that baby became a toddler. But when we added a second baby, carrying that baby, a toddler, and all of their accoutrement up and down steep attic stairs multiple times a
day hour got real old, real fast. Suddenly that conveniently located, lucius-lacquered den was looking less swanky and more like a relic of our former childless lives.
At first we made do with a “playroom-lite” makeover in the den- switching out our brass and lucite antique coffee table for a train table, and moving down our daughters play kitchen to sit opposite our bar like some demented dueling Top Chef set. But shortly thereafter I called our realtor, a family friend, and asked her to start looking.
We knew we wanted to be in a particular little neighborhood, and houses didn’t come up for sale there often. Adding to that our desire for a fixer-upper, and maybe something mid-century modern this time? We were prepared to wait awhile for the right thing to come on the market. It turned out we didn’t have to wait that long. In fact, it happened almost too fast. Though we realized our old house wasn’t going to work for us as our family continued to grow, we loved it and wanted to stay at least another couple of years. But when our realtor called a few weeks later to tell us she had something special- we didn’t waste any time.
Right in the middle of our dream hood, it definitely wasn’t modern, though it had a modern 1960s addition at the back. The best part? It hadn’t been updated in over 30 years.
The first thing I did after our offer was accepted, was reach out to Curtis & Windham architects. I have been a longtime fangirl for their work preserving historic Houston homes, as well as their new-builds which have a timeless grace and a modern perspective.
In the end, it was good that we found our house when we did, as the renovation took way longer than we expected and by the time we actually moved we were bursting out of our old house. It was also such a blessing to work with Curtis & Windham on this project, not only to help me keep calm and carry on when we encountered some of the many hurdles that come with renovating an old home, but because they were so generous with their talent and knowledge and helped me grow and refine my taste.
There is so much I have to say about the project now that I can finally share it here, but I wanted to start with a few of the before & afters, because like Cher I get my main thrill in life from a makeover and this one puts Ty’s new look to shame:
The house was built in the early 1920s, and had an extensive renovation that included a large modern addition in the 1960s. Since then, it had been lovingly maintained by the family we bought it from. While I love a retro kitchen, we felt the mid-century vibes throughout clashed with the true 1920s spirit of the home, and wanted to bring things together with it’s classic colonial core in mind.
Before there was a laundry room located on the other side of the wall behind the refrigerator, just off the back door. We moved the laundry upstairs, and added on a few square feet so we could have a mudroom at the back entry, and a breakfast room off the kitchen.
Ta da!!! The inspiration for the kitchen design actually came from the sink- not pictured here today- which is hypocritical because I HATE IT when design magazines talk about rooms that aren’t pictured in the article- but that’s a post for another day.
If you haven’t gotten your hands on an issue of the February House Beautiful yet- they posted more pics from our feature online!
Image from House Beautiful by Trevor Tondro
Before & After Images by Bailey McCarthy