Houzz tour: gracious older home updated for a young family

Texas designer repurposes rooms to create a welcoming space for a casual lifestyle
Traditional Meets Midcentury Modern Design in River Oaks

Julie Soefer Photography

By ; reposted with permission from Houzz


This house in one of Houston’s oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods needed an update. “My clients were looking to make it lighter, brighter and more welcoming,” interior designer Marie Flanigan says.

The homeowners, a couple with young children, appreciated her background in architecture, as the scope of the work went beyond just decorating. She helped them swap around a few spaces for the way their family lives — adding built-ins for storage, placing new light fixtures in key places and creating a lovely freshened-up space that can stand up to the wear and tear of little ones.

Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: A growing young family
Location: Houston
Size: Four bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms
Designer: Marie Flanigan Interiors

This large, open space was part of a previous addition not original to the home. Flanigan helped the family lay out the space for the way they live. This part of the space is a comfortable seating area complete with built-ins that conceal the TV. All of the fabrics are durable, as Flanigan chose washable indoor-outdoor fabrics for most of the upholstery throughout the home.

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Julie Soefer Photography

One of the homeowners also works in architecture and loves rustic wood, as seen on the beams, floors and oak parquet coffee table top. “It was about balancing the soft fabrics with these more rustic touches,” the designer says.

The artwork on the left is made of cut paper.

Flanigan redesigned this built-in window seat and custom ottoman, which opens up for toy storage.

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Julie Soefer Photography

On the sofa table, boxes display the homeowners’ favorite collections of antique objects, such as pocket watches. At the back of the room, the cabinet doors on the left hide the TV and media equipment. The antique fireplace surround came from Europe.

Hide Wires, Conceal Gadgets and Display Screens

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Julie Soefer Photography

Replacing the existing heavy drapery played a big part in lightening up the space. Large triple-sash windows bordered by new window treatments let in the light. Flanigan picked up on the color of the beams that line up with the windows via the top of the two-tone drapes.

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Julie Soefer Photography

If you look closely at the wood-framed chairs, you can see a very subtle ikat pattern.

“My clients wanted to go neutral with little pops of color and pattern, like the geometric pillows that could easily be switched out,” Flanigan says. “Using a lot of texture was very important to them.”

The rug is a beautiful antique Oushak.

“She wanted a space where she could really spread out her architectural drawings and keep an eye on her children at the same time,” the designer says of one of the homeowners. This high table has a clear view through the entire space.

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Julie Soefer Photography

Woven natural fibers also play a part in the welcoming textural palette. The chairs here bring in wicker as well as driftwood textures on their bases.

To the right of the table, two tufted salon corner chairs make a spot for enjoying intimate conversation and a cup of tea. The table has an antique mirrored top.

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Julie Soefer Photography

To make the home’s floor plan work better for the family, Flanigan flipped a few rooms around. This room used to be the formal dining room but now serves as a study. It is next to the great room and kitchen. In here, she replaced the existing ornate fireplace surround with a more streamlined one, made of vintage travertine.

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Julie Soefer Photography

The desk is an antique library table. The designer brought in a geometric touch via the pendant light overhead.

Flanigan transformed the breakfast room into a comfortable lounge (this shot was taken from where a sofa sits). It is open to the kitchen, so the homeowners can cook while their kids play and watch TV here. New built-ins offer plenty of space to stash toys, games, media equipment and books.

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Julie Soefer Photography

The room also overlooks the backyard and provides an easy connection between the kitchen and the outdoor entertainment area through the French doors.

In the kitchen, the textures are a mix of Calacatta Gold marble countertops and backsplash from the same slab, rush seats, a bronze chandelier and a weathered zinc tabletop.

“We love to add organic textures to a room — they add a contemporary touch that really freshens things up,” Flanigan says.

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Julie Soefer Photography

The formal dining room used to be the formal living room, a space the family, with its casual lifestyle, didn’t need. The custom trestle table has a diamond-patterned oak top. The chairs are two-tone, with ring handles that are strong enough to allow pulling the chairs out without touching the fabric — though Flanigan used indoor-outdoor fabric, again, so they can stand up to the harshest of Cabernet-spilling debacles.

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Julie Soefer Photography

The walls are covered in a bright white linen wallpaper, and the rug is another antique Oushak. Overhead, Flanigan added the more modern geometric elements the homeowners are so fond of via the chandeliers.

“In the powder room, I wanted to bring in something special and geometric that was kind of mod but still elegant and glamorous,” Flanigan says. She found just the thing in this wallpaper with a metallic silver pattern.

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Julie Soefer Photography

The sink and counter are cut from one Calacatta Gold marble slab. The mirror pivots and adds dimension to the wall.

Update Your Counters

“In the master bedroom, we wanted to make it masculine and tailored but with a feminine feel via soft, inviting linens,” Flanigan says. Silks, linens and cottons make up a luxurious bed, while neutral colors create a calm space. The artwork is pressed leaves.

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Julie Soefer Photography

For the nursery, the homeowners collected charming Etsy drawings to represent some of the cities where they have lived. The casework will easily transition from changing table to grown-up dresser.

The room’s colors were inspired by the work of The Rifle Paper Co.; star wallpaper adds a playful touch on the ceiling. The cushy sofa, chair and ottoman provide soft spaces to lounge and hang out with the baby

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Julie Soefer Photography

The bathroom has the same wallpaper as the nursery ceiling in another color and in vinyl, which can stand up to moisture.

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Julie Soefer Photography

In one of the guest rooms, which will eventually serve as another children’s bedroom, Flanigan brought in some color via green bottles and celadon drapes. Again, the room is crisp and tailored, with elements like the patinated wood on the chest bringing in some weathered age.

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Julie Soefer Photography

Flanigan maintained the house’s gracious appeal while updating it to a soft, light, bright and more inviting home.