Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Southern-Style Showhouse

A Conversation With Interior Designer
who also shares a few tips you can take 
into your own home.
Tami recently gave a stunning adaptive southern-style house by Thompson Custom Homes in Houston her calming decorating touch. And, then, she opened up the house doors to a women-who-lunch crowd, escorting them to the estate via golf carts.
The images below, offer a glimpse inside.

In addition to Thompson Custom Homes, she also worked with Architectural Designer Robert Dame.

What was the beginning point for this house?
Brian (Thompson Custom Homes), Robert (Robert Dames Architectural Design), and I worked together from the very beginning of this project to ensure a cohesive look for this house. We started with a vision of an exterior that we loved, based on a home in Louisiana.  We all have a love for reclaimed materials and keeping a neutral, calming pallet throughout the home. Our goal was to create a warm home that would be timeless and in keeping with architectural design. The style of this house is Southern Acadian.

Describe the decorating style of this house . . . .
The decorating style for this house included old world elements from the beams to the floors to the design of the cabinets.  The cabinet designs for the butler’s pantry and a reproduction of a French Bookcase in the study were inspired from a manor house in Southern France.  The beautiful wide plank reclaimed flooring is over 150 years old.  (From: Custom Flooring in Houston; their Web site is under construction). I always design using neutral colors throughout for the building elements to create a calming, warm effect. 

What is your favorite room in this house?
My favorite room in this house is the dining room.  It is simple and feels very peaceful to me.  Custom Flooring custom made the table for the showcase house.  It is out of 150-year-old wood and is designed in a basket-weave pattern to complement the floor in the entrance.  I love the floors, the Venetian plaster, the fabulous chandelier from Brown and the view of the butler pantry cabinets with their antique hardware.  Hardware – Settlers Hardware. The antique painted hutch with the mirror is from Joyce Horn Antiques.  Antique candlesticks by Boxwood Interiors, the rug is from Creative Flooring.  Drapes and fabric: Kravet Belgian Linen and Kravet tassel trim.

What materials did you use in the kitchen?
 In the kitchen, we used Calcutta Oro slabs for the counter tops and the back splash.  We had a custom-made island top made out of the flooring material. Plus, we added a custom-made vent hood.  Hardware in kitchen is by LTG. Inc. Hardware and plumbing is from RK.
The lighting over the island and the breakfast table are from AREA.

 What stores and vendors helped you pull together the look of this entire house?
 In the down-stairs powder bath, the reclaimed sink came from Chateau Domingue, and we designed the custom base for it.  Also, the custom-made iron mirror was created by Ornamental Iron.   The light fixtures were selected from Brown. The custom-made velvet shade is a Rose Cummings fabric.
In the second powder room, we designed a floating concrete counter top by Dale Gunnels.  The antique marble sink was again from Chateau Domingue.   The Louis Philippe mirror is from Joyce Horn Antiques , and the lighting is from Brow.  Custom-made shades were made by Custom Creations, using a Fortuny-hand painted silk fabric.

All of the stone slabs and bathroom tiles were selected at  Walker Zanger.   We used Creama Marfil and Silver Vein Travertine; the ceramic tiles are from Walker Zanger.
Sweet utility room . . . what did you use here? 
French Limestone floors. Concrete counter tops. Hand-painted tiles for the back splash . . . .  The floors and tiles came from Alkasauri Stone. The hardware and plumbing came from Lighting. Inc., a hardware and plumbing store. We used a Belgian linen for the shades and panels.  The iron rods are by Peck and Company.
The Master Bedroom:

 Her Resource List; all in Houston, Texas:
On-site construction -- Custom Flooring,  Tile and Roof of Texas-slate roof, Larry Mimms landscape, Robert Garten pool company, Lighting Inc. (lighting and hardware), Creative Flooring, Brown (lighting), Walker Zanger tile, Chateau Domingue, Gunnels Concrete Company, Alkasuari Stone--fireplaces.  

Most of the furnishings in the house were custom made by Custom Creations.  
The Vieux had a number of items in the house (breakfast room table, living room coffee table, small bench at landing up stairs, the two long benches, and the round table near the pool table).

The rugs were all hand selected from Creative flooring.  
The drapes were all designed by The Owen Group and custom made by Custom Creations.  
The wonderful art throughout the house was custom made for this house by Michelle Y. Williams Gallery.
Other furnishings: Boxwood Interiors, Joyce Horn Antiques.
The outdoor furniture came from Lee Industries.  
The outdoor table, coffee table, and benches were designed/made by The Owen Group and Custom Flooring. 
Most of the wonderful lighting was from Brown.  
Custom drapery rods and fire screen were designed and made by Peck and Company. 
Bedding from  Kuhl Linscomb.
A guest room:

Another guest room:

The study off the foyer:

Club chair seating:

In the backyard:

Tami's Advice:
To create a more calm looking and feeling decor, I would recommend to a new homeowner to start with a neutral color palette.  Work from the exterior color palette and bring it into your interior space so that everything coordinates.  
      Bring in color by adding rugs, artwork, and pillows.  Buy furnishing for your home that are timeless as opposed to trendy.  
Paint makes a house and the finish play a big part in the wow factor.  In this case, the wood on the exterior was stained and brushed to make it look like an old home.  The color we used for this house on the exterior brick, plaster throughout the house, baseboards and ceilings was SW Ermine.  For the door trim and windows:  Anonymous By SW. Those hues set the color tone for the interior of the house. Other neutral cream colors that I love are BM-Creamy White, Ballet White and Feather Down.  
BM= Benjamin Moore
SW= Sherwin Williams


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

10 Gardening Coupons -- AND Tips on How to Prevent Toxins From Entering Your Home

It's That Time of the Year
to Spruce Up Our Yards and Gardens!
And, I didn't know it until now, but April is National Gardening Month, 
A stone I discovered in a lavender field near Blanco, Texas.

April* is the best time to bring dormant planters back to life, which is likely why it's dubbed National Gardening Month by the National Gardening Association. Before you pick up your trowel and gardening gloves, check out these top online coupons from for some great savings. They're listed below, intermingled with some images I've captured over time:
1. Target
Take up to 20-percent off gardening and lawn decor through April 28, plus get free shipping on orders over $50.

2. Kohl's
Get free shipping with no minimum order, plus 20-percent off your purchase, with coupons from Kohl's.

At a restaurant in Crested Butte, Colorado

3. ACE Hardware
Save $10 on purchases of $100 or more through April 30 (no code required).

4. Plow & Hearth
Get $1.99 flat-rate shipping on all orders of $75 or more through May 30 with code LNKPH199.

Flowers brighten the wall of a barn in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

5. Sierra Trading Post
Take an extra 20-percent off any order through May 2 with Sierra Trading Post coupon code ACJBRIGHT2.

6. Gurney's
Take $20 off your order of $40 or more (no code required).

 In Fredericksburg, Texas.

7. Burpee
Get $10 off purchases of $50 or more through April 30 with promo code AFF1050.

Get $10 off orders of $99 or more with coupon code CJGGREEN.

Growing Veggies in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

9. Home Depot
Get free shipping and 40-percent off select patio furniture orders (no code required).

10. Kmart
Save $10 on orders of $60 or more through April 21 with promo code APR3SAVINGS.

Planted in a pot on my front porch.

* The association says April but in places such as Colorado, it's more like Memorial Day!
So, with that said, your time may be soon but not necessarily now. In the U.S., check with your county extension offices; go here.

Thanks to Free Shipping for the coupon listings! is the largest resource on the Internet linking shoppers to free-shipping deals offered by over 4,000 online merchants.

EARTH DAY is Sunday, April 22!

Expert microbiologist Dr. Myron Wentz, author of Healthy Home, provides the following  
5 tips on how to keep toxins out of your house:

1)       Take your shoes off before entering your home. We walk around unwittingly in car oil, pesticides, animal waste and toxins.
2)       Non-stick pots and pans release potential hazardous fumes and particles into the air such as toxic gases, carcinogens and global pollutants. Try using a well-seasoned cast iron skillet instead.
3)       “Wrinkle free” sheets can expose you to the chemical PFC (perfluorochemcials) and is linked to reproductive and development toxicity, as well as cancers of the bladder and liver.  Try using natural alternatives like cotton or linen.
4) Fluorescent light bulbs will make you feel drained. They contain a toxic gas known as mercury vapor. Instead try purchasing regular incandescent light bulbs.
5)       Electrical appliances create EMFs (electromagnetic fields) which are similar to those found under power lines that were linked to cancer clusters.  Make sure you unplug your appliances when they are not being used.
  A Colorado mountain garden. 

Happy Spring.

Tell me: What do you grow?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

HELP ME, Canada -- Plus, A Peek into My Shower Re-do

I'm Planning a Short Holiday
Please help me, my Canadian friends! What Should I do and See When There?

What a beautiful city . . . can't wait to visit!
Looking forward to hearing your ideas of where and what to do in May.

Now, to share my shower re-do. The goal was to keep it on budget, meaning the footprint of the space was to stay the same. Additionally, the ceramic floor had to remain.

Here's the Before -- a fiberglass tub:

Here's the AFTER:

Since I had the depth and space to add shelving to the right, I asked the guys to do just that. (The Before scene entailed only wall space, no shelves.) Here's a closer view of the new shelving, which is tight but still very usable:

A Shout-out goes to Heather at Shavano Mountain Interiors who helped me with my materials selections. She was very helpful. I told her what I was looking for in terms of style and look, and she edited their inventory down so I could quickly make a decision. Loved that!

I wanted to use a combination of man-made and natural materials -- to help control costs while also ensuring a more "natural" look. I went with this ceramic for the walls, hoping it would mirror the look of a slate:

When it arrived, I panicked a bit. I thought it might have a lot of conflicting movement. But, when they began to position it on the wall, I liked it. A lot. I don't recall the manufacturer's name but can get it for anyone who needs or wants it. Each piece measures 12" x 12".  If I had gone with the real-deal, my costs probably would have doubled.

Since I like the satisfaction of having the real McCoy, I did opt for real slate borders with glass insets inside the shower. A nice compromise. You can see it below as well as above. Note the door swings in as well as out.

The slate and glass inset strips came about 15 lines deep.  Heather offered up a great idea, which entailed cutting the slate strips in half. This one above is 7 deep, post split. So that's what we did. Saved money and created a more balanced accent look. One line of the accent stone, of course, is one line deeper, but it's not noticeable.

 Laying river rock on the shower floor creates interest and reduces incidences of slipping.

Outlining the exterior of the shower is a limestone trim. It's also used inside around the inset shelving.

As you can see, there is no bull nose tile outlining any area of the shower.. At first, the guy laying the tile freaked, but I think it worked out just fine -- probably because of the thinness of the tile. A small triangular seat was added in the corner, as you can see above. The limestone was used as the actual shelf layer.

I have gray-white walls in the bathroom with brown faucets and knobs. The floor is an off-white ceramic. I took that scheme into the shower as well. Below are knobs for water control as well round adjustable jets.

Dual white sinks once sat in a low-tiled vanity in the original bathroom. I happened to have an old sideboard in my garage. I had the blah vanity removed so I could have the sideboard adapted into the space. It fit perfectly . . . a meant-to-be situation. The old sinks were placed in the piece of furniture along with new fixtures. The long burnt-brown light fixture above the sideboard replaced a dinky gold one. The mirror had been there all along. A simple wood frame was added to finish it off.

That's the story, in a nutshell, of a remodeled log cabin bath/shower.

As always, thank you for visiting! 
Please, please leave advice about Eastern Canada. I would appreciate it!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Home's First Impression Creates an Inviting Welcome

Nothing Says Hello 
Like a Front Garden 

It's that time of the year when many of us begin to think about our lawns and gardens. As I walked through my neighborhood, I snapped some of my favorite scenes, gardens and planting ideas. Inspirational photos always help get me up and moving . . . .

A Captivating Row of 19th Century Island Homes in Galveston
 Red and white signs, as seen above to the left, pop up in some of the images in this post, 
thanks to an upcoming political race.

Bricked Garden Spaces Break Up Grassy Spaces Near Street Curbs:

Another house in this historic neighborhood takes a different approach. They constructed a bricked curbside garden by first constructing a wooden "box." Then, they will lay brick around its exterior:

My dog, Sam, gives it a sniff . . . .

The finished bricked garden space:

A Variegated Garden is Eye-Catching:

 oops, I chose a photo sharing Sam's back end.

When I think "Island," I expect to See Lush Tropics,
and these don't disappoint:

When in Colorado recently, various shades of brown reigned the countryside -- from yards to mountains. . .
BUT, those areas will bloom and blossom in time. So, if you happen to live in a cold area, be patient. You can plan now for a stunning first impression. 
Simple Welcoming Touches or Additions Can Happen Now -- Anywhere . . .
Take, for example, the collection of potted plants by this doorway:

Trees Sometime Succumb to Disease, Drought or Hurricanes!
But, here in Galveston, they live on . . . homeowners turned their dead trees into art:

The New York Times recently wrote a story about Galveston, Texas' Tree Sculptures.
You can read it by going here
Galveston's tree sculptures have taken top spot in the island's tourist attractions. For info, please go here.

To read and see a previous post, showing a tree sculpture artist at work, go here.

Bright Spots in the Yard:

Since I don't have a grassy lawn that lends the flowery playground I crave, I've come up with a solution that makes me happy. And they seem to send a warm greeting to guests coming up my walkway. I've got grow beds; they're situated on a front brick patio! Take a look; I've just recently planted a vegetable garden:

These beds are easy to construct. Once you (basically) snap the sides together, you place within a special permeable liner and then just add dirt -- and plants, natch! I hope to show you a more mature garden in weeks to come. But, so far so good!
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